Customer Service

On the Couch Answers Your Sticky Situations

How do you handle kids in the salon and other touchy subjects. 

Photo by Lucie Crovatto/Piranha Presents
<p>Photo by Lucie Crovatto/Piranha Presents</p>

Why do all the misbehaved children seem to end up at my salon? Although I try to discourage parents from bringing their kids, I don’t have an outright rule against it. I have a sign that all children must remain with the parent at all times but they usually get loose and touch everything and leave their snacks and toys all over the place. I have no backbone so parents walk all over me. I don’t want kids in my salon, but I don’t want to be the bad guy. Plus I know some of my clients have no alternative. What should I do?

Dear Spineless: Not all the misbehaved children are in your salon; the balance of them are in mine.

There is no grey area on this issue — either you welcome kids or you don’t. Once you make the decision not to welcome children, you’ll need to persuade your clients to see it your way.

Consider posting a simple sign asking clients to refrain from bringing children to your salon. Hand out a letter to each customer explaining that many of your clients are mothers who use this time to relax, and for many of them this is the only time they get away from their children. At the same time explain the letter and your reasons during their service; this will add a personal and sincere touch.

Once you’ve done this, the job still isn’t done. You will need to give this letter and an explanation to each new customer. And if by chance a new customer brings a child on her first visit, be ready with videos and coloring books — you will need to make sure they don’t feel uncomfortable.

If, on the other hand, you decide to allow children, you have to keep control and set guidelines that your staff must follow. For example, never allow children behind the nail table and lock all drawers. Don’t allow food despite the fact that mothers always think they will keep the children busy by eating.

You may consider taking a survey of your customers to see where they stand on the issue. You can use the information you gather to defend your decision. Clients will also feel as if they were a part of the policy change and that you are listening to their needs and wants.

Total Wash Out

I have a client who has always given me grief because I make her wash her hands before beginning her service. She insists that every other salon she has ever been to (a lot) has told her NOT to wash her hands before her fill because the water will make her nails lift or give her fungus. She’s a big gardener (no gloves) and now she has some lifting and embedded dirt. She’s had a few minor bacterial infections, which she thinks are fungus, and she insinuates that it’s the handwashing that’s the problem. How should I handle her? She drives me nuts.

Dear Down and Dirty: First off, the practice of washing your hands and having your customer wash hers is a health issue. It has nothing to do with lifting or fungus. In my salon, if you don’t wash your hands, you don’t receive your service.

In order to combat the misinformation your client received in other salons, you’ll need to be able to explain what does cause lifting. I have a list of the top 10 reasons below and you’ll see that handwashing is nowhere on it:

1.   Cuticle or skin that has grown up on the nail.

2.   Product that is applied improperly and is touching the skin.

3.   Nails that are too long.

4.   Primer that has not been applied to the entire nail.

5.   Nails that have not been sanitized properly and the natural oil removed.

6.   Acrylic product that is applied too dry.

7.   Enhancements that are too thick.

8.   On a fill, if lifting has already started, it needs to be filed off, or the nail should be removed and re-applied.

9.   A nail that is abused by a customer.

10. Failure to use quality products.

With regard to the question of infection (you’re right, it’s probably bacteria, not fungus), it’s simple. If you stop the lifting, you’ll stop the infection. Without a separation between the natural nail and the enhancement, there won’t be a place for the dirt and moisture to get trapped and fester.

It sounds like you’ve got a difficult client and addressing the situation with her may not be so easy. I recommend making her a deal. Tell her to do her job by washing her hands and wearing gloves in the garden. In return promise her nails that never lift. If she doesn’t respond, replace her with a customer who respects your health, knowledge, and professionalism.

What If

What are my responsibilities if a client acquires a nail infection after I have performed a nail service on her?

Dear Liable: Your responsibility to that client begins before her first service. Every customer should be educated on how and why fungal or bacterial infections occur on her first visit. In my salon we give each new customer an information sheet called “Finger Tip” that explains everything from a maintenance schedule to their responsibility at the first sign of a lift or a crack in an enhancement One of the most common reasons for “greenies” (pseudomonas bacteria) is clients not returning faithfully every two weeks. Any time a customer tries to book a fill more than two weeks away, I tell them that they are putting themselves at risk for an infection.

If your question refers to something other than “greenies,” such as a true fungal infection, pain, separation of the natural nail or anything else unusual, you need to make your client under­stand that you are not a doctor and recommend in the strongest possible terms that she visit one. The client also needs to understand that you can’t service her again until a doctor gives her a clean bill of health. Adding information about your sanitation procedures will let the client know that the contamination most likely didn’t happen on your watch.

Regardless of who is at fault, it is your responsibility to act in the best interest of your customer. If you always put the client’s health and safety first you will have fewer problems in the end.

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