The new normal in a world where Covid-19 unfortunately is becoming a part of our life will bring about many changes in the way businesses will be conducted, and more importantly the way we live our life.
The nation-wide lockdown is in its 4.0 phase. Businesses and brands are now are making their way back into the business; planning their communication plans for a new world post the covid-19 lockdown.
In this story of Medianews4u’s brand series, Back to Business, we spoke to Manish Chhabra, MD and CEO, Hygienic Research Institute Pvt Ltd.
Hygienic Research Institute Pvt Ltd is the company that owns the popular hair colour brand Streax Professional.
How are you coping up with the impact of Covid-19 onStreax Professional? How effectively have you used the lockdown period?
COVID-19 crisis has been the time of great disruption and uncertainty for everyone across the globe. During this period, our ability to stay grounded in our sense of purpose and remain true to our identity is of the utmost importance. With the situation presented to us by the pandemic and the subsequent nationwide lockdown, it was obvious that the salon industry was going to be massively impacted but as a leading brand in the industry, it was time for us to think and plan actions for the future, not just for ourselves but for everyone working with us.
During these tough times, Streax Professional stood by its partners and produced a detailed safety and hygiene standard operating procedure to help salons get back to business. We utilized the lockdown period to create awareness and prepare the salons and their staff for the times ahead through online training sessions and webinars. We trained more than 30,000 stylists, 400 distributors and entire HRIPL (Hygienic Research Institute Private Ltd) workforce by arranging webinars touching all relevant subjects and FAQ’s through doctors, health, and safety general expert (Mr.GiridharPai) and internal technical team to ensure that the salon professionals are ready to face the new Normal on both individual safety, customer safety and mix of other skills.
We prepared and distributed customized stylist care kit, which includes multiple disposable masks, gloves, face shields, sanitizers, and disinfectant liquid, etc., to protect the stylist from having any infection from the customers visiting and ensuring Customer safety. We conducted various training programs with the help of Internal Experts and experts from the Industry like Savio, helping stylistsupskill and update themselves about the latest styles and trends.
The quest for a solution to a crisis helps invent new business opportunities and sometimes leads to a revision of existing business models … What sort of innovation has, or will the Covid-19 pandemic bring to Streax Professional?
All our efforts and innovation in the last three months have been towards supporting our salon partners and helping them revive their businesses. We launched educative programmes and designed new initiatives to create awareness and provide them with financial relief. We recently announced Streax Professional Salon Care and Trust Programme as a gesture of gratitude to our customers who have patronized us into becoming one of the most significant players in the industry.
The programme is first of its kind initiative in the industry that allows partners enrolled in the scheme to receive instant cashback in their accounts on the purchase of Streax Professional products. It drops 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 and 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.
Online sessions and webinars for the training and skilling programmes were started during the lockdown and will remain an ongoing process.We have started a salon-customer engagement program by tying up with Swiggystores and SwiggyGennie to help salons supply their customers and needs 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 haircare supplies.
In our recent initiative, we are trying to connect the consumer and the Salon professional through video calls and facilitating Consultations for loyal salon consumers so that there is the continual engagement of the salon technician and his customer.
While some parts of the country have become Covid-19 free, cities like Mumbai and Delhi are still in a lockdown situation. How are you planning to resume business across cities that are not in the Red?
As a part of the salon industry, we understand our responsibilities and try our best to help businesses return to Normal as the lockdown is lifted in various parts of the country. Confidence Building is essential for salon technicians to return to work and Customers to start using salon services. ThroughStreax Professional Salon Care Programme and Salon Trust and Care programme, we are already working towards creating awareness of the same through social media posts, videos of how Utmost care is taken by the salons, and the Do’s and Don’ts that the customer should follow while coming to the salon. As everything is new-found here, people acceptance is necessary, and we are helping them in all our ways to accept and cope with this disaster in the market.
What will be your communication strategy post the opening of the lockdown? Understandably bringing customers back to you would be difficult…How to bring customers back to the salon?
The lockdown period made us realize the importance of technology. As we all are aware, salons are not the place where social distancing can be maintained due to the nature of the job. However, we are encouraging partners to go digital with most of their activities, like making appointments, product sales, etc. reducing human interactions. We launched webinars and online sessions for training, demo, and investing in digital infrastructures. We are working on developing a salon app that would allow our customers to book orders, workshops, demo, and engage them with other relevant activities on digital platforms. We are also developing training videos for products, styling, cut, and colouring techniques to hasten contactless training for our salon hair stylists. Some small steps of precautions will help regain the customer’s trust and relaxed to bring them back.
How did you keep the morale of the employees during this lockdown period? On a personal note, what kept you positive?
The morale at HRIPL is very high. HRIPL has been built with an inclusive culture and a value system that made it easier for the team to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and the working style. This quality makes HRIPL a ‘Great Place to Work. We were also recognized by The Economic Times among the top 100 great places to work recently. Work-from-home can be tricky, but the HRIPL management ensured that all the employees are given the work-life balance, which can go astray when working from home.
The leadership team and regular town halls were organized to provide updates about the latest developments and plans at HRIPL. These meetups were leveraged to provide a morale boost to the team and ensure the company’s support to them in these difficult times. We also continued with our employee engagement activities as usual. Though done virtually and in a limited fashion now, the activities were made interesting to encourage participation.
What are some of the post-lockdown business strategies that you will use to bring the business back on track or at least get it in the right direction and create demand for yourself?
While HRIPL’s strategy remains on track, we are looking into our operational strategies to reach the final goals. We are working with individual teams to find challenges and ideate practical and tactical solutions.
Is there anything else that you would want to add?
We have found many opportunities in this tough and trying times and ensured that nothing was thrown out of the window without trying, piloting, or ideating. We believe that staying agile, not hesitating to try new things, and keeping the team aligned with the company’s plans take you closer to the final goal.