• Joanna Sterkowicz

Lessons to learn from American spas post lockdown



Research from ISPA (International Spa Association) indicates that spas in the USA that reopened post COVID-19 lockdown wish they had brought their staff back to work sooner than they did.

Spas found that once they opened their doors, they didn’t have enough time to adequately train staff in COVID-19 hygiene & safety protocols and to deal with ‘the new normal’.

This was revealed by Marisa Dimitriadis of the Spa Professionals Guild during a Professional Beauty webinar held on 11 June. Dimitriadis continued: “ISPA found that all of the spas interviewed were doing different things, each with their own set of protocols. Some spas were taking temperature readings of staff and not of clients, while others were taking temperature readings of clients and not staff. There was no set protocol across the board in the US. Similarly, in South Africa, there is no regulating body to dictate a standard set of protocols, unless government issues them.

“When US spas reopened, nobody really knew what was going on. There was a rush to get treatments done and nobody was super-focused on protocols. What spas needed prior to reopening was more information on how to phase themselves back into their operations in the context of ‘the new normal’.”

Speaking specifically to South African spas – Dimitriadis asked the following question: “If government told us that we could open our spas on Monday – are you prepared? Are you and your staff fully ready to take on clients? This includes everything from COVID-19 hygiene & safety signage in the spa, to training staff in your new SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), to how guests will be allowed access into your salon, to a checklist of post lockdown do’s and don’ts, to a wellness programme for your staff.”

Dimitriadis noted South African spas will have to build COVID-19 expenses into their prices. “American spas report that they wished they had built in a tiny COVID-19 surcharge into their rates to cater for all the PPE (Personal Protective Euipqment) and enhanced cleaning and sanitisation now necessary in spas to prevent virus infection and spread. So, as a South African spa, is your COVID-19 surchage plan ready?

“Another important thing that American spas should have done is order more retail stock prior to reopening as they ran out of products in two days. They also wished they had brought more staff back on the first day as they didn’t have enough staff on deck to cope. Additionally, they found that they needed an additional receptionist and more phone lines to take bookings.”

She advised that while South African spas wait to get the go-ahead from government to reopen, that they create a VIP list. “Contact clients now and see what treatments they want and put them on the list. Schedule all their treatments at once as you want them in the spa as long as possible in a single session.

“A good idea is to send out a safety survey to clients, asking them what they want to see in the spa to make them feel safe. While you are taking all these measures, make sure you go onto social media to show your clients what you are doing to prepare for reopening. Clients will want to see your hygiene protocols, signage, etc and they will appreciate that you are taking the time to prepare properly.”

Dimitriadis emphasised the importance of energy transference. “We are in an industry where our energy is 100% transferred to your clients,” she comments. “So your staff’s wellbeing – their mental state as well as their physical health – is vital. Take responsibility for yosur team’s wellness. There are many wellness programmes that you can put into place.

“My final bit of advice would be to ease into your reopening as you need to be fully prepared and your staff needs to get used to ‘the new normal’. Start with one or two clients per therapist per day. Just take a day or two to find your feet after training, and for your staff to find their feet with clients. You can go in guns blazing from day 3 after reopening.”

For more information, go to the Spa Professionals Guild page click here

To view the Professional Beauty webinar click here

(Report by Joanna Sterkowicz)

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