The Engine Cosmetology School Accelerator: Agility in the Face of COVID-19

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COVID-19’s effects on the United States’ economy are far-reaching and complex. A lot of focus has been centered around the pandemic’s impact on retail and manufacturing, but further downstream higher education is suffering as well and cosmetology schools have borne the brunt of the crisis.

The CARES Act, passed by Congress in March, earmarked $14 billion in relief funds specifically intended for higher education. The bulk of that money has already been dispersed to major public and private colleges. Of the $14 billion originally allocated, only $160 million is en route to schools that specialize in cosmetology. That may seem strangely disproportionate given that the beauty industry as a whole generates $500 billion dollars a year once you account for retail sales like hair care products and makeup.

The bottom line? The beauty industry is an essential component of the American economy, one that supplies millions of jobs to the public, but the institutions tasked with training cosmetology professionals have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Therefore, it is up to beauty schools to adapt to the situation at hand in order to position themselves for success going forward.

As a school operator, you cannot engage in any significant, traditional recruitment activities until the current situation has resolved. Now isn’t the time to be a shrinking violet; it’s the time to be proactive and prepare for further closures and a longer timeframe for reopening. It’s time to prepare an aggressive recruitment campaign with an eye towards future cohorts. It’s also the time to get up to speed with modern salon techniques and the industry’s changing technological trends.

The Current Challenge

COVID-19 has been a disruptive force to cosmetology campuses countrywide. Its effects strike at the core of everything from classroom teaching methods to the school’s recruitment activities. The primary issue is mandated closures of on-site classes. Due to social distancing protocols and the healthcare industry’s current understanding of how COVID spreads, most schools nationwide have had to close their doors temporarily. Even those that have considered reopening in the near future are now faced with the possible emergence of a second wave which could extend closings indefinitely.

With businesses shut down in the wider world, the problem grows exponentially. Salons, spas, massage therapists, and beauty retailers have all shut their doors nationwide. These two factors together have led to a depressed industry with low demand, accessibility, and revenue as a result. A DIY industry has sprung up by necessity during quarantine. People aren’t spending money on the beauty industry right now.

When schools finally do reopen, they’re faced with a number of logistical hurdles. Classes will likely have social distancing requirements for the foreseeable future. That means reduced class sizes and a potential reduction in enrollments. Cosmetology schools will also be faced with issues of both student and faculty perception. People may be reluctant to gather in a classroom setting out of fear.

For schools that embrace a remote, work at home structure, which is not without its own issues, they will have to contend with changing attitudes toward work from both the student body and the faculty, compounded by the fact that much of beauty school is a hands-on endeavor.

The bad news is that the Coronavirus has not yet run its course. New challenges will arise as the situation progresses. Information changes frequently, sometimes on a week-to-week basis as new coronavirus “hot spots” emerge. For a complete overview of federal regulations regarding institutions of higher education, please consult the CDC website.

Possible Solutions

Because of the fluidity of the COVID-19 crisis, one thing’s for certain: now is the time to put plans, practices, and new operational models into effect to increase your school’s adaptability going forward. The road ahead looks to be rocky; it falls to your school’s admissions department to be proactive and agile in order to secure a profitable future for your institution.

To that effect, it pays to implement a digital marketing and recruitment process. That means de-prioritizing in-person recruitment activities in favor of implementing a value-anchored digital conversion funnel. This will help you leverage your online presence to capture the attention of potential students and convert it into legitimate interest. The end result is a digital infrastructure designed to move potential candidates down the funnel from the initial browsing phase to your digital application process.

Virtual tours go hand in hand with digital recruitment. If your cosmetology school is shut down, on-site tours, traditionally a strong selling-point in the recruitment process, become impossible to offer. Virtual tours are the perfect way to give potential students a taste of your campus while maintaining appropriate social distancing protocols.

While remote classes are not ideally-suited for learning the beauty industry, it is up to educators to be adaptable and forward-thinking now more than ever. To stay competitive with other programs, and continue to bring in the revenue necessary to weather the current economic turbulence, even cosmetology schools will have to develop some sort of remote program that offers value to their students.

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The Engine Accelerator

Changing your entire recruitment and teaching strategy overnight is no easy task. It requires a great deal of logistical planning and an attempt to account for the unknown. That’s why your cosmetology school needs a strong partner who can help accelerate the necessary operational changes to survive and flourish in a post COVID-19 world. That’s where the Engine Beauty Jump Start tool kit comes into play.

Our toolkit is designed to accelerate and amplify your digital admissions marketing. Each toolkit is customized to the needs of your particular school, with a primary focus on teaching your admissions professionals the skills necessary for a new brand of digital recruitment solution. Using this accelerator, your school will learn how to develop and implement a value-driven digital sales funnel that will convert online traffic into real-world applicants.

The toolkit includes lessons on designing a meaningful online campaign, engaging in online recruitment practices, and conducting virtual tours. With Engine in your corner, you don’t have to implement sweeping changes by yourself. Our toolkit is designed to help you install working solutions to new challenges that have arisen in the wake of COVID-19. If you’re ready to future-proof your admissions process against the next crisis, and the next after that, contact Engine to get started today.