To work or not to work?

If that is the question. Then what is the answer?

A post-pandemic world will cause tremendous despair to all industries. But what about the potential damage to the Hair, Barbering and Beauty industries. I believe when faced with any kind of adversity, the answer is not to hide away, the answer is to stand your ground and deal with the problem. Fall forwards if necessary.

Go Forwards

For many reasons, we have many factions in our community and a few which are developing from the pandemic. Barbers vs Hairdressers or Maskers vs No Maskers. I’m not going to list them all, this post is long enough. Whatever side of the fence you sit on the long term effects of a short term issue will affect us all. 

We need to make enough trade-offs that going back to work makes sense on a sound economic footing over and above a sterilised one. 

We are a solution based industry and I have seen many ideas to try and enable us back to work without delay. The atmosphere within this industry is quite poisonous right now. The frustration begins online in the number of hair and barbering groups. The spread of opinion as information has been fast to circulate and slow to dispel. 

The practical solutions offered up are creative as ever, simple and ridiculous at the same time. I have seen one where the customer has to enter a weird perspex coffin-shaped box akin to a ‘celebrity get me out of here task.’ Now, before the box is filled with cockroaches we have to attempt to cut, colour and style with the elegance and grace of a Peter Crouch goal celebration. Imagine trying to charge your client more for this experience.  

Another solution, follow the new health and safety guidance that cranks up sanitization to a point that the NHS would be proud. Which is fine when you earn a clinicians salary but we don’t. 

One more solution is simply to wait until this is all over. How many industry professionals will be able to make money without putting their prices up? The economics won’t work when your price goes up by Ten percent and yet the client numbers are down by Fifty percent. How good will our work be when we all have to become world-class sanitisers? Break it down, sixty minutes appointments where forty-five minutes are spent with the customer and fifteen minutes are spent with the disinfectant.

We are practical beasts and yet sometimes we underestimate the value of simplicity. The best solution we can find is hardly ever complex. 

I don’t want to come across that I am against disinfectant in the workplace. I am not. I just believe in the Antifragile (“Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty.)

What I am trying to get across is the balance between work and play. When does the service overtake the play? All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. Salons and barbershops are not supposed to be dull. We leave that to the dentists. 

Too much emphasis on sanitation will reduce the experience of going to the hair salon or barbershop. It could mimic the excitement of going to a dentist. As opposed to a social pamper session it’ll resemble a practical one that requires a visit twice a year for a check-up.

If our spare time is sanitising the salon, less time will be spent on practice. Not enough practice and we get complacent, complacency will lead to lowering standards and the loss of paying clients.

Sick of seeing this stock virus gif to be honest.

It’s a fine balance which has yet to be discovered. Be cautious yes, reckless no. Attitude is the key, You either want to better yourself or you don’t. To enforce is not to inspire. Fearful is not how I want to live my life. The new normal is one I cannot recognise, understand or be inspired to follow. The survival of our industry is at stake. So, let’s not get distracted, this is about us, and our ability to harness what we can control. The expertise, the service, our unique personality and our professionalism are what creates the value. Let’s crack on and the quicker we can get back to ‘normal’ the more antifragile our ecosystem will be.

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About the author @aarondornhair
Aaron Dorn is a hairdresser with twenty years of experience. A background in finance and computers. He continues to cut hair and is a consultant for several companies within the hair and beauty industry.

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