Open/Close: Prose Nails Owner Tells How to Navigate Restart
The crew at a Prose nail boutique in Orlando, where owner Elsy Romero tries to navigate the restart and potential re-closure of business.
Elsy Romero is an owner and area developer for Prose nail boutiques in Florida. Formerly with Orangetheory and Massage Envy, she bought a Prose boutique last October in Orlando and rolled up her sleeves to learn every aspect of the mani/pedi trade. "I'm one of those people, whenever I go into a business, I know my business," she said.
She couldn't have predicted the shutdown from COVID-19, of course, but she could thoroughly prepare once word came in Florida that nail salons could reopen.
"What we did is we tracked the development of the reopening. When they started to speak about it, we started re-connecting with the employees," bringing them back about four weeks before the May 11 restart.
"We always had close contact. Every week I would check with them," and ask "how are you doing?"
She spoke with employees about their performance before the shutdown, then laid out a guide to follow based on CDC guidelines. "Two weeks before they give us the green light, I brought them back again and said, let's do re-training. People can get in spider-web mode" when they haven't been working for a while.
"We did an hour, two hours with each of the artists. We said, what do you need to refresh, what will you learn now, what would you like to do better?" she said. Then they went over the schedule, which called for the employees with kids to stay home the first week and come back the second, rotating through with reduced hours for several weeks as customers showed an enthusiasm to return.
"What we did is say, listen, we have a lot of uncertainty but we have a lot of information, so let's go ahead and make something that works for everybody," she said. "The mommies stayed home the first week, and let's have the single ladies come in, and make sure it's working before we bring in the second layer of people. It worked!" she said.
Before COVID, she said, her salon had 50 to 60 customers a day; in June, the limit per day was 25. Reached June 6, she said state regulations were confusing.
"That's the part of the story where I will say our state should do better. Right now, we're doing everything with our employees, but we cannot legally require them to walk in with a mask," she said about customers. Also, businesses can't take customer temperatures "if you're not a medical establishment."
She contacted customers and said, "if you have an appointment and you are not able to make it, no worries, no charge, no fees for cancellation."
By July, cases were spiking again in the state and further lockdowns were on the table. She planned to continue her high-touch, caring approach with employees, with constant and warm communication, throughout the uncertain times.
Read other stories in Open/Close, a new franchisetimes.com series reporting how franchisees are navigating as business starts and stops amid the COVID-19 pandemic.