7 Months And Counting; 3 Melbourne Clinic Owners Share Their Lockdown Lessons

As Melbourne tallies up 7 months spent at home since March 30 2021, we hear from three clinic owners about their lockdown experience.

They’ve faced 6 different lockdown periods ranging from 5 days to 111 days of closed doors tallying 219 days total as of Tuesday the 7th of September, 2021. When you see the numbers on paper, it’s overwhelming. Yet that’s nothing compared to the stress of trying to manage a business through such unpredictable times.

Luckily, every cloud has its silver lining and the persevering nature of the industry is shining through.  

Maddison Temelkovski – Founder and Director, The Aesthetic Skin Clinic

Maddison Temelkovski

What have you been doing in your business throughout the lockdowns?

MT: Whenever we go into lockdown I really try to focus on utilising the time to address any pain points in the business. I like to spend the time on analysing financials, COG (cost of goods vs retail/service prices), marketing plans, budgets etc and the processes or systems I implement into my business that will streamline HR, protocols etc. I think it’s a great time to reflect on the brand and see what I do well, what I don’t do well and make the changes prior to re-opening. A great tool that I find valuable is sending out a survey to my client database to review these things and get some honest feedback. I attach a small gift credit to the client’s account as a thank you. 

Has your mindset and plan changed as the lockdowns continued?

MT: Initially in 2020 I really looked at my business pain points and spent the time reflecting on areas of improvement. When our employees were on JobKeeper we really utilised the time to get staff completely trained up in anything they didn’t feel 100% comfortable on. We did webinars and zooms with different reps, trainers and brands to expand their knowledge.

In these most recent lockdowns I have really been focusing more on my team culture, my team’s mental health and wellness. I don’t want to overload them with ‘work’ tasks or training as they have had their fair share of it, especially when they aren’t being paid directly from us. I think it’s really important to check in with the team regularly about how they are feeling, their wellbeing and possibly running zooms that are about things other than work related topics to keep them engaged all whilst giving them space to breathe and deal with what’s going on in their personal life and how this is all impacting them at home. 

What has your experience been in accessing government support? 

MT: The process in accessing government support for the business has been quite smooth as my bookkeeper and accountant update me at any time if we are eligible for any grants. However, the actual financial aid is very minimal. The support we have received in each lockdown covers not even a quarter of our rent for a month. On top of this we have multiple machinery loans that if we choose to pause will go against us in future borrowing plans with the banks therefore we basically have to pay them, it doesn’t go away. We have rent, we have suppliers, our BAS and TAX, SUPER and PAYG, subscriptions for our online websites and registrations of our businesses and all of the little things in between that don’t get looked at. All of this needs to be paid on time with zero income, a small grant of approx. $2500 is thrown at us randomly over 1.5 years but realistically so many small businesses have overheads of at least $20k-$80k per month. How is this okay? 

What’s been your biggest learning throughout the lockdown, both personal and in a business sense?

MT: I have definitely made a change within my personal life and within my business to focus more on my wellbeing and mental health as well as my team’s. We have a really amazing platform called IntelliHR which is completely customisable to your company and implements workflows, onboarding, wellness check emails for your team (it does so much more than this it’s incredible) and it has been a game changer for my company and team. 

I think it’s really important to take a step back from everything going on in the world and really look after yourself and to help do the same for your team so they are there for you at the end. 

Have any of these lockdowns permanently changed the way you run your business?

MT: I think these lockdowns have definitely made me more aware of our finances. Working with people who specialise in financial advising, having an amazing accountant and bookkeeper. I think this is essential for any company to succeed. 

What’s your plan for reopening and what are you most looking forward to in the future of your business? 

MT: We are really excited to just get back to doing what we love. I truly believe after all this is said and done our industry will boom again and people will look more to self-care.

James Vivian – Founder, James Vivian

James Vivian

What have you been doing in your business throughout the lockdowns?

JV: It really has differed with each and every lockdown. The first lockdown saw our quickest pivot from face-to-face to online with the creation of an online store and the offering of online consultations. It wasn’t really until the second lockdown that these initiatives really took off, as well as making the most of the free time we had and devoting it to social media (enter Tina Toner). With each post we saw an increase in interaction and genuine interest which encouraged us to continue.

