Money Matters

Advice from Polish Manufacturers

Nail polish manufacturers have a lot of good ideas about what salons can do to increase their profits on polish retail. Here 10 of them share their thoughts on what you can do to retail polish successfully in the salon.

Jan Bragulla of Creative Nail Design: There are two keys to retailing nail enamel. The first is communication and the second is display. Part of the nail artist’s job is to recommend that the client purchase enamel for maintaining the nail service between visits and to ask the client at each visit whether she needs to restock her polish. The nail artist should be sharing fashion trend news with her client, showing the client the latest color collection and recommending the best shades for the client’s skin tones. Enamels should be displayed in high-traffic areas in the salon. Nothing increases nail enamel sales as much as an attractive, well-stocked display. It’s imperative that a salon’s retail display offer good color variety and remain fully stocked and spotlessly clean.

We have had salons tells us that they have great success when they include the cost of a pack of homecare items in the service price for a full set of nails. This makes retailing part of the appointment rather than an option.

Michael Reyzis of Art of Beauty: Many nail technicians have difficulty selling product in the salon, but retailing nail polish could be the easiest money nail technicians make. The product has to be displayed in the same manner as it is displayed in quality department stores. Salons have to create impulse buying. Nail polish must be displayed in a prominent place. The polish should be in a well-lighted area that is accessible to the customer. Header cards that describe the product are very important. I also advise nail technicians to dust the displays twice a day and reposition the polish weekly. When you reposition the polish, the customer perceives the colors as new colors.

Change the location of the displays once a month. Update your color collections constantly and mark the new colors visibly “New Shades.” Have on display at least three of each shade. Empty racks evoke an immediate negative response from the customer.

To move the old shades when new ones come in, have a promotion: Buy any two old shades and get a new one free. If you want to keep inventory down, buy one bottle of each shade and have it on display. Then take orders from customers.

Essie Weingarten of Essie Cosmetics: We always recommend that salons choose a color of the week and have all the nail technicians wear that color. The customers will ask, “Oh, what are you wearing?” A good way to promote polish sales is to ask, “Do you need a bottle to touch up your toes? How about a top coat to apply every other night to keep your manicure shiny and long-wearing?”  Give them a little TLC and they’ll buy.

If nail technicians can look at selling polish as a favor to the client, a way for the client to maintain her manicure, it’s easy. Set up a nice rack and display the polishes from light to dark. They look good enough to eat that way. Customers will say the polish looks like candies in a candy store. A salon should have at least a dozen of each color on hand. But edit the display once a week. Customers want to look at something new. And don’t display all the colors at once. Polish is still the least expensive accessory a customer can buy.

Harriet Rose of Forsythe Cosmetic Group: Most important, a salon should have a retail display that is kept meticulously clean, updated, and interesting-looking. Make sure the display is always filled. Never pile up a lot of polish. Not only does it get dusty, it’s too “retail-looking.” Department stores use point-of-sale displays---high-image, attention-getting Lucite displays. In the salon, put the polish display where the client pays her bill.

Part of the job of the person who tends the reception desk should be promoting polish, to say “Look at the beautiful colors that have come in. Why don’t you get a color for touch-ups?” The receptionist should be trained to do this. The salons that do the best retail are those that offer a small incentive, such as a small commission to the person selling the product.

Nail technicians should really listen to the customer. This will help sales. If the customer says, “Oh, I really like that red,” it’s an opening for the nail tech to say, “Why don’t you buy a bottle to keep on hand for touch-ups?” The nail technician is listening rather than saying, “Buy this.”

Flossie Fisher of Flossie Diamond Cosmetics: I advise nail technicians to buy three of a color. Use one, have one on the shelf, and keep one as backup. We believe that retailing the products she uses will help a nail technician develop her business. I think polishes look best when displayed by color group. Salons have told us that the reds are very popular. Texas Red is our best-seller, followed by our French manicure colors.

Retailing nail polish is a two-way thing. It gives the salon owner and the nail technicians another way to make money and it shows the client that you’re interested enough in her that you want her to take care of her hands while she is away from the shop.

