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Intake Mistakes: 3 Quick Tips (And The #1 Most Important Question)

Contact Author Dawn Gantt, Bioelements
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Here's a new mantra for you, "My treatment results are only as good as my intake forms." As real world estheticians and spa owners, we are constantly up against the clock. Between tighter schedules, less downtime between appointments and increased retail pressure, it's easy to understand why some may think it is OK to overlook the importance of an intake form, or devote little time to it. However, intake forms are not only the gateway to a meaningful dialogue between you and your client, they're your insurance policy to meet your client's expectations, every time.

So don't skip this insurance. Follow the three tips below.

1. Make sure the form is filled out correctly.

Every form must be filled out completely and correctly for every single treatment, no exceptions. Each client you see should be treated as a first-time client. As an example, provided here is an example intake form from a client Jane. Below we will discuss the issues with this intake and how to address them.

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Missing date. Without a listed date, you have no way of knowing when the service was performed, in the event you need to go back and look at a particular treatment, check skin progress, etc.

No e-mail. You have no way of personally communicating with Jane to say thank you, send her invites, offer information, and more.

Incomplete health info (questions 1, 5, 7, 11, and 12). Skipped questions or vague answers can have a huge, negative affect on Jane's results. You need medical info (doctor's care, medications, adverse reactions), as this affects how her skin will perform and respond to today's treatment. This will also greatly affect your treatment decisions and at-home recommendations.

No listed concerns. The #1 most important question on your intake form is one that's often skipped, "What are your concerns and challenges?"

"What are your concern and challenges," is the #1 most important question on your intake form.

This question is the single reason Jane came to see you. It's the gateway to build a loyal and longterm relationship with her. It tells you what Jane's expectations are, and what you need to focus on that day.

No signature. When both Jane and you sign the form, it shows that you have reviewed it together, and by signing, she gives you permission to apply a chemical peel. This also potentially protects you against any liability (check your state's liability laws to make sure you are in compliance).

2. Avoid going on autopilot.

As I mentioned above, we all know that time can often be tight, and less attention may be paid to a completed form. This is especially true for your repeat, longterm clients. You've already seen them dozens of times, so you "know" their skin, right? Wrong. Skin can change overnight. A client can start a new medication, or experience new skin-affecting stress, change their diet or start using a new at-home skin care device. There are countless ways their skin can change from appointment to appointment. That's why it's crucial to ensure they fill out the form, and for you to go over it and follow up with the right questions.

3. Separate yourself from the competition.

Your client is making an appointment with you because she wants help. She needs professional expertise and is looking for a solution to a real concern. Meet her needs, and prove yourself as an esthetician that is thorough, wise and effective. Your goal is to explain to her why her answers are so crucial to meet and exceed her expectations. When she understands the why behind your questions and actions, she'll come to know that you are a true professional with her best interests at heart.

Simply put, the intake form is a lifeline between you, loyal clients, and a successful career. When you truly understand your client's goals, and they in turn understand how you can make the best decisions for them, you'll see that intake forms are the key to visible results, and a growing clientele.

Dawn+Gantt

Dawn Gantt, regional education and business manager for Bioelements, has, 25 years of experience as a licensed esthetician and makeup artist. She also has a degree in education and is certified in aromatherapy and manual lymphatic drainage. She is a sought-after authority in the industry.

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