Expert Advice

Lessons from Ebola

Anne Moratto | November 3, 2014 | 10:58 AM

The height of the furor in the news media over the Ebola virus has thankfully died down.  No, we do not all have it.  No, thousands did not die from it here in America.  Thankfully, and despite the best efforts of the 24 hour news cycle our worst fears were not realized.

Now that we can perhaps look at the Ebola virus uproar with some perspective what can we learn from it relative to our business and industry?

Here are my top 5 take-aways from the Ebola experience related to the hair and beauty industry.

  1. Public reaction is powerful – The subject of death by uncontrolled viruses is a powerful motivator of behavior.  People will react significantly to perceived threats of this type.  Know that concerns or issues related to protecting the public from nasty death or worse can negatively impact your business quickly.  Get out front of issues that arise.  Act quickly and effectively.  Do not think that ignoring things like this will make them go away. 
  2. Be well informed – Know the real concerns and issues.  Get your information from sources that you can trust and count on.  Television news is not a good source of information like this when you need it most.  FOX News treated it like the end of the world.  The Today show just shared a viewer poll.  Neither one was really helpful.  Understand how infection can spread and what you can do to prevent it.  Be aware of the products and procedure that must be in place. 
  3. Be proactive – It does not go without saying.  It must be said.  Get your act totally together regarding practices of salon infection control.  Create procedures for your shop.  Train staff in compliance.  Monitor and measure effectiveness.  Redirect behavior when actions fall off the plan.  It will be better for your business if the problems do not trace back to your business.  Reach out to the manufacturers of the infection control products you purchase and use.  They will step over themselves to provide support, training and asisitance in using their products properly. (disclaimer: I am a paid consultant/contractor of the parent company of Barbicide)
  4. Be visible and vocal – Do not avoid this subject with staff and clients.  Roll up your sleeves and get right into the discussion.  Information is power.  Education tackles problems before they bloom into catastrophes.  Share the steps you take and how you take them to protect clients with clients.  Cans of clipper spray disinfectant on the counter for all to see are a great way to fly this flag.
  5. Encourage others to get with the program – One bad episode of lack of infection control in your community that starts and spreads from another shop or salon will wreak havoc on the entire industry in your area.  Become an advocate for all aspects of our industry amongst your salon owner peers or stylist friends.  This includes less-than-glamorous subjects like infection control.  Be outspoken about what we, the beauty industry, are doing to be a source of information and protection as opposed to the bad guys, villains and creators of the problems.

We as a prosperous, safe and relatively healthy nation have an obligation to help out in Africa, or wherever help is needed to wipe out this and any diseases and viruses.  We should also be helping ourselves to learn from this experience.

Safe Clippering.

Ivan Zoot

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