Mindfulness and manicures: Should salons and spas embrace services that go more than skin deep?

We’ve all heard the saying, “If you look good you feel good.” As wellness trends and holistic approaches to health and beauty continue to grow in popularity, people are recognizing how working on the “feel good” part is just as important as the “look good” part. Salon and spa professionals understand clients request their services to amplify their outer beauty, so why not meet the needs of clients who also want to improve their inner beauty with wellness and mindfulness programs?

According to the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness industry grew 12.8 percent from 2015 to 2017, a jump from a $3.7 trillion market to a $4.2 trillion market. This includes industry segments such as fitness and mind-body, personal care, beauty & anti-aging, spa economy, thermal/mineral springs and more. This lucrative trend reflects how much revenue salons and spas could potentially add by implementing wellness programs and services they don’t normally offer.  Although this may seem like a simple decision, salons and spas could put themselves in a tricky situation by working outside their main practice area by providing these services.

Therapy baths, chiropractic work, nutritional counseling, exercise, yoga and breathing classes are examples of trends in wellness that are popping up in salons and spas all across the country. These services help clients relieve stress and improve both their emotional and physical well-being. However, many of the business owners are unaware of the inherent risks associated with offering these services to their clients. For example, something as innocuous as a simple yoga class or a gentle massage could turn into a problem for salons and spas.

Imagine a nail tech at a spa leads one of these yoga classes as part of an extra offering to clients. This tech may be a self-proclaimed “yogi” who practices every morning before work. Now picture one of these clients seriously injuring themselves during this class.  The injured client could hold the spa responsible for the injury. In this case, unless your nail tech is also certified as a yoga instructor and carries appropriate professional liability insurance for that profession, your spa could be held liable.  This is due to the fact that one of the employees was practicing outside the bandwidth of their license.

Similar situations could occur with something as simple as a five-minute massage while getting a hair treatment. It seems like a nice touch – having a hairdresser at a salon include a relaxing and therapeutic massage for a client in between treatment sessions.  What happens if the client feels a sharp pain in their shoulder or leaves with a knot in their back? Regardless of whether or not the hairdresser is actually responsible, if they aren’t a certified masseuse, your salon could be on the hook for an expensive claim that leads to litigation.

You may also want to carefully consider offering hands-off wellness services.  Any sort of consultative service—from talking to someone about hair extensions to mindfulness meditative practice—falls under a different practice area and your professional liability insurance may not cover it. These examples show that even the simplest services can lead to issues for salons and spas, especially when they are outside your employees’ areas of expertise and certification. Focus on what you do best and hire/train your employees for positions in which they are certified. Although the additional wellness services can increase profit for your business and add a nice touch for your clients, a claim could be waiting right around the corner.  If you do decide to add these services, leave it to the professionals. If you can’t confidently say an employee is a trained expert in their field with the proper credentials, then it’s not worth taking the risk.  Finally, as a precaution, it’s always a good idea to carry general liability coverage from an insurance professional who understands the unique risks associated with salons and spas.