“Experts at making a more beautiful you” is the by word that best describes the services and items that Linda Presson Lamon offers her customers at All That Jazz Boutique & Nailery in Huntsville, Alabama. At this shop, a woman can truly enjoy a complete makeover package from head to toe.
Such an unusual shop is the result of Lamon’s hard work and careful attention to identifying what her customers want, then using good business sense to achieve this end.
A 14-year veteran of the nails industry, Lamon has successfully owned and operated a series of nail salons throughout the Southeast.
She began her career in the nails business in an Atlanta, Georgia, salon following college. After graduating from a nails technician training school in California, Lamon opened her first store in 1973 in Pensacola, Florida.
With a former partner, Lamon soon had a string of five successful nails salons in operation throughout Florida. A personal crisis in 1979 led to the dissolution of the partnership.
Still dedicated to the nails industry, Lamon moved to Decatur, Alabama, in 1980 and for two years ran another successful nails salon. In 1983, after the sale of the Decatur salon, Lamon moved to Huntsville, Alabama and set up a small nails salon (300 square feet) in an office building in that city’s medical district.
An opportunity presented itself in 1983 for Lamon to move just down the street to a larger 1200-square-foot storefront site. At the request of a growing number of customers, she decided to add tastefully sexy lingerie lines to her nails operation.
Good fortune smiled again on Lamon in mid-1984 when a 3200-square-foot free-standing building nearby suddenly became available.
Jumping on this opportunity immediately, Lamon and her husband, Wayne, completely remodelled the new store in two weeks, aided by considerable help from their friends.
The extra floor space, plus the success and popularity of the lingerie lines, promped Lamon to add after-five apparel, cruise and beachwear, a tanning booth, pedicure salon, massage salon, jewelry and a ladies’ better evening footwear department in the new store.
On the subject of gold or jewelled nails, Lamon told NAILS Magazine she did more sales and installations of them in her Decatur store than the Huntsville store. “This is probably due to the fact that in the Decatur store I pushed the gold nails more heavily, but I intend to once again get more heavily involved with them after we finish remodelling the services section of the store in a few months.”
As of November, Lamon will be introducing under her own label, “All That Jazz,” a line of cosmetics and nail polishes to go along with the Stagelight line of cosmetics she will be adding.
Each additional category of merchandise or service came as a direct result of customer requests, she emphasizes. Today the nails/services part of the business now generates about 35 percent of the total sales for the store.
Customer input also helped determine the name of the store, Lamon told NAILS. After much thought and questioning of friends, Lamon chose “All That Jazz” because it represented the total concept that she wanted to convey to her customers, as the place where a woman can be completely made over and outfitted for business or pleasure.
Because of the unique nature of her operation, Lamon finds that the retailing section and the professional services section complement each other perfectly. Even though the retailing department is growing faster than the services section, Lamon has no plans to separate the two departments into individual shops---and for a very sound business reason.
“When my services clients are getting a manicure, pedicure, facial or whatever, they are continually chatting with the technicians. If they (the technicians) can make a referral sale from the retail department based upon these conversations, I pay them a five percent commission on what they sell,” she explained, adding, “I have found my girls to be very happy with this system. They have made nice commission checks, along with their normal fees from nails and related service work as a result.”
Lamon has five technicians on her staff right now, along with five people working in the retail department. Lamon recently developed a new fee scale and incentive program for her technicians, based upon length of service and amount of sales generated.
This new program was devised in cooperation with all her employees based upon what they would like to receive and what is practical for the store.
To facilitate sales-oriented conversations between her employees and clients, Lamon has done something unusual in the layout of the nails department work stations. Instead of having five individual work stations for her technicians, she created a long, L-shaped bar.
This way, says Lamon, everyone can interact and socialize with one another. Also, the set-up allows for closer cooperation and a team effort from all the technicians. 3upervision and training of the staff is also much easier with this all-in-one set-up, adds Lamon.
A firm believer in continuous education for herself and her employees, Lamon frequently attends many seminars, workshops and training sessions on new nail techniques and better business practices.
Lamon says she would like to see the nails industry develop its own trade show and concurrent educational program for nail technicians only. “I think our industry should have our own trade show. Now we are just a part of the larger beauty or cosmetology shows and this should not be so.”
As an advocate of the nails industry, Lamon is also conscious of the need to promote her own business. A firm proponent of continuous advertising, Lamon runs a semi-generic box and a regularly in the local newspapers, along with frequent ads on a local contemporary-formatted radio station.
As another advertising and promotional device for the whole store, Lamon often organizes or participates in fashion and beauty shows for men and women, both in-store and out, allowing her to show all the services and items available.
A majority of Lamon’s customers are professional working women. Because of this, Lamon finds she has to stay open during the week until 7 p.m. or later, as well as on Saturdays, to accommodate the needs of her customers.
Unlike the experience of salon operators in some metropolitan areas, Lamon does not have many male customers seeking manicures, even though there are a lot of high-tech, medical and professional businessmen in the area. She is not sure why this is the case, “but we keep working to change it.”
Reflecting over her 14-year career in the nails industry, Lamon figures she has trained more than 200 women to become nail technicians. Most of them have gone on to open their own salons or have taken over one of Lamon’s former salons.
Before the close of the year, Lamon plans to open another store in partnership with her mother in the nearby town of Columbia, Tennessee, based on the same successful concept as the original All That Jazz Boutique & Nailery.