Wouldn’t it be nice if such an opportunity existed? While conventional wisdom says the beauty industry is recession-proof, savvy nail techs are not content to wait for business to fall in their lap. It takes much effort, planning, and will to grow business during an economic downturn. Here we’ve asked proactive nail techs to share their secrets for filling their books and attracting new clients when everyone is in a financial pinch.
Last year business slowed a bit more than I felt comfortable with, so I crated fliers. I printed up fliers to target certain slow times and created a “Terrific Two-fer Tuesdays” promotion. When a client booked two services at a time I took a percentage off of my regular price. Another promotion was called “Walk-in Wednesday,” with specials created specifically for walk-ins. I also offer specials to teens who are children of my clients and let the moms know that this is an exclusive value because of their loyalty to me.— Janice Reams, Nails, Please!, Houston
We are a full-service nail salon and also offer massage therapy. The atmosphere is tailored so that everyone feels relaxed and welcome—our clients often get to know one another and spend their visits sharing conversation. During off-peak hours we offer discounted services and have a referral program that rewards both the new client as well as the referring client. —Jennifer Lamantia Bohns, Unforgetable Nails, Baltimore, Md
I offer a good range of services to span the demographic boards, I live in a small town so it is best not to alienate one group or another. I offer an express manicure for the busy of tight-budgeted, a teen manicure that includes nail art, and a spa manicure for a higher-end client or gift. I also have a mid-range warm lotion manicure that is enjoyed by the elderly. My biggest and longest running program is my Pamper Points Program (see “Pampering Pays Off” in October 2001 Nails File)—it gives clients something back and says thanks for all of their business and loyalty. — Holly Schippers, The Hairport, Oskaloosa, Iowa
I offer nail services that I know younger girls would be interested in. I offer glitter acrylics, decorated tips, etc. This keeps them coming in for full sets because they tend to like the fun designs in the summer months. Nobody spreads the word faster than the younger set of girls. I also make my pedicures a truly unique experience by offering either a warm flaxseed pillow or a cold pack to put behind their necks. This is a trick I learned from my chiropractor. In the summer I use milk and rose petals in my pedicures. —Debra Duncan, Lady Fingers Nail Salon and Tailoring, Cleveland, Texas
I do themed birthday parties for little girls. I decorate the shop, play their favorite movies, and serve snacks. I also do bridal-party packages. If more than four girls (including the mother of the bride and the flower girl) have their nails done, the bride goes free. Every month offer a themed pedicure. The best-received one involved a tropical theme that included fresh fruit and drinks. —Joan M. Sliter, Need Pampered?,Total Nail Boutique, Sherwood, Ohio
I try to book so tightly that I never have down time, so clients usually overlap some. While one client is at my drying station curing her nails under a UV lamp, the next client has already washed her hands and is at my nail station and I’m removing her polish. I take my cue from hairstylists in the respect. When I first moved to booth rental I used to give clients half off their next service for any referrals. I figured that you have to give a little to get a lot and this would be a very good incentive. I did that for about two years while I was steadily building and then I switched to a complimentary bottle of polish with each referral. —Jill Wright, Angel’s Salon, Bowling Green, Ky.
For Mother’s Day, we have devised a “Hand Facial” to rejuvenate the hands that have changed our diapers. For Valentine’s Day, we had the “French Vanilla Kiss,” a French manicure infused with vanilla oils. We also do birthday parties for up to 13 girls. They get their hair styled, a makeup application, and their nails polished. In August and September we will make “Back to School Buckets” with the essentials –shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, and hand and foot creams.—Leigh Marticio, Heaven and Earth Salon & Spa, Pottsville, Pa
I have been working as a nail tech for one year and I am still trying to grow my business. I have a young teenage niece so I try out ideas on her and her friends. One of the services I came up with was a birthday party of manicures. I charge one price and come to the party with all my gear. It is fun for me as well as the girls. —Martyn Briggs, Backstreet ParlorB’shop, Calif.
I tailor my services to attract new clients in off-peak hours. Students and seniors always receive discounts if they book their services before 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. Every other month we advertise in the local paper for a month—it attracts new clients and keeps things rolling. —Darlene Johnston,Pampered & Polished Salon, Hagersville, Ontario, Canada
The best way I keep my client base growing is through existing clients. I educate them thoroughly. They love hearing that they have the “smartest, busiest tech in the community.” This triggers a double effect. They feel they have a very educated and informed technician, and they tell others about their experience and cause others to want the same type of professionalism and service. As an instructor my daily saying is to always master your skill in order to back up the marketing. —Rhonda S. Taylor, Salon Nubiance, Stone Mountain, Ga.
I enjoy working with teenagers I especially see the opportunity to develop relationships with them while they are young so that will set the standard by which they judge their future nail techs. This has been very successful. I used to offer a student discount of 20% off my regular service prices in order to make my prices more competitive with the discount salons where I knew most young people were spending their nail dollars. I also took out large display ads in the high school newspapers before the big dances every year. —Maggie Franklin,The Art of Nailz, Visalia, Calif.
For many years I ran and advertised a special for Tuesdays—it seemed to be a slow day. For my “Tuesday is Toes-Day” promotion I gave a 25% discount for any pedicure scheduled for a Tuesday I finally had to stop the special. Clients would book their next Tuesday pedicure appointment before they left. My Tuesdays were booked so far in advance that I could not fit any new clients into my Tuesday schedule. —Patricia Semb, Meadow Green Nail and Hair Center, Greenfield, Mass.
At Bellezza Salon & Spa we definitely cater to a specific group. Our community is very young and supports the University of South Dakota. To accommodate the college students we offer discounts and are open one or two evenings a week until midnight Formals and weddings, mother/daughter parties, and birthday parties (for all ages) keep us busy in our downtime ‘Reminder’ postcards are sent if clients have not been to visit in over eight weeks and ‘How are you doing?’ postcards are sent to clients who have moved on. —Stephen Schoh, Bellezza Salon & Spa, Vermillion, S.D.
We do offer various types of discounts. Clients receive 10% off any service during their entire birthday month. We send out a welcome package to all new area homeowners, which includes a welcome letter, menu, and discount card. We have customer comment cards that we follow up on with the employees and also draw one winner a month from the submissions. The winner receives a free specified service. We offer a senior citizen discount during specific times with specific employees to help build up their clientele. In addition, we have a quarterly newsletter. We note any new service offering, highlight specific current services, promote new employees, note recent employee education or trade show attendances, offer tips and suggestions, note any new promotions, and include discount coupons. —Kim Mann, Ultimate Touch Spa Salon, Webster, Mass.
The only event I host is during prom season. I have loud music, a buffet outside of assorted teenage munchies, soda, water, and juice. A hairdresser friend comes over and does their hair while I do their nails. It’s a ball. The mothers see the work we do and the girls like it, and about 50% of them keep coming back for services during the year. —Kathy S. Heier, On the Edge Salon, Carmel, Ind.
We offer $10 off coupons to existing clients who refer new clients. We are also having our first-ever “Client Appreciation Day” on a Sunday (when we are usually closed) and are offering 20% off any service if they bring in a new client. —Brigitte Mace, The Vineyards Salon and Day Spa, Woodinville, Wash.