Retail Success Stories - Learn What Works From the Best

When it comes to salon retailing, pros reveal that sometimes the most effective way to sell is by education, not persuasion.

Nail professionals need to develop and cultivate their salon service clientele by constantly working to keep their retail program a synergistic part of every salon visit and salon service. Just putting a few dozen nail enamels on the shelf doesn’t work. You need to create exciting retail offerings for your regulars, while also developing promotions that will attract first-time clients. Conventional advertisements, gifts-with-service packages, special discount products, and other sales events are just some of the many ways to build retail sales.

Here are few retail success stories from a variety of salons. We are certain their ideas will prove that any salon can make retailing an exciting and profitable service clients will truly appreciate.


Randy Currie, owner and director of Currie Hair-Skin-Nails, a nationally celebrated salon based in Glen Mills, Pa., features a very strong retail program. This full-service spa salon has a section devoted exclusive to nail care with six nail technicians and nail care manager. This salon services over 1,000 regular nail care clients a month and is still growing.

Says Currie, “We have a massive retail display program through the salon that highlights various professional beauty care categories. We encourage our nail technicians to sell everything available in the salon from skin, hair, and nail care products to fragrances, candles, potpourri, and ceramics. Everything is well-cleaned, professionally priced, and beautiful displayed. Our retail bags are printed with our logo and we have installed extra spotlight for each display. We have placed a tremendous amount of focus on our retail program.”

Jackie Bicow, Currie’s nail technician manager, supervises the nail care area. “I personally do over 200 nail care clients a month,” says Bicow, “and currently average at least $6 per client in retail. You must first build a client’s trust and confidence in you can sell anything else, especially retail products. We teach everyone to educate clients on the product used during every salon service. As we line up retail products on our nail care station to face the clients, we remind then what we used during our services that day, and we recommend they take the products home with them for professional home care in between salon visits. We never ask of the client would like to but anything. I simply bring the products up to the front desk at check-out time. It works!”

At Christmas, Currie Hair-Skin-Nail sells gift baskets and gift certificates to promote both retail items and services. “We buy dozens of assorted baskets, allowing clients to personally select the beauty care products to be placed inside,” says Currie. “For the last few years we have sold at least 50 large baskets each year, averaging no less than $35 to $50 per basket. One client bought $700 worth of salon products for three large gift baskets. Plus, many gift product baskets include salon service certificates. Last holiday season we sold over $17,000 worth of gift certificates for our salon’s “Day-of-Beauty” service packages. Last year, one man spent $3.000 just on beauty care retail and service gift certificates for his wife.”

A final note from Currie: “We have computerized our retail program for monthly sales and inventory tracking. We offer creative monthly retail sales contest to keep everyone motivated with extra incentive and recognition. We’re very excited about retailing and we intend to keep it that way.”


Celebrated nail technician and national nail competition award winner Kim Patterson, who owns Artistic Nail Supply in Fairfax, Va., says “It’s very important to set clearly understood retail sales goals for your salon, as well as for each nail technician and everyone on staff, starting at 10%.” though Patterson only does nails, retail products account for at least 10% of her total sales.

Suggest Patterson, “Make your retail product displays simple, yet unique. Change them often with a new products-of-the-month or week. Use colorful cloths and mini-riser to accentuate special products and feature item display. We carry over 300 beautiful nail polishes, yet we sell much more than nail enamel. We regularly sell home-maintenance kits with cuticle oils, skin lotion, files, buffers, shapers, shinier, emery board, base coat, and top coat.

“While working on each nail care client, you have plenty of time to tell them exactly what you are using while defining all of the specific ingredients. I start to suggest product during the client’s hand massage, telling her about the special aloe, collagen, and healing ingredients within the lotion, and continue to do so with each product I use. Plus, i tell clients that their weekly visit is only half of what’s needed in professional nail care. I explain that they much do half of the work on a daily basis at home. I teach each client exactly how to take care of her skin and nails between salon visits and how to use each product I personally prescribe.

“Nails-only salons have a much more difficult time getting into the bigger retail sales number without hair products. However, there is growth,” says Patterson. “You just have to work at it!”


We interviewed two salons in this growing new salon chain, due to their unusual retail success stories. With over 92 full-service merchandising salons, retail is an important aspect of their salon services. Nail care services and retail sales account for up to one-third of the total salon business within some of the salons in this chain.

