Safety kits, financial aid to partners - How Streax Professional is geared to reopen

The COVID-19 crisis has impacted the salon industry severely, with recovery not in sight immediately. Entrepreneurs and small businesses, who are at the heart of the professional beauty industry, will need to change their ways of operation and upgrade their hygiene measures in order to attract customers back to the salons. The new way of running the salon business post lockdown will require awareness and above all, strong financial support.

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Beginning immediately, Streax Professional is implementing Salon Care and Trust Programme to help businesses alleviate the economic loss resulting from the pandemic and bounce into action all equipped. The programme is the first of its kind of initiative being taken by a brand in the country eliminates the need for partners to wait for the credits until the year-end and provides instant monetary relief.

The brand’s other initiative, Salon Care programme, continues to create awareness about customer safety and encourage hygiene maintenance at salons through webinars, training sessions for its partners and distribution of free Salon Safety Kits. More than 3,000 partners have already been benefitted through this programme.

In conversation with Adgully, Manish Chhabra, MD, and CEO at Hygiene Research Institute (Streax Professional), speaks at length about the brand’s initiatives to support their partners in these testing times, gearing up to commence operations with strict adherence to hygiene measures for the safety of consumers and staff, the overall impact of the pandemic on the salon industry and more.

As businesses start to reopen in India Unlock 2.0, what kind of precautions and safety measures are you taking while commencing operations?

The salon industry has witnessed the most unprecedented situation and a challenging time due to the pandemic. The widespread closure of stores and salons during the lockdown left the beauty and salon industry deeply affected as no one had imagined such a prolonged closure of the businesses. As the nature of the business made the salon industry one of the worst-hit sectors, its resilience and spirit will play a big role in bringing them back in action. However, the painful period is expected to continue even in the first few months after the lockdown is lifted and the salons reopen, as customers will take time to develop trust and return for salons services. Therefore, the salons will have to give customer safety and area sanitization utmost importance to earn their customers’ trust and confidence back. Hence, we decided to engage with our salon partners and other stakeholders and prepare them for the times to come.

We took two exceptional decisions for the safety of salons and businesses to grow after a long pause:

Community Training: Streax Professional has trained more than 30,000 stylists, 400 distributors and entire HRIPL workforce, which is in 1,000 through doctors, health and safety general expert (Giridhar Pai) and internal technical teams on both individual safety, customer safety and mix of other skills.

Salon Safety Kit: Streax Professional has prepared a customised stylist care kit which comprises of multiple disposable masks, gloves, face shields, sanitisers, and disinfectant liquid, etc., to protect the stylist from having any infection from the customers visiting. 

How do you plan to address the customer apprehensions regarding their safety while visiting salons and build awareness about the commencement of salon operations?

These are some of the most challenging times for salon professionals and brands. With reopening of salons gradually, the industry will for sure get back to normal eventually, but it will be the ‘new normal’ that we will need to accept and live with, and salons will have to be prepared for the fact that it might take months for professionals, as well as customers, to get back to their usual salon routine. Streax Professional has also prepared a safety and hygiene SOP for its partners and stylists and is playing its role in creating awareness. We have also created a platform for the stylists to interact with their customers through video conferences and update them on their salon awareness initiatives from a safety and hygiene perspective. This call is generally facilitated by our technical experts and the lead stylists of the salons, wherein two experts engage with the end consumers on various subjects – followed by a question and answer session, which leads to confidence building activity of the customers, which in turn leads to a good sales of the products and services.

It is time for salons to earn customer trust and reassure them about their safety at salons to win them back.

Please tell us more about the Salon Care and Trust Programme. How does this work? Will it help owners of salons across the country? Financially how you are supporting and helping them bounce back to business?

Streax Professional’s Salon Care and Trust Programme is our gesture of gratitude to our customers who have patronised us into becoming one of the most significant players in the industry. The programme is first of its kind initiative in the industry that enables instant monetary relief, which is a minimum of Rs 50,000 slab to help salon partners and stylists to rebound business impacted severely by the COVID-19 crisis. The programme allows partners enrolled in the scheme to receive instant cashback in their accounts on the purchase of Streax Professional products. It eliminates the need for them to wait for the credits until the year-end when the tie-ups slabs are achieved. It is one of the industry’s most unique and exceptional programmes that cater to the distinct needs of salons and stylists, including service and hygiene products, and provides a financial respite with the fiscal stimulus in the form of an instant incentive.

