These documents serve many purposes, from helping therapists customize treatments to encouraging clients to consider their own wellness needs. “We like to build relationships with our guests, and intake forms are an important start,” says Abby Funk-Gifford, spa director at Rasa Spa in Ithaca, New York. “It makes them feel like they’re cared for and that they’re in the right place.”
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There are almost as many types of intake forms as there are ways to use them. You could employ a single form designed to cover all treatments, or a generic one accompanied by specific pages for different services. Rasa Spa, for example, has a separate form for its brisk waxing business.
It’s worth remembering, however, that intake forms are only as good as the attention you give them. Therapists should use the information clients provide to review and discuss key points in a consultation prior to treatment. And if someone hasn’t been in for a year or more, it’s time to update their information. “Yes, intake forms may indicate that it’s up to the guest to alert the spa to any changes in health status, but who reads the fine print?” points out Lisa Starr, senior consultant at Wynne Business. Fortunately, you do. Here are some of the most salient questions—beyond the guest’s name, address and emergency contact information—to include on your intake forms.
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- What is your occupation? “We ask this question so we know what conditions we might be dealing with,” says Storie Olsen, marketing manager at The Fountains Day Spa in Alexandria, Virginia. A construction worker, for example, will likely have different skin or muscular issues from someone who works a desk job.
- Do you have any allergies, medical conditions, or recent injuries/surgeries? (Consider including a checklist of common problems to help clients remember.) This information enables you to take precautions against aggravating existing conditions, and protects against liability. Notes Sharon Stout, owner of Tranquility Day Spa in Watertown, Massachusetts, “Someone can have an existing injury, then get a massage and claim that it caused or worsened the problem. But you can go back to the form and say, ‘You didn’t tell us that.’” Knowing about nut or iodine allergies is also crucial, because some skincare products contain these ingredients.
- Are you using any medications or topical preparations? This is essential for avoiding contraindications. For example, painkilling drugs may dull sensation during massage, and retinol products are incompatible with some skincare treatments.
- What are your goals for today’s treatment and what would you like us to focus on? Knowing whether a client is at the spa just to relax or to receive intense tissue work helps therapists customize treatments to meet the guest’s expectations. For facial services, you can tailor the question to ask about key skincare concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and sagging.
- Are you pregnant? Although some products and services are blatantly unsuitable for pregnant women, clients in the early stages of pregnancy may not think to mention their condition. “You shouldn’t perform a massage on anyone during the first trimester, because that’s when the fetus is most susceptible,” cautions Olsen.
- What type of massage pressure do you prefer, and are there any areas we should avoid? A simple way to ask this question is to offer a multiple-choice list with different levels of pressure or types of massage your spa offers. Include a simple outline drawing of the body—front and back—so that clients can mark trouble spots.
- What’s your current skincare regimen? Provide a checklist so clients can mark whether and how often they use a cleanser, toner, exfoliant, serum, mask, eye cream, moisturizer and SPF. Ask them to specify brands too, so you can assess which ingredients they’re currently exposing their skin to—and so you can recommend extra (or alternative) retail items.
- How did you hear about us? Not only is this a useful tool in determining your marketing success, it also enables you to reward clients who refer others. The Spa on Green Street in Gainesville, Georgia, offers a $5 credit for every referral. When $25 in credit is accrued, the referring client can apply it toward any spa service.
- What activities and hobbies do you regularly engage in? Outdoor activities may suggest sun damage, as well as muscle and joint conditions seen with certain physical activities such as running or tennis.
- Is there anything else we should know? You never know what you don’t know, so any additional information a client decides to provide can contribute to their wellness and satisfaction.
–by Annika S. Hipple