What Clients Don’t Say Can Hurt Them (And You)

One challenge often goes unspoken among salon and spa professionals, at least until someone gets hurt: working with clients who have medical conditions that may be adversely affected by a service. This is always a difficult scenario, but easier to handle when clients are forthcoming about issues or injuries.

But what can you do when people hide such information from you? Since you’re not going to learn to read minds any time soon, you will have to engage in some thoughtful risk management. Here, we’ll detail two scenarios showing the problems that can stem from clients failing to disclose injuries, and how salons can manage the risk to minimize harm and keep insurance claims costs low.

Scenario one: Keep detailed records
We saw an insurance claim stemming from a common request: a long-time client of a salon came in for professional color. However, the client failed to tell them that she had just been to another stylist, who had already advised her not to dye again.

Predictably, the client ended up with a burnt scalp and hair loss. Though they couldn’t undo the damage done, the salon was able to manage the cost of this claim because they kept records that showed the client had omitted information from them.

You can’t force people to provide information, but you can keep accurate records. Minor incidents can turn into big claims—and claims stemming from hair loss and burns due to hair dye are common.

Scenario two: Speak up
A woman auditioning for the cheerleading squad of a professional football team developed a nail infection after a manicure. She decided against seeing a doctor, and instead visited a friend—and nail technician—at a different nail salon. The infection spread and prevented her from working, and she brought suit against the second salon for damages.

If the nail tech had inquired about medical problems and expressed her professional concern about the infection, it is possible the cheerleader’s injuries could have been minimized and the salon could have avoided a costly lawsuit. You should ensure your salon workers inquire about health changes to their clients and voice their concerns. A cosmetic cover-up cannot prevent a trip to the doctor.

Not every claim can be avoided, and you cannot control the information clients withhold from you. However, you can control the severity of claims by doing your due diligence in asking about health issues and by keeping detailed records.


Sean Brownyard is executive program manager for SASSI, the Salon and Spa Specialty Insurance program at Brownyard Group. He can be reached at sbrownyard@brownyard.com.

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