Blog

Oh, how we miss you!

You can not imagine how much we miss you. And, with Governor DeWine’s announcement today that salons do not yet have a scheduled opening date, we’re sad that it will be even longer before we are able to see you.

We know several of our more “connected” clients likely have the ear of Governor DeWine, Lt. Governor Husted, or someone on one of the groups that is making opening decisions. If you have such connections, please scroll down for a special plea.

For the rest of us, let’s talk about our needs and yours.

You go first!

Meeting your needs

Your hair:

We know many of you have been holding off on our concierge service in the hopes of getting in early in May and from the start, we’ve asked you to hold off as long as you felt you could.

Well, this is going to push a lot more of our Phans over the “I can’t wait any longer” edge, so let me reassure you that the concierge services have been going extremely well.

It is not the same as coming to the salon of course. At home cuts and colors are both messy and inconvenient. And while the goal of our salon services is as close to perfection as possible, our goal of guided at-home services is simply “better than before.” While that may not seem a high standard, we always want to promise less and deliver more. Regardless, these guided services are SO MUCH BETTER than rolling the dice without professional guidance!

Feel free to watch the Columbus Dispatch’s video of an at-home guided concierge cut to see what they are like. Of course, it is WAY easier to do a guided cut with a second person, but if you’re at home completely alone, we can still help. Concierge video guidance is  $1/minute . For pricing, please note that bang trims take 10 to 15 minutes and most haircuts are taking at least 30 minutes. Color services may take as little as a 10-minute setup or an hour plus of hand-holding. 

Keep in mind that in addition to at-home color kits and concierge color and cut services, we also have products for styling, including colored conditioners and temporary root covers.

Your appointments:

Thank you to those of you who have been calling or messaging us to cancel appointments. We feel the love and want to assure you that we’ve got them all situated. 

For future appointments, please use this helpful form to get on our priority booking list so that when we are able to reopen, we can get you in as quickly as you desire.

Your safety:

Know that we have been following every guideline (and then some) in order to be ready to open as early as May 4th. So any additional time just allows us to be better prepared, and more fastidious in our safety commitment!

Our needs

So many of you have asked what you can do for your stylist or the salon and THANK YOU!

The staff

Overall the staff is doing well. They report feeling safe and supported. That said, we have some staff members who are stuck in “Unemployment Purgatory”. We’re doing all we can to help them and you can help too:

  1. If you would like, you may make a donation to our Phamily Relief Fund. This is a staff-organized and managed fund where stylists are pooling offers of support to grant to loan or grant to those with the highest need. It is a beautiful example of the way our phamily works together and warms my heart!
  2. Use our concierge services liberally (much of the staff who has not qualified for Unemployment is making a living this way). 
  3. Send love to your stylist! A simple text could do. If you don’t have their work text number saved in your phone, you can search the word “goals” “appointment” or “scheduled” to find the text strand.

The salons

Of course, this is a tough time. We work on a partner system (in some ways like a law firm!) and as you may be aware, Ohio has struggled to provide CARES act funds to non-employee workers. We are, however, grateful that two of our three landlords have been flexible which helps tremendously, but there’s no getting around the fact that an event like this is financially devastating to each salon it has impacted. Here’s how you can help!

  1. Buy retail from Phia Concepts! Some of the stylist-partners are running this service and it is helping pay their bills! 
  2. Buy salt lamps. Our salt lamp inventory is large, varied, and luxurious. Ask your concierge to FaceTime with you to show you the options.
  3. Refer a great stylist. We will not require anyone to work, and an early survey has indicated that some of our staff will wait to return. That, combined with the time it takes to follow the additional sanitation practices, makes it clear that we’ll need at least a couple of new great staff members to meet the demand in a steady, safe manner. Please use this link to refer any stylist you know. We will explain the opportunities available and hopefully provide employment for those in need. (Don’t worry, we have all your service records, so you’ll be taken care of on way or another), and finally
  4. Connect us! If you have connections with anyone who is making opening decisions, please forward the information below

For those of you who may have “friends in high places,” we don’t pretend to know how to best balance public health with economic viability. We also know that hair services do require contact closer than six feet and not all salons will be as fastidious as we will in sanitation and caution. That said, we do want to make sure that the state’s decision-makers and policy-creators have considered the following: 

  • salons are run by professionals who are specifically trained in infectious disease control
  • unlike offices or retail shops, there is a readily available governing body that can temporarily or permanently suspend the license of a professional or an entire shop for not following necessary practices. 

