With the stresses of lockdown, job insecurity and general anxiety about the pandemic and the future, it’s easy for stylists to bring those worries into the salon and let it affect their work and the rest of the team.
The mental and emotional wellbeing of your team has never been more important, but a motivated team means a happy working environment and better results. While it’s easy to focus on the figures, salon owners also need to spend some time considering the team. Jamie Brooks, co-founder of the award-winning Brooks & Brooks salon in central London, looks at three common issues in the salon right now.
1 Problem: lack of passing clients
Client’s perceptions of their hair has changed dramatically during lockdown. There are those who have tried cutting and colouring it themselves and it needs rectifying; then there are those who have done nothing to their hair and have left it to their stylist to deal with.
Hair has been such a topic of conversation during lockdown that many of their expectations have changed. Luckily for many of us, the problems we expected haven’t materialised. Many didn’t do anything drastic to their hair and when they come to the salon they are in no rush, they have more time and because we’re not squeezing them in, there is no stress.
Clients have appreciated us, waited for us and have come back to see us. However, the biggest problem is lack of passing trade and new clients. Hotels are closed, offices are empty and people aren’t travelling very far. Social media and communicating with your existing client base is essential. Encouraging clients to rebook before they leave the salon is more important than ever. Who knows when town and city centres will be hives of activity again?
2 Problem: low morale
When it’s extra busy morale is good because everyone is occupied and positive; it’s when it starts to get quiet and there’s a lull that morale can dip. Whereas before there was always something to do, now there is nothing extra that they can get on with. We work in two teams on different shifts so half the team aren’t seeing each other.
Some of the team haven’t seen each other since March! Now that the initial rush has calmed down we are planning to get everyone together, encourage drinks after work. Hairdressing is very social, especially amongst the younger team members and they struggle when there are no social aspects. The hardest thing as a salon owner is to manage everyone’s expectations and their careers.
There are no photo shoots, no external education, no shows and no session work to enthuse them. We have started training sessions on mannequin heads rather than live models – their enthusiasm might be dampened and we have to keep them motivated.
3 Problem: Stressed staff
There’s no question hairdressers are used to being busy, but coming back from lockdown was a shock for many, with extended hours and extra days the new norm. The environment in the salon is calmer but the process around it is more convoluted – combs, grips, scissors all need sterilising after every client, the area needs sanitising.
It’s the process that clients don’t see that can cause the extra stress. Because the salon has less people at any one time, the energy and the buzz is missing and stylists need this to up their game. Every day is the same – there are no busy or quiet times anymore – and some stylists are struggling with the new norm. We are working in shifts so we are actually working less hours a week, but then that means salary is affected. When stylists look at their column, and see the gaps, they are worried.
The other problem we have is that everyone has more free time than they have ever had before. During lockdown everyone did what they had always wanted to do – learn to bake or learn a new language. So they have time for negative thoughts and time to dwell on things. Plan more team days out, offer new incentives and look at new ways to interest and excite them.
Utilise quiet days for team work, staff training, get team members involved in coming up with new ideas and initiatives for the business. Mental and emotional wellbeing shouldn’t be forgotten and is just as important for a happy, successful salon.