HEALTH, FITNESS & BEAUTY FRANCHISES #3 Rules for Surviving and Thriving in the New COVID Normal | Business Franchise Australia

HEALTH, FITNESS & BEAUTY FRANCHISES #3 Rules for Surviving and Thriving in the New COVID Normal

Sinead Horan-Webb, Business Franchise Magazine

The ongoing COVID-19 health crisis caused many of us to retreat to our cocoons. But as restrictions on social gatherings slowly begin to lift around the country, life is steadily returning to a new—highly sanitised—normal.

Health, fitness and beauty franchises which had been heavily impacted by lockdown laws are starting to see a resurgence of customers wanting to dust off the cobwebs and start looking and feeling good once again.

But visiting the gym, salon or hairdresser at the close of 2020 looks a whole lot different to what it did at the start of the year. Stricter hygiene and safety measures may be here to stay, and new technologies are changing the way service providers and their customers interact.

Service-sector franchises that not only accept the new order but lead the way in introducing these changes, will be the ones to flourish. These are the businesses that have embraced the first golden rule of surviving and thriving in the new COVID-normal: to meet this challenge (and in fact any challenge life throws your way) you must…

#1: Embrace necessity

The old saying “Necessity is the mother of invention” is being played out before our eyes during this pandemic. Businesses who may have been experimenting or simply thinking about incorporating new technologies into their business model before COVID-19 have suddenly found themselves thrown into the deep end, forced to sink or swim.

Some concepts have been relatively simple and easy to implement, like:

  • Creating online content to keep customers engaged (think fitness classes shared through Zoom, make-up and skin care tutorials shared on Instagram, or online consultations for spas and salons to lessen the amount of person-to-person contact)
  • Downloading QR codes for touchless customer sign-in and using contactless payments for transactions
  • Informing clients about COVID-safe policies by updating content across all communication platforms (from the company website and social channels to email campaigns and booking confirmations)

Fortunately, many of these concepts were well underway in most businesses. Cashless, touchless payments, for example, have been standard business tools for quite some time. And many businesses have been sharing content on their social channels and building a steady audience of engaged users since platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram first came onto the scene. But there have always been some businesses who have hung back, hoping for these trends to pass, lacking the time, money or resources to properly implement these strategies. Now, they are running to catch up.

Other concepts have involved a lot more effort and expense, but for those businesses determined to be ahead of the curve, they will no doubt continue to pay dividends in the long run. Concepts like:

  • Creating branded apps for customers to download and maintain their engagement (like fitness apps that track progress and keep the connection between trainer and trainee outside of the gym)
  • Developing e-commerce platforms to encourage product sales during slow service times (allowing customers to purchase their favourite spa and salon products online to maintain their beauty regime even during lockdown)

It’s this ability to look ahead to see what trends and emerging technologies are going to shape the way they operate that makes a successful franchise. Rather than naively hoping the global health crisis will go away so they can return to old ways of doing business, these forward-thinking enterprises…

#2: Look beyond the pandemic

A study published by the Journal of Service Research has found that these new necessity-inspired ways of interacting with customers will become the new ‘business as usual’.

Even simple safety measures like implementing hand hygiene stations and creating awareness around personal space and social distancing are likely to be concepts that will carry into the future, long after COVID-19 has passed.

“Making people feel both safe and embraced during a pandemic is tough because contact—customer-to-customer, customer-to-employee, and employee-to-employee—may lead to serious illness or even death,” said Professor Tracey Danaher of Monash University who collaborated on the ‘Service Safety in the Pandemic Age’ study.

“Reimagining service design, strengthening organisational trust through information safety, and better understanding service separability—these new realities illustrate how COVID-19 is opening broad pathways for service research.”

Business owners that have reimagined the way they do business are not only keeping their customers and staff safe, but keeping their businesses going when times are tough.

“This pandemic has provided opportunities for the service sector to rethink how they conduct and deliver business, leading to innovation that not only makes everyone feel safer, but also improves the service experience in the long-term, regardless of whether a public health crisis is present,” added Professor Danaher.

It’s important to remember during all of these changes and innovations to your business the reason you are making them: it’s not just about growing the business, boosting revenue and gaining new customers—it’s about keeping everyone safe during uncertain times. That goes for your customers and your staff. This golden rule comes down to one simple ethos…

#3: Put people first

By creating a safe, hygienic space for your employees and their clients and introducing new systems and technologies to improve their interactions, you are building an environment of trust and wellbeing.

No matter what stage of lockdown or total freedom your state or territory is currently in—and we are all constantly learning how fickle that freedom can be—it’s essential that you follow your COVID-safe plan to the letter and keep your people safe. In doing this, you will keep them coming back, and that’s got to be good for business.

 

Thinking of running a health, fitness or beauty business?

Rather than going it on your own, joining a franchise offers security in uncertain times. Reputable service-based franchises have now had plenty of time to implement COVID-safe plans and find solutions to any practical barriers regarding customer safety. Many franchises have also introduced innovative technologies to keep their customers engaged and keep their businesses moving onwards and upwards.

To see what franchises are available, explore our Franchise Directory:

www.businessfranchiseaustralia.com.au/directory