There is no such oversight in many of the industries that have opened. In addition, a face shield over the mask of the practitioner for any face to face contact can further prevent virus spread.

We’ll be waiting (impatiently) until we can see you again! 

With love,

Leize

Founder, Phia Concept Salons

Covid-19: Serving clients from a closed salon.

One of our stylists recently came across a post in her facebook feed that has been widely circulated among panicked stylists. The post read: “PLEASE STOP ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO DO THEIR OWN HAIR. THIS WILL DESTROY OUR INDUSTRY”

While our salons tend to see evolution and possibility in all types of situations, this one line panic post brings up some great questions that salon owners everywhere are dealing with right now, which all boil down to this: How do I best serve my clients during this COVID-19 closure?

It would appear there is a wide range of responses. On one end of the spectrum, we’re all hearing of stylists who are providing in-home services (which in Ohio violates both the rules of the State Board of Cosmetology and the Governor’s stay-at-home order). On the other end of the spectrum there are people like the creator of the aforementioned post. The former group seems to be unconcerned with anything other than their own income and appears willing to put others at risk in the process. The latter group seems to consider finding ways to meet your clients needs to be the equivalent of being a “Strikebreaker” or “Scab” crossing a picket line. 

I have compassion for all you salon owners out there trying to figure this out. If you’re anything like me, determining the best way to take care of your staff, serve your clients, and keeping your sanity in these times feels less like a moving target and more like a sprinting one!

I don’t have a lot of answers for you, but I do have an analogy that might help. Providing no options for your clients is a bit like expecting abstinence to work as a viable birth control method…and truly, sometimes abstinence does work! Just like there are clients who will be so devoted to you that they will wait for 4, 6, 8, 10 weeks if they need to. They will proudly return to the salon with a two-inch stripe at their roots and you can laugh together about how much they missed you.

But let’s be real. Abstinence is not foolproof for teens and expecting your clients to just wait is not going to work for everyone either, especially if you cater to high-visibility clients. Granted, the reasons for not waiting are likely very different from the analogy: it’s not that your clients are hormone-crazed with partially developed frontal lobes (at least not most of them!) — It is that your clients still have lives! They may be quarantined or sheltering-in-place, or staying at home, but weddings and funerals still happen. Many are still working in essential jobs, and most are connecting with someone via Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, or whatever social media platform is working for them. 

This industry will continue to evolve, and if the feedback we’re getting from our clients is any indication, we are worth a lot more to them than just a steady pair of hands to slather on a retouch. Our clients come to us for our skill, our vision, our formulation, and for the way we make them feel.

Imagine if Bob Ross had kept his painting to himself! Our in-home paint-a-long sessions were nowhere near the masterpieces he created, but he shared his gifts and gave us guidance. Our clients aren’t artists, and we know that. And we, as professionals, know better than anyone that a tiny bit of glamour, like a little happy tree, can bring brightness back in someone’s life.

So, after reading all this, if you’re still fearful of helping your clients out, there’s no reason to read more. However, if you have decided to provide some sort of support to clients, I would ask you to consider one more question: Are you willing and able to provide any client support in a manner that will ensure safety for any staff and for your guests? In our case, that means meeting or exceeding the guidelines by your state and local officials, but you create a standard that works for you.

If you are certain you will provide a safe environment, here are some potential offerings to help your guests through this closure.

  • Retail items like root touch-up, color conditioners, and styling aids.
  • Video guidance for at-home services 
  • At-home color kits.

If you are considering the ever-controversial at-home color kits, you’ll have some additional things to consider, like your relationship with your manufacturer and any agreements you may have with them (for example if you carry Aveda products, selling Aveda color could arguably put you in violation of the non-diversion agreement).

