Setting Policies and Setting Boundaries: Why Putting In Place Clear Guidelines Will Help Your Business Succeed
Policies are part and parcel of starting a business, and while it might seem like a bridge you can cross when you get to it, it's well worth putting policies in place before your business gets off the ground.
Why Implement Salon Policies?
It's fairly typical for new lash artists to perform treatment on their friends and relatives in order to gain experience, confidence and build a portfolio. A common result of this, however, is that we become accustomed to letting people off the hook for things like arriving late or cancelling at the last minute. While that might be okay when it's a relative, allowing that behaviour to spread to your clients can have serious consequences for your business.
You'll soon be losing hundreds of dollars in missed appointments, or waiting for your late client, having a knock-on effect, making others wait while you finish the set of said late person. None of this is ideal, but what can you do? You have to please your clients, right?
Of course, but consider this: that late client who can't have the super mega volume they want in the 45 minutes you have left after they showed up late again will maybe be upset, but one disgruntled client who is upset through no fault of yours is preferable to the 5 disgruntled clients you kept waiting because of it.
In reality, clear boundaries and strict policies are critical to the success of your business, the happiness of your clients as a whole, and your own peace of mind. So, as a lash technician, what policies should you have in place, and how can you enforce them?
Sometimes the car won't start, or there's traffic on the way to the studio – while being late is usually avoidable, it can happen. If a client calls ahead and says they'll be 5 or even 15 minutes late, there's no problem just doing their lashes. There are a few things you can do to ensure they get the look they want without running over time or cutting corners on your pre-treatment routine or stickie check
TOP TIPS: If you need to save a little time during treatment, here's what you can try:
- Use a few premade fans rather than hand making them all,
- Cover the bottom layer fully, 75% on the middle layer, and 50% on the top layer,
- Use some wider fans to cover gaps
- Use 2D fans in your classic sets to cover gaps in the lashes
When you set your policies, consider how late is too late? At which point does lateness become a no-show? We'd recommend that anything more more than 30 minutes late becomes a no-show for a full set – of course, this will differ in the case of infills or removals (sometimes lash removals take a long time...), so you might want to make it so that anything more than a quarter of the treatment time counts as a no-show and must be rebooked. See what suits you best, and enforce it.
A no-show is simply a client who does not come to their appointment without telling you they can't attend, though it could also be a client who was so late that you were unable to accommodate their appointment.
This is annoying for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that you now have at least an hour to fill. Sure, you can get some much-needed admin done or place your lash order without feeling rushed, but if you don't have a policy in place, you're doing all of that for free.
It's not uncommon to charge clients a fee if they don't show up for their appointment. How much you charge is up to you, but keep in mind that it should at the very least cover your time – you're still going to be working, so why should you have to work for free?
Which takes us onto...
Even if you don't have any other policies, you should definitely have a deposit policy. This at least covers your time in the event of a no-show and actually reduces the likelihood of someone not showing up.
It is up to you how much you charge for deposits, but we highly recommend at least 50% of the treatment price to protect yourself. Remember that the price of your treatments not only pays for your products, but also for your expertise, time, rent, bills, and food on the table – don't sell yourself short!
This is similar to a no-show policy, and it's where those deposits come in handy – if someone cancels on you with less than 24 hours' notice, the likelihood is that you won't be able to fill that appointment slot, so by taking a deposit you are covering your time. With these clients, you can offer to move their booking so that they're not losing their deposit and you still have them on the books so you're not losing a client.
Of course, you may choose to waive the cancellation fee on occasion depending on the exact situation and client, but this should be very rare, at your discretion, and only in exceptional circumstances!
We understand that policies can be intimidating, especially when you're just starting out, but putting them in place and enforcing them early on in your career can only help you succeed! The vast majority of clients will be completely accepting of them, and those who aren't tend to be the ones you might not really be able to rely on... Whichever policies you put in place, you should ensure that your clients are fully aware of them so that in the event that you have to enforce one, you don't have any dramas!