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How the salon business looks now

Skyrocketing sales of DIY hair colour kits, salons downsizing operations to accommodate the new safety protocols, and stylists performing services in clients’ homes, are some of the trends evident in South Africa’s post lockdown salon environment.

This emerged at a recent Salon International webinar, which featured Stav Dimitriadis, owner of Twincare International, Candice Donadel from Mirrors Hair Lab, and Kyle van Wyk, co-owner of Texture.Inc, as panelists.

Dimitriadis elaborated: “The industry is definitely being affected by the fact that consumers have been buying lots of box hair colour from the likes of Dis-Chem since lockdown first began. Going forward, it’s possible that those salons which have downsized temporarily might find that they can carry on with reduced staff. And, those hairdressers that are going to clients’ homes to perform services might find that they are making more money than in salons. So what will the industry look like then?

“We’ve noticed that salon business has slowed down after the initial rush in the first week of reopening. Therefore salons need to keep an open mindset – you literally have to go day by day and adapt to the way the industry is evolving at the moment. Profitability of salons is a big issue, especially now that we have to limit the number of clients coming into the salon. Are you making the right margins? In the short term, business is not going to go back to where it was until they develop a vaccine for COVID-19. So you have to evaluate your business on a daily basis. Salon owners should make personal appeals to clients to come into the salon.”

Van Wyk added: “I think that for clients, going to a salon is very much about the salon experience, which you don’t get if you have your service while leaning over your own basin at home.”

Donadel revealed that she once used to do mobile services. “I had my car full of equipment, including a basin. It’s a back-breaking process lugging all that equipment in and out of people’s homes, and you don’t make as much money as you would think. Furthermore, there is an element of a lack of professionalism when you are doing treatments at someone’s house and it takes much longer than in the salon.

“As for clients doing their own hair colour at home, while they might get a box colour treatment right the first time, by the third home treatment, their roots will be darker. A lot of clients started requesting professional DIY kits from me during lockdown and I was resistant to it at first, but then I did a video for them and started selling kits, pointing out that they wouldn’t get the same results at home as in the salon. While colour corrections are great for salons as they do bring lots of business, people don’t always have money for R3,000 treatments, especially now.”

Price increases

From a supplier’s point of view, Dimitriadis has experienced a 30% price depreciation. “Consequently we do need to implement a 10% increase at least. But we don’t want to make decisions that will hurt us in the long run, so we’ve kept prices low for salons. Interestingly, our two most expensive product brands are the ones that are growing, which shows that the top income earners will always have money, no matter what. In this environment, if you have R2,000 to spend, you won’t want to try some new product that might not work.”

Van Wyk said his salon had implemented a slight price increase but that most clients have been understanding about it.

PPE and safety protocols

The Twincare International team has noticed that while most hair professionals are taking PPE seriously, in the last week they’ve seen that some salons have lost interest and are not wearing masks, which makes clients uneasy.

“We have to take the COVID-19 situation seriously,” stressed Dimitriadis, “and we have to wear masks and shields.”

With the infection rate currently spiking, Van Wyk believes more and more people are becoming scared. “A lot of clients still have kids at home and so can’t come in for services as they’re not allowed to bring kids to the salon. We haven’t had problems with clients wearing masks, but if you sit there for four to five hours for a colour correction, you do feel suffocated. It’s also problematic for staff to wear masks and shields all day.”

Donadel has always enforced very strict hygiene in her salon. “So nothing really changed with the new protocols other than over-sanitising and masks. I sent out a video to clients so they would know what to expect and we charge an upfront 50% deposit and let them know they will be the only one in the salon. We had a client come in who tested positive for COVID-19 the following day, so we sent the stylist for testing and self-isolation. We fogged the salon and left it empty for 24 hours.” (Report by Joanna Sterkowicz)


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