Updated: Apr 16, 2020
As South Africa remains in COVID-19 lockdown for several weeks, now is the time to develop strategies to prepare for your re-opening.
“The style and response of leadership is going to define those companies best positioned to succeed post coronavirus pandemic,” says Andrew Gibson, senior VP Sensei Holdings (USA). “Your own personal leadership, irrespective of the work you do, is also vital to your ability to maintain your job.
“I would advise being transparent and honest. All stakeholders (owners, directors, banks, landlords and employees) are aware of the lockdown situation. How and what you communicate can engage these parties to help, however they can. For instance, do you have a 3 / 6 / 9 month plan in place? No-one knows exactly when this crisis will be over and how badly it will affect the economy. Prepare contingencies for each scenario so that you are able to communicate and answer questions. Examples would be company voluntary pay cuts rather than redundancies, rent breaks and refinancing options with the banks.
“Do not sit idle – this is the time to be positive, to plan, to respond and to prepare. This is the time to negotiate with your stakeholders.”
Amanda Al Masri, founder at Al-Masri Consulting (USA), believes you should carefully consider the right time to open your business, once the end of lockdown is announced. “Just because you can doesn’t necessarily mean you should. You may have varying degrees of control over when your spa(s) re-opens, but you almost certainly have a seat at the table for that decision. It’s both a human and business decision, and you should be armed with data for both.
“You’re unique; be mindful that every market, every brand, every consumer is different. What’s right for the spa in the next province, city and even across the street isn’t necessarily what’s right for you and your guests. Don’t re-open without carefully considering the when, why and how.
“What is your financial reality? Without a playbook, it’s impossible to predict how consumers will react. How much risk are you prepared to absorb and can you afford to take? Planning for the worst doesn’t mean you’re doomed for failure. So, consider how much are you prepared to lose, and for how long. In addition, consider how you’ll scale quickly, if demand is greater than anticipated?”
Owners and managers should also consider what fallback they have, if it’s the worst or best case scenarios, notes Al Masri, and these should be planned for in a very literal sense.
Chris Kiefer, founder / CEO Rayya Wellness, believes that it is currently very hard to come up with ‘a Harry Potter magic wand solution’ for re-opening, since there are too many unknown factors.
“However, there are things that we can do as a way to keep going,” he continues. “For instance, team trainings and morale – I believe this is a huge point in order not to see skillset and product knowledge depleting. What can you actually do remotely to keep your staff engaged? Prepare remote training plans – ask your operations managers and training managers to take lead here and oversee the whole mechanics. Even if they are on unpaid leave, this is the time to show commitment to common cause. Set up the IT and provide at least three training sessions per week until the reopening happens.”
Kiefer emphasises that it’s important to focus on keeping staff morale up. “Be a counselor, listen to your staff, stress to them that their jobs are safe (if you are confident in that fact). Also, keep staff busy. I am currently running competitions for Best Fitness Routine and they have to send daily workout videos on our WhatsApp group. There are so many ways to keep them engaged.”
To hear more of what these experts have to say about how to reset and restart your business, access their webinar at Professional Beauty UK’s Virtual Spa Week. Click here
This panel was moderated by Mark Moloney, Professional Beauty Group’s managing director, and Jean-Guy de Gabriac, WSWC conference producer and founder of World Wellness Weekend