Ever thought your salon would be the first stop of a bachelorette party, or that your services would be a hot commodity for an office party? Group appointments that have traditionally been reserved for bridal parties have exploded into a must-have indulgence for a myriad of celebrations.
It’s a natural evolution, really. If you’re honest with yourself, you saw it coming. First individual clients began coming in for pedicures, and then they scheduled appointments back to back with a friend. That expanded into simultaneous appointments with a friend (or two!) and, of course, they needed food and drinks. Now, the pedicure party has evolved into the party to host, and salon owners who are embracing the demand are seeing their appointment books filled months in advance. We’ve consulted with salon owners who already accommodate “little piggy parties” to see what it takes to create these successful events.
The Guest List
The pedicure party isn’t just for the ladies anymore. Pamela Manka, owner of Akasha Spa and Salon in Salt Lake City, says that while bridal or bachelorette parties are more common, her salon has also seen bachelor parties get in on the trend. Men like to be pampered, too, so don’t neglect this market.
Other possible markets for a successful party are only limited by the imagination. Mom’s day out, corporate parties, little girls’ birthday parties, and even book club meetings are all justifications for planning a special day at the salon. When you think about marketing these parties, think of guests who will want to get together to celebrate, but who also like personal attention. Bridal showers and baby showers come quickly to mind: instead of the guests observing the bride- or mom-to-be, they all participate in the festivities.
Manka says she advertises the availability of pedicure parties on her website and in bridal magazines, but Kelly Hensley, owner of Mani Pedi Nail Spa in San Francisco, says her party business grows mostly from word of mouth. A service that has taken off away from the watchful eyes of other clients is the after-hours party. Hensley says the salon is available for five to 30 guests to have the whole salon to themselves. “Technicians are happy to stay late,” says Hensley, because guests pay the salon by the hour instead of the service, and this allows techs to earn premium pay. There is a $500 minimum for any party, which guarantees two hours of private spa time, along with services of your choice. The salon is available for longer than two hours for an additional cost. Guests at ManiPedi can bring their own food, and the salon provides extras from non-alcoholic drinks to flowers.
Melissa Zebrowski, manager of Lush Life Nail Bar in San Francisco, says pedi parties are so popular that some are booked seven months in advance. After-hours parties at Lush Life also require a two-hour minimum, which gives guests the freedom to linger over presents, food, and friends since they don’t need to compete with other salon activities. Zebrowski says it’s not a problem to staff these events; the techs do it voluntarily. To compensate for the extra hours, they are given overtime pay, and the spa bill on parties includes a 20% gratuity. While most of the party guests desire alcohol in some form, very few salons supply it.Guests, however, are allowed to bring their own drinks. Some salons supply ice buckets and even blenders, but for liability reasons, the bubbly must come from the guests.
There is more flexibility with the question of food. At Lush Life, guests bring in their own food, but some salons are willing to make the arrangements to bring treats in. Manka takes requests from the hostess: hors d’oeuvres, sandwiches, desserts, etc. Then she arranges a buffet with fruit and other healthy choices. She charges her guests $25 per person, and this includes bottled drinks, specialty coffees and teas, and juices.Mani Pedi will provide food for the party as a service, and add the food bill onto the total spa bill.
The idea of the pedicure party is to allow guests to be seated at the same time and receive their services simultaneously instead of consecutively, so imagine what happens if two or three of the guests are 15 minutes late for the appointment. There needs to be an understanding between the salon and the hostess before the day of the party so it can run as smoothly and professionally as any of your other salon services. The hostess books the day, time, and her guests’ services, and she supplies a credit card. The salon owner supplies the list of services available — from spa services to food arrangement. Further, she communicates the importance of prompt arrival for all party guests and the service charge that will be applied to the hostess’ card for no-shows.
The hostess needs to be aware that since you cannot accommodate a party guest who is 15 minutes late, late guests are viewed as a no-show and charged full price. Salon owners need to be conscious of the length of time for the service and the number of guests for each party, and let the hostess know how much “floor time” she has. If an average manicure and pedicure service is a 75-minute appointment, the hostess needs to know. Otherwise, she may unknowingly assume she and her buds are allowed to linger over presents and appetizers before or after the appointment.
Party guests should enjoy their services without disrupting the tmosphere in the rest of the salon. This won’t be a problem if you have a separate party room, but if your pedicure chairs and manicure desks are in the main area of the salon, guests could disturb other clients. As the salon owner, you need to have written guidelines and make sure all boundaries are considered. If, after all the pre-party prep, you still have guests who delay your next appointment, politely tell them you need to prepare your station for the next client and make visible signs that their appointment has come to an end.
The Fine Print
Once you’ve decided your salon can accommodate pedicure parties (which usually turn into manicure/pedicure parties), it’s time to talk pricing and booking. To discount or not to discount — that’s a good question. Akasha Spa will discount services on parties of six or more. Lush Life doesn’t discount their services, but they do give party guests 10% off retail on parties of five or more, along with a free service for the hostess. Some salons discount nothing, and add a 10% service charge onto the bill for the party setup and cleanup.
Whether daytime pedi parties or after-hour bookings, the private spa party has brought excitement to the traditional (and tired) alternatives. Pedi parties offer guests more than just a meeting place, they provide personal pampering to each guest and an atmosphere not available in other venues. One thing’s for sure — these piggies will be singing all the way home.