How simple checklists keep your salon business on track

I know what you’re thinking.

Our hair and beauty salon… using checklists?

No way. Checklists are far too dumb.


Professionals love checklists

Airline pilots use checklists. So do surgeons. And even astronauts.

In this blog post I’ll show you:

  • Why checklists will #GrowYourSalon
  • How and when best to use them
  • How to create effective checklists
  • How to make them work for your business and team


Just checking

No matter how brilliant you think you are at a salon task the right checklist can improve the outcome.

An American hospital used the checklist strategy to slash infections in patients with intravenous lines (catheters that pump medications into a vein).

They created a 5 point checklist of best practice steps to avoid subsequent infection. These included such no-brainers as washing hands with soap and wearing a mask, hat, sterile gown and gloves. Crucially around one third of doctors were skipping at least one of these fundamental steps.

Medics were required to follow the checklist to the letter. No doubt some of them felt it daft to make a checklist for something so obvious. Yet within one year this infection rate dropped from 11% to 0%. Two years after the checklist was introduced, the hospital had prevented 43 infections, avoided 8 deaths and saved the hospital approximately $2 million.

Judging by these results just think what checklists could do for your hair or beauty business…


4 ways to harness the power of checklists for your hair or beauty business

I know, it’s all well and good talking about hospitals but you’re running a hair and beauty business.

Let’s look at how you can use checklists around your salon, spa or clinic:

1. Checklists for consistent hair and beauty treatments

Checklists go a long way to making treatment levels consistent and standard. And no, I’m not trying to turn your hair and beauty business into an impersonal assembly line. Far from it.

Let me explain…

I booked a manicure recently at a central London beauty salon. Great cuticle work, a deliciously relaxing hand massage plus a spot-on cappuccino served with a luscious cupcake. The friendly and professional therapist exceeded my expectations. An hour later I walked out of the salon vowing to return.

Which I did.

This time the cuticle work was perfunctory, a hand massage didn’t materialise and I wasn’t even offered a coffee. 35 minutes later I left disappointed, having paid the same price as my first visit.

The first therapist clearly had time on her hands and went the extra mile. The second therapist was running late, and it showed. A treatment checklist would have helped minimise this problem by prompting the same steps. If I’d been told the hand massage was a special usually reserved for a de-luxe manicure I’d have not expected it on my second visit.

2. Checklists make delegation easier

Checklists help expand the number of team members to whom you can delegate a specific task to.

Take cashing up. Back up your salon training with a written checklist next to the till. It’s an indispensible memory jogger if an employee unexpectedly has to step in and cash up due to holidays or sickness.

Having a checklist to hand gives them confidence that they can’t miss a crucial step, won’t hit the wrong button and will do everything in the correct order.

3. Improve the little things too

Salon checklists work at the nitty gritty level too.

How about one for making and serving coffee in your salon or spa?

No I’m not joking.

I know a salon where apprentices are taught to follow a checklist when making coffee. Not everyone is born a barista. A checklist ensures it’s not too cold, too bitter or is served in the wrong cup.

Result. A better client experience.

4. Reduce salon stress and uncertainty

Checklists endorse training and so reduce uncertainty and stress for your team.

This is especially true for your hair and beauty apprentices. For example, if they have to take a turn on reception it can make them anxious – a classic case for a checklist. A list of the steps to take when a potential new client phones removes the fear of getting it wrong and failing to get that new booking.


How to make action lists work for your salon team

Without doubt, checklists can be used to save time, money and boost salon productivity. Yet getting the team on-board isn’t always easy. Here are 4 ways to make checklists part of your salon or spa culture:

  1. Make the checklist an integral part of your training rather than introduce it later as an afterthought.
  2. Create a culture which says checklists are part of the job. “That’s how we do it here.”
  3. Emphasise you’re looking for improvement not to blame people. Checklists are not a big stick.
  4. No time to grab a checklist and tick it off? Remind your team of basketball player/coach John Wooden’s words, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”


How to create the definitive salon checklist

So you’re fired up and ready to start your first salon checklist.

Okay grab a pen.

I like to write down the steps when I’m doing the task. The next time I do the task I refine my original checklist, adding any actions I missed, and removing any unnecessary ones.

Done that?

Type it up and you’re ready to go.

If they work in aviation and medicine they can certainly help you #GrowYourSalon. What’s more they don’t cost a penny to create.

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