September 2010

Jerry Tyler

Blue Highways | by Jerry Tyler


Lack of Salon Compliance Could Prove Devastating to Industry

As I travel the blue highways of our industry, I am often confronted with some rather bizarre misconceptions.

These myths are passed around as truth like potato salad at the company picnic.

Myth Number One: The concept that there are two different sets of health and safety standards, one to be followed during beauty school, and a different set out in the salon world.

During school, we learn about the state board world of salon and professional compliance. When we receive our licenses and enter the salon workforce, we sometimes wind up with a different viewpoint as to health and safety standards.

Truth: The truth is that our success is based on our guests’ confidence. They must be assured that every facet of our service is the best that can be offered, no matter what the price point.

When it comes to the standards of artistry and technical mastery, there are never enough days in the month for us to work on improving our skills. However, when it comes to client protection, do we give them the same level of care and concern?

In the world of psychology, these areas are referred to as hygienic. (Hygienic: a system of principles for promoting health). The client does not come to the salon to check to see if the change room is clean, the combs in the barbercide are completely submerged or the licenses of the salon professionals are valid and current; they expect it. They expect a clean brush, free of the last client’s hair from her blow dry.

They do not go to the salon because of these dynamics, but they will leave if these expectations are not met. One industry leader offered a great template to gage the true value of any business. Go to the bathroom. Whether they do or do not provide a hygienic environment there will usually be an accurate indicator of how they run every facet of their business.

As the former State Board President of California, home to the largest license population in the US, I can just imagine the overall impact salon compliance or the lack thereof could have on our client base. With close to half a million licensees, over 40,000 licensed establishments and close to 300 beauty and barber schools, the potential for devastating consequences is huge.

We refer to consumer protection, and who is that consumer? It is our client.

I have seen some real crimes of fashion when it comes to a bad hair day; we all have. However, no one has ever been placed on high dose antibiotics for over a year due to bad hair.

In one outbreak of micro bacteria due to below standard disinfection of foot spas, over 200 people were infected. Standards were in place and they were not followed. Who paid for that? We all did. The confidence in the integrity of our profession was dealt a serious blow, one that will take years to recover from. After all, a pedicure is not worth dying for.

Many salon and spa owners understand the real world impact a clean and safe environment can have on the bottom line. Yet, they feel they cannot get their staff to buy into the concept. I have heard this repeatedly in disciplinary review cases. To these owners, I offer what I call the “one minute miracle.” At some predetermined time, have the salon coordinator or assistant manager go to each working station and stylist and whisper these simple words, “State Board is in the neighborhood.”

Miraculously, missing licenses go from the trunk of a car to the stylist’s station, brushes become hair free and clean and you can actually see through the barbercide. Amazingly, Board rules and regulations appear framed on display for clients to see at the front of the salon, bottles become properly labeled and dirty towels disappear. A clean and compliant salon in only minutes, now that is what I call a “one minute miracle.”

In the end, the reason we regulate establishments and licensees is to assure our clients that we are maintaining a standard that will guarantee their safety. In addition, we must provide an environment that reflects the same high regard for their well-being as we do for the quality of services we provide to them. After all, they deserve the highest quality in every facet of their services, and for those services to be rendered in a clean and protected environment.

Jerry Tyler’s column Blue Highways is his “Road Less Traveled” perspective on the solutions and challenges facing the beauty industry. Jerry Tyler has been a stylist since 1975 serving as the former artistic director for Vidal Sassoon Academy and currently as Director of Education for Carlton Hair salons. He is also a licensed cosmetology instructor and has served as President of the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.