Whenever the topic of standard operating procedures (SOPs) comes up, most clinic owners or managers immediately fall into one of two categories: lovers or haters. The lovers understand that SOPs are essential to ensure consistency in their clinic; while the haters see SOPs as total waste of time.
Those who love SOPs understand that it’s an essential document that defines and communicates their clinic’s expected behaviours and delivery of services. In simple terms, it’s a document that describes how their clinic or spa conducts business. It defines the look and feel of their business.
Your SOPs are normally living documents that detail written instructions describing specific steps your staff need to follow in all situations under defined conditions. It should be a “work in progress” document, undergoing reviews and changes on a regular basis.
If you don’t already have SOPs in place in your clinic, it may be time to consider writing one. Ideally, SOPs should be a team effort. Involving your staff in developing and commenting on your SOPs often means that they will be happy to use them. Ask them to write down exactly what they would do during a particular treatment or a specific scenario. As an example, ask them to write down: "how would you handle a client complaint?" At the same time as building your clinic SOPs, this provides you with an opportunity to review what your team is doing.
The main benefits of SOPs are to ensure that good practice is achieved at all times, clarifying who does what and giving guidance for all staff. Your clinic SOPs are there to assist in the continual improvement of your business.
Additional benefits are:
- Help to assure quality and consistency of service
- Help to ensure that good practice is achieved at all times
- Provide an opportunity to fully utilise the expertise of all team members
- Enable clinic managers and owners to delegate
- Help to avoid confusion over who does what (role clarification)
- SOPs are useful tools for training new team members
New Zealand Government and local Council regulations state the basic requirements that your clinic needs to comply to; and allow individual businesses to define how work gets done by their employees. Your SOPs typically define the procedures necessary to maintain treatment & service output conforms to industry standards and regulations; and your own business expectations. Using these procedures and guidelines, your staff can complete their job and tasks reliably, consistently and safely.
Apart from the fact that your policies and procedures are an important tool to help ensure consistency in service and treatment quality; having a SOP became essential when the Auckland Council changed their Health & Hygiene bylaw and Code of Practice (COP) in July last year. The new law now requires ALL beauty & nail clinics – even small home-based or mobile clinics - to have a licence. The purpose of this license is to ensure the safety of the general public, our clients.
At this stage the new regulations only apply to Auckland beauty (and nail) clinics; however other local councils are reviewing their own regulations as we speak. Because of these new law changes, now is a good time to review your clinic’s policies and procedures to ensure they meet best practice. You should also make sure that every staff member in your clinic knows what is expected of them.
What are the key changes in the bylaw affecting our Industry?
1. Client Consultation & Consent
The Auckland City Council has stipulated that one area all clinics should focus on in particular is client consultation. It is now required that every client booked in for a treatment must fully understand the procedure, and they must give informed consent before the treatment is performed.
The Auckland Council Health & Hygiene Code of Practice states that:
“Prior to the commencement of any specified service that risks breaking the skin, the operator must:
- advise the customer who wishes to undergo such service of the risks associated with the service and the potential for infection to occur during and after the service; and
- give advice appropriate to the procedure to be undertaken, concerning precautions and post service procedures that should be taken by the customer who wishes to undergo the service.”
For a client to provide consent, the following are essential elements:
- That the consent is voluntarily given by the client
- The consent is based on full provision of information on risks to the client
- Consent is given by a client who has the capacity to provide consent
The Council also requires you to give your client the appropriate aftercare instructions after every treatment; and you need to check that your client fully understands these instructions. It is not required, but advisable to provide your client with a written aftercare information sheet to take home at the conclusion of his/her treatment.
Another key requirement under the new regulations is that staff must be qualified. However, not all beauty services require proof of qualifications.
At this stage Council bylaw stipulate that all therapists providing electrolysis, red vein treatment, dermarolling/ stamping, manicures/pedicures, exfoliation, sun beds, IPL and laser MUST hold a National (NZQA) or an Industry recognized qualification.
It is worth noting that the Council would not accept 'product certificates' as training, and that they don’t have an 'approved' list of training providers. The Council Environmental Health Officers will, during the inspection process of each clinic, assess operators knowledge and skills to provide the health or beauty service they provide.
You can visit HITO’s website if you have any questions regarding Industry Qualifications (they are the organisation appointed by the Government to develop and implement industry qualifications for the hair and beauty sectors.)