How one enterprising salon owner rolls out the red carpet and treats each one like royalty
High school seniors rarely know exactly what they want to do with their lives, but Noel de Carprio is one who did. Under her yearbook photo is the caption: “I want to own beauty salons all over the world.” DeCaprio, in fact, went to high school and beauty school simultaneously and graduated from beauty school first!
This summer, DeCaprio celebrated her 35th year in the beauty industry. (Always the entrepreneur,, she tied the celebration to a week’s worth of day spa promotions.) During deCaprio’s multifaceted career, she’s done everything from polishing nails and working as a hairstylist, hair colorist, and makeup artist to representing a cosmetics line. She rebuilt her business from scratch after a partnership soured. She survived breast cancer and became an inspiration to other women afflicted with it, personally reaching out to them and helping them cope with that very difficult period in their lives.
But today DeCaprio is best known for creating the day spa concept. Noelle the Day Spa, located in Stamford, Conn., is the prototype for day spas throughout the country, and many salon professionals who are looking to expand their businesses into day spa visit Noelle first.
DeCaprio strongly believes that nail care services for hands and feet are an essential element in a beauty routine, especially as part of the day spa concept.
“If a woman has a day of beauty and is pampering her skin and hair and maybe getting a makeup lesson, she won’t feel complete without a manicure and pedicure, “she says. In fact, 9 out of 10 clients request nail services as part of their day of beauty packages.
At Noelle the Day Spa, even the basic manicure and basic pedicure are very pampering and include a complete massage, as well as an “aromascents” back-of-the-neck massage using a mixture of relaxing eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils. (A Noelle the Day Spa exclusive, the oils are available for retail purchase.) After every massage, the hands are wrapped in hot towels as an extra relaxing touch.
The nail department staffs 12 manicurists, who do an average of 55 manicures every week. That’s 660 manicures per week, which at the minimum charge of $16 each equals $10,560 per week. That translates into $549,120 in service sales for the department per year-before add-ons, pedicures, and retail sales. (Retail sales amount to 12% of sales in the nail department and 19% in the salon overall.) What’s more, there’s a waiting list of at least 10 clients every Saturday.
BUILD TICKETS WITH ADD-ONS
Introducing add-on ticket builders is easy. DeCaprio attributes the success of her nail department to offering a wide variety of add-on services that suit all tastes and desires and that create a day spa feeling within the department. What’s more, these add-ons help boost the price of every ticket, contributing to the profitability of the department as a whole.
For salons that currently offer simple manicure/pedicure services, DeCaprio offers these tips for getting started with add-ons: First, purchase a hand paraffin treatment machine to add paraffin treatments to all manicures. These machines are inexpensive and can quickly pay for themselves.
“We offer complimentary paraffin hand treatments to all clients who visit the day spa for haircuts and other services to get them used to doing something for their hands,” says DeCaprio. “Most people don’t think twice about caring for their hands.” To reach the next level, add mud or seaweed treatments.
As you expand further, tailor your add-ons to meet the needs of your clients, taking into consideration the weather in your area. “Do things for your clients that you would like to have done yourself,” advises DeCaprio.
“The most important step is to get your clients interested in and used to adding on to their basic manicures and pedicures,” says DeCaprio. “The best way to do that is to do that is to offer the first service on a complimentary basis. Most add-ons are quick enough to do on the spot without running late, and once your client loves it, she won’t mind paying an extra $6 the next time.
“When clients think of Noelle the Day Spa, I want them to think beyond the full-service salon or day spa,” she adds. “I want them to love every service separately and think, ‘Wow, I can get the best haircut, manicure, pedicure, facial, and massage at that place.’ “
PROFESSIONALISM ABOVE ALL
Noelle the day Spa’s reputation and competitive stance in a time when low-budget salons are gaining ground depends on maintaining a professional atmosphere and attitude toward service that all staff members must uphold.
“Our mission is to treat each and every client like she or he is the only client in the world,” says DeCaprio. “When you follow that mission, the outcome is that you do beautiful work because you spend the time making every client feel special.”
The dedication to service includes focusing on cleanliness. There’s a disinfectant system on every table, and clients are welcome to bring their own cuticle nippers if they feel more comfortable. Staff members must dress professionally, with a minimum amount of jewelry and makeup, and wear professional hairstyles.
When a complaint does occur, DeCaprio addresses it immediately by calling the client and offering a complimentary service. She follows up with a personal letter.
