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Keeping Your Policies Enforced
Author: Jeremy Herring
April 1st 2013 -

If you’ve read a recent series of articles focusing on 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 assertions of the study is that a majority of tanning 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 Missouri, the conclusion that can be drawn by industry insiders is that we need to train staff members on 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 only in a state with no laws whatsoever which regulates the tanning industry is also skews the results a bit in favor of the assertion that the problem as the researchers perceive it requires more federal regulation to compensate for states which have not taken sufficient action on the issue.

From a technology perspective, there’s 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 protections against the omissions and poor judgments we as humans often make. Age requirements (or the lack thereof) vary from state to state but that does not mean that individual salons cannot implement their own age requirement policies in the absence of state requirements – 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 application which allow you to establish the minimum age requirement. This could be a general policy or apply exclusively to UV services but waiver non-UV services. Second, recording a client’s age or date of birth is mandatory to this setting being able 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 how to evaluate client’s skin type and these results should become part of the client’s profile. Fourth, whether the client is over the age of parental consent or not needs to be established in order to know if the client alone 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 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 except if the client would desire a printed copy for their own records – but even at that the forms should be able to be emailed, saving even the client from the requirement to file yet another needless piece of paper.


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