October marks the beginning of flu season and while health experts say it is too early to predict how active the 2023-2024 season will be, an earlier-than-usual spike in cases has been reported. Additionally, just shy of four years from the beginning of the pandemic, COVID cases are on the rise as predicted for flu seasons. As such, salon and spa owners should take additional measures to support the health and wellness of both clients and employees.
The key to avoiding a difficult flu season is to be proactive. Fortunately, numerous resources are available for salons and spa owners to help them create and implement procedures to protect clientele and employees alike from falling ill. Salon owners and operators can start with the following best practices:
- Prioritize sanitation: Most salon and spa owners and operators know that prioritizing cleanliness is both a good business practice, as well as the right thing to do. During flu season, it is even more important. Salon and spa owners can ensure employees are trained in and are implementing cleaning protocols including regularly sanitizing service areas, chairs, all equipment and any touch points in the building.
- Outline protocols: Protocols around cleanliness and what to do if someone is ill should be clearly explained and displayed to employees. Additionally, salon and spa owners should consider requiring employees to stay home if they are ill and enforce a clear procedure for when sick employees are allowed to return to work. They should implement a transparent cancellation policy that is easy to use and allows and encourages sick clients to stay home. Having these protocols and policies printed and displayed can help ensure they are followed and that employees can be held accountable.
- Encourage protection: Consider encouraging employees to get their flu shots by providing information on where to receive the shot and allowing time from work for them to receive it. Providing masks for optional use by customers and employees can create an extra layer of protection. Some businesses might also consider encouraging mask use for employees recently recovering from an illness, or in regular close contact with clients to alleviate transmission.
Supporting client recovery
In addition to following the above best practices, salon and spa owners can position their services as therapeutic for customers recently recovered from an illness. Once a client is no longer contagious, salon and spa professionals might want to suggest services that could help support their recovery and possibly address or help them avoid lingering side effects.
- Hot baths: Hot baths can help with muscle aches and congestion, relaxing the body and giving it a comfortable atmosphere to recover. Adding elements that can help the body detox such as Epsom salts or ginger can provide additional decongestive benefits and muscle ache relief. Spas and salons with hot tubs or soaking pools can offer these services to recovering clients and offer products to purchase for use at home.
- Facials: Flu facials are commonplace in salons and spas during cold and flu season. After having the flu, a client may experience residual congestion or skin tightness. A flu facial can help hydrate the skin and provide steam to decongest.
- Massages: An illness can lead to body stiffness, especially for those who may have experienced fever symptoms. Clients should avoid getting massages in the early stages of the flu or COVID as it can make symptoms worse and risk passing the illness to a massage therapist. However, after the virus has passed, clients can greatly benefit from massages as they can help break up the tension in the back and neck.
We may not know how severe this flu season will be, but it is clearly coming in with force. Take a moment to consider how your salon or spa is preparing for flu season and how you can better support your employees and clients.
Kathy Lopez, Account Manager for SASSI, the Salon and Spa Specialty Insurance program at Brownyard Group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.