During the current lockdown, we are hearing from many salon and barbershop owners who say they are determined to reassess their work/life balance and work smarter, not harder when they open up again.
This blog post offers a range of tips and advice to help you do just that. It covers:
- Getting your prices right
- Sorting out your cash flow
- Having a clear no-show and late cancellation policy
- Deciding on your opening hours
- Managing client expectations
- Using an accountant
- Making the most of technology
- Ramping up your retail
- Marketing your salon or barbershop
- Letting go and delegating
- Protecting your downtime
One of the golden rules to ensure you work smarter instead of harder is to get your prices right. Deciding how much you’re going to charge is a crucial decision. Most importantly, you must ensure that you are charging enough to cover your costs and make a profit (without having to work all hours of the day and night).
Increasing your prices
Don’t be afraid to increase your prices if you need to. The vast majority of your clients will understand. However, do make sure all your staff will be able to explain the reasons for the price increases. For example, suppliers’ higher costs and increases in wages, rent and rates. In addition, you may need to increase prices when you reopen to cover the costs of extra personal protective equipment (PPE) and additional cleaning materials – don’t forget to factor in these new outgoings.
When deciding on prices, you will also need to consider:
- Your location.
- Your target market.
- The range and type of services you offer.
- Whether you’re going for high-volume turnover or the luxury end of the market.
Working smarter means taking control of your cash flow.
Cash flow is simply the amount of money you have coming in and the amount of money you have going out. The key is to have more cash coming in than is going out. This may sound obvious but running out of cash is a major cause of business failure. Even a profitable salon or barbershop can fail because of poor cash flow. It is the single most important issue for any business. Take control: don’t be caught out.
No-shows and late cancellations can cause you stress, inconvenience and loss of revenue. To help you work smarter and not harder, you will need to have a clear no-show/late cancellation policy in place.
NHBF Members can download our free no-show and late cancellations policy template and in-depth guide to dealing with no-shows and late cancellations.
Always be reasonable and flexible when applying your no-show/late-cancellations policy. Don’t automatically penalise clients, especially when dealing with longstanding clients.
You can also take steps to reduce the number of no-show and late cancellations. For example:
- Build up good relationships with your clients. If they feel committed to your salon and valued as an individual, they will be less likely to let you down. Find out more about building good relationships with your clients.
- Send out reminder text messages a few days in advance of the appointment. Salon software systems can be used to send out automated appointment reminder messages. See more on salon software below.
Getting back to business after the coronavirus lockdown is the perfect time to decide on your salon or barbershop opening hours. Make sure your clients know what your opening hours are – especially if you plan to change them for reopening – and don’t allow yourself to be pressurised or made to feel guilty if you refuse to make any exceptions. Be strict about sticking to your opening hours.
This will benefit both you and your staff. You will not find yourself gradually extending your opening hours and working for longer or at random times to suit clients and your staff will also welcome the certainty of fixed opening hours.
Take control from the start. Let your clients know when you have a definite reopening date using your usual methods of communication – for example, email, text, social media and your website. Explain that:
- It may be difficult to get an appointment at first due to high demand.*
- Some services and treatments may not be on offer until further notice.**
- You have put measures in place to protect staff and clients during their appointment.
- They will need to comply with your health & safety measures during their appointment.
- They must not come in if they feel unwell or live with someone who is unwell.
- You would prefer contactless payment if possible.
*You will need to decide which of your clients will get priority and put a clear plan in place. For example, do you know which clients generate the most income for your salon or barbershop? If not, find out how to produce reports from your salon software. Or you may wish to give priority to clients whose appointments were cancelled due to coronavirus. Alternatively, you could operate a ‘first come, first served’ approach. You will also need to decide if you will take on new clients or prioritise your existing ones.
**The NHBF’s current recommendation is to avoid offering treatments which involve working near the eyes, nose and mouth or where there is a risk of contact with body fluids. If you do, you must carefully consider the risks and record how you will manage them. (This recommendation may change if new government guidelines are introduced.)
If you don’t already have an accountant, make sure you choose one who is a full member of a reputable professional membership body such as AAT, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (or its equivalent in Scotland) or the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
Investing in the services of a qualified accountant might seem like an unnecessary financial outlay at the moment while salons and barbershops are working to recover from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. However, a good accountant will save you time and money in the long run as well as providing peace of mind – all important aspects of ‘working smarter, not harder’.
In addition, one of the many benefits of becoming a Member of the NHBF – which costs less than 80p a day – is access to our free 24/7 tax, VAT and payroll helpline. Our financial specialists can answer your queries on a range of key topics, including:
• Tax, VAT and payroll.
• National Minimum Wage.
• Financial aspects of chair and room renting
Salon software can significantly reduce your workload, free up your time and help you work smarter, not harder. For example, you can use it for:
- Online appointment booking.
- Appointment scheduling.
- Automatic email marketing.
- Financial reporting including income stats, cash flow and individual staff performance.
- Managing staff and working out rotas.
- Calculating commission.
- Automatic appointment reminders.
- Feedback questionnaires
- Automatic reminders to lapsed clients.
Does retail make a healthy contribution to your profits or does it tend to get forgotten in the rush of a running a busy salon or barbershop?
Retail can make a big difference to your bottom line. Increasing your sales will mean there’s less pressure on you to work longer hours and will definitely help you work smarter, not harder.
NHBF Members can download a free in-depth guide to marketing your salon or barbershop which includes detailed information about no-cost and low-cost marketing, including print and online advertising, setting up social media accounts, creating your website and sending e-newsletters. The guide also covers the laws you need to know about including copyright law and GDPR (data protection law).
It can be difficult to delegate aspects of your work to members of your salon or barbershop team. It’s very tempting to think that only you know how to do certain things properly. However, delegating key tasks could potentially save you an enormous amount of time.
Think carefully about time-consuming tasks that could potentially be delegated and discuss the ideas with your team. For example, one of your employees may be a big social media fan and could take on the role of looking after your social media accounts. Maybe another team member is particularly interested in retail products and might enjoy liaising with suppliers and ensuring good stock levels are maintained.
It’s a good idea to trial these arrangements for a few weeks then assess if they are working and discuss with the individuals concerned if they are happy to continue.
If delegation starts to work for you, ask team members to suggest any other areas they might be interested in taking responsibility for. It’s a win-win situation as you will free up your own time while demonstrating to your staff that you trust them and want to encourage their professional development. This will in turn inspire their loyalty to you and your business.
Be very strict about the time you plan to spend with family and friends. If it helps, stick to the same downtime routine each week and make it absolutely clear that this is your time when you will not be doing anything work-related.
This may be difficult at first, especially if your clients have been used to you doing everything you can to fit in appointments and squeeze them in at the last minute as an ‘emergency’. But stick to your guns – your clients and staff will soon get used to the idea and the vast majority of them will understand how important it is to strike a healthy work/life balance.
- Get your salon/barbershop prices right.
- Take control of your cash flow.
- Have a clear no-show and late cancellation policy
- Decide on your opening hours – and stick to them.
- Manage salon/barbershop client expectations
- Use an accountant to free up your time and potentially save money.
- Make the most of salon software technology.
- Take steps to boost your retail income.
- Delegate tasks where possible – this is a win-win situation.
- Be strict about protecting your ‘friends and family’ time.