The pedicure started as an afterthought in the nail industry but has grown into a popular, high-profile service. Adding a professional foot massage can increase profits and solidify your client base.
The pedicure started as an afterthought in the nail industry but has grown into a popular, high-profile service.
In the beginning, the few salons that did offer pedicures extended the appointment to between an hour to an hour-and-a-half and treated it more like a massage appointment than a nail service: clients went into a special room, lights were dimmed, soft music played.
You get the picture.
Now, the service is in such high demand that pedicure rooms have multiple chairs lined next to each other, sometimes with a curtain as the only source of privacy.
Today’s pedicures can be accomplished in half an hour or 45 minutes, with the efficient mini-pedi being little more than a buff and polish change. This has pleased both busy customers and bottom-line-oriented owners.
However, as the pendulum swung to the other end, a group of wistful customers emerged who missed the bygone days of the indulgent pedicure and grudgingly resigned themselves to the utilitarian service offered by many salons.
Enter the “a la carte” foot massage.
To satisfy customers with varying degrees of disposable income and time, salon owners, ever clever, have realized the a la carte massage combines the best of both worlds. A lengthy massage is available, but not standard. This allows clients to breeze in for a fix-me-up, or settle in for a slow-me-down.
Let’s introduce some ground rules for including the massage as an a la carte menu item. First, pedicurists should learn the elements of a thorough foot massage and practice them before offering the service. Since clients will be paying extra for the massage — to the tune of $1 a minute — it needs to be performed with confidence and purpose.
We’ve included a step-by-step guide to the foot massage called "Taking the Foot Massage One Step at a Time" available here. We suggest you practice, practice, practice until you are comfortable with the pressure you use during the massage and with completing the entire foot massage in the allotted time, usually 10-15 minutes.
Second, create an atmosphere around the massage.
Arlene Cheselka, who owns The Back Porch in Endwell, N.Y., talks pleasantly with her clients at the beginning of the pedicure, but when it’s time for the massage portion, she gently rests her hands on the client’s feet and says, “OK, now we are going to begin our massage. Please lay back, close your eyes, and rest.
There won’t be any talking.” This delights the client, who now feels completely pampered. In addition to differentiating the massage portion of the pedicure, this pause also gives an air of anticipation to the service. The client lays back, closes her eyes, and while her body is relaxing, she smells the aromatic lotion that Cheselka uses during the massage. She begins to hear the soft background music that previously was drowned out by their voices.
When you introduce a massage in this way, a client’s senses are engaged and she realizes the extra money was worth it; she is worth it.
Salon owners may find that clients want the massage for different reasons. Some like the luxury, while others like the therapy. For example, if you have a client who is a runner, the foot massage after race day will serve an entirely different purpose for her than for the client who is splurging before her beach vacation. To accommodate both of these clients, pedicurists can change the amount of pressure during the massage or research different massage techniques to learn different pressure points that help relieve tension or increase relaxation.
If you think the a la carte massage would be a welcome addition to your salon menu, begin by establishing what you will charge for the service and how you will let clients know of its availability. An average rate for the massage is $10 for 10 minutes. The jump in price isn’t so steep that the final price tag looks intimidating, and a 10-minute massage on the feet provides clients with plenty of time to relax. Let clients know of the service by having techs practice on each other and getting excited about it. No marketing campaign yet developed works better than word of mouth.
Next, spend time educating yourself, or the techs who will be offering the massage, about the steps of this service, and finally, brief the receptionist on how to up-sell the massage and how to designate time for it when booking the appointment.
To make the massage personalized, salon owners can purchase a variety of scents, perhaps four, and then choose the scent depending on the client. Listen to the client when she makes the appointment or while she sits in the chair. Is she saying she aches or that she is stressed? Choose a scent that is relaxing, such as lavender, or a scent that helps with stress, such as eucalyptus.
Then let the client know you chose that scent for her and why. She will appreciate that you have given her personal attention by selecting products that enhance her experience.
When making your decision about which lotions to use during the massage, keep in mind you will need to apply polish when the massage is over.
Choose creams that you will be able to easily remove from the nail plate. You don’t want to compromise the polish by applying it to a base that will prevent it from adhering and that extends drying time.
The massage in a pedicure is like choosing whole milk for a latté instead of non-fat. Make every moment of your client’s splurge delicious. Make her sigh with satisfaction during the appointment, dream about the indulgence when it’s over, and anticipate her future appointment as she books another pedi-massage on her way out.
Read "Taking the Foot Massage One Step at a Time" for a complete How-To on performing a professional foot massage.