Back to Business: Keith Conniford of The Hair and Barber Council
As we move into week six of the UK lockdown, we put our Q&A to Keith Conniford of The Hair and Barber Council to see what actions he suggests salons can take during this difficult period.
Hi Keith, are there any tips you can offer salon owners to help them get through this lockdown?
Although hugely difficult, try to remain calm. This is a worrying time for everyone but there is much help and support from Government and from industry if you need it, and remember, we are all in the same boat. As an industry, I am sure we will all look to help others if needed and use the time to prepare for the day we can all get back to some semblance of normality.
What measures can salon owners take now to ensure their salons are ready to reopen when the lockdown ends?
The Hair and Barber Council is preparing a ‘Back to Work Plan’ which will be available to the whole of the industry when we have some idea of when the lockdown will be lifted.
What are the main changes that we will see initially when salons reopen?
This very much depends on what type of restrictions Government place on the industry. i.e. spacing of workstations, what Personal Protective Equipment will be required etc. However, health and safety, hygiene and giving customers reassurance about how their wellbeing will be catered for in the salons will be of paramount importance. Also, things like contactless payments, discarding old magazines, online appointments instead of appointment cards, overall salon cleanliness including chairs and all appliances, paper towel dispensers in the bathrooms, continual washing of hands and potentially the staggering of appointments with possible longer salon opening times, are all changes that will help.
Can you highlight the key areas upon which salons need to focus when they reopen to ensure the business will thrive?
Continual hygiene and health and safety awareness, whilst looking after their customer’s wellbeing to the very best of their ability.
How will you ensure staff is confident and as upbeat as possible when they return to the workplace?
Adhere to all and any guidelines from Government, whilst ensuring your staff have all the necessary equipment to look after and protect themselves and their customers.
What lessons has the lockdown taught you and, are there things you will now do differently when it comes to running your business?
Not to take anything for granted, always try and keep a financial reserve put by and ensure that salon hygiene issues are always top of your daily agenda.
How should salons plan to cope with the deluge of clients wanting to get their colour done or cut booked in when they reopen?
Spread appointment times; look at ‘shifts’ to extend the working day, whilst not allowing too many people into the salon at any one time, make more space between workstations and work with your customers to balance their needs, whilst ensuring health and safety/hygiene protection for all customers and your staff.
If there was one thing that you would have done differently in retrospect (knowing what we do now) that would have helped you weather this storm, what would that have been?
Always keep something in reserve.
Anything else you would like to add?
As an industry we are totally unregulated! The Hair and Barber Council has been campaigning rigorously to have the current voluntary Act of Parliament amended to mandatory whilst adding Beauty into the body of the Act. Regulation would give us a much more powerful voice with Government and put us in a much stronger position to lobby on behalf of the industry whilst having a far greater access to politicians of all parties. We are nearer this goal than ever before but always need more members to help us to help you, the industry. To join, log on to www.haircouncil.org.uk and click on ‘Register here’.