We’re all hard on our feet, but you can show clients how to undo the abuse with custom pedicure packages.
April showers forecast May flowers, which means its time for salons to gear up for the pedicure season. This year, don’t wait for clients to come to you. The nail technicians and salon owners from around the country that NAILS talked to shared a variety of strategies for promoting pedicures, including in-salon and community programs. Pull clients into the salon with target marketing, fresh promotional programs, and imaginative retail packages. We’ve included some of the newest and most creative ideas, along with a few old favorites, to inspire you and interest clients. Most nail technicians agree that once clients try pedicures, they’re hooked.
JUST TRY IT
While winter-bound clients may be reluctant to invest in a pedicure when their feet are exposed only in the privacy of their own shower, once spring and summer roll around they may be sorry they never tended to those abused toes. The only encouragement most people will need to become regular pedicure clients is to see how great their feet can look and feel.
Give manicure clients an incentive to try pedicures. “To get my manicure clients to try a pedicure, I offer a complimentary polish change so their toes match their new manicure. Then I educate them about the pedicure service while I am painting their toes,” says Betty Bohse, a nail technician at Robert Jeffrey Hair Studio in Homewood, Ill. “This high-service touch Bohse converts hard-to-sell clients with a “foot make-over,” in which she does a complimentary pedicure on one foot only, then asks the client to compare how her feet look and feel. “When they see the difference, they almost always book an appointment for the second foot that day, and I charge half-price,” she adds.
If you’re uncomfortable discussing new services spontaneously with clients, LeVonne King, director of the nail department at Uptown Hair Design in Pittsburgh, recommends mentally outlining the service and its benefits to yourself in advance. To overcome her own reluctance, she wrote a “pedicure script,” which she practiced until her delivery was perfect. She says it works every time.
“I say to clients who have just had a new haircut or manicure, ‘We take care of our hair, skin, and nails; however, the hardest working and most neglected parts of our bodies are the feet. We put them through balancing acts every day. They deserve at least one time-out session per month, and that is called a pedicure.’ Then I talk about calluses and how easily they can be removed, and I explain the rest of the service and its benefits,” she says. “They almost always book a pedicure right then.”
Bohse says her pedicure clientele is made up primarily of professional women ages 40 to 65. “These women are becoming increasingly aware of the abuse they have put their feet through by wearing pumps for years,” says Bohse. “To illustrate that point, I draw an outline of their foot and then an outline of their shoe and show them the difference in shape.”
Don’t overlook the opportunity to target a specialized clientele for pedicures. Men, notoriously hard on their feet, will fall in love with a service that massages, reduces calluses, and gives relief from ingrown nails.
“Enticing men to try pedicures can be as easy as informing them of the need to care properly for both the cosmetic and health aspects of their feet,” says Bohse. “I tell them, ‘Every so many miles, you have your car serviced. Imagine how many miles you are putting on your feet. Doesn’t it make sense to service your feet just as you do your car?’ It works every time!” She says the majority of her male clients are workers who stand on their feet all day.
To increase her male client base, she starts by educating her female clients about men’s pedicures. They, in turn, tell their husbands, and they’ll even buy them a certificate to start them on the right foot.
Privacy during the pedicure is top priority for men. “For a man’s first time, I usually suggest that he book a time early in the morning or late at night when the salon is fairly quiet and I can work one- on-one with him,” Bohse says.
There are many differences between men and women, and your pedicure techniques should reflect those differences. “I do a longer, more intense massage on men. And because men’s calluses tend to be thicker, I have them soak their feet a little longer. I also carefully trim and file their nails to help alleviate ingrown toenails,” she adds.
Don’t limit your pedicure menu to gender-based varieties. You can create a slew of pedicure packages designed to meet any client’s special needs. Try packages for nurses, waitresses, athletes, working moms and new moms, elderly clients, arthritic clients — you name it. Noel deCaprio, owner of Noelle. The Day Spa in Stamford, Conn., markets her menu of individualized pedicures as specialty services targeted to a variety of clients and their special needs.
