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?
Salon owners benefit indirectly from properly educated techs. “Salon owners want to feel good about the techs that are working on their clients,” says Irwin. “They want to know that their clients are receiving the best possible service so that they’ll keep coming back.”
Continuing education also helps salon owners do their own jobs better. Just as cosmetology schools don’t teach nail techs everything they need to know to be successful, they don’t teach salon owners how to run a business.
“Most schools only focus on what you need to know to pass your state board exam,” says Alethea Eatman, a Cleveland, Ohio-based educational consultant and founder of Nail Techniques University. “If more schools offered business classes, nail techs would know more about what it really takes to own a salon.” Continuing education courses designed to help owners run their business more efficiently and develop their marketing and leadership skills provide invaluable information that is not available anywhere else.
“For salon owners it is important to know how labor laws and sanitation laws affect their businesses,” says Meola.
“It’s a good idea for salon owners to be up to date on what works best for hiring, training, and maintaining the best staff possible for their salon.” Distributors and manufacturers benefit from product-specific continuing education in that, if it is successful, classes create excitement about products, familiarize techs with them, and hopefully garner increased sales. The more products techs are exposed to and trained in the use of, the more likely they are to purchase the product.
So What’s Our Problem?
If continuing education is so great, why isn’t everyone clamoring to fill classes? The nail techs, educators, manufacturers, distributors, and schools we spoke to all pointed out a variety of reasons for low interest in continuing education, many blaming each other.
“I’ve had feedback from distributors, manufacturers, techs and educators alike, all with a variant of blame on the other for a pure lack of inspiration for furthering education,” says Doerrlamm. “Techs complain there are not enough classes, educators complain there is not enough attendance, techs complain that their distributor has no education or does not properly promote education for nails. It is a vicious blame cycle.”
“Nail techs are disenchanted with education,” says Irwin. “They have been getting the same education offered to them over and over again. Most classes are product knowledge classes where manufacturers are trying to get techs excited about buying a product. The problem is a lack of variety and quality education — we need to give them something to be excited about.”
“Seasoned nail technicians don’t find much excitement in attending a class that is not going to offer new information to help them grow their businesses, or help them acquire new clients or maintain existing ones,” adds Brown. Many techs feel that manufacturers view them not as professionals, but as potential cash cows.
“Many manufacturers have hired anyone to teach without properly training the educator. The educators are then let loose and the main goal of the manufacturer is to turn them into a salesperson,” says Diana Bonn, an independent educator for the state of Indiana.