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My Back To Business Strategy
By Dennie Smith, owner of unisex hair salon Vintage62 in South Croydon and founder of online dating site Old Style Dating.
Summarise how Covid-19 has affected you?
It’s been devastating. We practically closed overnight with little warning. Not one penny coming in for over three months and bills still to pay.
What has been your plan to continue?
We've been thinking of lots of ways to make changes such as introducing special offers around having colours, introducing a VIP membership and charging a booking fee to avoid or mitigate against 'no shows'.
How has business changed for you over the last few months?
I have had no business - it's been a time of intense worry, stress with debt building up. Many in the health and beauty sector have had the same experiences.
As lockdown eases what measures have you put in place to get back to business?
Now we are back to work we've carried out all the government guide lines around PPE, social distancing, staff meetings, notices on doors, information put on our website, repeated across our social media. We've also personally contacted every loyal client informing them of the changes. This includes things like bringing their own reading material. They've all been patient and supportive.
What has been the most challenging aspect of all of this?
It's the fact that we have had to introduce a whole new layer of routine around the salon and the needs of staff, some have children at home and that affects the hours they can work. So having to juggle staff hours, having to pace appointments to allow for social distancing and also building into our already strict cleanliness regime, even more time for cleaning between appointments.
What has been the most positive aspect?
It’s just been so lovely to see staff and all our valued clients , we so missed everyone.
Has it made you consider how you feel about other businesses/suppliers/customers/clients for good or otherwise?
Yes, I have found myself re-assessing who I work with and who has had the most compassionate approach to our business during this awful time. I'm looking at my stock bill, looking for suppliers who are more affordable as well. I'm also going to be more strategic with special offers going forward and am introducing a 30% discount for key workers. Our family has been affected by loss during this period and therefore the value of these workers for us has been very personal.
How important is this phrase to you – ‘buy local, supply local’?
Local is everything to our type of business - our clients are mostly local and we rely on them to keep coming back. We're so lucky where we are based as there's a strong business and retail community and I know most of the local shop owners very well.
What are your top tips at this time?
1. Reassess your outgoings - can you find a more affordable supplier? However consider service - was your current supplier happy to help at this time or not?
2. Look at your opening times - can you extend them to meet pent up demand? also remember that will settle so understand it won't last forever.
3. Look at how you can improve the client experience - reward and build loyalty so that you get repeat business. For example if they re-book their next appointment immediately and commit, offer a discount or a value-add of some kind.
Your parting thought?
We are really happy to be open and I have come back with fresh eyes. We have re-decorated and are now working hard to keep staff morale up and to ensure we have happy clients.
For more information visit www.salonvintage62.co.uk