Subsequent lockdowns were quicker and seemed to have clients waiting for their next appointment rather than staying in touch, plus people’s tolerance of the virus itself was affecting people’s passion for skincare. We’re currently in our 6th lockdown which seems to be here to stay. This time around, I have created a podcast (launching September 1st). I am working on a dedicated online skincare consulting website, and continue to make a fool of myself on social media for anyone who wants a laugh.

Has your mindset and plan changed as the lockdowns continued?

JV: Unfortunately, my feelings towards the lockdowns can get me down so I have definitely fared better through some lockdowns over others. That said, my inherit drive to hustle, to protect the hard work that’s come before us and to ensure we have a clinic for our staff and clients to return to does get me out of bed each day.

What has your experience been in accessing government support?

JV: Despite the ravaging financial effects that each lockdown has on our business and industry generally, the support that the governments has provided has been extraordinarily generous and helpful. The removal of taxation payments, the JobKeeper initiative and disaster payments have all been essential in keeping our (closed) doors open and provided a life-line in terms of financial support as well as emotional reassurance.

What’s been your biggest learning throughout the lockdown, both personal and in a business sense?

JV: I would have to say that I have learned the positive effects that social media can have on one’s business. Of course, you always hear everyone talking about it but it’s not until you actually experience it for yourself and put in the time and effort that you start to see its effects and are encouraged to continue. Connecting with a broader audience beyond the one-on-one interaction you have with a client has helped our business not just persevere but also grow. And from a personal perspective, this has given me purpose and has allowed me to reconnect with my creative side and fuse together my passions for music and skincare.

Have any of these lessons permanently changed the way you run your business?

JV: We continue to utilise social media as our number one mode of communication with our clients, both old and new. There are so many people out there looking for advice regarding their skin and wanting to connect with businesses that they can turn to and who create an experience beyond skincare. 

What’s your plan for reopening and what are you most looking forward to in the future of your business? 

JV: Um, what reopening date?! We are beyond ready to reopen and have perfected the process many times over now. We are looking forward to creating some continuity and fabulous skin for our clients and also really seeing the full effects that these lockdowns have had on our business. With each reopening we seem to be busier than ever so I am extremely curious to see where our clinic will be in 6, 12, 24 months.

Angelina Veljanoski – Founder, Skin Angel

Angelina Veljanoski

What have you been doing in your business throughout the lockdowns? 

AV: 2020 lockdown I created our online skincare store Curated by Skin Angel, which is a curated collection of skincare products we offer at Skin Angel.  The online platform gave us a new opportunity to evolve, taking us virtual. The ability to consult our clients via Zoom to prescribe personalised at home skincare prescriptions enables us to serve not only our local clientele but inclusive of clients all over Australia. 2021 lockdowns I haven’t implemented my innovation yet. This year I’ve really given myself some time at home to rest and rejuvenate. I find when I have space my creativity flows.

Has your mindset and plan changed as the lockdowns continued?

AV: My vision to evolve has not changed although it has expanded as we continue into more lockdowns. I cherish our bricks and mortar service-based business as my passion is performing treatments on my clients. After last year’s lockdown it really became evident to me just how much joy I receive in return from my clientele, from our results we achieve together to the relationship we build.  So, my future planning for the clinic hasn’t changed, it’s just on pause.

What has your experience been in accessing government support? 

AV: I have been able to receive government support, although the small business expenses outweigh the government support. All I have to say is I am very blessed to have built a loyal clientele as their continued support and dedication of their at home skincare prescriptions covers the difference.

What’s been your biggest learning throughout the lockdown, both personal and in a business sense? 

AV: My biggest learning is to never rely on any one offering in business. For example, just servicing clients, and to have multiple streams of revenue. Who knew the government would literally make it illegal to trade. Personally, my biggest learning is to enjoy life itself.

Have any of these lessons permanently changed the way you run your business? 

AV: Absolutely they have! I’ve grown the business with multi facet platforms. Now offering not only in clinic consultations and treatments, but also offering a wider range of prescription cosmeceutical skincare and at home treatments and devices. I’ve always had a business mindset, although I’ve refined my investments. I ensure each investment I make is a step to grow the business itself.

What’s your plan for reopening and what are you most looking forward to in the future of your business? 

AV: To reopen is to ensure all my administration is in order as I’ll need to open more treatment hours to ensure we can service all our clientele. I’m looking forward to hiring our next treating therapists and expanding our team. I’m so excited to meet her/them and welcome a new personality to our clinic. 

How are you and your business going in lockdown? Let us know in the comments.

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