“The ‘ME to WE’ thinking has been our guiding principle across our response to the pandemic.”

They are part of ‘Team Enrich’, they have Enrich Passports and their very own Planet Enrich! Meet the creators of this ecosystem – Vikram Bhat, Rohit Dedhia, Founder Directors; Bhupesh Dhinger and Sachin Kamat, Directors of Enrich Salons, whose unique ‘people first’ philosophy has not only created thousands of loyal employees across their 86 company owned operated salons, but is also helping them through the challenges of pandemic.

Sandhya Chipalkatti: How has business been for Enrich through the pandemic? How have you managed your team in this period?

We began addressing our teams and Customers, and our first video update was out on the 4th of March. Even before the formal lockdown we started taking steps sharing and following WHO guidelines and adding safety protocols. We connected with our industry peers, business partners and put out a Customer Advisory on additional safety precautions.

The first month of the lockdown, business was zero. We spent time comprehending the impact of the pandemic on our business. While countries, communities and companies were striving hard to increase their shareholder value, this mindset and behaviour allowed a single virus to bring the world to a standstill.

Realising that the virus can only be fought by all working towards larger common good rather than individual narrow interests, we modified our baseline campaign from ‘Love Begins with You’….to ‘Love Begins with Us’.

This ‘ME to WE thinking’ has been the guiding principle across our response to the pandemic. We applied this philosophy to our team, business partners and customers going forward and it was reflected in several initiatives.

“A crisis is also a bunch of positives and opportunities in disguise.”

For our team:

We decided to do everything to retain our team size, even if it meant reduced pay-outs. We had a ‘Daily Update Video’ for the team for the first 140 days and an informational webinar by Doctors on COVID. A ‘Mera Doctor’ Initiative with an empanelled Doctor was put in place for the benefit of employees and their families.

For our customers:

We conducted a customer survey and come up with grooming solutions for our customers. By mid-April, we started retailing grooming products from our catalogue and had them delivered by our team members themselves. We finally saw some revenue trickling in.

For other stakeholders/industry:

We contributed significantly to advocacy of our industry with the MSME Minister, Maharashtra Govt. etc. Team Enrich donated Rs 1.5 lacs towards supporting retail employees who had lost their jobs too.

By mid-May our salons in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat & Bengaluru reopened with strict hygiene & safety protocols and 100% of our team members were certified in the BWSSC and the CIDESCO Safety Protocols. Having had a quality vertical since 12 years, we already followed most of the now required parameters.

In every city where we reopened, the first week/fortnight has early adapters coming in and the male/female ratio now at 60/40. Post the first flush, footfall depends on the customer feedback.

Hopefully, new cases will drop before the festival season hastening our recovery of getting back to previous year’s monthly revenue, salon by salon.

How has COVID changed the way the beauty services business operates?

Both demand and supply have had lot of changes.

  • Supply:

    Social distancing demands 50% staff/ alternate days/ shorter operating hours/ alternate seats empty, resulting curtailed capacity, further compounded by service restrictions and stock availability issues.

  • Demand:

    While need for grooming will continue, several new –unprecedented factors influence customers’ outlook. Fear of infection; shrunken wallet; uncertain future – all driving towards a tendency to spend less.

Consequently, there will be fewer high-ticket services and upgrades to premium services.

What footfalls are you seeing across your salons now? By when will business get back on track?

Footfall is about 40% as compared to last year. It will take at least three quarters from now for business to normalise. We are putting the best possible efforts to get as close to last year by upcoming festive season, but it’s likely to take some time for us to get back on track.

How will beauty consumption change in the immediate future? In salons, as well as in retail?

Today’s consumer is very conscious and aware of what they are consuming. They seek:

  • Better quality products:

    The natural, sustainable and eco-sensitive trend will accelerate

  • Value:

    Brands that communicate their value proposition in a relevant and authentic manner will be preferred

  • Quality/ safety/ hygiene:

    This will be the new ask of the customers. Brands that will align themselves will have an advantage

While there might be some downtrading, consumers will continue to pay for premium brands that will deliver on the value they commit.

“Our fundamental belief is to make everyone aware about how gifted they are and to help recognize it in others.”

In this scenario, what is your advice to smaller salons, barbers to help them stay afloat?

  1. The new word for ‘Growth’ this year is ‘Survival’ – The target is to manage costs and cashflow to survive
  2. Personal touch and attention – Smaller/ single salon owners must leverage this benefit to their advantage
  3. Smaller team and personal connect with team members is an advantage they should leverage
  4. Given the concern for ‘contact’ services, will DIY win the battle? Is retailing professional homecare products the answer? What about home services?

    DIY will most likely be a short-term fad, definitely in the audience segment we cater to. A salon visit is a social connect, a sharing and bonding, the feeling of being pampered. This gets compromised with DIY service kits.

    The home delivery of professional home care products is a trend that will stay and grow, for its convenience, especially though our salon app.

    The instance of home services will definitely increase – only if they deliver on the new normal of higher quality/ safety/hygiene.

    Some positive outcomes of COVID?

    A crisis is also a bunch of positives and opportunities in disguise.

    • Adoption to technology increased
    • WFH got a great chance to prove its advantages for the first time, reducing the density of population in CBDs, lower realty prices etc.
    • Sanitation & Hygiene got a great boost
    • Safety & Savings increased
    • People got time for themselves to – upgrade their skills; invest in hobbies and interests and planning their future.
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