Continuing education is key to the future growth of the industry. So why is it not getting the attention it deserves? Have nail techs and manufacturers become disenchanted with continuing education and relegated it to the back burner?
“You will be justified and more confident to raise your prices, you will learn how to incorporate add-on services without increasing your service time, and you can learn how to sell retail to increase your earning potential,” says Kristi Valenzuela, a “salon success” consultant with Crystal Focus Inc. Salon Coaching. Burnout contributes greatly to the exodus of disillusioned and disenchanted nail techs that leave the industry for other careers every year. Education plays a major role in keeping nail techs motivated and equipped to do their job.
“Burnout is a plague,” says Valenzuela. “It is contagious and it is caused by not being continually stimulated. Continuing education is an important ingredient in longevity and success.”
“Education keeps us fresh and on our toes,” says Blowars. “I don’t know how anyone in this industry could continue working with only the knowledge from school.”
As trends, products, and techniques change, so do sanitation guidelines and laws — both national and local. Continuing education provides the perfect vehicle for spreading the word and promoting compliance.
“Our products are changing every day and there are new health concerns, viruses, and bacteria that we are exposed to,” says Corrine Hunter of Nails by Corrine in Lacombe, Alberta. “Most educators are regional and should stay abreast of the laws that affect their areas,” says Irwin, making them the ideal tools for getting the word out to nail techs.
While many techs rail against product- specific continuing education as simply another way for distributors and manufacturers to sell product, “Classes that are closely related to the products are beneficial because it allows nail techs to learn all the ins and outs of the product,” says Steve Tate, director of marketing for Anaheim, Calif.-based International Nail Manufacturers.
“Each manufacturer’s products are different so it is important the nail technician performs the application as instructed.” Regardless of whether you use the product or not, getting hands-on education with a highly informed educator is much more beneficial than, say, trying a new product alone at home. “Every nail tech is different and she should have an opportunity to have hands-on product testing with a variety of products to see which works best for her,” agrees Irwin.
“All education is beneficial,” says Debbie Doerrlamm, webmaster of beautytech.com and a 12-year veteran of the nail industry. “Countless times I hear people mention that they gleaned a priceless tidbit out of a class for a product line they never even used.”
In addition to increasing a nail technician’s earning potential, classes create the opportunity for nail techs to share experiences with other nail professionals, says Cuccio. In this highly competitive industry, networking may not always be possible in everyday professional life. But, in the neutral environment of a classroom, nail techs are uniquely free to share information and develop professional relationships with each other that benefit their careers and make them feel more connected to the industry.
Finally, with the current rash of negative media coverage on the industry, health-conscious clients are more likely to question your skills and sanitation practices. Being able to speak confidently about your sanitation practices and refer to your ongoing education gives clients peace of mind and justifies your higher prices. “Clients love to hear you are going to continuing education classes,” says Valenzuela. “They want to know they are going to a qualified technician who not only cares about perfecting her skills, but also cares about doing the best nails in town.”
The Trickle-up Theory
Nail techs are not the only ones who stand to gain from continuing education. Their interest and participation in education greatly affects the entire industry and determines to a large degree the state of the industry.