Get your Terms & Conditions in place
Terms and conditions or policies (as you may call them) are crucial for any business and it helps clients to understand what they must do (or must not do) and when.
Especially when you are just starting your own business it is hard to know where to start so we will try and help you through all the different aspects so you can ensure that your business is a full success!
So, lets at the different points you should include in your terms and why:
This should really be your first step in taking on any new client. A consultation will give you the opportunity to meet your client. You can discuss the appointment and likely treatment outcome and it also gives you the opportunity to assess your clients suitability and find out what your client is expecting as this will have an important role in the treatment.
A patch test is also required for most treatments and it is really easy and quick to do. Those few minutes are inevitable and will not only save you time and money but also problems down the line.
Your client can meet you and gain confidence that you are a professional and that he/she is in the best hands for the treatment.
When clients book an appointment, it is crucial that you take a non refundable booking fee. Far too often "newbies" feel they cant ask for money as clients would not book and they are feared to turn clients away if they ask for a booking fee.
The truth is probably quite the opposite!
Can you afford to NOT earn anything for a few hours?
Can you afford to sit at home or even worse,
Can you afford to travel to your clients house only to find out that no one is home and you won't get paid for your travel, expenses and time?
The answer is simple!
No, you can't. No one can afford to sit around for nothing.
The booking fee serves several purposes and you would be silly not to implement it.
Someone who is willing to pay a booking fee is fully intending to turn up to your appointment - if they dont, then they have lost the fee and you are not empty handed.
Someone who moans about paying a booking fee is already thinking about not turning up or cancelling last minute!
Your best option is to implement an online booking system (this saves time too) where clients can pay the booking fee when they book the appointment.
Make sure you state the terms and that the appointment is NOT confirmed until the booking fee has been paid!
CANCELLATION (late fee or no show)
No matter whether a client does not turn up (called a no show) or they cancel you 5 minutes prior to the appointment, you need a cancellation policy in place.
You can decide how late you will let clients cancel or reschedule, for example "cancellations need to be made a minimum of 48 hours prior to your appointment" This way you might be able to fill the slot with someone else.
This will depend on the treatment type though and whether you are mobile, in a salon or work from home. If you work from home you might be happy to do the washing if an appointment gets cancelled, on the other hand if you have to travel to your clients house you will need to consider a longer cancellation period.
This is definitely worth mentioning in your terms so clients know exactly what will happen if they turn up late. I believe it is common practice nowadays to be charged for the appointment if you turn up late. Ever turned up late to your dentist? Well, you know what happens!
It is of course up to you whether you want to turn clients away if they turn up late or whether you are still happy to go ahead with the appointment but your client will receive a reduced treatment time (still being charged for the full amount of course).
It can also depend on the treatment, for example a spray tan which is booked for 15 minutes simply cannot go ahead if your client turns up 10 minutes late! It would be unrealistic of your client to expect that you still fulfill the appointment and delay everyone else. It would be disrespectful to all your other clients.
If you have booked a lash infill with a longer appointment time you could allow your client to have the remaining time of the appointment but the lashes will obviously not be as full. This also teaches clients to respect the time you have allocated for them.
If you decide what is best for you and your business you need to state this clearly, ie "late arrival with more than 10 minutes is classed as a no show" or " if you arrive late for your appointment we might still be able to do part of your treatment depending on the remaining time, however we will not be able to expand the appointment past the booked time frame". These are just examples but you need to be very clear what you will and will not accept.
You might think it's great if clients are early? Well, that depends on the space you have available. If you are in a salon, then yes it is easy enough and clients can just take a seal and wait but if you are working from home or you have a log cabin or similar then you can only deal with one client at a time and clients turning up early can cause problems.
You can add a note to your policy along the lines of "As space is limited and I like to dedicate my time to one client at a time I would appreciate if you could arrive for your appointment on time. I have no waiting area so I am unable to accommodate anyone turning up early.
KIDS AND FRIENDS AT APPOINTMENTS
Clients might ask you if it is ok to bring a friend or kids along to their appointment (especially in school holidays) and whilst this might seem a totally normal and innocent request, you need to consider different things.
You will be busy doing the treatment and your client will be busy enjoying the pampering. Especially for eye enhancements your clients eyes will be closed so she will be unable to look after her kids and it is completely unacceptable to expect this of you!
"My children are well behaved" may or may not apply, BUT are you willing to take the chance?
What if the children open drawers, paint where they are not supposed to or start crying?
Will your insurance cover you if anything does happen?
This is obviously your decision but you need to weigh up the consequences and add this to your terms. I would say that well over 90% of therapists do NOT allow children at the appointment.
MAKE UP, LENSES ETC
A lot of treatments will require clients to come without makeup, without contact lenses, or any other requirements specific to the treatment your client is booked in for.
Whilst you might be able to work around some things, for example your client coming with make up which could be relatively easy removed there are other things you will struggle with.
For example clients turning up with contact lenses for their lash appointment would mean that you can not go ahead with the treatment, whilst clients turning up with mascara or dirty lashes would mean extra time for you to clean the lashes which inevitably would reduce the actual treatment time remaining for the infill so it is really important to give your client a guide of what to bring or wear, what to do or not to do and when.
This will help your client to be ready for the appointment and it will make your life easier too!
On that note, you might also do a little aftercare guide for your clients so they know what they need to look out for after the appointment which will help them get the best results and in some cases you can also combine this with aftercare products for clients to maintain their treatment at home.
If you are offering lash extensions then you also need to state at what point an infill becomes a full set. You can either charge by time or by weeks (either is popular and suitable) but make sure your clients know when to come back for their maintenance appointment and what happens if they stretch it out (they will try this to save money).
This will also apply to other treatments so be vigilant.
Some therapists are quite happy for clients to have their phone on during the appointment but it can cause disruption so most therapists prefer for the client to leave it in the bag.
You could suggest to your client that this is his/her time to relax and switch off. A little bit of "me-time" while you do the pampering.
You might laugh, but this can actually affect quite a few of your treatments. Some clients might not even be affected by it but some will react to excessive caffeine intake and might for example have fluttery eyes which could make any eye enhancement or permanent make up very tricky!
You could mention this in your consultation but also have on a little flyer so that clients remember what to do and what to avoid BEFORE and AFTER the appointment.
Before and after pictures are still one of the most effective ways of showing the treatment outcome. Obviously in order to do this you will need your clients permission to take pictures. You could have a little consent form as part of the consultation which states that your client is happy for you to take before and after pictures in order to promote the treatment.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY
This does not need to be included in your terms but I still wanted to mention it.
When you start on your journey and you are going through the case studies you are of course grateful for all those friends and family members who are willing volunteers to help you get your qualification.
You might have seen online what happens afterwards......no shows, last minute cancellations and changing appointments because you are mates and surely you could just "fit me in" or "just fix this for me"!
Here is the truth:
Friends and family should be your support. They should help and encourage you and not take advantage and jeopardize your business. Apply the same rules as for all your other clients and you will have far less problems!
Here is a word of advise....no matter what happens, don't feel you need to justify or explain your policies. It is your business and at no point should you need to defend why you do things the way you do! There will always be clients who challenge you and try to get their own way by bullying but you need to stay firm and stick to your rules.
It is of course up to you to bend the rules for certain circumstances (the current Virus situation ist just one example #COVID_19) but be careful as clients might take it as an excuse to expect an exception all the time.
Don't feel daunted by all this! It is your business and your rules so you can decide what works for you. These suggestions are just based on our experience in order to help all of you who are looking for a bit of advice with regards to terms and what to include.