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Personal Services

This playbook provides guidelines for businesses in Greater Des Moines (DSM) offering the following kinds of personal services: hair and nail salons, barbershops, spas, massage therapists, waxing studios, pet grooming and related services and more.

Sample: Small Salon Risk Profile

Personal Services Risk Profile Frequency

Personal Services Risk Profile Duration

Personal Services Risk Profile Variety

The sample risk profile has been determined for small salons in DSM. The profile shows frequency, or how many people in a day; duration, or length of typical interaction; and variety, or the number of different people.*

Current Impact 

Current Impact

Future Trends 

Future Trends

Recommended Practices 

Recommended Practices

Community Partnership 

Community Partnerships

Additional Resources 

Additional Resources

Current Impacts

Provider Outlook

Providers Report a Significant
Negative Outlook

Employee Impact

>20 Employees Will Be
Hardest Hit

Cosmetics Industry Decline

2.5% Decline in Cosmetics
Industry This Year


The personal services industry has taken a hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists were plunged into joblessness when salons closed and social distancing guidelines were imposed. While big chains and more moneyed salons often hire stylists as employees, smaller independent operations — which make up the bulk of the industry — rely on self-employed contractors who may have little financial cushioning and no unemployment benefits. As lockdowns eased, salon owners and employees returned to workplaces that had been crucially transformed with reduced capacity and protective measures in place. And while some customers have flocked back to salons, others are still anxious, canceling their appointments for now.

Future Trends

Workforce Needs

Changing Workforce Needs

Personal services businesses will need to redesign their office spaces to reduce high-touch items (such as testers or magazines) and install protective screens between technicians and clients when possible.

PPE Needs

Increased PPE Needs

Personal services technicians will need quality PPE, including, at minimum, masks and gloves when working in direct contact with clients.

Supply and Delivery

Disruption in Supplies and Delivery

Due to ongoing supply chain interruption and delivery delays, certain products may be slow to be restocked. Additionally, maintaining a safe stock of PPE for all technicians will be vital.

Reduced Contracts

Increase in Zero-hours

Due to reduced business capacity, contracted personal service technicians may be forced to shift to zero-hour contracts where work is not guaranteed and there are no employee benefits.

Recommended Practices

Health & Sanitation

  • Conduct a health screening with all employees before their shifts in accordance with the most up-to-date recommendations from the local public health department.
  • Encourage employees who feel sick to stay home. Employees who have had close contact with someone with COVID-19 should consult CDC guidance on when to self-quarantine.
  • Employ PPE in accordance with the most up-to-date recommendations from the local public health department.
  • PPE products, such as gloves, are single use and must be changed after each client.
  • Train all employees on appropriate cleaning and disinfection, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette.
  • Place handwashing stations or hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol in multiple locations throughout the workplace for workers and clients.
  • Use touch-free stations where possible.
  • Make sure restrooms are well-stocked with soap and a way for people to dry hands.
  • Encourage customers to wash and disinfect their hands before each treatment.
  • Clean and disinfect workstations, equipment, chairs and tables and other non-porous tools and implements used during the appointment. Consider utilizing reusable chair covers. They should be laundered or cleaned and disinfected after each client.
  • Discard any porous implements (e.g. files, buffers, neck strips) immediately after use.
  • If using a common workspace, such as areas to mix hair dye, it should be cleaned after each use and the dye should be collected and mixed at the worker’s personal workstation.
  • Disinfect pedicure spa bowls or use disposable liners between clients.
  • Launder all towels, capes and linens after each use.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect commonly touched areas including the reception counter, phones, computers, door handles, items in restrooms, displays, Point of Sale equipment, etc.
  • Follow the directions on the cleaning and disinfecting products’ labels, paying particular attention to proper dilution and contact times.
  • Require employees to comply with guidelines on sanitation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the local public health department.

