If you’ve read a recent series of articles about a study conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, you know that there seems to be a lot of misinformation out there which affects the entire indoor tanning industry.
One of the study’s assertions is that a majority of salons are misrepresenting the risks of indoor tanning and/or providing advice which contradicts established medical advice concerning the risks associated with youth tanning. Since the study was conducted principally by telephone and not with in-person visits to over 200 tanning salons in MO, the conclusion being be drawn by industry insiders is that we need to train staff how to represent the business and the industry more accurately in conversation; but it does not necessarily follow that these same salons are not practicing better safety measures than is being represented by this study. That the study was conducted exclusively in a state with no laws which regulating the tanning industry also skews the results in favor of the researchers’ assertion that the solution to the perceived problem is more federal regulation to compensate for states that have not taken sufficient action on the issue.
From a technological perspective, there is little that can be done to combat verbal misinformation, but there is much that can be done to combat actual cases of recklessness and unsafe practices from even occurring … this is one of the primary reasons for implementing technologies in the first place, because they serve as protection against the omissions and poor judgments we, as humans, often make. Age requirements (or the lack thereof) vary from state to state, but that doesn’t mean that individual salons cannot implement their own age requirement policies in the absence of state mandates – it’s simply a good business practice. Any tanning salon management software should at least have the ability to define a minimum age requirement for UV tanning, as well as a parent/guardian provision. By diligently and uniformly enforcing an age requirement, salon operators are doing their part in helping the industry address these types of critiques.
So, how would this work? First, there should be settings in the software application which allow you to establish a minimum age requirement. This could be a general policy or could apply exclusively to UV services, waiving non-UV services. Second, recording a client’s age or date of birth is mandatory to this setting’s ability to enforce the age policy. Again, this must work in conjunction with staff training to check some form of ID for verification instead of relying on verbal assurance alone. Third, Skin Typing must be part of the pre-tanning interview. There are several industry resources for training on how to evaluate a client’s Skin Type and these results should become part of the client’s profile. Fourth, whether or not the client is over the age of parental consent needs to be established in order to know whether the client can sign any Tanning Release Form on their own. Many states may not recognize the durability of a legally binding document if signed by a minor without the accompanying parent or guardian’s signature, putting the salon at legal risk even if all other best practices have been followed.
Of course, adding all of this paperwork can create its own set of administrative issues. With that in mind, one additional feature you should expect from your salon software is the ability to digitize all of those releases, consents and even contracts, making it a breeze to instantly recall any document the client has signed in the event of a question or dispute. The “gold standard” of digital document management would be the coupling of a signature capture device, allowing virtualization of the entire documentation process with no need for printed copies at all, excepting a client request for a printed copy for their own records; but even then, the forms could be emailed, saving the client’s from the requirement to file yet another needless piece of paper.
is the Business Support Manager for Helios, LLC. He is chiefly responsible for Helios’ media and public communication as well as overseeing any training initiatives. Contact Jeremy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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