Guest Writer 300

Covid-19: How I’ve tackled staffing issues since reopening my salons

By Guest Writer | 07 September 2021 | Feature, Tech Talk

thanh vu salon challenges

Thanh Vu, managing director of four Dream Nails salons, reflects on the challenges – and opportunities – that have been presented to her businesses since reopening after lockdown… 

Thanh Vu

Since reopening, the most challenging aspect for our boutique salon business has been staffing issues. We adhere to strict Covid-19 precautions for staff and clients and a number of staff have been ‘pinged’ by the NHS app, so we have honoured the 10-day isolation period while maintaining full pay. 

We have encouraged our staff to defer holidays until the busy summer period is over. However, we appreciate that there are certain family events and pre-planned holidays that are unavoidable.

As a result of the above, it has been tough to maintain a full schedule of staff. We have tried to ensure flexibility and offered staff extra days of leave. We have also been actively hiring and ensuring that our wages are market leading.

Ultimately, we are of the view that in the existing and future environment, pressure on wages will be high so we have raised wages to attract the best talent.

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We are also making good use of the Kick-Start government scheme. This enables us to trial for 25 hours per week, over a six month period, young and upcoming talent. Essentially, it is a six-month interview whereby we can work out whether the kick-starters have the potential to make it with Dream Nails. To date, it has been extremely promising. Although the kick-starters are not the finished article, it is clear to see the passion for nails. They also make life a lot easier for the senior nail technicians by helping with prep work and acting as a runner. Hopefully, the scheme will continue indefinitely.

What does the future hold?

At Dream Nails we believe that the staff are the business. While we try to ensure that the premises remains state of the art and our social media platforms, booking systems and pricing is on point, we never forget that the clear distinguishing factor is our great nail technicians.

For now, our expansion has been put on hold as we are not willing to expand and jeopardise the quality of nail technicians we employ in any new salon launch. It is best to ensure quality is maintained.

We continue to explore all hiring angles and are looking further afield previously. We are also signed up under the new government scheme for bringing in key workers. However, our read is that we can only hire store managers (rather than nail technicians). The government may need to realise that what is considered essential today is very different to what was considered essential yesterday. 

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We are also placing an emphasis on working with local nail colleges and developing talent.

This entails a lot of hard work from all our staff – we just hope this will be paid back with loyalty once the younger members are fully trained and up to speed.

The industry is facing similar difficulties as the restaurant industry. We have had a successful summer but are still trying to get back to full speed and make up for a lost year.

At the same time, we are facing an unprecedented squeeze on staff wages and a shortage of talent. We are hoping this is a bottleneck for now and will resolve itself once travel restrictions revert to normal.

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We will be watching this space – in the meantime all the prior years of looking after staff hopefully are paying dividends with loyalty.

Sometimes it is good to reflect and wait for the market environment to guide your next move. In the meantime, we will keep experimenting with nail designs. Our clients love it!