When your salon saves water, is powered by 100% renewable energy, and is cruelty-free and vegan, it makes sense to be paperless too. Salon owner Jason Donnelly uses our Consult app to manage all his client records, but it hasn’t always been that way. Find out what it’s like to switch from paper forms to Consult and how it can save you time, money, and give you peace of mind.

Why UK Salon, ‘Asylum Hair and Beauty’ Uses Free App ‘Consult’ to Protect their Clients and their Business

My Salon, My Rules, My Ethics!

A hairdresser for 15 years, Jason has worked at multiple salons, but ever since he started his apprenticeship, owning his own business has been the ultimate outcome.

It’s always been my goal to have my own salon and set my own rules.

In 2018 he opened his first salon in County Durham, called ‘Asylum Hair and Beauty’, and since the start, the salon has strived to stand out. With a punchy name, a great location and work that speaks for itself, it’s no surprise the salon has made a name for itself and grown so quickly. “We haven’t been open that long, we just had our first birthday and we’ve got four stylists and two beauty therapists”

Jason has a very strong ethical code when it comes to community and the environment, so when he started Asylum, he wanted it to flow through to the salon.

“We’re trying to be more eco-friendly which is why we use Consult and have gone paperless! We’re also cruelty free and vegan friendly. We try to do as much as we can at our salon, we are going to start refilling products which saves plastic, instead of customers having to buy new shampoos and conditioners each time”.

But wait, there’s more. Asylum have taken further steps to be as environmentally friendly as possible when it came to the ‘fit out’ of the salon. “We have water savers on all of our water outlets and we’re with an electricity company where it’s all from renewable energy.”

It doesn’t stop there. When 9,000 people in the UK recently lost their jobs because a large company closed down, Jason volunteered his staff’s services for free to newly unemployed people in need of a pick me up! 

Given Jason’s passion for people and the environment, going paperless in the salon seemed like the next best step.

Before Consult, There Was Paper… Everywhere

In a regulated UK market, all salons have multiple forms that their clients need to complete, and before Consult, Asylum met these regulations with paper forms.

“Before Consult we had countless forms, really countless! There was just loads of paper everywhere. We were keeping them in a cupboard in boxes in alphabetical order. We’d have to search through everything when the client came in. Then we’d hand the client a clipboard with a piece of paper on it, it was ridiculous really.”

Frustrated with the extra work their paper record system was causing, Jason searched for a cloud-based client record-keeping system, but there was nothing that did exactly what he needed. “It was ridiculous when you think about it, that there wasn’t a solution at the time on the market where you could click on your client and find all their records straight away.”

Jason’s Search for Paperless Record Management

Timely released the second, customisable version of Consult earlier this year. As a Timely customer, Jason heard about it as soon as it came out, and started using it almost straight away.  “Consult works really well with Timely, so we were able to create our own forms and start being paperless.” They used Consult at first to help train their new staff on how to perform thorough consultations. “At first it was really good to use to help teach our trainees on how to do a proper consultation, like what questions that they needed to ask to get clear concise answers from the client as to what they wanted.”

Believing that Consult was best for consultations, they continued their search for somewhere to store their client records and patch tests. There was nothing like it on the market, so  they decided to test how Consult would work for their client records. The great news for Jason? It works a treat!

We started using it four months ago and now we’re completely paperless.

Consult Protects Your Business, Legally

Our non-UK readers might be surprised to know that it’s a legal requirement for new clients to do a patch test before a hair colour appointment in the UK, where it’s only ‘best practice’ in New Zealand and Australia. Legally, salons in the UK need to abide by the law by doing patch tests for new clients, but the hair colour brand the salon uses will also dictate what patch testing policy they need to follow. However, most policies advise that patch testing should be carried out at least once per year on regular clients. The colour stockist may also have extra policies for particular products. For example, Paul Mitchell advises additional patch testing before using ‘XG Colour’ or ‘ XG Shine ‘ on a client.

Protecting your business isn’t a hassle — Jason manages his patch tests by putting a note in Timely on the appointment that they need to have a patch test. “They come in, it literally takes two minutes, put a little bit of colour on and that’s it. If there’s no reaction by the time of the appointment then we go ahead. If there is a reaction, legally we can’t.”

