Business Management

If I had $10,000...

For $10,000 you could get 4,000 bottles of nail polish, 22,000 nail files, 3,000 oz. of acrylic powder, or 250,000 nail tips. We polled a group of NAILS readers to find out how---if offered the chance---they would spend $10,000 to improve their businesses. With answers as varied as nail techs themselves, read on to hear how your colleagues would spend their money if it happened to fall in their laps.

“I would remodel and expand an area devoted just to men with a more masculine decor and theme. As women, we have a tendency to decorate in a feminine manner since we usually attract more female clients. Men would appreciate an area just for them. We need to change the image that manicures, pedicures, facials, and body treatments are feminine services. Once men have these services, they realize how wonderful they are. Men are ready to step into the ‘personal service’ arena, but seem a little intimidated with so many women around. Pedicures seem to be the most intimidating---even for women. We know how everyone feels about their feet!

I would make it so that each pedicure station could be private or open depending on what the client prefers. This summer I might have the opportunity to expand into the existing office next door. My thoughts are to do just what I explained and open an area just for men. I’m looking forward to the venture, but money is always an issue when getting ready to expand.”--Sherri Ludwig, Pure Essence Skin & Nail Care ( Westminster, Colo.)

“I would give the $10,000 to my mom to pay off some of the loan on her salon she owns. She built a beautiful salon a year and a half ago with 12 hair stations and two nail techs. She works hard to maintain the salon, do the accounting, order retail---and she still spends four full days behind the chair! She has spent 24 years as a hairdresser, working full-time as a single mom to raise my brother and me. I am so proud of what she has done with her salon. It’s such an honor to work with her as one of the nail techs and the salon manager. She deserves not to have to work so hard!” --Rhonda Marin,  Reflection at Bittersweet (Greeley, Colo.)

“I probably would spend it on a plumbed pedicure unit---one of the newer models that is nearly self-cleaning and self-filling. I upgraded two years ago to a portable pedicure spa unit and, while it has its advantages, if I had known about the hassle of wheeling it back to the break room to empty it, fill it, clean it, and balance the tray from the floor to the sink without spilling water, I would have held out and had an area in our new building plumbed for a future spa unit. The time that could be saved cleaning up after a pedicure would make my experience better, and I would not be as hesitant to book consecutive clients for pedis. If there was any money left over, I would put it into retail stock.” --Melissa Bittinger, Off  the Beaten Path Mini Day Spa (Greensboro, N.C.)

“The first thing I would do is check all of my existing equipment to see what needs to be repaired, replaced, or upgraded. Without properly functioning equipment I have no business. Then I might purchase equipment for new services I had been considering. I would consider investing in additional retail items next. I have software that tracks inventory and sales, clients and appointments, as well as running the necessary reports. If I needed to update the program I would do it then. I would not upgrade to a system that holds the schedule because I have seen too many times when the power went out or appointments were not entered properly and it was a disaster. I would prefer to keep my schedule on paper. Painting would be my last purchase since paint is not as expensive as equipment, and can be done on an off-day with a little help from my friends.”-- Sheryl Goldberg, Chicago

“I would completely refurnish my reception area with new furniture. I would have a new pedicure station---not the big spa-type one since I don’t have room for that type---with a new client chair and pedicart stool and tables. I would pay a decorator to give my salon a new look while still keeping it ‘homey’. New shelves for retail would be nice. My restroom could use a new look and definitely a new vanity sink. I would also add new floor coverings. My clients already feel at home in mt salon, but my expected outcome would be a nicer place for my clients to come and also a nicer place to work. If I didn’t already have a crammed-full appointment book I would expect to draw more business by making my salon a place where everyone would want to come.” --Ruthie Osorio, Nail Boutique (Merced, Calif.)

“I would hire a couple of nail techs. I would supply everything for them and pay them an hourly wage. I would also invest some of the money in retail---that is retail that sells. I have polish I just can’t get off the shelf without a sale to motivate my clients. Last, but not the least, I would purchase an airbrush system. This is an add-on service that eventually would bring in more money. A little nail art can go a long way in bringing in new clients.”--Marsee Essington, Nails by Marsee (Mt. Pleasant, Pa.)

“I would totally upgrade my manicurist tables (I have 10 nail techs in my salon), buy them better equipped, ergonomic chairs, upgrade the drying station (include toe dryers for the pedicures), and upgrade the waiting room chairs. It would also be nice to extend the salon’s leased space and build the techs a small break room. The final thing I would like to upgrade would be the salon floor. I would like to replace the ugly gray tiles with nice ceramic tiles.”-- Terri Voss, Nails By Design (Arvada, Colo.)

“My small nails-only salon is located in my home so I can be home for my 11-year old daughter. My husband and I transformed an extra bedroom into my home business. I actually am happy with the way it turned out, but I could definitely find ways to improve it.

