5 Tips for Making Sanitation Job #1

In 1981 the Ford Motor Company launched a marketing campaign titled “Quality is Job #1”. This was at a time when The Japanese auto makers were threatening the market share and dominance of the American auto industry. They were doing it with cars offering better value through, amongst other things, superior overall quality.

Quality was the message American car buyers needed to hear. Whether the Ford cars of the day were in fact of higher quality was not the point. The point was that quality is where they were getting whooped and the message that they had higher quality is the one they needed to send. They chose to go head-on against the threat. They used the slogan for 17 years.

The haircutting profession is under similar assault. They want to take our licenses away. Some state governments want to do away with licenses. The federal government wants to eliminate funding of student loans for beauty school education. The future of licensed cosmetology and barbering is in jeopardy.

Salon and barbershop sanitation and infection control is our Job #1. Right now we suck at it. We need to get better at it. We need to get better at it FAST. And we need to make sure all stakeholders know that we are good at it and take it seriously.

No one really cares if you can cut hair attractively. No one really cares if you can color hair pleasantly. One walk through any Walmart in American and you will plainly see that haircuts and haircolor run the gamut from masterfully crafted to recently weed whacked and painted. The only thing that matters is the responsibility to protect the public from the spread of infection, harmful bacteria and illness.

In these days of tight state budgets (or none if you live in IL like me) there is a loud and growing call to cut state spending on that which is not needed.  Some arguments compare the amount of time and school needed to cut hair with other professional like lawyers and dental assistants. They contrast the education and testing against the potential risks.  In some cases the amount of haircut school seems comical when measured against other things.  Many feel we can do away with beauty school and state licenses.  Some feel that if not do away with it entirely just cut it down and scale it way back to the bare minimum… and their idea of the needed minimum is quite low.

Elected state representatives and other government agents and agencies will always be hard pressed to vote against something or advocate against an issue when the health and welfare of the public is at stake. When they come to take away our licenses the only arrow we will have in our quiver to fight back with will be our role in and ability to protect the public.

The states do not care if your bob is crooked or your fade is jacked up. They do not mind of your blonde is brassy or your red fades fast. They want you to keep your MRSA to yourself. They do not want Billy the barber or Connie the cosmetologist spreading it around.

The solution is to make Sanitation and infection control Job #1.

Here are my top 5 tips for making Salon and barbershop Sanitation and infection control Job #1.

1.  Seek sanitation education – Acquire a sanitation certification above and beyond your state license. Go on line to barbicide.com and participate in the FREE online education program called Barbicide certification. Take the class. Take the FREE test. Pass the test. Get your certificate. Be smart about sanitation and infection control.

2.  Practice flawless sanitation principles every client, every time, no exceptions. Put your education to use to protect you, your clients, your reputation and your career.

3.  Get caught sanitizing. Principles and practices of salon and barbershop infection control should be executed in plain sight of clients. They should see you spraying clippers. They should see you dumping and mixing fresh disinfection solution. They should see you wiping down surfaces. The expression is, “if I do not see you doing it, you did not do it”.

4.  Talk about icky things – It is not fun or glamorous to discuss microorganisms and bacteria. It is not sexy to discuss disinfection. We would rather talk about celebrities, politics and hair. There is time to talk about everything. Make time to educate your clients about what you do and why you do it. I promise you clients want to know that you are looking out for them. Their idea of looking out for them is not saving them 50 cents when shampoo is on sale. Looking out for them is using clean and safe tools to take care of them every visit.

5.  Encourage others to do one through four above. It starts with each and every one of us. Some of your co-workers, colleagues and fellow hair pros will need a slight nudge or a serious push or shove to get in on the Sanitation is Job #1 bandwagon. It will be well worth the effort.

A rising tide lifts all ships.

If each one of us takes Job #1 seriously pretty soon it will become a way of life for all of us. In order to protect our jobs, our licenses and our way of life we need to adapt our life to the realities of the time we live in.

Sanitation and infection control has always been important. It has always been a part of our educational curriculum. Often, in the past, it either was not taken seriously enough or was not taken seriously for the right reasons. Protecting the public is the right reason. Protecting our careers is the right now.

Get busy with Job #1.

Disclosure – I am sponsored by BlueCo Brands, makers of Barbicide disinfection solution.  They provide financial support to many of my educational programs and appearances throughout the cosmetology and barber industry.



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