July 2008

Judith Culp

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp


Keeping Client Records

Oh joy, how we all love paperwork, right? All right, perhaps not, be it does have hidden advantages.
Keeping track of client treatments is no longer an issue of choice in many states. Now, to better protect the public, many states are requiring technicians to document services, dates and specifics of services performed. While it may be just another piece of paper, this documentation can be valuable and help enhance client service and retention.

When you are getting started, it is easy to remember what service you did for a client last time. With more advanced treatments and technologies, however, now it isn’t adequate just to remember the treatment; we must also remember serums used, settings used on devices and all the other factors involved.

Doing so allows us to duplicate the treatment next time or even to build off it to create the best possible result in a treatment series. Facial toning, light based therapies and numerous other new technologies use a building pattern in a treatment series. Knowing the previous settings is critical.

It gets more complicated if you do multiple services for the client, now you must document each. As your business grows, it gets harder to keep client treatments separated in your head. Thus, you need documentation.

Should you duplicate others’ forms or make your own? Many esthetic textbooks offer templates you can adapt to your facility. Manufacturers also offer forms, but these may be specific to their product rather than covering the diverse services you offer. While it is easy to photocopy someone else’s client record forms, you may find it more beneficial to spend a slow afternoon and create your own specific forms.

You can use simple text forms or manufacturer formatted forms, but make them general enough to adapt them to each type of facial you’ll need to record. It can be advantageous to have the forms on your computer; if there is a new medication alert or a new modality to add, it is easy to bring them up to speed.

What types of forms should you use? Two or three categories of forms are commonly needed. We need treatment record forms, informed consent forms and home care instructions. Some of the consent forms include the home care instructions. In that case, you can give a duplicate form to the client to take with them.

Treatment record forms track the details of what you have done for the client. This includes the products, equipment, equipment settings and duration used during treatments. It also includes other notes and treatment results.

It is also valuable to track any recommendations you make for the next procedure. This includes any recommendations for add-on services and products, as well as anything sold or sampled.

Also make note of client preferences on the treatment record, including favorite music, special treatment tweaks, need for a bolster, hot or cold-blooded, etc. Record the things that will make the next procedure equal to or better than the last. You may need separate forms for waxing, facial treatments, body treatments and the like.

Informed consent forms explain treatments and detail any possible consequences or side effects. They cover contraindications and often have places for the client to note if these are a concern for them. They may also include after care guidelines. They state the client acknowledges they have read and understand these issues and wishes to proceed with the service. Most importantly, there is a place for the client to sign.

Having these forms is important; making sure the client signs them before moving forward with the treatment is critical—and so easy to overlook. Every time a client comes in, ask them to review the consent form and make sure no new contraindications exist. We never know if they have gone on antibiotics, had a medical crisis, gotten pregnant or something else.

Home care and after care instructions are invaluable. They help us help the client have the best possible result. For most skincare services, the client has been exfoliated so we prefer they stay out of the sun. If they have had acid exfoliation or microdermabrasion, additional guidelines will apply. Keep the instructions simple and have any necessary home-care products available for the client. These may be their regular products or specialty items.

Should you computerize or use a filing cabinet? Even those who use computerized systems often still print out the client information so notes can be made and then entered back into the system. If this is the case, it doesn’t really eliminate the use of paper. Sometimes it is faster to pull a client’s file from the filing cabinet than it is to look it up on the computer. All of the consent forms as well as the treatment records are in one place. Then, we must make sure the filing cabinet is lockable—and locked when not in use—to protect the privacy of client information.

The down side of the filing cabinet is it limits the ways we can use our client information. Having at least some of the client information computerized is essential to enhance our marketing efforts.

How can you maximize the use of client records? They help you offer optimum services, allowing you to remember all the little things that make a treatment special for an individual client. They can also yield a wealth of additional information.

If we enter each client into a computer system, whether the program of choice is Outlook, Act, or an appointment scheduling system, we can use the program’s tools to gather demographic information, set birthday alerts, learn purchasing patterns and quickly be aware of clients who have not been in for a while. Some of these capabilities are limited to the type of software we use, so researching before investing in one of them is important.

If you don’t have a client information system set up yet, now is a great time to start. Your clients will see enhanced benefits because you will remember all those details for them—from their favorite music to their husband’s favorite pastime. You will be able to offer better services because you will have all the critical information to build on from past services. You will also have all of the documentation in place to protect yourself in case a client issue should ever arise. Moreover, your state inspectors will be happy you are following their guidelines and taking good care of people.

Judith Culp, a CIDESCO Diplomat has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. A CPCP permanent makeup technician for over 18 years she served a 4-year term as a Director for the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, two years as their president. She is president of Culp Enterprises Inc. and CEO of NW Institute of Esthetics. Judy Culp is available for consulting. For more information visit www.estheticsnw.com.