With more provinces starting to ease their COVID-19 restrictions, it’s important for salons to be well prepared when it’s time to reopen.
As a salon owner, you’re responsible for the safety of both your clients and team. While many of you can’t wait to return to work, implementing the right health and safety measures to help your clients and team feel safe in your salon is paramount.
We’ve put together a reopening checklist to help you prepare for your salon’s “new normal.”
NOTE: This is a list of suggestions for you to consider, but make sure to check with your provincial and local municipality guidelines and recommendations. We will be updating to this list regularly, so please check back for the latest updates.
Speaking with your Team
While many salons have continued to stay connected with their teams throughout the pandemic, it’s especially critical leading up to your salon’s reopening date:
• Discuss your reopening plan with your staff and address any health/safety concerns.
• Explain any new changes to your team’s scheduling (eg. the number of stylists working at the same time).
• With ongoing health concerns surrounding the pandemic, it’s likely that some stylists may be experiencing anxiety about returning to work. Scheduling regular meetings will give you a better sense of how everyone is feeling about reopening.
• Continue to schedule weekly meetings with your team once your salon has reopened, to discuss any additional changes that need to be implemented and address any of your team’s questions or concerns.
TIP: Since this is a new situation for everyone, it’s important to be open-minded about your team’s feedback and ideas. You will want this transition to be as seamless as possible, so having a supportive team makes it all the more easier.
Since some salons have been closed since mid-March and had to cancel or postpone prebooked appointments, it may feel overwhelming to try and manage all of this in time for your salon’s reopening. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
• Take into consideration the size of your salon and the volume of clients (traffic). For some salons, it may be the most efficient to prioritize appointments that have been cancelled.
• Send an email to clients to inform them of your reopening date and ask your receptionist to call clients with cancelled or upcoming appointments. Some may not be ready to return to a salon or feel they can wait (eg. a client who is deciding to grow out their hair), while others may be in desperate need of getting their hair done.
• If your salon has a high volume of cancelled appointments, you may prefer asking clients to rebook using the first-come-first-serve approach, which will essentially mean starting from scratch to avoid the hassle of rescheduling.
TIP: It might be time to rethink your salon’s cancellation policy. For example, if you require a 24-hour notice for any cancellations, you’ll want to be flexible for clients that are not feeling well on the day of their appointment.
During this time, many clients are likely feeling enough stress and anxiety without needing to experience any more of it in your salon. Help them feel safe and comfortable with these precautions:
• Make sure that you or your salon’s receptionist calls clients to discuss any changes prior to their appointment so there are no “surprises.” You want to make sure you address any questions/concerns beforehand.
• Pre-screen clients with a questionnaire on the day before and the day of their appointment to ensure they are in good health. Questions may include: Have you recently travelled? Are you experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms (fever, coughing, etc.) Clients who aren’t feeling well should be asked to stay home—for their own health and the health of your team and other clients.
• Provide temperature checks for clients before they are allowed into the salon.
• For some salons, waiting areas in the salon are no longer an option. Consider asking clients to wait in their car until their appointment (you can call/text when their stylist is ready) or create a smaller waiting area that adheres to social/physical distancing measures.
• Restrict shared/communal areas (eg. instead of a designated processing area, some salons are asking clients to remain in their chair to avoid unnecessarily moving the client around the salon). Remember: The more you move the client around the salon, the more you will need to disinfect. With a limited number of clients allowed in the salon at one time, you should be able to either keep them in one area or create enough social/physical distance so they are comfortable, if they have to be around other people.
• If possible, avoid offering food or beverages. Or provide bottled water for guests upon request.
• Ask clients to only bring in their essential needs (eg. phones and wallets, no bags or coats).
• When scheduling clients who may be accustomed to coming into the salon for two different services (eg. cut with one stylist and colour with another stylist), you may want to consider booking their appointments separately to minimize their time spent in the salon and minimize their contact with your team.
• Install a plexi-glass barrier at the reception desk to minimize contact in a high-traffic area.
• Encourage contactless payment methods—temporarily limiting or restricting the use of cash. This policy should be shared with all clients prior to their appointment. In case of any cash payments/tips, the receptionist should be wearing disposable gloves.
• Modify your retail area to prevent clients from unnecessary touching of the products. Consider adding signage to encourage clients to ask for assistance.
TIP: Introducing new restrictions to your salon can be a vast difference from the welcoming atmosphere your clients may be accustomed to. Striking a balance between creating a safe and healthy environment that’s still welcoming to your clients is key.
While Canada’s COVID-19 curve is gradually flattening, maintaining social/physical distancing continues to be an important recommendation for the health and safety of your team and clients:
What does that mean for salons?
• Consider extending your salon’s hours/days. Since you’ll likely have a backlog of clients waiting to return, extending hours/days can help you and your team meet this increased demand.
• To ensure you’re following social/physical distancing rules, limit the number of staff working at the same time and ensure there’s a two-metre distance between every station.
