January 2010

Vicki Peters

The Nail Extension | by Vicki Peters


Doing Nails in Today’s Economy

People turn to me for advice about the nailtech business; some of those are reaching out for some direction to take their career.

Other educators get the same requests and we do our best to help and mentor our fellow beauty professionals. Now, more than ever, I’m getting more emails and calls from troubled people worried about today’s economy, even from veteran techs.

Recently I received this email from Lisa C. that hit home with me. I’d like to share her questions and how I answered and hope it fuels some ideas and inspires us all to hang in there through these tough times.

“Hi, I’m Lisa C. and I’ve been doing nails for 10 years but the problem I have is going from class to the real salon world. I don’t know why but I just can’t build a good clientele. I refuse to quit the industry because I love it and believe I can make money too. Sometimes I think my work just depends on people’s pocketbooks and you can’t make them buy if they don’t want to, even if you know better than they do. How do you get through this tough economy? I need to see something finally transpire and need help using my license in the greatest job I’ve ever known. I don’t know whether we need better education or more opportunity.”

Do not lower your prices. Yes, we want to keep people out of the discount salons but you need to offer quality services and explain to your clients why you charge higher prices. So develop a dialog that you share with each client that explains this. Be consistent and say it to every client.

Here is an example: Have I ever told you about the sanitation procedures I do for every client? I want you to know how safe your service is so this is what I do. I never reuse anything and all implements are washed and then it goes into an EPA registered disinfectant for 10 minutes. I always wash my hands as I ask you to do before each service.

This may fuel questions so be sure to answer them without being negative about other salons and techs. Just make yourself look more educated with your information. They will sit and think about the other salons they have been to and will see the difference.

About Add-ons — Here is where you can really set yourself apart. Add-ons are an inexpensive way to give the client more value without having to spend a lot of money. Why not hand and arm massage every client – even full sets and fills. Hand scrubs are another way to add on to the service. When your client comes in hand her a small paper cup with enough scrub for her as she goes and washes her hands prior to her appointment. Then when you finish, apply lotion and massage her freshly exfoliated skin.

Retailing — I have heard from my friends with salons that have done well through the recession that they have not lost any of their clients; however they have lost the extras like retail. This is the perfect time to offer special lotions and scrubs that can be packaged in a basket and purchased for gifts. Put a little effort into choosing soap, lotion and scrub, make labels on your computer, find cute, inexpensive containers and baskets, and make something unique to sell. Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day is coming so plan ahead.

Marketing — What have you done recently to market yourself and your services? Marketing can be free if you know how to work it right. Send press releases to the local TV and newspapers. Make sure you include a photo that complements the subject of the press release and send it digitally via email.

Marketing is working the edges of your business and quite frankly, I’ve found that most techs don’t do any marketing. You can’t sell your services if you don’t tell people about them. Start by marketing in your chair. Mention to every client that you’re looking for new clients. They see you only when you’re busy so they do not know you need more clients unless you tell them. When the client comes back in for her service after she has recommended a new client you need to do something special for her, like paraffin dip, extra long hand massage, etc. That will mean more than a discount on her service.

Lisa C said, “Sometimes I think my work just depends on people’s pocketbooks and you can’t make them buy if they don’t want to, even if you know better than they do.” I agree with this but what are you doing to make them buy? This is where the nail tech can fail, they do not know how to get past that. We need business and sales skills that are not taught in beauty school.

Do your homework, visit the local bookstore, and get some books on building customer service, business and sales skills. Even though it might not always apply most of the techniques in the books can teach you skills that we need in business. You need to learn how to sell yourself inside and outside the salon. Doing nails for a living is much more than skill, it’s about customer service and business skills as well.

Lisa said “I need to see something finally transpire” and I agree, however we need to do something to make it happen; it’s not going to happen all by itself.

Vicki Peters is a 28 year veteran master nail tech, competition champion, judge, international educator, author and manufacturer and serves on the Nail Manufacturer Council. For more information visit www.vickipeters.com or email her at Vicki@vickipeters.com.