For many stylists and clients alike, returning to the salons is the first of many stresses after the pandemic comes to an end. Finding ways to have a safe return and make yourself, your team and your clients comfortable will be a feat.

Having said that, it’ll just as well be a triumph. But getting balance between safety, normality, and comfort will take effort and responsibility. Your clients will be wondering what to expect, and you might be wondering how you can fulfill those expectations.

Hairstylist, beauty expert, and salon owner Salvatore Leonetti knows what this will be like. He owns Salvatore Leonetti Salon in Toronto, Ont. and has appeared on a slew of television shows like Cityline and segments at The Shopping Channel.

Through the pandemic, appearing on television has been much of “creating content to help people with their everyday at home, and dealing with any challenges they may have in this current situation.” But his salon has been closed since November, and had been closed for 5 months last year prior.

Like many beauty professionals in the industry, the way he maneuvers everyday endeavours has shifted. Post-pandemic, he also has a few ideas on how the future of hair might look when things return to normal. “The concern I think for a lot of salon owners now is a stylist thinking that this is a future and not wanting to go back working in a structured environment like a hair salon, and having to pay commission and all that stuff.”

Leonetti says many salon owners are thinking about what the “new roadmap” is going to look like for a hair salon. Coming back to the salon is exciting, but he says there will be different avenues of approaching clients after the pandemic. “The client has gone from, how do I style my own hair for a Zoom meeting?’ or, ‘how can I cut my son’s hair, my daughter’s hair? How can I make my curly hair look vibrant,’ to now asking for: ‘what do I ask for when I go back?’”

There could be a multitude of scenarios that will arise as people return to the chairs. He advises that stylists “allot a few extra minutes” in appointments in order to sort through their clients’ new needs.

At the same time, many have been getting familiar with tools and resources that they could be using post-pandemic. One of them is social media and connecting with clients through images.

“It’s become our portfolios. We used to go do a job with an agency or try to get into an agency, the first thing they said is ‘build your portfolio.’ Now, they just want to see your Insta’.

“Our biggest kind of content is the stuff that we do, and the hair that we do,” he says. Coming back to the salon will mean taking advantage of the platform he does this through, which is essentially the work he does behind the chair.

Being in the salon will mean taking full advantage of all that it has to offer – including showcasing that to social media followers. It’s a tool that’ll “help rebuild yourself again,” says Leonetti.

Efe’s re-opening tips:

Be creative with as little contact as possible.

We’re all familiar with keeping 6 feet apart by now, and in your own salons as well. “You’ve got to get creative with your space,” says Leonetti. He suggests stretching hours, opening later, and not having everyone inside the salon at the same time. Consider how your salon will run with clients booking, waiting, and paying for appointments socially distanced. Ask yourself if your salon is equipped for this, and how you’ll maneuver it if your province has a set capacity
on how many people can enter your business
at once.

Update your website before re-opening

You’ll need to hype returning clients up for returning, and potentially scoop up some new ones with some re-opening announcements on your salon’s website. Before you’re back to business and finally behind your chair, include a FAQ page about re-opening on your website. If your clients are apprehensive about coming back, they’ll get a little info about how you plan on returning safely. Make sure all other info is current and accurate and let your clients know what other ways they can support you – and how you can support them.

Plan for potential re-closures

Since this pandemic has had its ups and downs, it’s not unheard of if your province announces another lockdown. From what we’ve learned, your business doesn’t have to be entirely shutdown if you can’t always be there in person. “I’ve heard of some businesses actually doing the whole ‘I’m there from 12 to 2, you can drop in.’ There are different ways of allocating your time to it.” Says Leonetti. This, along with focusing on retailing, could help prepare for the worst in case uncertainity lies in the future.

Set up an ecommerce store and sell more products online

There’s much to be said about promoting product and selling it online. During the pandemic, Leonetti and his salon have sold many colour kits to clients at home. “We’ve maintained a level of communication back and forth, to sell people products still and to give any suggestions that they may have on any sort of haircare.” If you’re not receiving as many clients as you anticipated in store, they’re probably pretty familiar with this course of action. Use that to your advantage and gain extra income from what you might be losing inside your salon.

Think about health tracking and contact tracing

Some of us may have a federal COVID-19 contact app on our smartphones. But to find ways to further make us feel safe, it could be a good tool to bring into your business. This could go for your clients and your staff, giving both parties a sense of peace and protection. There are apps and sites like Canatrace or that make it easy to implement the process into your business. Clients can upload their information and you’ll know who’s coming in and out of
your salon.