• Adjust your team’s work schedule, so stylists work on a rotating basis to make it as fair as possible. For example, rather than each stylist working a regular shift of eight to nine hours per day, you may shorten shifts to four to five hours per day, per stylist.
• Make sure your schedule is balanced with only the number of people per specialty you will need for the day. Eg. One or two haircutters, one or two colourists, one or two assistants, etc.
TIP: Before making any scheduling changes, it’s important to discuss with your team to make sure they’re on board, as any changes can impact their overall wellbeing and lifestyle.
As eager as your team may be to return to the salon, it will be far from business as usual. Here are some things to keep in mind when managing your team during your salon’s reopening.
• Allow scheduled staff to enter the salon 15 minutes prior to their shift.
• Consider modifying your salon’s dress code. For example, asking staff to wear an apron or PPE (personal protective equipment) over their clothing.
• Ask staff to have designated shoes that should only be worn inside the salon.
• Provide daily temperature checks and health screenings for your team before the start of their shift to ensure they are experiencing no symptoms and feel well enough to work.
• Require all staff to wear masks and gloves. It’s also important to introduce a protocol for how often your team should be changing their masks and/or gloves. Eg. A new pair of gloves after every client.
• Ask staff to keep their personal belongings to a minimum (eg. small bag or wallet and phone).
• Restrict gatherings in shared/communal areas (eg. staff room).
• Avoid the sharing of products/tools in the salon whenever possible. This means each station should be well-equipped with combs, shears, styling tools and products.
Types of Services
To help reduce the length of appointments, some provinces have recommended that salons limit the types of services offered.
• Salons in Manitoba began opening as of May 4, and are permitting wash, cut, colour and styling services, and no other personal services (eg. longer treatments or extensions).
• Saskatchewan is set to reopen salons on May 19 and have only stated that will allow stylists to “wash, cut and chemically alter hair.”
• Some salons are also limiting longer colour services. For example, instead of a full balayage, they may offer partial services, such as a halo or money piece (face-framing highlights).
• Some salons are restricting blow-drying services in order to help reduce time and prevent the rapid spread of germs.
TIP: When deciding on the services for your salon, make sure to look over your province’s specific regulations. Also, since this is new for everyone, salon owners should reserve the right to limit or exclude certain services for the time-being.
While each province’s health and safety regulations will vary, it seems like the use of face masks and gloves are the overall consensus, in addition to other disinfecting sprays, wipes and supplies.
• Reach out to your distributor to find out if they can assist with supplying hand sanitizer and disinfecting products, along with personal protective equipment (PPE). Many are offering curbside pickup and delivery to help ensure you receive your products as fast as possible.
• Consider the supplies that will be required for clients. For example, you should have more than enough capes, smocks and/or robes on hand, to ensure you are providing a new one to each client per day, without having to reuse or share to avoid cross-contamination.
• Ask clients to bring in their own mask and supply disposable ones whenever needed.
Here’s a shopping list of everything you’ll need:
• Disinfecting solutions (sprays, wipes, 70% isopropyl alcohol and high-grade liquid solutions for tools)
• Hand sanitizer
• Disposable face masks
• Disposable gloves
• Face shields/visors
• Plexi-glass shields/barriers (to install at reception desk or in-between stations)
• Extra capes, smocks and robes (disposable or washable)
TIP: Reordering disposable supplies can be quite pricey in the long-run, so alternatively you can consider creating or purchasing reusable (machine-washable) masks for your team. Not only are they just as effective (when washed daily), you can custom-design them with a fun pattern or your salon’s logo.
Did you know? Some salons are introducing a sanitation or disinfection fee, which is added to each client’s service to help offset the increased costs of supplies associated with COVID-19.
Sanitizing and Disinfecting
While proper disinfection and sanitation protocols were important in salons before the pandemic, it holds even more weight today. As a business owner, meeting or exceeding your provincial regulations or guidelines is non-negotiable. Here are a few guidelines to follow:
• Disinfect styling and washing stations between clients. This means allotting extra time (for example, 15 minutes) between clients to be able to properly clean and disinfect chairs, sinks, styling and cutting tools in time for your next appointment.
• Make sure to set up hand-sanitizing stations at your entrance to ensure that your clients immediately sanitize as they enter and leave your salon.
• All commonly touched surfaces and spaces, such as door handles, tables/desks, light switches and bathrooms, will also need to be regularly disinfected throughout the day.
• Consider assigning one to two employees to disinfection duties only, to limit contact and ensure it’s being done on a consistent basis, but make sure to go through all your sanitation procedures with your entire staff.
• When it’s time to launder your capes, smocks, robes, towels and any other garments, make sure to immediately put everything into a plastic bag and machine-wash in warm to hot water.
• When dealing with waste disposal, all garbage bins should be lined with plastic and have a foot pedal or sensor to avoid extra contact. They should be emptied daily and be placed directly in your outdoor bin.