Salon owners from some of the coldest parts of the U.S. and Canada offer their advice on how to coax those feet back out to enjoy satisfying winter pedicures.
Your clients have bundled their feet into layers of wool socks and clunky winter boots, seemingly putting your salon’s pedicure services into hibernation for the winter. Never fear — salon owners from some of the coldest parts of the U.S. and Canada offer their advice on how to coax those feet back out to enjoy satisfying winter pedicures.
1. No Polish Necessary. If fear of smudged polish is keeping your clients away, let them know there’s an esthetically-pleasing alternative (and one that doesn’t involve going barefoot in the snow). “During the winter, some clients choose not to get polish since they’re wearing shoes and socks, so instead I put lots of cuticle oil on their toenails and buff them with an extremely fine buffer to make them shine,” says Cindy Wentzel, owner of Nails at the Carriage House in Newmanstown, Pa. If a client definitely wants polish, try applying cuticle oil to the finished nails before having the client put her socks back on to prevent the polish from smudging, Wentzel suggests.
2. Seasonal Services. Familiar wintertime smells can evoke feelings of comfort in your clients, so why not incorporate them into your pedicure services? “We enjoy celebrating the holidays with our season-specific pedicures such as a Pumpkin Spice Pedicure and a Peppermint Swirl Pedicure,” says Bill Byron, owner of Salon Eclips in Arcata, Calif. Other popular holiday scents that lend themselves to pedicures include cinnamon, cocoa, and hazelnut. You can even take a do-it-yourself approach, like Wentzel does, by blending together different lotions to create a unique scent for your salon. “I mix scents like coffee and coconut or coffee and oatmeal cookie. It smells like someone is baking cookies right in the shop,” Wentzel says. Also, don’t forget about hot stone foot and leg massages, which are great add-ons to winter pedicures.
3. Within Their Comfort Zone. Make your salon a cozy wintertime getaway. Michelle Sproat, owner of Inspirations in Ontario, Canada, says, “I have a ‘fire’ that I run on my DVD player to warm up the salon atmosphere. I also hand clients a fuzzy, old-fashioned plaid blanket to curl up with, and use music to help set the mood — Celtic music is a great choice!”
4. Go Toeless. Toeless socks, either as retail items or included in the price of the pedicure service, are a great incentive for clients to trade in their thick wool socks for pedicure-friendly ones. “I put the toeless socks on the client before I polish, then I give them to the client as a little token of appreciation,” says Urania Campos, owner of Urania’s Hand & Foot Essentials in San Francisco.
5.’Tis The Season. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of reasons for clients to show off their pedicured toes (like the ones on this month’s cover!). “Lots of holiday parties and galas demand open-toed shoes. You just need to ask clients what they have coming and get them pre-booked for special events,” says Inez Gray, owner of Habitude salons in Seattle.
6. Train and Try Out. “The best advice is to train your front desk and have every nail professional try all the pedicure options so they can better assist the guest,” says Maisie Dunbar, owner of M&M Nails and Wellness in Silver Spring, Md. Dunbar’s salon offers several upgraded pedicures during the winter, including a Sabai Pedicure that uses a Thai-inspired Sabai herbal ball during the massage and a Stone-Age Pedicure that incorporates hot stones. “When a guest calls to book a reservation for a regular pedicure, the front desk is trained to offer them an upgrade by explaining the difference,” Dunbar says.
7.The Power of Standing Appointments. At Habitude at The Locks in Seattle, Gray started a “Nail Passport” program through which clients earn rewards when they book a series of appointments in advance. For example, booking a series of four ultimate pedicures earns a client a free bottle of body cleanser; at the fifth visit, a basic pedicure is complimentary. “If they take advantage of every service on the passport, the value equals well over $300,” Gray says — quite an incentive to come in no matter the temperature.
8. Concentrate on Calluses. Stress the need to keep up with callus work to keep feet comfortable in boots and to prevent heels from cracking. “We offer a post-summer Intense Callus Repair service that repairs the roughness that most women experience from summer outdoor sports, flip flop usage, and just grinding their tootsies all summer long in the sand,” says Jillian Glikbarg, CEO of Lush Life Nail Bar in San Francisco. “It includes a gentle lactic acid serum on the calluses and other rough spots that melts away extra layers of dead skin.” The service is seasonally discounted to further encourage clients to keep up with their pedicures.
