The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the spa industry, causing many to lay off seasoned employees or even permanently shut down. As businesses are beginning to reopen in the new year, adjusting to the new normal is critical. By implementing programs and technologies that address hygiene and safety protocols, spas and salons can reduce risk and protect their employees and clients long-term.
The industry has already seen well-appointed companies investing in these programs and finding success with them. Spas made the decision to reopen after setting strict operating guidelines in place for employees and clients, such as virtual appointment booking procedures, required personal protective equipment, temperature checks before entering, and limiting the number of people allowed inside. For example, some spas throughout New York have adapted their operating procedures to allow clients the opportunity to experience the treatment they desire, whether a pedicure or facial, while keeping health and safety in the forefront.
SAFETY & TRUST
The optimal way for spas to ensure safety and maintain trust with their clients is by instituting strict guidelines to address every aspect of the experience. Establishing safety, health, and hygiene excellence procedures requires more than a check-the-box exercise but a complete culture shift within the business, so that spas have a commitment to make certain that these protocols are at the core of their entire operations.
A recent survey found that 68% of clients are concerned about resuming normal activities such as visiting spas. Furthermore, 83% of consumers believe COVID-19 will be a factor in their life for seven plus months. Clients venturing out are seeking assurance that a spa is doing everything possible to protect their health and wellbeing. Many of these clients are also doing their own in-depth research before visiting, and their onsite experience will inform their future behavior and their likelihood to return. It’s imperative that spas put safety at the core of their operations. In addition to physical distancing and personal protective equipment, spas should consider installing effective technologies to heighten cleaning practices and increasing the time between appointments to allow for sanitizing. Also, implementing digital communication regarding appointments will cut down on the number of people in waiting rooms.
Opening windows and doors in the spa will allow for increased cross ventilation, as natural air flow is crucial when operating indoors. Spas should also consider updating their HVAC systems and whenever possible, integrate filters. Increasing the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing throughout the day will keep all common spaces and bathrooms clean. Installing plexiglass in between the employee and the client at workstations, as well as at the front desk will help reduce the spread of germs and bacteria. Digital menus accessed through a QR codes can also be implemented to help clients select their treatments when they arrive.
Employees and skin care professionals should always be required to wear their mask and to have their temperature checked before each shift. Additional sanitizing and washing stations should be installed in clearly visible locations throughout the space. Lastly, altering furniture layouts and controlling the flow of traffic to avoid cross-traffic and allow for physical distancing will help contribute to a safe and comfortable reopening for clients and employees.
While it is crucial to establish guidelines, it is equally important to ensure they are enforced. In fact, 77% of consumers consider whether an establishment has been endorsed by an independent third party before making a buying decision. Spas should have an auditing system in place. By employing systematic compliance methods, clients will feel safe during their visit. It is also essential that employees are well versed and trained on the new protocols that affect their daily jobs. Spas may consider creating a new position or dedicating a team member to focus on safety measures. Taking it a step further, businesses can hire an independent task force brought on to monitor the safety methods. Ideally, the spa can partner with an independent third-party company to ensure hygiene compliance and mitigate risk.
While safety and hygiene have always been at the core of the operation of spas, it is now more crucial than ever. By elevating their programs and ensuring compliance with these new protocols, businesses can open responsibly and persevere through the pandemic to serve their clients with the utmost attention and care.
Sherry Orel is president of the certification, audit, and assurance business of North America for Bureau Veritas, a global leader in the testing, inspection, and certification industry. Orel leads a team of over 300 and is responsible for accelerating business expansion plans of this strategic and core business for Bureau Veritas. Based at Bureau Veritas’ headquarters in New York, New York, Orel has experience across various roles in leadership, sales, and marketing. She has an innovative and entrepreneurial approach that makes her a valuable asset to Bureau Veritas, particularly as the company expands its business across North America. Orel has over 25 years of experience with a diverse background in both public and private sectors, as well as a proven track record of leading companies to deliver significant impact on the business, for clients, and communities. Prior to joining Bureau Veritas, Orel served as president and CEO of SCENTERED, a global wellbeing and lifestyle brand, as well as CEO of brand connections. She attended Purdue University and Roosevelt University, where she studied marketing.