COVID closed a lot of businesses in 2020 and salons were not exempt to the affliction. There was no income, rent was still due along with utilities, then when services were cleared, not all clients came running back for services in fear of leaving their homes. In some cases services were banned again with the closures making it feel like salons were at the end of a political yo-yo.
If you are looking to re-open in 2021, especially if you had to relocate, what are some of the ways you can go about re-building your book to become the thriving salon professional you once were before COVID ate your livelihood for breakfast?
The approach may differ on your demographic. Let's take a look at some different options, and discuss what could be helpful.
Metropolitan & Social Media Savvy
If you live in a bustling city, chances are good your demographic is social media savvy unless you are looking to cater to the Neo-Luddism crowd, which could be a unique niche for natural nail services. This means creating a social calendar, choosing a platform and posting on a regular basis. It needs to be professional, show off your work, have your address and how to book an appointment clearly available, and be engaging. Stories are where you can be a little more personable, post a selfie now and then, and include your pets if it falls into your image, theme, or point for the day.
Crafting posts that are relevant to your demographic is important. If you want to bring in professionals that do a lot of typing, filing, and sports for networking, chances are good that post after post of you practicing stilettos may not be the way to draw them in. The same is true in reverse, a rainbow of french manicures may not be the way to bring in that roller derby team from the arena down the road or the edgy musicians that play across the street. Think about who you want to sit in your chair, then choose your content accordingly.
Small Town Small World
If everyone knows everyone and their business, you hear it's a small world at least a few
times a year as a serious phrase and half the businesses in town think the internet is for "pesky kids", chances are good a more personal approach is going to treat you better than social media. This is where you can pull out some of the "old-fashioned" tricks like thank you notes and word of mouth that a lot of very successful people still build their businesses on because people appreciate the human connection in a digital world.
Think about who you would like to have as a client in the area. Then approach them with the opportunity to be your client. It can be something as simple as dropping off a flyer with a treat, scheduling an appointment to stop in and give them a hand massage and quick introduction, or joining the city Chamber and networking with other local business owners. When new clients come in for services, send them a short, hand written thank you note in the mail. Word of mouth is still the most powerful advertising there is.
You're Located Where?
If you had to become a home based salon and you live "out in the boonies" it could be tricky to get people to drive out and to find you. In this case you need to do a little bit of reconnaissance and learn what the closest areas are to you that people are located and might be willing to drive. Where are they already traveling to? Then determine why the trip out to you would be worth the effort and make a point of emphasizing it. Will they see wildlife out the window during a pedicure, is it quiet, is the parking free where it might not otherwise be, and so on.
Once you determine the why, you can go after the who and use a combination of the techniques above. The hardest thing to remember when we have gotten used to being a successful and busy professionals is that we had to work really hard to get there. It is going to take some legwork, some computer work, and possibly some practice on nail tips so you have new and interesting things to post.
Remember that work built your book before and it can build it again. COVID has changed the layout, you may need to adjust who you are trying to attract and service those that are comfortable venturing out with things that appeal to them. Make sure your disinfection protocols and universal sanitation are something you brag about and show your love for.
Please leave ideas for your fellow salon professionals in the comments below on how they can re-build after a COVID closure.