August 2010

Jaime Schrabeck

The Nail Extension | by Jaime Schrabeck


D.I.Y. Is Not for Everyone

Wanting something done well and doing it yourself are two different things.

Our talent and training as beauty professionals should make what we do look easy, but that is the nature of technical expertise. It is our knowledge and skills, not the products we use, that make us valuable.

Beauty products, even those from the most exclusive professional brands, are readily available to resourceful consumers. In addition, that access gives many consumers confidence that they can achieve professional results at home. If only it were that easy.

As an avid do-it-yourselfer, I certainly understand the appeal and sense of accomplishment. Avoiding the expense of paying someone else and the possibility of having a negative experience are huge motivators as well. Ideally, the salon experience should be safe, enjoyable and worthwhile. However, it is not uncommon for consumers to experience unsanitary conditions, risky procedures, less-than-ideal ambiance, poor workmanship, false advertising or bad customer service.

These are valid concerns, so it is no wonder that some consumers feel reluctant, fearful or apathetic about visiting a nail salon. Efforts to educate consumers about choosing a reputable salon can be beneficial, but it is regrettable that media reports focused on the dangers of nail salons may do more to damage our industry than to help consumers make better decisions.

It is our professional responsibility to not only meet the standards established by the government, but to exceed the expectations of consumers. What we do for our clients must satisfy their needs for safety, quality, convenience and pampering. Being merely adequate is not enough to distinguish yourself from your competition, or outdo the average do-it-yourselfer.

While writing these words, I understand that this is not only true of manicuring, but of any profession. At this very moment, the competent employees of my favorite window washing company are standing on ladders and exerting themselves to make my salon look its best. Though washing windows takes only minutes, does not require any special equipment, and would not be very difficult to do myself, I consider this monthly service worth every penny. Professional window washers can do their work better than I can, and my time would be better spent doing what I do best.

As a salon owner, I take my work very seriously, and I have even written my own job description. Here’s what I do:

It is difficult to imagine any salon owner capable or willing to perform all the necessary functions in an effective and efficient way. However, it is even more difficult to imagine paying professionals to do all that is required. If so, I would be engaging the services of a bookkeeper, accountant, lawyer, painter, designer, maintenance supervisor, housekeeper, publicist, copywriter, salon manager, receptionist, marketing manager, education director, purchasing / inventory manager, business coach and consultant. Those would be in addition to the most important professionals, my salon employees, whose primary function is to provide nail services to our clients.

So much of what I have learned about running my business has come through my own experience, especially my mistakes. I know that every penny, every minute counts. While the temptation to do-it-all-myself can be very strong, I have learned that my salon operates best when I delegate certain functions, like payroll, tax preparation, website maintenance and window washing. That still leaves me plenty to do myself. Knowing my limitations helps me determine what I can do well, and what is better delegated to a professional. I can summarize thus:

To paraphrase a well-known prayer, grant me the money to afford the things I cannot do; the time to do the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D. owns Precision Nails, an exclusive nails-only salon in Carmel, California. She can be reached at