Personal Services Health

Process & Space Modifications

  • Modify the alignment of workstations where feasible. For example, redesign workstations so stylists, cosmetologists, barbers and others are not facing each other and are separated by at least six feet.
  • Establish, where possible, physical barriers between workers and between workers and clients.
  • Use strip curtains, plastic barriers or similar materials to create impermeable dividers or partitions.
  • When redesigning your workspace, consider using every other chair if moving chairs or adding barriers is impractical.
  • Use visual cues such as floor decals, colored tape and signs to remind workers to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others, including at their workstation and in break areas.
  • Consider these cues for clients as well, such as at the entrance and checkout line.
  • Provide services on an appointment basis only. Consider having clients wait in their car or outside to be contacted when the provider is ready for the appointment.
  • Limit the number of customers in the shop at one time. Only those customers that are actually getting their hair or nails done should be inside the premises.
  • Ensure adequate time between appointments to properly clean and disinfect.
  • Move electronic payment terminals/credit card readers farther away from the cashier to increase the distance between the client and the cashier.
  • Establish pre-pay systems or self-checkout systems (e.g., portable credit card portals at each chair which is cleaned and disinfected after each use).
  • If a pre-pay system is not feasible, place a plexiglass partition between cashier clerks and customers.
  • Consider upgrading to touchless trash cans.
  • Discard any open “test” product and discontinue this practice.
  • Close or limit access to common areas where workers are likely to congregate and interact, such as break rooms, outside the entrance and in entrance/exit areas.
  • Remove or space appropriately the chairs in the waiting area and break rooms to promote social distancing.
  • Discontinue self-serve, complimentary beverages.
  • Establish an isolated area for all delivery companies to drop off materials and supplies (i.e., minimize their presence in the salon).
  • Ensure that ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible, for example by opening windows and doors and prioritizing outdoor seating. Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk to customers or employees (e.g., risk of falling or triggering asthma symptoms).
  • Use ventilated tables or portable ventilation units, if available. Move the ventilation units to make sure they do not blow air from one person to another.
  • If possible, salon owners and managers should work with facility (building) management to adjust the ventilation so that the maximum amount of fresh air is sent into to client spaces, while maintaining the humidity at 40-60%. If possible, increase filter efficiency of HVAC units to highest level possible.
  • Consider using portable HEPA filtration units to remove contaminants and clean the air.

Personal Services Workspaces


  • Provide reminders to employees and members of the public to stay at least six feet away from others when in the facility and mark six-foot intervals when possible.
  • Post signage at the door indicating no one should enter the establishment if they currently have symptoms or have been around anyone with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the last 14 days.
  • Post signage for employees and customers that outline good hygiene and safety measures being taken.
  • Consider placing a printable card stating, “This station has been disinfected!” on the client’s chair or treatment table before they arrive.
  • Communication and training should be accessible for people with disabilities, easy to understand, in preferred language(s) spoken or read by the workers and include accurate and timely information.

Personal Services Communication

Community Partnerships

Small Business Partnerships

Partnerships with Small Businesses

COVID-19 is changing the frequency in which consumers are able to invest in personal services. Identifying mutually beneficial partnerships with other brands could improve customer loyalty and revenue. For example, Trixie's Day Spa is partnering with Fusion, a local clothing shop, to make Mother's Day Gift Packages and raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Similarly, East Village Day Spa has shifted to selling products online and promoting other local products through their retail sales tool.

Supporting Families

Supporting Local Families in Need

The Pet Project Midwest, based in Des Moines, works to keep pets with their loving families and out of shelters, even when the family is unable to financially provide for their pets. Due to the financial challenges presented by COVID-19, the Pet Project Midwest is providing families in need with five months of pet food and pet supplies. The Pet Project Midwest also partners with Wesley Meals on Wheels to provide the pet food for the individuals getting food delivered each week.

Additional Resources

Recommended Playbooks

The business function playbooks include takeaways that are specific to professional functions that could be present in any business, regardless of industry.

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Human Resources
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Information Technology
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Sales and Marketing
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*We note that these assessments are qualitative and based on expert-led judgment (Johns Hopkins, 2020). Currently, there are not enough detailed data available to enable quantitative risk stratification. Businesses will need to make decisions about re-initiating business activities before there are validated data to know the precise levels of risk.

Legal Disclaimer

The Greater Des Moines Partnership's DSM Forward playbook is not intended to constitute legal advice or provide specific direction. The preparation of a business continuity or preparations plan should be undertaken with the advice and direction of appropriate specialists and personnel, in consideration of the unique circumstances impacting each business. Third-party websites or material linked to or referenced in DSM Forward are for informational purposes only and do not constitute a recommendation of The Partnership of that material or its authors.

Last updated: 5/18/2021