Joico Laboratories Inc.'s newly established nail division Act Five recognizes an industry-wide need for specific business education and has established a detailed and comprehensive program that goes far beyond just production application.
Often the difference between survival and success in this business world is the understanding of specific business world is the understanding of specific business tools, of the techniques of profitability. The nail industry is by no means the exception. It takes a quality service and a reasonable price for initial success, but it requires much more than that to remain so. One must have an understanding of business tools, of how to market salon and services, of how to increase earnings, and of how to manage time: It takes a concerted effort to move an operation from the nail business into the business of nails.
It is precisely this emphasis on business education that a newcomer to the nail industry is pinning its hopes of success to Joico Laboratories Inc., Gardena, California, through its newly established nail division Act Five, recognizes an industry-wide need for specific business education and has established a detailed and comprehensive program that goes far beyond just production application.
With all the dedication of a stern yet understanding schoolmarm, Act Five and the people responsible for it expect nothing less from their efforts than the increased success and profit-ability of the nail technician and salon owner . . . and by doing so, success for Act Five.
Tall order. Yet this well-established, 10-year-old hair care company is going about it the right way. Their marketing emphasis: To separate themselves from the crowd of sculptured nail product suppliers by a well-orchestrated program of product, packaging, distribution and personnel. And education, with a capital E.
"We have always been a pioneer in the beauty industry," explained Steve Stefano, president and founder of Joico Labs, "and once again are the forerunners with our Act Five nail division.
"Joico's whole thrust in the beauty industry is a genuine concern for the consumer and the professional and I feel that the expansion into the nail line will further that concern throughout the whole industry."
Joico's products, added Steve, have always been of the highest quality possible, "and this same standard of excellence has been carried on in the new nail division.
"In addition," he added, "Act Five has extraordinarily talented professionals to direct its development and management. These key individuals came to Joico with a firm commitment to improving the quality of nail care products and services, and in search of a greater professional satisfaction regarding overall nail industry growth, This they then blended into a complete nail product line and created Act Five, a major contribution to the growth and advancement of the beauty industry."
Carmen Prill and Paula Jacobi are two of the key individuals central to the development of Act Five, and responsible for its continuing success. Carmen draws upon a unique combination of strengths ... an uncommon knowledge and expertise in nail artistry and nail care, demonstrated capabilities in team-building and product line management, and a keen understanding of the future directions and trends of the nail industry. She brings this expertise to her position as division manager of Act Five.
Paula's primary management role, as national educational coordinator, is to bring a nationwide perspective to the development of the Act Five program and to attend to the development and management of technical and educational aspects.
"The nail artist of today and her needs have changed dramatically from those of yesterday," explained Carmen, leaning forward to emphasize her point. "It was obvious from our own personal experience and the research conducted here at Joico that the nail artist has not been given the attention she deserves.
"Paula and I made our living at that table. We know and understand the problems the technicians and salon owners face. We also know that a nail artist who has been working in the nail industry building a business and clientele will soon look around and ask specific questions relating to her business. Questions such as 'How do I increase my prices? What is my customer base? Where am I going? What did I do? What can I do differently for my customer tomorrow that I didn't do today?'
"No other nail manufacturer is jumping in on these questions with answers specifically tailored to each market and to each technician or salon owner. We are, and that is one of the things that makes us unique . . . an educational program that offers tips, formulas and suggestions to increase their success and profitability."
Product application techniques are also included within Act Five's program, but it takes a back seat to that of business because, as Carmen explains it, "Our product is very easy to use. Just about any technique will give you a fabulous nail. We offer a superior product to work with, a faster product to work with, and a better product to work with, but that is not really our main concern.
"Our main concern is with the nail industry ... it hasn't even peaked yet. It is still a young product and a young industry. But in order to continue growing, we must concentrate on the business of nails."
According to Carmen and Paula, the Act Five combination of product quality, packaging excellence, dealer support and coordinated education has had an early positive impact on the network of distributors currently handling the Joico hair care line. What this means for the nail technician is greater availability of Act Five as a professional line, as well as educational support for a reasonable price.
"This program," explained Paula "Is called Essentials Pius. Now this is not just a three or four hour class. We have a different story, a different message for her . . . and so do the educational people because we are not teaching her how to do nails. We are not there to teach her how to construct a nail. We are there to give her information on a better product that she can utilize with whatever technique that she is doing now. But we are not there to say what she is doing is wrong. We are there to offer her a product that is proven to work with whatever technique she is comfortable using."
As part of the program, three hours are set aside for product information and technique. But then the real fun, as Paula describes it…begins.
"What they bring out," she explained, "is a calculator and their appointment book. They are then given a booklet full of business management questions. By using their own appointment book, they collect the information necessary to reach a conclusion on where they are, what they are doing and importantly, what their goals are for tomorrow."