Jim Lucas, key operator in Chicago, Ill., says “Our most successful method of promoting nail care retail is a three-fold process. First, our staff uses our professional nail care products on themselves l, encouraging ‘personal testimonials’ and increasing credibility with salon clients. To ensure this, we take great care that our entire staff team has great looking nails, all the time. We offer free manicures to all salon employees. Second, we use professionally printed ‘nail care prescription pad’ at each nail care station. Each nail technician personally prescribes the proper retail products for at-home use between salon visits, giving each client a copy of this formal note. Third, we use nail care referral cards to get first-time clients. Regular nail care clients can earn ‘frequent nail mile’ by getting friends started on our nail care products and services. Three new client referrals earn a free manicure for the client.”

Lucas explains that new nail care retail products additions and a focus on retail can work. “In our Chicago-area salons, we have created growing nail care retail sales by adding several specific new lines to promote the growth and care of natural nails,” he says. “In February of this year, we added Nail techniques. By May, the retail sales of this additional line accounted for 5% of our total salon sales.

“My three tips for nail care retail success are: 1) choose the right team of talented nail technicians; 2) offer your first-time clients introductory marketing incentives to try your nail care products and services; 3) always use personalized staff testimonials to sell retail products. If you and your staff sincerely believe in the products you use and sell, your clients will be much more likely to believe in your professional recommendations.” Lucas continues, “So far, our best retail week for just nail care products was over $1,200, and we carry a full complement of hair, skin, and beauty products. We’re just getting started and are always looking for next new success story.”

Lisa Snyder, owner of the Beauty Warehouse & Hairzone Salons in Colorado Springs, Colo., has plenty of progressive ideas on retailing. “We recently had a new nail care client come to us from another salon with a severely damaged nail from drill,” says Snyder. “Debi Toebbe, one of our nail technicians, recommend that the client use one of our professional cuticle products at home for two weeks before she started working on her nails. When the woman returned, the nail had 1/4-inch healthy nail growth. The client was very pleased and is now a regular at our salon for products and services.”

Snyder adds, “We have a second retail success story to share. Our staff is always receiving compliments on our own nails, from clients at the salon to people they meet at the grocery store. We all make an effort to keep our nails looking nice. Of course, we use this opening to sell everyone on our professional nail care products and service. Everyone on the staff is fully knowledgeable about our products and product lines and knows what to recommend. We do pay our nail technicians and hairstylist a commission on all retail sales.”

Snyder continues, “We consistently use many nail care retail marketing programs with newspapers, radio, direct mail, preferred client list, gift certificates, and coupon promotions. We also use strong in-salon point-of-purchase materials. Every salon clients is encourage to consult with our technician about nail care problems or questions. We help each client by personally recommending nail care and other beauty care retail products and salon services that are right for her.”


Nail technician and esthetician Robin Nelbach manages a very large clientele at her Springfield Va., salon. Nelbach works primarily with natural nails, nothing. “I often start with nail biters who never had whole, healthy nails. First, I begin my most successful retailing approach by teaching each new client what to buy and how to use each product between salon visits. I consult with each person while selling these new clients a ’home nail care maintenance kit,’ which includes cuticle oil, polish, and professional files. This makes every client very loyal to me and our salon.”

Her kindest Cut SpaSalon retailing success with male nail care clients is equally simple, yet very strong. She says, “Most of my male clients come in for the first time with really crummy nails or very thick cuticles. I simply sell them oils and files, while teaching them how to push back their cuticles and how to properly file their nails at home between salon visits and manicures. It works. They buy salon products and come to see me every week or two.”

Nelbach has several tips to offer: “Start with all the simple things to improve your retail. For example make sure your work area and retail displays are clean and dusted on a daily basis. Most important, I believe continuing education on salon services and salon retailing will be your key to success. Recently, I attended a workshop on bunions, wart, and ingrown nails that has helped me sell extra products to my pedicure service clients. While there, I networked with other salon professional and nail technicians on salon retailing. By sharing ideas between sessions we all learned more than just what we were taught in class.”

LeeAnn Nelbach, owner and director of Virginia’s two Kindest Cut SpaSalon, credits the success of her salon retail achievements to a complete marketing program, enhanced by advanced education techniques, staff retail seminars, professional-quality salon products, a computerized client information system as well as a committed focus on growth in this important area.


Retail success can be created and shared some of your top retail success stories and “how-to” ideas with other local salons that are not direct competitors of yours. Ask other salon owners of they’d be interested in occasionally trading retail success stories at staff meetings, whereby you each become a guest of the other’s salon for a few hours.

Clients look to yo0u, the nail technician and/or salon owner, for guidance. Successful retailing in this industry is not hard sell but continuous education process. The more your clients understand how to achieve good nail care, the higher your retail sales figures will be.

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