9. An Easy Sell. If you market your pedicures as catering to poor, aching feet that are stifled in tight boots, you’ll find clients flocking to your salon for some wintertime TLC. Take a marketing message or two from Donna Perillo of Sweet Lily Natural Nail Spa & Boutique in New York City. “Your feet hurt and they’re tired of being in boots. It feels good to have them groomed again,” she says. “Plus, your feet get really cold, so it feels wonderful to have them placed in a hot water or milk soak.” Once the client is in your pedicure chair, Perillo recommends focusing on the massage to restore sore winter feet.
10.Oil for All. You know that cuticle oil is crucial during the dry winter months to keep nails supple. Share that knowledge with your clients, and consider sharing a bottle of the oil with them too. “For extra moisturizing, we leave a bottle of cuticle oil at the drying station and at the front desk for everyone to use after their treatment,” says Rachel Wong, co-owner of ZaZa Nail Spa in San Francisco.
11. Popular Promotions. ZaZa Nail Spa offers special promotions geared toward the winter months. In the past, these have included a free paraffin dip with a signature Pedicure and a free bottle of cuticle oil with any service purchase over $75. At Salon Eclips in Arcata, seasonal promotions include two-for-one pedicures during downtime and buy-three, get-one-free pedicures when purchased as a series. A great way to talk up your latest winter promotion is through an e-newsletter that goes to your client’s inboxes every month.
12. The Way to Your Clients’ Hearts (Is Through Their Stomachs). This year, Wentzel plans on serving oatmeal cookies and hot cider (stored in a crockpot to keep it warm and to spread the scent throughout the salon) to accompany her nail services. Julie Gee, owner of Heart’s Content Nail Spa in Belgrade, Maine, serves themed wintertime drinks as well. “With our Peppermint Cocoa pedicures, we serve steaming cups of cocoa and whipped cream. It’s warm and relaxing and clients thoroughly enjoy it,” she says.
13. Belle of a Ball. Get in on the holiday party action by throwing a party yourself — at your salon. “I like to do a holiday party as a thank you to the salon’s regular clients,” Campos says. “We set out appetizers and wine and play music. We don’t actually do services at the event. It’s just a great time to talk to clients, let them talk to each other, and find out what their needs are.”
14. If You Can’t Beat ’Em… At New York City’s Sweet Lily Natural Nail Spa, much of the salon’s core clientele is only in town seasonally (in the summer, the salon’s wealthy clientele is off to the Hamptons). If your salon faces a similar situation, consider catering to a different clientele depending on the season. If the college students have gone home for winter break, target the college professors, who live in the city or return early for semester pre-planning.
15. Revolving Retail. When giving your salon a festive winter makeover, don’t forget to include practical retail area changes as well. “We completely change both the look and the products in our retail area to prepare for winter,” says Cathy Brown-Issel, owner of Brown & Deline Salons in Detroit. “We switch from the bright, fruity Qtica SmartSpa line to their Black line, which is more moisturizing for winter skin. The black and gold packaging is rich looking. We also stock up on cuticle oil, pedicure socks, and hand and foot treatments with gloves and socks for home care.” By making your salon the go-to place for winter homecare items, you’ll be encouraging clients to book services with you as well.
16. Turn up the Heat. Enticing clients into winter pedicures can be as simple as warming through the various products used in the service. ZaZa Nail Spa warms up its scrubs and massage lotions, and Salon Eclips heats up all towels used in its pedicures.
17. This, Too, Shall Pass. If none of your winter-inspired tactics are working, take an alternative approach — remind clients that summer is just around the corner. “With the cold weather we get around here, I always stress how important it is to keep your feet in shape all winter and then they’ll be ready for sandal season,” Wentzel says. A headstart to summer sandal season is a thought that should get even the most stubborn clients out to enjoy a winter pedicure.
How does your salon get your clients in for winter pedicures? Or, do you make up for the lost business? Log on to NAILS online forums to share your experience.