Think the only way to make money in the nail business is by offering enhancement services? Think again. By offering clients alternative manicure and add-on services, you can not only expand your service menu, you can make just as much money, too.
Offering basic manicures may not be enough in the natural nail category anymore. These days, salons are offering services specifically to treat certain types of nail disorders or simply to rejuvenate tired-looking skin.
The demand for these services has grown over the last five years. According to NAILS’ 2001 Fact Book, reflexology and aromatherapy are the second and third fastest growing services in the nail industry.
Consumer magazines like Allure and InStyle have brought to light natural nail services with articles and features on not only trendy products, but unique services that promise younger looking hands or treatments for nails that won’t break or chip. All of this has made natural nail services harder and harder for consumers to resist.
“Offering a basic manicure just isn’t good enough anymore. Clients want to see results like younger- looking hands and hard, strong nails,” says Deborah Ritze, owner of Nail Techniques in Norfolk, Neb.
What all of this means to you — the salon owner — is that by offering more than just plain or basic manicures, you can reap the benefits in service dollars.
You Have a Lot to Offer
If your goal is to create new services or expand on your current ones, it seems the rule of thumb is to query your customers.
Simmy Bredal-Bell of Nails by Simmy in Clearwater, Fla., chose her natural nail services by listening to her clients.
“I started by putting paraffin on my menu and it grew from there,” she says. “Next, I’m adding sunless tanning lotion applications for feet and legs, and for golfers whose one hand is darker than the other because they only wear one glove. It was from listening to my clients that I got this idea.”
Artificial enhancements were the main offerings at Nail Techniques, but Ritze soon realized that natural nail care could be just as profitable.
“My state did not require licensing up until a few years ago, so I saw a lot of careless work coming into my salon. A lot of new clients had damaged natural nails from their enhancements, so I developed a repair technique for damaged and weak nails and it grew from there,” she explains.
Nail Techniques now specializes exclusively in natural nail care and services more than 600 clients a month.
Paint Shop, a nail spa in Beverly Hills, Calif., that only has natural nail services, offers a Mango Hand Peel, described as a “fruit acid peel, derived from mangos, which lifts dead skin cells from the skin’s surface, followed by a deep moisturizing with grape seed anti-oxidant oil, heated mitt treatment, and lotion massage.”
Says owner Julie Serquinia: “I wrote my service descriptions to let people succinctly know what it is they’ll be getting and entice them from that angle.”
After tuning in to clients’ wants and needs, the key to attracting them to your salon and services is to use descriptions that excite and makethem feel they are going to have a unique experience.
For instance, at M & M Nails and Wellness Center in Silver Spring, Md., owner Maisie Dunbar termed her manicure services after candy.
“We wanted to create names that would be conversation pieces. By using words like cultivation and catchy names like Tooti Frooti, it intrigues the client and they wantto try it at least once,” explains Dunbar.
Erika Kirkland of Polish Nail Emporium in Brooklyn, N.Y., has such popular manicure services that she had them trademarked.
“I wanted to establish Polish as a brand rather than just a salon or nail spa,” she explains. “Since I researched and created most of the treatments, I consider that intellectual property only to be used for Polish business purposes.”
Like Paint Shop, Polish Nail Emporium also exclusively offers natural nail services, which calls for an eclectic menu. Kirkland’s menu reads more like a restaurant menu than a nail service menu. She spent time researching natural hand and foot services instead of artificial ones to incorporate into her services. Her manicures include a Creme Brulee, which uses hot oils and creamy conditioners, and Lemango, which is the summer version of her Peaches and Cream manicure that includes a mango pulp soak and lemongrass scrub.
“I wrote the service menu on my own. I have a background in advertising and communications, so copywriting comes easily,” explains Kirkland.
If your writing talents aren’t as accomplished as Kirkland’s, you can work with manufacturers and distributors to help with product descriptions and can spawn ideas from magazines, books, and television.
The Price Is Right
Once you’ve decided on the different types of services and add-ons you are going to offer, you’ll need to figure out how much to charge.
Digits etcetera, in Chicago, up-sells their regular manicure with a sugar glow therapy, aromatherapy oils, and even hand massage — each for $5 extra.
“Our regular manicures are $25 and by the time they add a hand massage or aromatherapy oils to their service, the manicure is now $35,” explains owner Suzanne Mason.
And the cost is not making customers shy away. In fact, Mason says 80% of clients are natural nail clients.
Bredal-Bell charges between $15- $20 for her basic and spa manicures.
“I price my services according to the local market,” explains Bredal- Bell. “I also check yearly statistics for the type of salon and clientele I have so I’m in the right price range.”
Or you can do like Serquinia, who developed her own pricing system, taking into account that she’s in a neighbourhood surrounded by lower- priced salons.
“I looked at what the market would bear,” she explains. “For premium services, you can mark up the price, but I recommend always offering a basic manicure service that’s affordable.”
Serquinia charges $20 for her basic manicure and $30 for premium services like the Mango Hand Lift.
Says Dunbar: “I price the service based on industry standards, my experience, and inflation. I increase my prices every year by two to three percent. I have my own pricing system.”
If you’re not ready to commit to a particular new service, you can do like Mason and Kirkland and offer seasonal manicures. Digits offers a cooling Cucumber Manicure during summer and charges $30.
It’s All About the Package
Services and pricing are key to creating a profitable menu, but one area that is often ignored by salon owners is the creation of packages and service series.
Packages can include a manicure and pedicure for $5-$10 less than the regular price or can feature multiple services including facials or massage. Or you can offer a manicure and pedicure at regular price, but do both services in a private room to make clients feel the/re getting special treatment.
Service series can include four to six treatments over a two to three month period for people with problem nails or transitioning from enhancements.
Paint Shop’s signature service is its Revive 10 Manicure, which is described as “a prescription for recovery from enhancements or a remedy for tender, weak, nails.” Serquinia charges $27 for each service, but recommends a series of four treatments for $92.
“The series not only helps establish clients, but it gives them peace of mind that they’re paid up, have set appointments in advance, and they’re getting a little bit of a discount,” explains Serquinia.
At Cuticles Salon in Indialantic, Fla., a regular manicure is $15 and pedicure is $30. For $5 more than the combined price, they offer a Lace Package, which includes a manicure, pedicure, hand paraffin treatment, and lunch over the course of two hours.
Says owner Faith Glionna: “The packages are aimed at brides and bridal parties. I took $5 off of each major service like facials and massage and then $2 off manicures and paraffin treatments.”
Glionna says packages contribute at least 20% to sales.
Whether you already offer natural nail services or are looking to add some creative additions to your service menu, remember that price and the experience you’re offering goes a long way.
“Always let clients get an idea of what kind of experience they’re going to have, including what kind of smells they’ll have during the service,” notes Serquinia. “Offer really good services, but also charge for it.”