No longer limited to department and jewelry stores, ear piercing has become a popular and profitable add-on service for many salons.
The success behind this simple procedure is that in as little as 15 minutes you can earn $15 to $40.
“We book each client for 15 minutes, but it usually only takes five minutes and we charge $55,” says salon owner Christine Turner of Body & Sol Nails & Day Spa in New Westminister, B.C.
To get started the first thing you need to do is contact a manufacturer or distributor to purchase the necessary supplies.
“I started offering the service because no one else was offering it,” says Juli Miller, a nail technician at Canyon Fitness Salon in Canyon Lake, Calif. “I have a good rapport with the little girls who have it done.”
Most of Miller’s ear piercing clients come from the dance studio located in the same fitness center as her salon.
Turner says that by offering ear piercing, she’s able to draw a clientele she normally might not.
“We started offering ear piercing a year and a half ago, and about 80% of our initial clients were existing clientele,” she says. “After that, we drew a lot of youth that normally wouldn’t have come into the salon if we didn’t offer the service.”
Since Turner’s salon also has an esthetician on hand, she performs the ear piercing service.
“Our esthetician learned how to do ear piercing in school,” explains Turner. “It’s a very easy procedure.”
“As we tell salon owners, clients are going to be more comfortable with their hair stylist or nail technician piercing their ears than with a stranger in the mall,” says Carl Lippman, regional sales manager for Studex Ear Piercing Co. (Gardena, Calif.).
The Products and the Practice
All you need to do ear piercing in the salon is the piercing instrument, piercing studs, and ear care solution. Salons can buy a starter kit — the most basic of which includes 12 to 18 pairs of starter earrings — anywhere from $70 to $200.
“It was inexpensive to get started,” says Turner. “My starter kit was $250, which included two pairs each of 12 styles of earrings and solution.”
Ear piercing kits should also include client release forms that the client signs — before her service — waiving the salon from responsibility should the client develop any medical problems from the procedure.
“The waiver is signed by each client before her service to protect us from liability,” explains Turner. “It’s standard procedure though. We’ve never had a client who has developed medical problems from getting an ear piercing service.”
You will also want to make sure take- home instructions are provided to give to the client after her service.
Another advantage to offering ear piercing in your salon is that space requirements are minimal.
“Our starter kit comes in a case that fits in a drawer or under the counter, so you just need a counter display for the earrings,” Lippman says. “Most salons leave the display out on a nail station, in the reception area, or in the styling area. Some salons set up a station for ear piercing, but not many do because styling chairs are so ideal and the kit is so mobile.”
“I usually do it at one of the hair- dressing stations,” says Miller. “I have a nice display that keeps everything dust-free.” Hairstyling stations are popular because the mirror allows the client to participate in the placement.
Miller also reports it puts younger clients at ease. “It works well because the little girls are usually nervous, so I describe in detail what I’m doing while they watch in the mirror,” she adds. If yours is a nails-only salon, you can do the service right at your workstation with a handheld mirror.
At Body 8c Sol, the procedure is done at the salon’s makeup station.
“We’ll have the client sit on a tall bar stool in front of a mirror so they can see what’s being done,” explains Turner.
As for technical training, ear piercing is one of the easiest — and fastest techniques —you’ll ever perform. “We have training videos and manuals, but it’s really so easy,” says Lippman. “It takes an hour or so to watch the video and read the manual, and then you’re ready.”
As for follow-up care, there isn’t any. The service provider instructs the client on home care (which simply involves turning the earrings in the hole at least once a day and swabbing the holes with ear care solution a few times a day for six to eight weeks). The ear piercing manufacturers also provide home-care instruction sheet to give to clients.
Nor is there much concern about disease transmission during the service.
“It’s a bloodless operation. The stud is a new needle that is packaged in a disposable cartridge. Every pack is sterile and the provider never touches the studs; the instrument is loaded from a plastic cube,” says Lippman.
Liability and Loss
The general consensus among nail technicians and manufacturers is that the problems that arise from ear piercing are mostly due to the client not following proper home care instructions.
For home care, manufacturers recommend cleaning both ears with alcohol twice a day. Though this seems to work for most clients, Miller says alcohol caused many of her clients’ ears to itch. “I told them to use hydrogen peroxide instead of alcohol before going to bed,” she says.
Manufacturers of ear piercing systems say their liability insurance covers the customers.
“We provide product liability insurance,” says Lippman. “All manufacturers have to have it. It covers our product in case of any type of infection. The policy protects the salon as long as they use the equipment correctly.”
A Piercing Situation
In the last decade, piercing in general has become popular. From nose to belly button piercing, it seems that these days you can pierce just about any place on the body. But, it’s not as easy as it sounds.
Body & Sol offers such piercing as lip, tongue, and eyebrow. However, the same provider that performs the ear piercing does not provide the others — a specially trained body piercer is on hand.
“The liability for body piercing is much greater than for the ears,” explains Turner. “Licensing is much harder to get. The training is extremely intensive and expensive. The equipment alone can cost up to $4,000.”
Turner contracts Kelly Brookes to perform the services on an as-needed basis.
“Kelly comes in once or twice a week.
He has his own equipment, own waiver forms, and provides extensive aftercare to all his clients,” says Turner. “Then the salon takes a small percentage from his service charges.”
Body piercing can run anywhere from $55 for the nose, up to $75 for the tongue.
“It’s nice for the salon because we attract clients that we normally would not,” says Turner. “If a salon is thinking of doing it, I would warn them to be sure to research it thoroughly before getting started. It’s expensive and the liabilities and licensing are tough. I would recommend starting out with ear piercing. It’s an easy and inexpensive way to make money.”