Salons are "recession-resistant," but not necessarily "recession-proof." Hair salons aren't completely immune to tough times because:
1. If a recession becomes a depression, people realize that hair cuts and color are not truly a necessity.
2. During a recession, people continue with their usual hair maintenance, but cut back a little. Clients may come in for haircuts, but forego color because they buy a DIY color kit instead.
3. Men decide to save $20 a month by having their girlfriend/spouse use an electric shaver to clip their hair, knowing it will grow back fast if it's not quite right.
4. Parents decide that their kids can live with a homemade cut.
5. Women shop around when the bill is $100 or more for color and highlights. If the hairdresser up the street offers to do the same thing in her basement for $55, the good camaraderie you built up over years with a client suddenly does not mean much.
In a recession, people still want to look good, because it's hard for them to get jobs if they look like werewolves. But they want to look good for less...a lot less. Be realistic about their economic needs before business slows or stops.
If It Works for Pizza Hut...
Your clients aren't going to say, "By the way, you're too expensive for me, so this will be the last time you ever hear from me." It's embarrassing for people to admit they've fallen on hard times. This is why you have to take the initiative BEFORE this scenario happens. Clients do have alternatives, after all. You'll need to demonstrate your value.
Offer options that are unique to your area. For example, if you have a good website, now is your opportunity to offer e-appointments. Even Pizza Hut allows you to order pizza online, so why not schedule hair appointments online? If you don't have a receptionist, this saves you from answering the phone during appointments. Allow people to customize their appointment, for example, a "no chat" option. Many men and women are introverts, and they despise idle chit-chat, particularly after a long day, but will NOT tell stylists this to their face. Here's a chance for them to simply checkmark their preference online in a way that is not awkward. For introverts, exchanging pleasantries but not having to engage in redundant chit-chat is a godsend; here's your opportunity to corner that segment of the market.
Make sure you offer a coupon to people in exchange for providing their email addresses on your website, so that you can send them email alerts. The coupon could be "Buy 3 Cuts, Get 1 Free" or a percentage off. Include testimonials on your site, e.g., "I LOVED your no-chat option. I really enjoyed being able to daydream the whole time. Jane Doe, Peoria"
You'll be back in business in no time, just by providing great service with innovative options.