“I’d rather have an unhappy client write to me than to have her remain a ‘silent client’ and tell 10 friends,” says DeCaprio. “My [method of complaint resolution] has always been very beneficial to our business.”
STAFF MEMBER REQUIREMENTS
DeCaprio says that the most difficult part of her job is finding staff members who share her mission and philosophy. Since Connecticut does not require a license for a manicurist, deCaprio looks for people with the right attitude; even if they have no experience in the industry, DeCaprio is interested in them if they are willing to be trained.
“I’m not interested in hiring someone with a following,” she says. “I want someone who is committed to offering a high level of service to our clients.”
New hires are trained daily for six months under the tutelage of the nail department manager. They begin by watching the experienced staff members all day, then progress to filling, polishing, etc. After –hours, they practice daily on models until they have perfected each service.
While experienced nail technicians will be booked right away, they do train with DeCaprio to learn the day spa’s specific manicuring and pedicuring routines and techniques so that all Noelle nail technicians provide consistency of service.
“Since all our services incorporate spa touches, they are different from what’s offered in most salons,” says DeCaprio, “and everyone must perform all the steps in a similar manner.”
Staff members are rewarded handsomely for their training and hard work, which is just another reason they stay at Noelle the Day Spa for an average of eight years. Those who do leave usually do so to open their own business. While staff members can choose between salary and 40% commission, only eight out of 70 current employees having a steady paycheck. Additionally, employees earn 10% commission on retail sales.
DeCaprio recently began a profit-sharing program. Staff members can contribute 6% of their pay and the salon contributes 3%. They are fully vested after five years.
DeCaprio offers three paid holidays, one week paid vacation after one year’s employment, two years, and three weeks paid vacation after 10 years; after 20 years, she sends the staff member on a vacation of her choice. After 25 years, she rewards her with a car. DeCaprio has given three cars to employees so far.
In addition, DeCaprio offers a direct deposit service for paychecks, which staff members say they really appreciate, and she makes health insurance available, which staff members can purchase at a group rate.
DeCaprio is a firm believer in giving back to her community, and she and her staff take the initiative in contributing to those who need help.
For example, Noelle the Day Spa proudly offers the “Look Good, Feel Better” program, a unique service that helps women undergoing cancer treatments deal with the chemotherapy and the accompanying skin problems and loss of hair, eyebrows, and lashes.
The Noelle Teen Advisory Board- a panel of eight local high school students- also helps spread community good will. They’ve donated food and clothing to the homeless and they often sponsor car washes and bake sales to raise money for local causes. The Teen Advisory Board members also help select a candidate for the Noel DeCaprio $1,000 scholarship, which is awarded to a student pursuing a career in the arts.
Last fall, DeCaprio introduced a program to help “cut unemployment,” in which anyone with a pink slip could receive a complimentary manicure and haircut.
DeCaprio’s vision has been recognized and honored by many community and industry organizations and institutions. She was selected as one of Avon’s nationally regarded “Women of Enterprise.” The American Cancer Society is honoring DeCaprio for her work and dedication to helping cancer patients. She also has received numerous awards for community service.
Whether your goal is satiny, younger-looking skin, showstopping nails, or head-turning locks, Noelle the Day Spa has a department for it. You’ll leave looking like a million dollars and feeling like a queen!
By Misha Felidae-Mansell
DAY SPA NAIL CARE MENU INCLUDES SERVICES FOR ALL TASTES
Noelle the Day Spa’s very complete nail menu includes services for all tastes, providing add-ons to match any client’s preferences while boosting the profitability of each ticket. Here are some examples:
Standard Manicure and Acrylics: The standard manicure begins at $16 while the French manicure is $19. A full set of acrylics costs $80, fills are $40, and one nail is $8.
Spa Manicure and Pedicure: A spa manicure costs $26 and a spa pedicure costs $50.
Glycolic Hand Treatment: This special treatment helps soften wrinkles and lighten brown spots to keep hands looking younger. The 15-minute service costs $15,and clients are encouraged to purchase the glycolic product to continue the treatment at home, DeCaprio suggests selling these treatments in a series of six-once a week for six weeks, but only charging for five so the sixth treatment is offered free as a value-added bonus.
French Spa Hand Wrap: This $10 treatment, in which hands and nails are scrubbed and soaked, incorporates herbal properties. The hands are then wrapped in hot towels for additional relaxation.