Business Management

By The Book - Creating a Salon Policy Manual

Putting salon policies and procedures in writing helps both salon owners and nail technicians know what page they’re on.

To give you an idea of how Coleman works it, the list of dos and don’ts includes the rules of day-to-day activities, such as the following:

  • Nail technicians must arrive at the salon at least 15 minutes before their first client.
  • Before leaving the salon, nail technicians must say good-bye to everyone so that other staff members know who is in the salon and available to assist at all times.
  • A lab coat must be worn at all times.
  • Clients must never feel rushed, no matter what the circumstances.

The reference manual will include all information from where the fire extinguishers are located to where to park.

The six-month review will reinforce all points in these two guides.

“I’ll introduce the revised manual at one of our bimonthly meetings, and we will sit there and read it together,” says Coleman.


It’s generally agreed that the more input the staff has in writing the manual, the more they will accept personal ownership of its policies. That’s exactly what happened at Distinctive Touch.

“The salon is very democratic,” says Coleman. “If we all decide together to make a new rule – and we do that often – then we’ll add it to the list. For example, everyone agreed that we should have the six-month reviews. It gives them a formal time to come to me with suggestions and complaints, and they really like that.”

At The Nail Clinic, the staff had two meetings to discuss the manual before it was finalized.

“They were really excited because they had input, which really makes the manual work,” says Barna.

Kopp says that her staff didn’t have input in the manual. “I knew what I wanted,” she says. “There were no surprises. I just detailed what the staff already knew.”


So there’s no confusion when the manual’s needed the most, many salon owners have their staff sign a page in it indicating they have read the manual and understand its contents. Coleman agrees with this philosophy.

“New staff members receive the manual on their first day. They take it home and in a week are required to sign a sheet that says they have read and fully understood the procedures in Distinctive Touch’s reference manual. If they haven’t, I’ll give them a few more days. That way, they can never say, ‘I didn’t know that,’ when an issue arises.”

Barna also has her new techs sign a statement saying that they understand the content of the manual and agree with everything it contains. Kopp does the same.

Marsilii takes a different approach. She says she likes to run her salon informally, so she doesn’t have the staff sign the manual. She gives it to them on their first day of work and encourages them to come to her with questions. Since her staff members have all been with her at least two years, everyone knows where everyone else stands, so she doesn’t believe the formality is necessary.

“With open minds and open communication, we all work very well together,” she says. “In fact, I re-read it myself periodically just to brush up. Then, I re-issue it and say ‘Here’s the policy manual again in case you lost it or want to review it. That keeps it fresh in everyone’s mind in a very non-threatening way.”

“The biggest benefit of having a manual is that you and your staff never have a question,” says Kopp.”Every day, everyone comes to work knowing exactly what to expect, how to dress, and how to conduct themselves professionally.”

Marsilii sums it up like this: “Whether you have one or 10 people, a policies and procedures manual shows that you are serious about your business.”

Writing The Next Volume

At Distinctive Touch, owner Wendy Coleman is going a step beyond a basic policies and procedures manual. She is developing a salon reference binder containing everything nail technicians need to know, from technical information to diseases and disorders to nail art.

“I’ve been collecting articles from magazines and instruction sheets from manufacturers for three years,” says Coleman. “Putting them all into one clearly labeled manual will give the staff something to read when they are not busy or to use as a handy reference guide when they have a question or a client has a specific problem.”

Signing on Receipt

Most salon owners agree that it is a good idea to have staff members sign a statement acknowledging that they have read the salon’s policy manual and agree to abide by its contents. Here’s a sample statement for you to use or adapt for your own use.


I, _______________________ (employee’s name), have received and read a copy of the Policies and Procedures Handbook, which outlines the benefits, policies, and employee’s responsibilities at ________________________ (salon name). I understand the contents of this handbook and agree to comply with the information contained within it. If I have any questions about its contents at any time, I agree to take the responsibility to seek out the answers from the salon’s owner or manager.

I understand and agree that the salon has the right to change the policies contained in the handbook and that any changes will generally be communicated to me by my manger during salon meetings or through official notices, I accept responsibility for keeping informed of these changes.

I also understand that this handbook is not a contract of employment and should not be deemed as such, and that I am an employee at will.

I agree by accepting employment with this salon to abide by present and future personnel policies and practices.


_________________ (employee’s signature)


_________________ (date)


_________________ (salon owner’s/manager’s signature)


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