If a new client is coming from a distance and they haven’t done patch test yet, sometimes they will get upset because they don’t understand the legitimate risk that hair colour can pose. We just have to explain to them that it’s not worth it for us to risk our whole entire business for the sake of one patch test. It’s not worth the risk for them if it goes wrong either”.

You Might Not Think It Will Happen to You, but It Could

The reality of the simple patch test is that it genuinely saves lives and saves businesses.  Jason has had personal experiences where a simple patch test has protected his client and his business.

“Doing a patch test has saved us plenty of times. The reaction can be really, really bad. For the patch test, we put a little dot of colour behind someone’s ear and sometimes the whole ear will swell right up, or it will get really red and irritated. If you can imagine that on someone’s whole head it can be really dangerous.”

Jason is used to turning down clients who walk in and want their hair coloured on the day, because of the patch test law, but he knows that other salons are breaking the law in order to take these appointments. “It’s obviously illegal but some salons don’t really care. If a client had a reaction and they took legal action against the salon, their public liability insurance wouldn’t cover them”. This means that the salon would have to cover all of the legal bills, pay out the settlement and risk losing their business.

“It does happen a lot, where clients go into a salon and get their hair colour done without a patch test, but the client doesn’t know that the salon has broken the law in order to take the appointment.”

This is how Asylum Hair and Beauty do their patch test with Consult:

  1. The client signs and dates the form when they do the patch test. 
  2. When the client comes back, the staff check the patch test area and if there’s been no reaction they’ll write that on the form saying there’s been no reaction. 
  3. If there has been any reaction, the staff write that down. 
  4. If there hasn’t been a reaction, the client signs the document to say that they have agreed that they’ve had a patch test and that there was no reaction and that want to go ahead.  

It’s Better to Go above the Law than below It

Asylum Hair and Beauty go above and beyond meeting requirements, because risking their salon isn’t worth it. Unless your clients knows a lot about the industry, they probably won’t know that manufacturers have their requirements that the salon needs to abide by.

“Different manufacturers require different requirements. Paul Mitchell states that we can’t colour anyone’s hair under the age of 16. Parents will try to book their children in with us and we have to say no, because our insurance wouldn’t cover us in case anything went wrong”

Consult does it all: Hair, Beauty and Microblading!

Asylum Hair and Beauty offer a lot of different services, and more services equals more forms, more patch tests and different record cards. “For example, micro blading, eyelash extensions, and hair colour all require slightly different forms, the one form wouldn’t be enough. That’s three separate forms for one service.” Instead of noting down colour / treatment notes in the ‘Note’ section in Timely, they use Consult! “We do our colour records on Consult – it helps us keep things organised. For example, the amount of peroxide levels you would use, the colour formulation, or how long the colour was left on for! It’s very organised and it’s better laid out on the form”.

Consult is only on iOS, which means you can only use it on iPads or iPhones. Jason uses two iPads in his salon; “If we get busier we will probably get more but two works well at the moment. One for the beauty therapists and one for the hair stylists to share.”

Jason’s advice, salon owner to salon owner 

“If you’re using Timely anyway, Consult works with it seamlessly and looks after all of your records and keeps everything completely safe and compliant with all of the legal regulations. There are so many regulations with GDPR, so using Timely and Consult together makes it all so much easier. I also feel so much more protected, for instance, paper records have been lost in the past and you can never find them! If anything was to happen we would’ve been stuffed. If it’s stored in Consult it’s safe.”

Okay, but how much effort is it?

“It’s easy to setup and it’s totally worth your time if you don’t want to risk your business. It took a few weeks for us to perfect the forms; we had to figure out what questions we wanted to ask and find out what we needed to ask legally. At the end of the day it really was quite easy to set the forms up, and Consult is very quick to use. I would definitely recommend it to any salon owner because it does make you feel so much safer, knowing that you’ve got all your records in one place. You’ve got that protection. I think it’s brilliant, it works great for us.”

Thank you to Jason from Asylum for providing so much insight into how you use Consult in your business. If you’re interested in using Consult in your business, download the free app from the App Store here.