And in considering any of these options, we would suggest that you look into all of the following:

  • Check with your state board of cosmetology to ensure that you are not violating any laws or rules. 
  • Check with your insurance agent to verify that you have appropriate coverage (particularly for color or for deliveries if you are offering such services).
  • If you or anyone delivering any items is being paid W-2 wages, you may need to change your designation for BWC, as your current coverage probably does not cover driving.
  • It is also important to understand any orders that may be in place that are particular to your city, county, region, or state.  Some things we had to consider:
    • In Ohio, one order mandates that “all business operations” at salons must cease. So we have chosen not to do any business at all, (even online), through our salons. (All our client support is happening through our salon services enterprise).
    • That is not to say our neighbor salons couldn’t though! One Ohio attorney told us that “Nothing in the Stay-at-home order would prevent selling by phone or web if there is no customer contact.” He said “that type of ‘remote work’ is expressly encouraged” so just because we’re not operating such a business out of our salon may not mean you can’t. Work with your attorney to create a plan that works for you.
    • What is “essential.”  In Ohio, we are lucky, the retail sale of personal care products is considered essential, but each state has different laws and different levels of oversight, and your attorney is better suited to advise you as to what is permitted under the orders in your state. 

Finally, there’s the question of whether to provide services only for existing clients or to accept new clients.

We see both sides of this. On one hand, we have always advocated for our salons and salon clients to market with a healthy respect for any existing client/stylist relationships. In our salons, our code is to never throw any other salon or stylist under the bus, even when we have a client in our chair from another salon for a cut repair or color correction.

On the other hand, if a competitor is not taking care of their clients, someone will and it may as well be you.

For the time being, we’ve decided to communicate Phia Concepts offerings only to the email lists of our member salons and through those salons’ social media accounts. That could change as this stay at home order is extended, though. But rather than marketing outside of our own client base, what we’d rather do is help other salons set up ways to ensure their clients are cared for through this challenging time.

At the end of the day, how you feel in response to this salon closure challenge is a good measure of where you are in your career. Our stylists are reporting that they feel supported, stable, safe, and excited to get back to work as soon as we can reopen. 

If you find the current challenges have made you doubt the value you provide to your clients, or you have fallen into a mindset that reduces you to a pair of hands doing what you think your clients could do at home it may be time to invest in some top-quality education.

If you find that you feel you have to withhold valuable information from your clients to continue to provide value, or that the current challenges have moved you to a place of fear, it may be time to find a great coach!

Either way, we’re here to help!

See a concierge cut!

In case you’ve been wondering about our guided video-cuts, check out this great article today in the Columbus Dispatch! 

The article features our own Annah talking longtime client Mary Moore through the process of cutting her husband’s hair. Sam Moore, the brave husband has been a client of various Phia Concept salons for almost a decade.

Sam’s hopes weren’t too high, and we didn’t promise much: Our standard for all concierge services is simply “better than it was before we started.” According to Annah, “I don’t expect someone to be able to duplicate what I can do with hundreds of classes, thousands of hours of training and tens-of-thousands of hours behind the chair but I can usually help them better their current situation”.

In the end, Mary turned out to have some unexpected natural talent and Sam is pretty pleased with the result. Still, both Sam and Mary shared that they hope not to have to repeat the at-home service and can’t wait until it is safe for the salons to reopen. 

And while the result might not be a level 5 stylist cut, we think Sam looks pretty cute:

We’ve said from the start that we’re thrilled if you can wait for us, but if you can’t, we understand. Click here to access products and services to help you through the rest of the Stay at Home period.

“We hope you can wait for us, but if you can’t, we want to help you,” Bella said.

COVID-19 Responsibility and Response as a Small Business Owner: When do I close my doors?

The decisions we are making as small business owners right now are onerous.

Government and community leaders are making difficult decisions now, so someone doesn’t have to decide later ‘who gets the ventilator and who dies.’

Many branches of government are shutting down, schools are being closed, offices are enacting work-from-home strategies, and restaurants/bars are no longer available for drink and dine-in options.

This COVID-19 is a big deal, and an exponential growth curve will prevent access to adequate healthcare to save lives so it is an important issue .

In light of more and more closure mandates coming from government authorities, as small businesses it is imperative to ask: What is the responsibility of a small service or retail establishment in a pandemic? Is it socially responsible to keep my doors open?

