How One Massachusetts Hair Salon Figured Out How to Survive the Coronavirus Pandemic | Coronavirus Series

Massachusetts hair salon

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that explores the impact the coronavirus crisis is having on the world of ecommerce. Explore daily insights surrounding the coronavirus crisis or check out these additional resources to help you navigate your marketing strategy during this time.

In recent weeks, we’ve seen so many stories about businesses that are changing how they do business to navigate the difficult times brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. What’s truly remarkable are the ways in which they’ve adapted to ensure they stay in business and to continue to surprise and delight their customers. 

Service industry businesses like hair salons, nail salons, and restaurants usually operate with only one month’s worth of cash flow on hand, so embracing new ways to adapt is crucial for so many business owners to survive this crisis. 

One Salem, MA-based hair salon figured out not only how to survive but to thrive during this time in only a matter of weeks.

The Designory, a boutique hair salon, offers a range of hair care services and specializes in color applications. Founded in 2016 by Allyson Myette, The Designory can be described by many as more than just a hair salon—it’s like cheap therapy. Sit in a chair, get pampered, talk about life with a trusted advisor, and leave looking and feeling better than when you walked through the door.

When the stay-at-home measures required the salon to close, they needed to figure out how to change what they sold, how they sold it, and how they advertised it to drive sales. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen rather quickly.

Allyson Myette, founder of The Designory

“We paused our operations, brainstormed what we could do with our existing resources, and launched a new plan. We weren’t sure how it would be perceived, but we didn’t have a choice,” said Allyson. 

While Allyson took the necessary steps to pivot her business quickly enough to see a large sales increase, it wasn’t easy.

“We have a traditional operating model for a salon. Clients come in regularly for routine appointments, which are very personalized. Some pay online, but most pay in the salon. They then go out to their social circles where their networks see their hair and that’s how we get new clients,” Allyson said. 

To make the most of this moment, Allyson changed what she sold and used email and social media to leverage her current customers’ networks, while leaning heavily on her website to accept pre-orders for future appointments. 

 

How Allyson quickly changed what she sold and how she sold it

Because clients could no longer come into the salon, Allyson had to find a way to bring the salon to her customers in a safe and hygienic way. 

The solution? Allyson built take-home color and treatment kits tailored specifically for each client, which are available for curbside pickup at the salon.  

“Coming to our salons is a necessity for many people, but it’s also a special treat and one that our customers look forward to every couple of weeks or months. I keep detailed notes about the services each customer has had, so creating these kits has been easy. I go into the salon once a week to mix the colors and make the packages. Each one includes the ingredients, but also gloves, a bowl, and instructions. They also know they can call me anytime,” Allyson said.  

Allyson said she’s been surprised at the positive results she’s seen and she didn’t realize how much success she’d have with this new model. 

“The orders are continuing to increase. I thought maybe 10 people would be interested, but I’ve regularly had five or six times that at any given time and I don’t see it slowing down. My challenge now is how to keep up with the demand,” Allyson said. 

Take-home color and treatment kits

Need ideas to help you quickly pivot your product offering? Here are some ideas and tips.

 

Why Allyson increased her reliance on her customers and marketing channels like email and social media

Allyson said her customer network is her lifeblood and, in a time when many feel isolated, staying connected is more important than ever. Because she could no longer see her customers, she instead reached out to them by phone, email, and connected with them over Instagram.  

“Reaching out to my customers can’t replace having them in my chair, but I want them to know that they’re truly top of mind for me and that I’m thinking about them,” Allyson said. 

While Allyson said she’s used the communications channels before, she’s also increased the personalization and frequency of her messages. On Instagram, she’s been posting what types of kits her customers can buy and her customers have been sharing pictures of how they’re using her pre-made hair color kits.

The results have been great. While Allyson said she previously used Instagram once in a while, she’s now posting a couple stories each day and that’s helped her acquire new customers. 

“Email has been great for repeat business—it’s driving 80 percent of my revenue—but Instagram has helped me get new customers. Our stories and our customers’ stories are being seen and shared with their families and friends who are liking what they see. They’ve also bought kits, too,” Allyson said. 

Need tips on how to reach even more targeted Instagram lists? Check out this guide

 

How Allyson leaned into her website to drive more business

To supplement the growth of her at-home kit business and prepare for business after stay-at-home orders are lifted, Allyson’s been accepting website pre-orders from people who want to book future appointments. 

Her website has a dynamic scheduling option that allows customers to book their date, service type, and pay ahead of their appointment. While she says her website has always had this feature, it wasn’t well-known among her customers so Allyson emailed them to let them know this feature exists. 

“It’s important for my frame of mind and my customers to know that we will be open again one day and, while it might not be tomorrow, there’s a little bit of luxe pampering they can arrange for themselves and look forward to. We’d like to be a positive light during this time,” Allyson said. 

Thanks to the pre-orders for future appointments she’s taken on her website, Allyson’s been able to effectively and efficiently plan out the next four weeks of business once stay-at-home orders are lifted and non-essential businesses can reopen. Having those services booked is her light at the end of this dark tunnel. 

“I can’t wait to get back into the salon with my customers. They’re what make me love my job,” Allyson said. 

Learn more about how pre-orders and three other types of content are helping businesses to drive online sales. 

 

Key takeaway

Stories from businesses like The Designory offer inspiration and motivation during these challenging times. With so many variables outside of everyone’s control,  it’s truly impressive when a company can take stock of the resources they have and find a way to successfully pivot their operations to not only keep their brand in businesses but to also deepen relationships and add value to their customers.  

Allyson adapted her business in a way that both benefits her customers and ensures she can succeed immediately and over the long-term. While she doesn’t plan to continue offering kits after her business fully reopens, she does plan to continue using Instagram and email to engage her customers because of the success she’s seen during this time. 

Curious about how other businesses have pivoted their operations to respond to current challenges? Read this story to learn more. 

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