Lynn Granger of Orly International: Salons should place their retail center in an area where the customers are going to spend some time. They shouldn’t put the display in the back of the store. And don’t put polishes in a closed case underneath the cash register. Have the polish where the customer can touch it. One of the best ways to retail polish is to ask the customer if she wants a bottle to revive the color of her nails over the week. And if the client doesn’t have time for a pedicure, the nail tech can suggest that the client buy a bottle of polish so she can do her toes at home. At the end of the manicure, the nail technician can walk the client up to the polish display and show her the colors. No high-pressure sales are necessary. The salon should offer at least 15 shades. Orly’s best-selling colors are Monroe’s Red and Crawford’s Wine.

Lee Spelling of Develop 10: My first suggestion is “Just do it.” I see two types of salons: those that hide the polish and those that put the polish where the customer can see it. Take it off the shelf and put it where the customer can touch it. Customers always want the newest colors, so it’s important that salons introduce new shades all the time.

I hear from a lot of salons that they fear they’ll lose their manicuring customers if they retail polishes. But the question the salon needs to ask is, “How often does someone come into the salon with a drugstore polish that she wants put on?”

A salon needs to have two to three bottles each color. One mistake nail technicians make is to buy only the colors they like. The salon needs to stock a broad range of colors---warm and cool, dark and bright, reds and oranges. Put the polish in order by color group. That way, if a client wants a specific color, such as a mauve, she can go right to that section. As for pricing, I suggest that salon owners and nail technicians don’t go beyond doubling the wholesale price. The consumer is smart today. Drugstores only get 4% off the suggested retail when they buy. The salons already get 50% off. Buy from a reputable company. Always retail brand names.

Susan Weiss-Fischmann of OPI Products: Keep the displays well-lit and well-stocked with current colors in a cool area so the polish will not separate. Keep the display free of dust and grime. It’s a good idea for the nail technician to walk the customer over to the reception area and recommend colors that suit the client’s clothing color or skin tones. Have a color chart available and go over the colors with the client. Make a wide range of colors available to the client. Display colors that are current and that accompany the fashion trend.

Think of every client as a candidate for a professional retail product. Currently, your customers may be buying all their home-care products at a drugstore, grocery store, or department store just because it’s what they’ve always done. Change their buying habits. If you have never retailed polish before, start simple. Almost every customer needs a nail color for at-home changes, nail adhesive for repairs, nail treatments such as base coat or top coat, and of course, polish remover. To ignore salon retailing is to ignore the opportunity to earn higher profits and customer satisfaction.

Jessica Vartoughian of Jessica Cosmetics International: When retailing polish, emphasis should be placed on home maintenance. Educate clients on the importance of maintaining their nails between visits. Discussion of nail maintenance as a way to preserve the health and beauty of the nails should be initiated by the nail technician.

The bigger the display, the more effective the visual impact becomes. A salon should consistently maintain stock on all colors. When the supply is low, re-order immediately. A client can become alienated if she cannot find her polish color when she wishes to buy it. Clients are very conscious of the need to have the same color available to them at home so that minor chips to the color can be repaired between salon visits.

Christina Jahn of Star Nail Products: Always have polish in stock and make sure the client can see the polish. For a salon with three to four nail technicians, I suggest keeping about 20 different colors on hand with a backup of at least a dozen of each. Focus on displaying small groupings of color rather than an entire line. Go with the season and the fashion.

Many salons display 50 shades of polish neatly arranged in a glass cabinet where the client must bend over to view them. Not a very interesting way to sell anything! Clients need to touch the product. They hesitate to ask someone to pull out a bottle of polish from a locked glass showcase.

If you’re really serious about selling polish, make up a theme every other month and create fun displays that go with the theme. If Valentine’s day is approaching, create an interesting retail display with reds. For the Christmas season, decorate a small tree with polish. When summer is just around the corner, create a sand pile, add a bucket and shovel, and arrange the polish sticking up out of the sand.

Polish is mainly sold on color. You may offer the most innovative bottle and box, but if you’re selling neon pink, only a certain percentage of your clients will buy it.

A good way to promote polish sales is to wear what you are promoting. Many times clients will look around during the service and see someone else’s nails and say, “What color is she wearing? That’s the color I want.” Another way to show the client the color of the polish out of the bottle is to display nail tips pre-painted with the polish colors.

Rob Forlin of Amoresse Laboratories: Talk to the client about home maintenance, suggesting that she maintain the beauty of her nails by using a quality base coat, top coat, and polish between visits. Set up an attractive, easily accessible display near the technician’s station or at the front counter. It should be well-lighted so the colors entice the client. Display three to five of one color at a time. On a special holiday display, such as an Easter basket display, you may want to display only one bottle of polish.

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