“The pedicure business has definitely increased here because with the recession, people are spending less on vacations and larger luxury items, and instead they will splurge on manicures and pedicures more often,” she says.
deCaprio’s menu includes a pedicure with therapeutic whirlpool ($35), a sports pedicure with whirlpool and strong massage ($40), a 1%-hour reflexology pedicure with hot towels and hot paraffin wraps ($50), a spa pedicure ($45), and an aromatherapy pedicure with herbs and oils ($50).
At die four Gadabout Hair, Skin, Nails, and Day Spas in Tucson, Ariz., clients can also choose from the “sports mint mask pedicure” to energize and rejuvenate feet for $30, or the “salt glow pedicure” for $30. “In addition, we sell as many French-style pedicures for the feet as we sell French-style manicures,” says Gadabouts owner Pam McNair.
POWERFUL PROMOTMAL STRATEGIES
One of the easiest ways to promote pedicures beyond your established clientele is to take advantage of opportunities present in every community.
Gene Juarez salons in Seattle recently made headlines when a popular male morning radio disc jockey received a pedicure at its Four Seasons salon as part of an on-air makeover for a new television show.
At Noelle The Day Spa, deCaprio cross-markets with Athletes Foot, a chain of sporting shoe stores. “I will give clients 10% off coupons for the store, while Athletes Foot posts a sign telling their customers to get their feet taken care of by one of Noelle’s foot specialists,” she explains. “These stores are willing to work with you as long as you both benefit. Starting the process is often as simple as giving them a call.”
In addition, deCaprio’s nail technicians wearing Noelle T- shirts attend local marathons and offer complimentary foot and neck massages to runners as they finish the race.
“To get involved, talk with the person organizing the marathon several months before the event,” says deCaprio. “Your city permit office will have a list of upcoming events and contact names.”
At London Hair in Charleston, S.C., owner Frances London Dubose offers a beauty bonus book that’s the size of a business card. Whenever clients book both a manicure and pedicure together, they receive a 20% discount, which amounts to a savings of $8.40.
In-salon signs reading “London Hair. We’ve Got the Works” promote the full-service menu. “We also encourage our clients to show off their services,” says Dubose. “Recently, a client who was going on vacation booked a manicure, pedicure, and facial. She was so excited by her pedicure that she walked around the salon and showed everyone. It really made an impact on the other clients.”
At Gadabout, McNair offers a pedicure bonus package: Clients who buy six pedicures get the seventh free. “Since people wear sandals most of the year here, our pedicure business is strong at least nine months out of the year,” she says. ‘We average at least one pedicure for every three manicures.”
At Uptown Hair Design, the salon’s popular “Office of the Week” promotion focuses on manicures and pedicures as soon as the cold weather breaks, according to King. “Every week, Pittsburgh’s business newsletter features local companies that have increased their business. We offer their employees a complimentary gift certificate,” explains King. ‘This promotion brings in five to 10 new clients a week, and sometimes even three or four per day.
“I’ve picked up at least 40% of my clientele from Office of the Week winners,” she adds. ‘While the first $27 pedicure and $13 manicure are complimentary, by obtaining five new clients each week, in a year it will increase my business $5,000, and that’s just in services. I can more than double that amount with retail.”
At Mister Lee’s in San Francisco, owner Lee Bledsoe invites businesswomen to book informal meetings while they have a manicure and pedicure in the day spa. He also has bridal parties come in as a group, and while the bride gets a facial, the bridal party members have manicures and pedicures. ‘The spa experience helps everyone relax before the big day,” says Bledsoe.
Richard Calcasola, owner of Maximus Salon and Day Spa in Long Island, N.Y., adds that his day spa hosts bachelorette parties for brides and promotes pre-wedding days of beauty for the groom, too. “The grooms love it, especially if they are going to a resort or beach for their honeymoon,” he says.
SERVICE AT HOME
Maximus also lets clients take its services — including pedicures — home. “We started this program to let clients know they can book services at home through the salon, as opposed to doing it ‘under the table’ with the stylist or nail technician,” he explains.
