Finding good nail technicians is difficult for all salon owners and a particular problem cited by chain salons, whose growth depends on having a large pool of qualified candidates to choose from.
Finding good nail technicians is difficult for all salon owners and a particular problem cited by chain salons, whose growth depends on having a large pool of qualified candidates to choose from. Further compounding their problem of finding good people is that the nail industry has a significant number of booth renters, and most chain salons insist on salaried or commissioned employees.
“This industry isn’t really educated on the value of benefits,” says Michael Coe. “I’ve seen people give up 13% [of their salary] in benefits for 5% more in commission. These kinds of uninformed decisions are destroying the industry.”
In a recent survey by the ICSA, it was shown that most chains offer comprehensive benefits packages. But convincing nail technicians the benefits are worth a lower commission is difficult. “[Because chains pay a lower commission or base salary], artists say they’re being cheated. But what’s really happening is that owners of commission salons just choose to pay out all the money in commission. A full benefits package is worth 12%—14% in commission. If someone pays 60% commission versus 45% plus benefits, the employee is getting the same value,” explains Coe.
Kathi Grider says the industry is at fault. “There are a lot of people out there who say stylists don’t understand commission, but that’s because no one ever taught them. If a nail technician doesn’t know what her paycheck will be worth, how do you motivate her?”
More and more technicians are beginning to realize the value in benefits packages. Those who do are well-rewarded by most chains. Here’s what just a few of them offer full-time nail technicians:
Ulta3: Complete medical and dental coverage after $500 in services per week; one week paid vacation after one year’s employment, two weeks after two years, and three weeks after five years; two paid holidays and one personal day the first year; three additional personal days the second year; free education.
Rocco Altobelli Salons: Salon pays for half of medical insurance for first three years (progresses up to 90%); dental insurance available; $10,000 life insurance; “cafeteria-style” plan benefits; paid vacation; free training and education; products and merchandise at salon cost; motivational events.
Gadabout Salons: Health and dental insurance available; 401(k) plan; pays 50% of continuing education; vacation pay; deferred compensation plans for long-term employees.
Premier Salons International: Health benefits; paid vacation and holidays; retirement programs; retail commissions; department store discounts.
Mario Tricoci Salons: Partially paid medical and dental insurance; one week’s vacation each year; discounts on products and services.
Volpe Nails Salons: Group insurance and credit union available.