Last weekend’s announcement that certain metropolitan Melbourne businesses were able to reopen saw hairdressing salons leaping into action, getting their COVIDSafe plans in place, and facing 1,000-strong waiting lists.
But one salon director is going above and beyond the requirements, to make sure clients feel safe and secure when visiting her business.
Madeline Frawley heads up Earth To Betty, an eco-friendly salon in Ascot Vale’s Union Road precinct.
The announcement from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday came as “a really positive surprise”, she tells SmartCompany.
What will the election mean to you?
Sign up to our free newsletter, including this weekend’s coverage of the election.
Like other salon owners we’ve spoken with, she was anticipating having to wait at least another week. But, she was prepared to hit the ground running.
“We installed air purifiers and took extra precautions from the very beginning,” she explains.
In fact, the business opted to close before the state government mandated it.
Now, Frawley is taking safety precautions “super, super seriously”, she says.
There’s a staff cleaning roster and log, posters on hygiene and how to stop the spread of the virus, and soap and disposable hand towels at every basin in the building.
Customers and staff members have their temperature checked on arrival, and everyone who enters is asked the ‘three questions’ to determine whether they’re a COVID-19 risk.
“Staff are also now required to answer the three questions and sign off on the screening questions for COVID-19,” Frawley explains.
“They sign a form every day now.”
Earth to Betty even has measures in place to ensure there’s no cross-contamination between equipment.
“That’s a really big thing,” Frawley adds.
“We’re making sure we’re not placing any items that have been contaminated onto clean surfaces,” she explains.
“We have a contamination area and a clean area. Anything that’s contaminated goes into the contaminated area to be cleaned and sterilised. Then it can be processed to go into the clean section, and put back into the trollies.”
But all of this is for good reason. Because this is an eco-salon, using products with reduced chemicals, a lot of its clients are people with lower immune systems, who may be particularly vulnerable to the virus.
Frawley wants these people to feel comfortable in returning to the business.
“We have a lot of people who have been on chemo, people who have been unwell, so they’re choosing a healthier option,” she explains.
“We need to provide them with a really, really safe environment, so they can safely have their hair done.”
Communicate, communicate, communicate
Just like most salons across the city, Earth to Betty is dealing with a huge backlog of appointments that had to be cancelled when the second lockdown came into play.
“We’ve taken an extra couple of days to do that,” Frawley says.
She decided to open for the salon’s first appointment on Wednesday.
The first priority is, of course, rebooking people who had to cancel when the second lockdown came into effect. But then, the team will be prioritising its existing customers who haven’t had an appointment in a while.
“Then we’re taking new clients after that,” the director explains.
“We won’t be opening our online system for a couple of months.”
While, on the face of it, this could see the salon missing out on new business, Frawley doesn’t necessarily see it that way.
“We’ve had a huge influx of new clients trying to contact us because they can’t get in with their hairdressers,” she says.
If those customers are patient, and reassured they will be contacted when an appointment comes up, they will come in the door eventually.
“It’s all about communication really, and making sure the person is heard, and that you reply to them — whether that’s to tell them it’s going to be a little bit longer or not,” she explains.
This is all extra work, Frawley admits. But for her, it’s worth it.
“Although we’re really busy, which is great, we have missed out on quite a lot while we’ve been closed, and we have time to catch up now,” she says.
“It’s a massive task, but who wouldn’t want to do it as quickly as we can?”