How to decide what policies to enforce in your salon


In my post today, I wanted to share some thoughts I had on creating salon policies that work for you in your business. A code of conduct if you like. Now this particular article highlights the policies for customers as opposed to staff. I will discuss staff policies in a separate post – so stay tuned for more!

Facebook, Apple and even McDonald’s (to name but a few) have them, so if these big business tycoons have terms of use, why shouldn’t we follow suit and do the same?

As defined on Wikipedia a policy is a: ‘Statement of intent, and is implemented as a procedure or protocol’.

That being said, you need to look at two things before deciding what policies to enforce within your salon. The compulsory policies for example; patch testing. And the more lenient guidelines such as no pets. The latter are to be determined by you as a salon owner and what is most fitting for your business.

Why having clear cut policies in your salon are important


To illustrate how important it is to have these policies in place – let’s look at a hypothetical scenario that could take place in a salon…

A customer calls to make an appointment for her colour treatment and is booked in with one of your stylists. No visible problem yet right?

She arrives for her appointment and is seated to discuss her hair requirements with her assigned stylist. Again no issues?

But what I didn’t tell you is this customer has never had a colour treatment performed in your salon before.

She should have been asked at the time of booking the appointment IF she had in fact received a colour before with you. See where I’m going with this?

Where does the fault lie? With your receptionist for failing to remember to ask the correct questions? Or with the customer for not giving correct information?

What if we were to go one step further? Say your stylist HAD performed the colour service on the client and she had a bad reaction as a result? What would happen then? Where would the blame lie?

Now had a policy been in place to ensure every customer is asked when booking their appointment if they have had a colour treatment before, this scenario could have been avoided all together. Or if they are made aware on your website that if they have not had a patch test 48 hours prior to their colour treatment, they will be unable to have their service completed and may still be charged for the time as they were advised prior to the booking.

People don’t always tell you the full story or simply don’t foresee these things being a problem. That is until there IS a problem which = Bad hair day!

Only hairdressers have hair brains! So it is our job to ask the appropriate questions so we get the correct answers – to do the best with the information we have to work with.

I just wanted to highlight how important having legitimate policies in place are and why we need a set of rules to stick to as added protection for both sides.

If you have clear cut policies in place, their is no confusion and everyone should be well informed. Staff and clients alike. This should minimize any of these sorts of things happening in the first place.

What policies should you investigate?


As I briefly touched on earlier, there are two kinds of policies within a salon. Compulsory and Discretionary.

If I split them up we can then look in more detail in a minute.


So these are policies that we should all adhere to, no matter who we are.

  • Patch tests: Must be performed up to a minimum of 48 hours prior to the appointment.
  • Strand tests: Must be taken for any new client OR if an existing client wishes to change their colour.
  • 16 as the minimum age for any chemical treatment: You are not advised to colour any minor under the age of 16 as of 2015 as cited from Habia  and their new guideline. Please see here for more information.
  • No smoking within the premises: This is the law here in the UK at least, please see here for more details. As of 2007 it is illegal to smoke inside any business premises. (Phew! No more gross smokey hair 🙂 )


These are policies that you can tailor to your own salon depending on your pain points.

  • Allowing pets within the salon: Now I LOVE our four legged friends! However that is not a sentiment shared by everyone. You may wish to have a separate note regarding service animals however.
  • Cancellations: Will you put in place a policy whereby you charge 100% of the appointment if cancelled with less than 24 hours notice?
  • No shows: (3 x rule) If a customer is repeatedly not attending appointments, without prior notice, you have the right to refuse service after 3 consecutive times.
  • Tardiness: You could put in place a 15 minute rule, if a client is any later than this they will have to reschedule at your earliest convenience.
  • Time period on complaints: 2 weeks as a ballpark figure would be a fair time restraint for free corrections (at your discretion) I would say. Please see my post on ‘dealing with complaints’ right here!
  • Returns: Do you accept returns on products? What does the supplier state?
  • Deposits for bridal hair or substantial appointments: This is important. If you have a large bridal party and your whole morning booked out, it is good to have a deposit to secure their booking. You have some insurance if they do not turn up. This also applies for a colour correction or any long spanning appointment.
  • If a client has not had a chemical service for a period of 3 months, they must have another patch/skin test: This is relevant because a client could have used a box colour in between salon visits, or been elsewhere where they use conflicting brands. It is always best to air on the side of caution when it has been a while between visits.
  • Taking contact numbers: I can’t begin to tell you how vital this is to running your salon smoothly. Namely if a stylist is off, you have means of contacting their client to advise them of their options. Alternatively, you or another stylist may have a query about the booking in place? Trust me, this has been a lifesaver on a number of occasions. And avoided the client walking in and you having to notify them without prior warning when they have already made a trip out. Not good practice and a sure fire way to rile people!
  • Payment methods: How do you accept payments? Do you accept cheques or online payments?

Some examples from other businesses...


Above are just a few ideas to consider. Let’s look at a few case studies and see how they have implemented it in their business models.

Salon Buzz based across the pond in Chicago US, have a few policies that are clear, concise and to the point. They are split up into segments and detailed on their website.

For example their policy on appointments, goes on to say: ‘Please arrive 10 minutes prior to your appointment to ensure you receive your full service. We recommend you book your next appointment prior to leaving the salon so that we can be sure to accommodate your schedule’.

This is a great example of a policy that would be relevant to all salons where clients are made aware of the risks that ensue as a result of late arrival.

Another shining example of salon policies in operation are over at Sparks Salon based in beautiful Toronto, Canada. Featured is an extensive list of their policies with detailed acumen on each one.

They start off by asserting the need to sign a waiver for any new clients. This is an excellent introduction, and another good policy to consider in your own salons.

Cancellations, no shows and late arrivals are all mentioned. Again these are all applicable in your businesses today.

How to enforce salon policies

Now you have decided what policies you wish to impose within your salon. We move on to how you educate people on them. One of the best ways to disclose these policies are on your salon website. This way it is easier for your clients to view and therefore adhere to.

You will also need to ensure all of your staff are up to speed with said policies so they are reinforced as a set of terms.

Some policies may need to be articulated for telephone appointments. Informing clients about patch tests or your cancellation policy at the time of booking. This way you should minimise any backlash from clients as they should anticipate any shortcomings on their behalf. In other words, if they are charged for a missed appointment they have no comeback.

How do having these policies in place help you as a salon owner?


Now this is the question that is most pertinent. Having policies in place should keep everything running smoothly as there is a clear understanding of the consequences that ensue if they are not met correctly. Any mitigating circumstances must be cleared by the salon owner/manager if they continued to miss appointments.

It also helps take the guess work out of proceedings and makes it easier to find a solution. I found myself in a predicament in my own salon recently. One of my clients was repeatedly missing appointments and not calling in advance to cancel. I was at a loss as to how to proceed as there was no firm rules or policies in place. I checked in with management and they concurred that it was fair to inform the client at the time of their next booking, if they continued to miss appointments that they will only be able to book on the day they called. Only IF I had availability I would fit them in.

It got my cogs whirring..if we had policies already in place, it would have alleviated any uncertainty. So it derived my idea for this post to help you.

What problems do you face in your salon?


So to adjourn my piece today, I just want you to think about what problems or pains you face on a day to day basis in your salons.

Is there a way you could overcome these areas by enforcing a set of policies?

Could you stamp out these symptoms before they become an issue by simply offering some guidelines in your salon?