Customer Service

How to Take Time Off Successfully

The sentence that we all dread to hear: “That’s great that you’re going on vacation—it’s not on my week is it?”

Making time for yourself on a regular basis is the best way to combat career burn-out and keep your batteries charged. But how do you find the time for a vacation, a weekend off, or even a spa day — without ticking off your clients?

Begin by dealing with your standing appointments. These committed clients are often diehard nail fans who plan their vacations around their appointments, so they don’t have much sympathy for your vacation plans. Think about rescheduling them first.

Check with your fellow nail techs and see if they can open up some time for those clients who just can’t wait for your return. If appointments are made with other techs, be sure phone numbers are exchanged and appointment cards are given out with that special date and the next regular appointment with you as well. Since your coworker will benefit from the extra income during this time, ask for her help with those infrequent “911” nail repair requests. Make sure if one of your clients has a special color, you make it available to the tech who is covering for you.

Perhaps you can find a “semi-retired” tech who can use your station and work for even a few days. Or, at the very least, research other salons in the area until you find one you feel comfortable sending clients to while you are gone.

Three to four weeks before you go, post a cute calendar with your vacation time clearly marked out and any extra days you might be planning on working as well. This visual will help your clients get the idea that you are in fact going to be gone. Make it fun and hand out a small but appropriate gift with their rerouted appointment card. If you’re going cruising, give them a small lotion or cuticle oil in a tropical scent. If you’re out for your kid’s soccer tournament, find cute soccer ball key chains.

If you are planning to be gone two weeks or more, pay extra attention to your book. It might help to color code changed appointments and be sure to erase the original date so you know that person has been rescheduled.

Make sure there is a clear message on your contact phone. Cheerfully state when you will be returning from your trip and whether you want them to leave messages now or call when you are back. If you use your personal cell, you might want to “unplug” and not accept messages until you return.

Despite your most diligent efforts, a client might show up while you are away. Have a copy of the first two weeks of your post- vacation schedule posted at your workstation and the front desk so that they can recheck their next appointment. If for some reason they did fall between the cracks, have someone take a message and call them with an apology and free service offer when you return. If you make them pay when they miss, you should pay when you miss.

If you work in a large salon, be sure to touch base with everyone at the front desk. There could be several different people besides the receptionist helping clients or answering the phones. Your clients shouldn’t have to hear from anyone, “Um, I don’t know where she is or when she’s coming back.”

It’s always surprising which clients are miffed you are taking time off when they want their nails done (and there are always one or two). Just get all your ducks in a row before you go and remember you deserve down time as much as anyone else. Be firm, don’t apologize for enjoying some time with your family, friends or, in my case, horses. You’ll be better for it.

Paula Gilmore is a former NAILS cover tech and columnist with 30 years’ experience in the nail care industry. She is presently a working nail tech based in Washoe Valley, Nev., and a business advisor for Young Nails.

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