First I would buy a new front door for my customers to enter through. It has had a broken handle for a few months now and I haven’t had the extra money to replace it. I would also buy a fancy pedicure chair to pamper my clients. I would put a small hand sink right next to my nail table so my customers wouldn’t have to get up and walk to the bathroom to wash up. I would do minor interior decorating--- maybe some nice curtains and nicer frames for my awards and achievements. I would buy a couple of comfortable nail table chairs to replace the plastic ones I’ve been using. My nail table is actually a computer desk transformed into a nail table. I’d get a real one. And I would definitely stock up on supplies. Advertising would be next on my list. That can be very costly so I don’t get to do that very often. And lastly I would buy all my special customers a small thank-you gift for being so loyal.” --Jeanna Chyczewski, Jeanna’s Tips & Toes (Scotia, N.Y.)

“Thank you for giving me this opportunity to dream! My salon is located halfway between two large Midwestern cities in Ohio---Dayton and Cincinnati. There are many incredible large salons and spas in these cities that are impossible to compete with, which is why topnotch customer service is so important to me. My clients come in because they want to and not because they have to have the service. Because of this, I would like to stand out from other salons in my area.

I started my salon so I could offer exclusive services in a warm, inviting environment with a personal touch. My salon would have a special ambiance so clients feel they are treating themselves not only to my services, but also to an entire atmosphere of pampering. The following changes would definitely help me meet my goal of exactly that---a very personal touch.

1) Add a wall or ceiling mural.

2) Fine-tune the salon layout.

3) Upgrade the phone system with music while a client is on hold.

4) Add new carpet in a warm, inviting color.

5) Offer plush, salon-monogrammed robes and slippers.

6) Buy a towel cabby for those soothing pedis and manis.

7) Add sink and buffet-style cabinetry in the private pedicure area.

8) Add a nail station with a quiet ventilation system.

9) Purchase esthetician equipment.

10) I would love to have the ability to buy new products to test and try. I tend to stay with certain brands so I don’t waste money on items I am not sure will meet my expectations.

11) Add recesses lighting and piped in music.

12) Add outdoor landscape lighting, especially around the door and sign that would eye-catching.

13) Redesign the retail-shelving units for increased retail sales.

14) Incorporate a coffee bar--- an inviting and relaxing area where clients can drink complimentary specialty coffees.”-- Barbara Byrd Eve, The Regency Salon and Spa (Franklin, Ohio)

“First I would pay off some of the debts that I have incurred from a fire in August 2002. Believe it or not, it was caused by acetone-soaked cotton balls in the garbage on a hot day---spontaneous combustion. After six years of being in the business I lost everything and unfortunately insurance doesn’t pay for everything. It was a very depressing time for me, but I bounced back and rebuilt. I am a one-woman nail salon. I love my job and my clients. I would definitely buy some new furniture. I salvaged what I could, but it is slowly falling apart.

I would buy a new computer---mine melted and I lost everything on it. There are lots of little things I would like to purchase as well---a paraffin machine and a pedicure tub. I have bought a few new ones and they don’t meet my needs. I would work more on my retail. I haven’t been able to due to catching up on other things from the fire. My wall decorations were all destroyed so that would be added to the list.

I love my job so much. I have the best clients in the whole world. I was going to quit because of the fire, but my clients wouldn’t let me. I would also love to get more education. I would love to become an educator.-- Lisanne McPherson, All About Nails (St. Joseph, Mich.)

“I would first want my own salon. I would have the best computer system to take care of appointments, inventory, and anything else that it could handle. Then I would create a rainforest theme for my clients to relax in. I would also like to have a nice, private pedicure room designed the same way. I don’t know just how far $10,000 would go, but everyone needs a dream.”-- Jerry Cook, Henderson, Texas

“I would spend it on television ad spots---60 second quick informational ads for hands and nails telling consumers what to look for in a salon (for example, using files, chipping, breaking, and lifting problems, how to keep polish on, etc.).

I would make these ads kind of like a public awareness type thing, to educate the public. Instead of saying, ‘Hey we are a great place. Buy our product,’ we would be teaching them something and hopefully they would pay attention because they would want to learn something new. This would help consumers and, of course, make them want to come to my salon!” --Diana Bonn, Colours Day Spa (Muncie, Ind.)

“I would add two relaxing pedicure rooms with beautiful top-of-the-line pedicure chairs and an irresistible decor that would make clients desire a pedicure. I would then add a to-die-for retail area to meet all my clients’ needs. I know I would be able to increase my income with these changes. Who could resist? Lastly, I would get a custom-made nail table. I’ve had mine for eight years and it has been well used. Now you have me thinking and dreaming---maybe someday.”-- Debbie Williams, Salon Renee (Winchester, Va.)

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