I can’t answer that question for you, but here is where we at the Phia Concept family of salons have landed for the time being: As long as we can provide an environment of abundant caution and extraordinary vigilance that drastically minimizes any transmission of COVID-19, remaining open provides an safer option for the subset of the population who will be determined to get the services as long as there is not a closure mandate. 

And when I say intentional vigilance, I’m not kidding. Here are three pages of precautionary measures the salons who use Phia Concept Service, Systems, and Support are taking in response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus. They range from sanitation of pens to elimination of magazines and non-cosmetic blowouts, to masks on anyone who has a cough.

What I can do is to provide the following list of considerations and provide some resources that will help you navigate this unprecedented time.

First, though, I will share some strong personal opinions. You need to close your business if: 

  • You’re not willing to let staff stay home if they think they are a risk to others or at risk of grave illness.
  • You’re not willing or able to modify your Facility, Practices, and Services, or
  • You doubt the willingness or ability of your staff to uphold the promises you make to your clients.

Let me be clear: If you choose to stay open and make promises to your clients or customers, it is unthinkable to not deliver on those promises. Not only does your reputation depend on it, but LIVES may depend on it as well!

In choosing to stay open, consider the following:

Facilities

  • Do you have sufficient space to keep guests six feet or more apart? (We are aiming for twelve)
  • If you do not have sufficient space, can you reduce staffing to seat guests separately, leaving empty chairs in between?
  • Do you have or can you get high quality air purifiers that filter down to 0.1 microns in size? (ours do so at 99.97% efficiency)
  • Do you have cameras to be able to monitor practices and ensure promises are being met?

People

  • What type of staff do you have? 
    • Are they free spirits or are they accustomed to following protocols?
    • Are they rigorous? 
    • Do they follow directions well? 
    • Can you generally trust them to do what they commit to?
    • Are they willing to go out of their way to protect clients?
  • Can administrative personnel work remotely?
  • How flexible can you make your leave policies?

Practices

  • Do you have adequate supplies (gloves, sanitizer, cleaner, masks, etc.) to meet all of the commitments you’re making?
  • How can you change your internal practices by eliminating every single unnecessary face-to-face contact in favor of phone or cyber conference?
  • Are you willing to eliminate certain services?
  • Can you reduce the foot-traffic into your salon? (We are requesting that guests reschedule for April if they are willing).

Other Factors

  • Consider your personal health. If you fall into any of the age or disease categories that put you at high risk of death from COVID-19, please do not work. 
    • If you do not work, can you trust your staff to follow stringent protective measures without you?
    • Do you have a way to oversee the shop remotely?
  • Do you have staff members who also work at bars or restaurants (who are more likely to be carriers)?

For our part, the decision may be made easier as closures may be mandated soon. I am grateful that here in Ohio, we have a proactive Governor who is being appropriately vigilant and has been working for weeks to reduce contact at the highest impact levels like mass gatherings.  

Internally, we are also using a helpful model developed by Thomas Pueyo to determine what steps to take and are reassessing potential closure daily. To find the model scroll to the heading “Risk-Based Model for Triggers” and click “direct link to copy.”  [Please note that this is an office model rather than a retail model. As such, under “employees” we chose to include all of the clients who are in for a week]. With that number, at the writing of this, that model showed that the risk that a staff member or client this week is infected with COVID-19 is around .01%, but we expect that to shift drastically by day. 

When the stakes are this high, it is always possible that we’ll look at our choices in retrospect and wish we had not directed clients away. We also may look back and wish we had shut our doors completely. By doing all we can to fully acknowledge consequences (even unanticipated ones) we will at least know we’ve done the very best we can. 

No matter what choice you make, let’s increase responsibility and safety faster than this virus can replicate. 

©2020 Phia Concept Salons

Author: Leize Bella: Results-oriented leader and entrepreneur with significant experience in creating, developing, and growing sales and service teams, She is the Founder and CEO of Phia Concepts which provides World Class Service, Systems, and Support to Salons and Studios, and founder of Leize The Day coaching. @Leizethedaycoaching, @phiaconcepts Leize is offering complimentary coaching to any salon or business struggling with business decisions or creating or implementing protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is also providing all rollout resources for the programs she has created at no charge.