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The effect of the COVID-19 Crisis has been swift and relentless. As scary as it is for our health, it is also terrifying for many salon owners and other small businesses. Our salon insurance specialists want to share what information we have to help salon owners can keep their businesses afloat during the COVID pandemic. Here are some of our most frequently asked questions and answers.
I've had to close my salon because of state or federal mandates. How am I supposed to keep my business going if we have to close indefinitely?
If you rent or lease, check with your landlord to see if you can work something out concerning payments. Some landlords are generously cutting good tenants a break, recognizing that a business that folds will no longer be a good tenant. It's worth asking.
Reach out to your bank to see if they are offering any help to small business owners. Circumstances will vary, but options to investigate include asking about interest relief for loans or credit cards, asking whether you can skip a mortgage payment (or mortgage payments), or applying for a business loan to get you through this rough time.
There are benefits available to small business owners under the Federal Stimulus (CARES Act). Apply online as soon as you can.
How can I find out if my salon will qualify for a government loan or other emergency funding?
You can read about the programs and apply online. Here is a quick summary.
- Paycheck Protection Program: is offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA). It is a loan that small businesses can apply for to cover certain expenses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The intent is for salon owners to not only be able to pay their rent and utilities but also to keep paying employees and covering paid benefits for staff. Depending on how your salon meets SBA criteria, a portion of the loan may be forgiven.
- Temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program are available in some states. These allow some workers who aren't typically eligible for unemployment (like independent contractors and self-employed people) to receive unemployment benefits. Check this link to see if your state is offering this program through its Unemployment Insurance Office.
- Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EDIL): Working capital loans for small businesses (including sole proprietors), the maximum loan amount is 2 million. Applicants don't need to provide personal guarantees on loan amounts less than $200,000. The interest rate is 3.75%. The repayment terms vary; however, in some instances, payment plans can be extended to 30 years, and payments deferred for a maximum of four years.
- Small Business Administration emergency $10,0000 grant: To receive the grant apply for the EDIL loan (described above) and request the advance (even if you are not approved for the loan) you may receive the grant to help pay for payroll, rent, and other business obligations. It does not need to be repaid.
- State Small Business Relief Programs: You can find your governor’s website here to see if there are additional loans or grants available in your state. New opportunities are becoming available daily.
What else can I do to generate income for my salon while we're under a shelter in place or stay at home order?
Think about what you can sell online. Many salon owners are focusing their efforts on selling salon products online and shipping them (or offering curbside pickup if that doesn't contradict state regulations during the pandemic).
Some salons are marketing products as self-care packages and DIY with instructions to tide people over until they can return to the salon professionals. Pay attention to the buzz on your social media – if you see a need, offer a solution.
Market gift certificates. Many people want to support their favorite businesses by buying gift certificates now to enjoy later. You can also offer exclusive deals that can be redeemed when it's business as usual in the months ahead.
Some of my staff have been personally affected by COVID-19. What can I do to support them?
As a business owner, you are a leader, and your staff may look to you for support and guidance. This leadership blog has some steadfast advice for how to reassure your team through uncertain times (even when you don't have all the answers).
If someone who works for you has fallen ill, or their family members have, consider starting a "Go Fund Me" site to help them through. Many people hesitate to ask for help but will gratefully accept someone offering to help them – but always check first, so you don't upset a very private person.
I don't want to waste all my time watching movies. What can I do now to work on my salon business?
Put some time and energy into social media to market your business and build engagement with your current clientele and potential new clients. You should be on Facebook and Instagram, and now is the perfect time to up your social media game. There are plenty of tips and tutorials on YouTube to help you market your business and products – and there is a market for videos that show people hairstyles to try at home.
Email is another great way to engage clients. You can use an email marketing service to send your clients product offers, heartwarming stories, surveys, and quarantine hairstyle tips. If you don't have an active email list, you can add an opt-in box to your website and start building one now.
Salon owners can also use this unexpected idle time to look into upgrading systems for credit card processing or booking – or building a better website. There are also many free courses available on LinkedIn, and platforms like Coursera are offering free trials for business and marketing courses.
Or perhaps it's time to rearrange and makeover your salon. Spend time doing a deep clean, refreshing with new paint (find helpful painting lessons online), and reorganizing everything inside so that your salon is sparkling and ready to welcome guests when you can reopen.
Our salon insurance brokers at PPIB strive to be your trusted partners. Please stay safe during these difficult times and know that we are here to help you better understand the issues that relate to your salon insurance program. We are available by phone, and email from 8 am to 5 pm PST Monday through Friday. Please don't hesitate to reach out with your questions.