Some states, like North Carolina, require salons to post their inspection scores where consumers can see them. While I’m not necessarily a proponent of more rules and regulations for the nail industry, I do believe that since most salons are already being inspected, why not post the grade?

In school you count on your grades to gauge how you’re doing in a particular class, and they’re a generally accepted universal indicator of the knowledge you’ve amassed and retained. An “A” or “B” means you’re doing a good job and understand your subject matter. A “C” means you’re average and could probably work or study a little harder to bring your grade up. A “D” or “F” means you’re flailing (and failing) and it might not be as easy for you to get that grade up without extra help or an intensive look at what’s going on. Good grades don’t necessarily mean you’re the smartest (nor do bad grades mean you’re dim); they mean you understand what’s expected of you and have figured out how to achieve that goal.

Some states grade restaurants (including California, where I live). The health inspector comes in with a checklist of state-required safety and cleanliness items that a restaurant must adhere to. Once the inspection is completed, a grade is given to the restaurant and it must be posted prominently for all customers to see. Although a “B” grade doesn’t mean you have to close your business, it’s a sign to customers that you’ve fallen short in certain areas. Customers have come to expect all restaurants to have an “A” hanging in their windows.

According to two Stanford University researchers, only 25% of Los Angeles County restaurants were performing at an “A” level in 1996 before the grading system was implemented. In 1998, that number had jumped to 50%. In 2007, the average restaurant score in Los Angeles County was 93.3, up from 84.7 when the grading program began. The number of “C” restaurants dropped from 17.6% in the first six months of grading to 1.8% in 2007, and the number of restaurants receiving scores below 70 went from 11.7% in the first six months of grading to 0.2% in 2007.

Imagine what this could do for the nail industry. If you have to post your inspection score for everyone to see, don’t you think you (and all the salons that are currently hovering in the “D” or “F” area) will strive to get an “A”? You can use your grade in your marketing materials and on your website and advertising. What about all those discount salons everyone is always complaining about? Faced with the prospect of having to post a bad grade, don’t you think they’ll make sure they’re cleaning properly and following the state-required safety rules? How would any salon survive with a “C” or “D” grade posted in its window? That’s the equivalent of eating at a restaurant with a “C.” Would a consumer who currently frequents a lower-end salon and cast a blind eye to what she might actually realize are unsanitary conditions start rethinking her salon choice if there’s a big fat “D” on the door?

Salon inspections only keep you on your toes so much if all that’s happening is you pay a fine and can tuck your score away. If the thought of having to post any grade lower than an “A” on your window doesn’t make you clean up your act, you need to go back to school.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.