In her “Dear Shari” column, veteran nail tech Shari Finger—owner of Finger’s Nail Studio in W. Dundee, III.—fields reader questions in the areas of salon management and workplace politics.
How do you make money with natural nail services? My new manager says the nail business in our spa is losing money. We have only been open three months. I do not know what to do. Is it only the nails techs who do enhancements that make money? At my salon we are only allowed to do natural nails and pedicures. We use quality professional products, but the manager wants to use cheaper off-the-store-shelf products. Is it wise? When we first opened, she wanted top-quality products and classy one-of-a-kind services, but she said they are costing the salon too much. How can you make a profit with all-natural nail services?
In the Red
Dear In the Red: Your salon manager is way off! You can make money providing natural nail services. Manicures and pedicures actually have a larger profit margin. If you don’t believe it, put a pen to it and figure it out. List all the products and costs that are used in a set of enhancements (whether it be gel, wraps, or acrylic), then list everything used in a manicure. The manicure will always cost less. The other misconception is that natural nail customers are cheap. When costs are presented correctly, customer’s are very willing to spend money on upgraded manicures, homecare products, and add-ons. Cutting costs is one way to increase your profits. Using off-the-shelf products is the equivalent to selling your soul to the devil in the beauty industry. But when you start losing money, you do get desperate. Your salon owner needs to take a good hard look at product because product eats profit! What I do is get rid of everything that doesn’t knock my socks off. If the product is just average and costs too much, I will find a replacement (and there are a zillion professional products companies to choose from, so there’s no need to go to the local drug store).
Most of the time money can be saved by controlling the amount of product being used during the service. Consider measuring out lotions and scrubs prior to the service, or at least talking to everyone to make them aware of the correct amount to be used. There are other ways to cut corners. For example, I make some of my natural nail products, but this can be very time-consuming. Another special touch is using natural ingredients like lemons, rose petals, pumpkin, coffee grounds, or any interesting combinations of essential oils. Impress clients by adding these to a foot bath, manicure bowl, unscented lotion, oil, or scrub. Sell your service by being the best. Educate yourself on natural nails—you must be the expert. Consider having more than one type of manicure and pedicure, offering nail treatments, add-on services, and programs. Remember, you have to give them something to talk about; otherwise, you’re just another salon.