Clients do pay for the privilege: While an in-salon pedicure costs $35, the same service at home runs $60. “The nail technicians take aromatherapy oils, exfoliating scrubs, antifungal agents, a paraffin tub, a whirlpool, a foot massager, and all of their implements with them. The only thing missing from the in-salon service is the relaxing experience of our deluxe pedicure chair,” says Calcasola. “These clients also receive a small bottle of nail polish as our gift.”
At-home appointments are usually booked first thing in the morning or as the last appointment of the day for the salons convenience. Gift certificates for home care services are available. Before offering an at-home program, check with your state board to find out what regulations exist in your area.
Creative retail promotions also heighten pedicure awareness. Nail technicians at Gene Juarez salons recently put together pedicure packages that were so cute, they sold 120 at $22 each in just 10 days. “We could have sold 300 easily,” says Cindy Pendergraft, director of marketing.
The kits included a pumice stone for the feet, a natural-hair scrub brush, a natural sponge, a 1oz. tube of lotion, and a top coat.
The products were packaged in a cheerful, clear plastic polka dot bag, similar to a beach bag, that clients can reuse.
Noelle The Day Spa clients receive their pedicure wand or file to take home after every appointment. Nail technicians encourage them to use it at home every day.
At Uptown Hair Design, King reports that her clients spend double their service ticket on retail at every appointment. In addition to selling home maintenance kits, she suggests they take products home to friends and family.
Spark clients’ interest and excitement by creating fresh pedicure promotions and tailoring pedicure packages that meet their special needs. Then, follow up by creating a home maintenance kit for the feet so that clients can freshen their feet all month. Once they’ve learned the pleasure of proudly “hanging ten” in the warm months, they’ll be back year-round for the pampering service.
Like all other nail services today, cleanliness counts when it comes to pedicuring. “Our nail practice is very clean and clinical for the benefit of both the nail technician and client,” says Linda Hamilton. “We soak our implements in an antibacterial, antifungal, and germicidal product from a hospital supply company.” In addition, instruments are dipped in alcohol before they touch the skin and again before they are returned to the soaking agent.
“As a ritual before every service, both the nail technician and the client use a surgical scrub,” says Hamilton.
LeVonne King places all of her sterilized instruments on large, white towels as the client watches. She also keeps a disinfecting spray in full view. “Clients always ask about it and appreciate the extra effort,” she says.
PAMPERING PEDICURE PROCEDURE
At Gene Juarez salons in Seattle, pedicures cost $27.50 to $35 for an hour treatment The difference in price reflects the nail technician’s experience.
The pedicure runs like this: First, the client soaks her feet in a vibrating therapeutic foot bath. Next, the nail technician smooths and removes calluses and performs an intense, therapeutic massage with lotions. Then the feet are wrapped in a plastic bag and put into heated thermal booties to help the oils penetrate.
After the bags are removed, the cuticles are pushed back and the nails are clipped, filed, and shaped. “Square is the best shape to prevent ingrown toenails,” notes Linda Hamilton, head of the nail department at Gene Juarez salons in Seattle, She adds that a gentle file is preferred over a metal one. Next, the nail technician cleans thoroughly under the free edge.
Finally, the nail surface is buffed to a shine, the free edge is buffed smooth to prevent snagging nylons, and the nail is prepped for polish. “We recommend that our clients bring thongs because they have to wait at least one hour before putting on their shoes,” says Hamilton, who is responsible for hiring, training, and managing 40 nail technicians in six salons. “If they can’t, we slather the polish with oil, then put a plastic bag over the foot to protect the newly polished finish.
“The two biggest crazes in pedicure pampering are reflexology and aromatherapy,” she adds. “Every salon should offer reflexology.” This technique, which provides a soothing, relaxing massage and may help break up toxins in the feet, costs $20 at Gene Juarez salons.
Another therapeutic treatment is the paraffin dip, which was originally used in hospitals for people with arthritis because the deep penetrating heat helps relieve pain, according to Hamilton. In the salon, paraffin allows for deep penetration of moisture and softens cuticles and calluses. This treatment adds $10 to a pedicure at Gene Juarez.