Educating the first-time customer is the most important aspect of Zikiyyah Miser’s work as a nail technician.
An active manicurist and cosmetologist since 1982, Miser believes it is extremely important to take as much time as necessary to make certain every customer understands good nail care and how to keep nails healthy.
Working in the full service Hair Masters Improvement Club in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she tries to serve as consultant, explaining for example, style, length and nail fashion to her clients, while fully aware that the preference in her area is for more conservative lengths and colors.
Many of her women customers are experiencing professional nail care for the first time, so prefer to start with sensible manicures “and then we work them slowly up into something more elaborate as time goes on.”
This educational process is especially important for the professional women and those working in an office environment. “They find their nail length just to the fingertip works best for them. Combine that length with a soft spring color in polish and they are happy,” she reported. With exposure, she added with a smile, “some are often willing to try some artwork on a pinky or index finger, or maybe a gold finger with diamond design that they can take off, put back on at will.
In dealing with a teenage clientele, Miser is especially patient. “They want the jazziest colors available on the market and, if they can afford it, will go for all kinds of unusual art work,” she said. She also indicated that a look popular with her teen clientele is one hand with each nail in a different color, augmented by snake or alligator skin trim.
Miser tries to rein in some of this enthusiasm with her teen customers, knowing “they are just wasting their money most of the time if they want something too outlandish for everyday use.”
Although the Virginia Beach area is quite large, growing steadily and bolstered by a large contingent of international military personnel, Miser finds few men committed to regular nail care: Most of her men clients are a result of their wives’ interest.
“When they come in to wait for their wives, many times I’ll suggest they get a manicure. If it’s done in a low-key fashion, so they don’t feel embarrassed, usually they’ll agree and really end up being very pleased with what we’ve done to their hands,” she explained.
Miser, with salon manager-hairdresser Dorothy B. Owens and salon owner-hairdresser Jeanette Old, also believes in carefully planned, ongoing price promotions to familiarize clients with different services.
Since HairMasters is a full service nail, hair, skin care facility with boutique, they can combine a variety of services into special promotions. One example, a facial, manicure and pedicure special combined for $35, normally individually priced at $55.
Specials and lower prices for specific services at certain times of the year “work extremely well for us in bringing in first-timers, as well as getting regular customers to come in more often than they might otherwise have done. When we combine a pedicure into one of these special promos, you wouldn’t believe how many women we get who admit it was the first time they ever had a pedicure.”
Miser makes a point to educate her clients about the additional services she offers. With pedicures, for example, it’s often a case of “get them to try it once, to understand what it’s all about and how their feet will look, and we usually can depend on getting them to have regular pedicures after that.”
Some of the best results from introducing pedicures to her women clientele is when she promotes “two-for-one” by offering a manicure and pedicure for the price of one. “We find that spreading these promos among all the services we offer brings us a wide variety of women responding to different services,” commented Miser.
HairMasters, located 15 minutes from the beach and in a commercial area with an abundance of neighboring offices and business, caters to a broad selection of customers, so salon hours are important. As a result, the shop is open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with their business hours “after the offices close at 5 p.m.” and on Friday and Saturday.
“Customers realize they can’t get their nails done in a half-hour lunch period, so prefer coming after work,” Miser explained, adding that “morning hours are often filled with housewives who come after the kids go to school.”
The shop’s busiest service periods occur from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day to Easter, Mother’s Day and in the middle of summer, “when we get lots of pedicures, because so many go without shoes especially near the beaches.”
Virginia Beach is very much a resort town, with many tourists returning year after year. Miser chuckled over one such visitor from Hawaii who could not believe how inexpensive Miser’s aculptured nails were. “She told me she regularly paid $100 in Hawaii and wasn’t as pleased with it as what I did for her. Imagine that price!”
HairMasters is sprawled over 3,000 feet situated on two floors with the first floor featuring the lobby and waiting area, a polish and jewelry retail area. In the main working area of the salon seven work stations for hair cafe precede a section for hair weaving, nail care and pedicures. A separate room is used for makeup and skin care.
The upstairs section is currently being converted into a teens, women and large women’s boutique, soon to feature a full line of apparel, as well as a weight loss program area.
“We feel we will attract new customers as well as meet the needs of many of our existing ones with this upstairs expansion,” said Miser.
Adept at retailing to her clients, she uses private label polish and nail supplies, believing that this allows her to have better control over what she uses.
“It also makes it easier for me to sell to my customers because I can guarantee they will be satisfied.”
Just as she feels educating customers is important in all aspects of nail care, Miser also spends considerable time teaching the use of the polish and supplies she sells.
“That’s the only way I can be certain they will be happy with what they have bought,” she concluded. And, no doubt, the best way to ensure they will appreciate them as well.