You stop and chat with a friend - what's the first thing you talk about? You turn on the radio - the TV - open a newspaper or check out social media - Covid, Covid, Covid.
I sat in a restaurant the other day and listened to the conversations around me - 80% were talking about Covid 19 in some way.
Of course, it's important; life-threatening, lifestyle-threatening, financial hardship, etc., etc. However...
Surely everyone could do with a break from the fear, worry and negativity that's dominating our lives right now?
If only there was somewhere you could go to escape it all for just an hour or so - a happy place - a positive, uplifting environment that would not only make you feel fantastic - but look fantastic too!
See where I'm going here?! :)
Winners see an opportunity where losers see defeat - a well known and very old sales story sums it up.
Two different shoe manufacturers sent representatives to Africa to determine whether they should be expanding their market - one came back and said to not bother as only a few people wear shoes, whilst the other came back and said lets set up distribution there as only a few people wear shoes!
I've said all along (whilst always understanding the personal fear and anxiety) that this crisis is an opportunity for the salon industry, with:
Of course, our expertise is based around the services we offer - I'm not going to visit a dentist that has a great patient experience but has poor dentistry skills!
But the 50% Rule, as I've called it for over 30 years now, says that a skilled dentist with a poor patient experience and interpersonal skills are going to struggle to get my business.
The services and skills we offer are vital, however now more than ever it's the customer experience and interpersonal skills that are going to get you through this.
To position ourselves as the happy place - the positive place on the High Street, you and your team have to be operating at the highest level - every day - and we all know that isn't easy - but of course, as I always say;
"Nobody ever said it was easy"
The way you educate, inspire, and engage your team is critical right now - more important than anything else. Take a good look at how you are investing your time and money right now; marketing is important - of course it is - business and financial focus is critical - running the salon efficiently is vital.
All of these and more are essential areas for you to be focused on, however, none of it works without a consistently high performing, positive and passionate team.
There are 4 areas I believe we need to focus on to take advantage of the 'opportunity' we've been given. However, before that can happen, you have to look at yourself first - it's so easy to get dragged down and although I understand it - it worries me to see negativity and fear still being expressed within the industry.
I've said from day one of this, focus your energy on things that you can change - things that you can act upon - everything else is just worry, fear, anxiety, anger, and negativity. None of that is going to help you, your team, or your business.
Waiting to relax with a coffee in a nice independent coffee shop the other day I had to listen to the owner spilling out her woes to the customer in front of me who had (regrettably, I'm sure she was thinking) asked how it was going.
Talk to your family about your worries and/or your best friends, your business/life coach, or industry supporters - but NEVER your customers - they are in your salon to get away from their own worries not to have them fed by you or your team.
Your mindset has to be; deal with what's in front of you - the things that you know are happening, not things you 'think' might happen, not the things you wish were different.
Yes, it would have been nice to have had an 'Eat out to Help Out' type of idea for us - but that's not going to happen.
Yes, it would have been great to have a VAT cut - but that's not going to happen.
Yes, it would be great if we didn't have to wear masks and visors - but right now that's what we have to do.
Yes it went quiet after the initial rush - of course it did - it was always going to be a bounce - but we know how to deal with this - it's not new to us. You just had December in July and January in August.
We know how this works - we know that just because Jan/Feb is a bit quieter than December your clients will still come back - of course they will. It won't be as busy as it was at the beginning but it WILL start to settle back into a routine - especially if you make pre-booking a priority.
One thing I'm hearing from some salons is an increase in new clients. Now some of this is due to people working from home and I'm fully aware that city centre salons are suffering from this - however, I've also noticed a common factor amongst those that are telling me they are getting new clients (even city centre salons).
A trusted brand with crystal clear principles, strong beliefs, and of course the holy grail of trust - consistency.
This can only come from a highly motivated and skilled team - so let's look now at the 4 areas I believe you need to put your focus in, to start to position your salon as 'the happy place'.
1. THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
It's always been critical but it's changed!
This has been my mantra for the last few years;
"People, not Things"
When you rely on 'things' to create your 'WOW', there are two (actually now three) issues.
Firstly, 'things' aren't sustainable - you may WOW me with a glass of wine or great coffee on my first appointment but the next time I visit, I expect it!
Secondly, it's too easy for your competitors to copy 'things' - those beautiful flowers in your reception can be copied - teaching the assistants to do a nice scalp massage is easily done - how long would it take to start offering a range of refreshments if you don't already? A thirty-minute trip to Tesco!!
So what's the new third issue? Well, if all of a sudden you aren't allowed to do those 'things'!!
We have to re-imagine our customer experience and it has to be based around positive, happy, and skilled 'people'.
"It's people that WOW - not things"
2. PROFESSIONAL CONSULTATION
The second area I believe we need to put a massive focus on is the consultation - once again - this isn't new, but more vital than ever. Clients have always wanted inspiration, excitement, and change, in challenging periods of history and they will be searching out for professionals who are giving them great ideas.
3. POSITIVE COMMUNICATION
The personal skills and understanding needed to stay confident even when you aren't always feeling it yourself are key here. The ability to ensure that you don't get dragged down into the negativity - to skilfully re-direct people to positive discussion. Your clients will love you for it even if they don't realise what you've done - they will leave you feeling better, more positive, and will want to get back to you as soon as possible!
As always, the issue isn't just 'doing' all of this - it's doing it consistently that is the challenge - so my final area for you to focus on is inspiration - engagement - fun (so important that you are bringing fun into the workplace right now) and a confident, passionate focus on the future.
Which brings us of course, back to you - as it all starts with you.
As I've already said 'nobody said it was easy' but you have to stay strong - you have to be positive and not let yourself get drawn down into the understandable fears and worries - it won't change a thing!
You have to focus on the power that you DO have - it's the only power we all have:
The power to change the way 'I' think and act.
Let me leave you with one of the most popular quotes in my book The Fantastic Hairdresser:
"Worry is the misuse of your imagination"
It's time to re-imagine our leadership, our customer experience, and how we position our salons to become 'The Happy Place' the safe sanctuary where for just an hour or two, one can get away from all this.
Thanks for reading,
Have fun and take care,
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