How are we going to face the new normal once we return to our hair salons?

There is no question that we are all living in unprecedented times. After having our doors closed for over six weeks, what should we expect as the new normal once we return to business?

I’ve asked many salon owners if they’re prepared for this next phase when the green light to reopen is given from Health Canada and the government. Surprisingly, not everyone has a plan.

There are many factors we need to consider in our strategic re-opening plans: one being the emotional state of our employees.

The media has been doing a great job keeping us informed with the latest news. However, this can lead to anxiety and even a little bit of paranoia as we navigate maintaining social distancing when we are in public, for example, when visiting our local grocery store.

The COVID-19 two-step is something we all have become familiar with as everyone practices social distancing of a least six feet or –about the length of a hockey stick. We maintain a wide berth around people as we pass them on the street and, sometimes, we even shift away when someone is too close or doesn’t respect the new norms.

How is this going to impact the way we operate our salons when our staff and clients will be in close contact? How can we prepare our teams and clients?

We don’t know what the future holds. Right now, we need to focus on the present and this means doing things differently.

Here are some of my thoughts:

For instance:

• Customers will need to adhere to strict appointment times – no overlapping and no one waiting at reception

• Masks for stylists and customers, perhaps, for some, even face visors

• Fresh gloves at each appointment

· Priority to be given for our senior clients requesting appointments early in the day

· Only a certain number of chairs in use at the same time – must be at least 6 ft apart – further the better

• Only one sink to be used at a time maintaining distance in between

· No conversations while shampooing client’s hair and suggest dry cuts

when possible

• Floor area to have markers indicating where people should stand and walk

• No coffee for the time being

· Remove all unnecessary items (magazines, newspapers and any other paper products/decor) from reception areas and work stations and ensure that these areas and other regularly touched surfaces are consistently disinfected.

· Since there will be no waiting - chairs/tables at reception should be removed.

• Smocks washed after each use customers

• Hand sanitizer at the entrance

• No cash – debit/credit only

• No family group waiting

· Washrooms need to be sanitized after each use OR the other option is customers cannot use the washrooms/employees only but washrooms will need to sanitize after each use.

· Doors, handles, etc., must be wiped down/disinfected – ongoing

· No clients should be admitted if they have a temperature or are not feeling well, or is living with someone who has symptoms

· Any employee who feels their client is unwell – should be free to let you know.

When public officials allow salons to reopen, it will not be business as usual. You’ll have to be extra vigilant – the last thing you want is someone who comes in ill or becomes ill at your salon.

Return to Work - Staff Safety

Your team is what builds your salon business, and their state of mind should not be overlooked in your planning.

As a team leader, you must consider their wellbeing and make sure you create an environment that is trusting and encourages open communication. No judgement. Remember, everyone deals with stress and anxiety differently BUT together -- showing compassion and understanding – you can build a stronger team.


· If you haven’t already, set-up weekly ZOOM calls with your staff and find out how they’re doing and let them know your plans. Find out what they are thinking.

· When you do open, check in with your staff daily and ask if they feel safe in the salon environment.

· How are they feeling about getting to the salon? Do they have to use public transit?

· Are you considering shorter work days and staggered schedules since you will not be able to overlap appointments?

· Have you factored in mental health breaks throughout the day?

· Ask for their input to make them part of the “new way of daily operations.”

· Reception area - consider a plastic shield

· In the fall - remind employees to get their flu shot

These are just a few things to consider. But remember, the playbook has not been written so we will need to depend on each other and share our best practices. Let’s face it, there will be a huge adjustment period for many of us.

And remember, the COVID-19 crisis is rapidly evolving and there are different considerations for salon owners in different regions and sub-sectors of the industry. Salon owners etc., should consult the applicable laws & regulations, and guidelines issued by federal & provincial health and labor authorities, to make the best decisions for their respective businesses.

The key is to be empathic to the needs of our team. Make sure they have a safe environment when they return. Help them understand and be aware of new policies and procedures before you reopen your salons for business.

As an industry, we have always shared in our successes and, yes, helped each other when we needed that added support and guidance. Together we are stronger.

You’re not alone.

I would love to hear your thoughts and to learn what steps you’re considering. And, if you need any assistance or want a sounding board – at this time I would be happy to offer my consultancy services on a pro bono basis.

Please feel free to contact me to discuss the new way of business. It would be my pleasure to help you.

Peter Ciardulli

Salon Smartz

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