Through this initiative, we want to tell our salon and stylist partners that we stand with them in these testing times and offer all our support to help them revive their businesses. 

Under the Salon Care Programme, you are imparting training to all salons. How is this being conducted and how successful has this been? Have all your salons participated and learnt from your safety guidelines?

With the Salon Care programme, Streax Professional is helping the salons revive their businesses post lockdown with utmost customer safety and encouraging hygiene maintenance. We are organising webinars and training sessions for our partners and stylists and distributing free Salon Safety Kits to prepare them to address the new safety norms and follow the government guidelines. There are classes conducted online for skill development as well and will continue post lockdown too, as brands will now have to incorporate digital/ online ways of learning sessions and conducting demos to allow salons to utilise their space to cater to customers only. Streax Professional has trained more than 30,000 stylists through their ongoing webinars on the Salon Care SOP and has utilised the lockdown period for imparting skill and upskilling the stylists. 

Post lockdown, the market is going to be different. There will be new expectations from consumers, need for highly aware staff and high-level of visible safety standards, so the salons need to be prepared for these situations. Streax Professional’s Salon Care Programme aims to support and handhold the partners come out of these challenging times.

What kind of marketing campaigns have you lined up to promote your products? You have two celebrities endorsing your brands. How have been leveraging them during the lockdown?

During the lockdown, the concept of marketing has changed on a larger perspective and the businesses are coming up with innovative ideas to promote their brands. A professional business is an omnichannel business opportunity that means by professional for professional, where you cannot choose to do any activity ignoring their interest or excluding their involvement. Streax Professional had initiated a salon-customer engagement programme by tying up with Swiggy Stores and Swiggy Gennie to help salons supply their customers need through Swiggy partners. This was done to ensure that salons continue to engage with their customers and at the same time continue to help them get their day-to-day hair care supplies. As the salons have started reopening in Maharashtra from June 28, according to the Government’s announcement, our “lined up strategy” is ready to roll out in post-lockdown conditions, which you will get to see soon.

What has been your digital strategy for your brands?

On digital, Streax Professional continues to create awareness about safety measures and provide healthcare guidelines to our salon partners and stylists. We have also started engaging with the customers and giving them tips on hair care during the lockdown. Our posts also talk about expert guidelines for doing essential services at home, like root touch ups, kids’ haircuts, and men’s haircuts. As a brand, we also bridged the gap between salons and consumers by partnering with Swiggy and ensuring that commodities like our shampoos and conditioners were delivered directly from salons to their customers.

With the Coronavirus slated to stay among the human population for the foreseeable future, what will be your long-term brand strategy?

The pandemic has hit us all deeply and it will take businesses and economy a long time to find their footing once again. As part of the salon industry, we understand our responsibilities and are doing our bit in helping businesses bounce back once the lockdown is lifted. Through Streax Professional’s Salon Care Programme and Salon Trust and Care programme, we are already working towards creating awareness and providing financial relief to our partners. As everything is new-found here, people acceptance is a must and we are helping them in all our ways to accept and cope up with this disaster in the market.

The lockdown period has made us all realise the importance of technology. While the salon industry is highly dependent on services that require physical touch, many aspects of the business, like training, demo, appointments, etc., should be moved online. We are developing strategies to minimise human interface by investing in digital infrastructures. Streax Professional is working on developing a salon app, which would give our customers the opportunity to book orders, workshops, demo and engage them with other relevant activities on the digital platforms. We are also developing training videos for products, styling, cut and colouring techniques to expedite contactless training for our salon hair stylists.

Why are you not leveraging your two celebrities to reassure the salons on the safety aspect? Don’t you think that will carry more weight and credibility?

Salons, our primary customers, and partners remain our priority always and more so in the present circumstances, where they need to be engaged, educated, and supported by the brand. Through webinars, training sessions and by simply being in solidarity with them, we wanted to let them know that the brand stands with them in these testing times. We focussed on building their confidence through a world-class (WHO standard) health and safety training and upskilling their hairdressing skills by the industry experts. Leveraging celebrities will begin when things improve and the need arises.


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