August 2011

Jaime Schrabeck

The Nail Extension | by Jaime Schrabeck


Making Technology Work for You

The actual work of a licensed manicurist does not require any particular technological skills, but those skills are very important to the work of a salon owner.

Since I'm writing this article on my laptop, I'll admit the importance of technology for me in my business life.

If I had to write by hand, it simply would not happen. I have neither the patience nor time necessary to draft and edit an article using only pen and paper.

My responsibilities would be overwhelming if it were not for technology. There is so much to do that I can rationalize my dependence on technology as productive rather than addictive. I manage my business using a Smartphone, laptop and desktop computers, printer / fax machine, etc.

Here is what all this technology gives me the control and functionality to handle:

In my 20 years in the nail industry, technology has proven itself the best investment I have ever made in my business. Although it is not infallible, it is more reliable than most people I know, myself included.

Choosing which technology to invest in and how much time to spend using it depends on your needs. Many years ago, while still working alone, I chose to make what most manicurists in my position would consider an unnecessary and expensive purchase: salon management software.

After all, most salons at the time used large appointment books and pencils (and many erasers) to schedule clients. It's possible many salons still do, despite the obvious limitations. Even without any immediate plans to work with or employ other manicurists, the same technology that larger, more successful salons used was just as important and was affordable.

Salon management software transformed my business. Clients recognized their money was being reinvested to improve their salon experience. The efficiency of the scheduling process was the most obvious improvement. There was no more handwriting appointment cards. The software does just about everything (email appointment reminders, online scheduling, integrated credit card processing, gift card tracking, automatic remote data storage, etc.). Years later, as my business grew and the software evolved, I appreciated the technology even more.

Not every investment in technology has been worthwhile. When I designed my current salon, I had satellite radio receivers installed at each station for clients' private listening. Music played throughout the salon on an additional receiver. What a waste of money. Clients wanted to interact with us, not isolate themselves. Therefore, I canceled the service as soon as my contract expired and have been much more satisfied using Pandora on my computer. Sometimes simple is better.

A simple and often under-used technology, voice mail, has replaced a receptionist in my salon. We do not answer the salon phone while providing services because our clients deserve our full attention. However, just hearing a phone ring makes some people anxious, even when it is not theirs.

Last holiday season, I silenced the ringer to reduce disruptions. Not only did our clients seem more relaxed, we were more relaxed as well. We can discretely retrieve and respond to voice mail messages between clients. Existing clients know it is best to schedule in advance and notify us of any changes via email. However, potential clients do not know any better, so a detailed outgoing message informs callers that we do not answer the phone while providing services, and that more information about our salon and services can be found on our website.

As far as I am concerned, our website eliminates the need for any other advertising. 20 years ago, I was paying the phone company for an ad in the Yellow Pages. Every year, I was encouraged to purchase a larger one, as if it was some kind of contest. A well-designed and regularly updated website is the most cost-effective way to reach potential clients.

If you do not already have a website for your salon, do yourself a favor and have one professionally created. Like most technology, you do not need to understand how it works, just how to make it work for you.

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