Building a business from scratch can be intimidating, especially when there are so many additional challenges that are now arising as the result of the COVID-19 outbreak, but hairdressers continue to rally, even in the face of a global pandemic. In fact, hairdressers can thrive during COVID-19 by ensuring they’re ready to face new obstacles. To help you navigate this unusual time, online appointment platform Bookwell put together 5 daily business challenges hair salon owners are facing, with simple, practical advice for success.

1. Effective & Efficient Management

Owning your hair salon means that you also have to be a great manager. This means taking good care of the employees, retaining old customers, bringing in new ones, making the schedule, managing appointments, no-shows, and frequent walk-ins… and much more. Of course, it can be difficult to achieve all this when your primary focus is on maintaining compliance with your state’s COVID-19 laws.

Who says you have to do all this on your own? Not only can you delegate tasks to your employees, helping to free up time to develop an improved management approach, you can also make use of the many different automated tools out there that can make your life easier. For example, digital tools can make the process of managing and tracking appointments much easier, leaving you room to breathe.

2. Finding – and Keeping – Quality Staff

Finding the right staff for your salon may prove to be one of your hardest tasks, especially during the pandemic. Hiring in the beauty industry is already notoriously difficult as it is, with the traditional face-to-face interview lacking the ability to really showcase practical skills and talents. With the COVID-19 outbreak recruitment and employee retention are even more of a challenge.

Thanks to the financial uncertainties sparked by the pandemic, many employees are naturally worried about their future. They’re looking for security, and they want to work for businesses that really do have their best interests at heart. Even though you yourself may be worried about money, investing in your people is key to success. Consider reward schemes for good work, and try different motivation ideas. Importantly, foster communication and a sense of salon community and strength.

3. Developing Pricing Strategies

A big part of your daily to-do list should be to conduct extensive research on the prices for the services that you offer, while also promoting loyalty programs, discounts, giveaways and more. It’s certainly not unheard of for hair salons to lose clients just because another salon in the area lowered their prices. This is especially true right now, as clients are looking to save due to pandemic-related uncertainty.

A popular idea is to implement a system where clients will be able to earn free or discounted services or products after a certain number of visits, along with limited time saver rates to celebrate holidays. You may also wish to try creating dedicated packages for occasions (for example, bridal packages), or creating a more exclusive venue (and, therefore, exclusive experience) through added extras such as drinks and treats.

4. Keeping Up With Industry Trends

Things change so fast in the beauty industry, and never more so than when customer expectations and preferences are transformed by unexpected global events. According to former Vidal Sassoon Director Tim Hartley, demand for bob cuts is on the rise as women seek ‘hygienic yet trendy’ styles. Hartley says that “the sooner the long tresses of yesterday are dispensed with, the more hygienic it will be”.

While it can be hard to keep up with new trends, it’s important to remember that promoting all these fresh trends will probably end up being a great marketing move, so make sure you use all the tools and skills available to you to ensure you’re meeting ever-evolving demand. Listen to your customers, analyse requests, and be sure to keep an ear to the ground to discover what trends are anticipated in the future.

5. Creating Great Marketing Plans

When you first open a salon, it can be very difficult to identify a fantastic marketing specialist who can take you to the next level, especially considering all the other investments you’ll be making in light of the pandemic. It is possible to market your business yourself if you do your research to find out how to best present your talents, and find the most interesting ways to make people notice your hair salon.

One of the best ways to promote your salon is through great content on Instagram, Facebook and other social media outlets. As a visual platform, Instagram is great for showing off your work. Hashtags can be used to make your content easier to find, while geotags can help promote your ‘gram to local audiences. Facebook is another good option, especially if you’re looking to launch competitions for followers.

The Secret to Success? Be Prepared

The truth is that the struggles of opening a hair salon do not stop there. The harsh reality is that you will be facing many business challenges during your everyday work, especially during unusual times such as this. However, don’t let this discourage you from following your dream. Being more prepared about what’s to come, and educating yourself, is the secret sauce you’re looking for. The more you know, the better.

Sarah Pelham is the Beauty & Wellness Expert for Bookwell.com.au, an online platform for instant bookings for hair, nails, beauty & massage appointments. For nearly four years Sarah has worked closely with hundreds of salon owners within the beauty and wellness industries. She has her finger on the pulse of new trends in this growing market.