To answer these and other questions, each attendee reviews her book and indicates how many customers they have seen in any given period, and the number of services and the prices charged for those services.
"At this point, we take a look at it and say, 'Okay, if you are booked all day Saturday with fills and your fills are only $20, and Tuesday you are booked from 2 to 11 and you are flooded with people, and Wednesday you are not flooded at all, let's take a look at that and see what we can do,'
"We then ask questions such as 'Do you think that by retailing in your salon, or by increasing that fill price from $20 to $22.95 for Tuesday night only, with the offer of a free Sudden Shine three-way buffer, that anything would happen on Saturday?'
"They soon realize that this effort leaves open spots for a new customer for a new set, which means more money in their pocket. These are the types of things we concentrate on in our educational classes."
Although retailing in the salon or at the station is emphasized during the program, and Act Five has developed specific business tools to help, other important aspects of business are also dealt with,
"We start them looking at quarters ... all businesses work on quarters, and her business needs to as well," added Carmen. "We give them blank calendars to fill out for their specials and tell her how best to market these ideas to her clientele. We also cover net income, gross income, expenses. Sometimes the biggest problem is that they don't know where their money is going. .. they are so busy making it that they are not running a business."
Two additional aspects relating to the firm's sophisticated educational program include: first, Act Five opens distributors who can offer the support and service the professional needs, and secondly, they don't open a distributor unless they are supported by an Act Five sales consultant. These sales consultants, according to Paula, are independent business women that work for the Act Five division, but are closely aligned with the distributor,
"Our sales consultants play an important role," explained Carmen. "They are more than a field rep. They are consultants, salespeople that are literally owned by the distributor. She works only for that distributor, and Act Five pays her, we feel that this works best as it gives the salesperson the freedom to work effectively in the marketplace as a creative person."
Each marketplace is different, and this approach allows for such regional differences . . . that in turn enhances the effectiveness of Act Five's educational program.
Act Five is not a tough concept, Paula and Carmen often repeat, just a tough nail. There is no mystery to it. As a salon owner, Act Five helps as they have the unique benefit of the sales consultant that works with that distributor that knows her market best. If that salon owner wants to find a nail technician, she can offer assistance. . . .
"If that salon owner has had no experience with nails before, he can come to a nail program for $49.95 and learn about nails, see it right there. And if the distributor wants him to come at no charge, that is the distributors' decision. And the beauty of this approach is that the salon owner doesn't have to get involved with the chemistry of nails right away.
"For that $49.95 he gets our Essentials retail counter unit that enables him to retail specialty items to his hair customer . . . items that they can purchase for their own home use and for the maintenance of their own nails."
The Act Five Essentials retailing board is central to their marketing efforts. It was designed by the team at Joico for several functions ... to tie in with the firm's emphasis on increasing the profitability of the nail technician and salon and to provide something new, something exciting that would help establish the Act Five line and style of service.
"When we started out, some nine months ago," reminisced Carmen, "we asked each other, what can we offer or do that would be entirely different than the other nail companies? The one thing that would be truly different would be to come out with a retailing board. Yes, others have displays, but what does the technician have sitting beside her? What can she use to help her earn additional profits? It was those thoughts that spurred this on and got the board cooking."
The board itself is different in that the technician or salon owner does not buy the unit. What they do purchase is the supplies it houses.
"We ask the salon not to purchase the board," explained Darlene Maugeri, director of marketing for Joico. "All she is purchasing for a discounted price is the items… the Sudden Shine three-way buffer, the cuticle care stick, the black files and the Tailored Nail color corrector. We place six items of each on the board and sell it for $49.95 ... a total product value of over $53. Now the total retail value of the merchandise is $89.40, so you can see that for a very small investment, the nail technician can profit $39.45."
The unit as a display board is non-obsolete, according to Darlene, because different Act Five products can be interchanged depending on what the firm is interested in promoting.
"This is what we are also teaching in our classes," added Carmen. "She purchases the collection from us and can effectively sell them to her clients because they are not new items... they are items she has used, understands and can talk about without any problem. And these are items that the client can understand very easily as well."
The commitment and dedication of this effort by the staff of Joico and Act Five is obvious. They are proud of their work and appear to approach each project as a challenge to outdo past performance. Such was the case when packaging for Act Five's 30-plus product line was first discussed. According to Carmen, the emphasis was on sophistication, but function as well.
"We are all committed to doing a better job in the nail market than anyone else," she commented, "and that includes all aspects including product presentation. We wanted to keep it simple, a look that would say 'full service,' 'buy me, I'm quality'. . . but remains simply sophisticated."
Act Five's logo design is one specific example of the thinking behind the firm's nail line,
"There is a message in the logo to the nail artist's customer and to the nail artist," she added. "The two swans represent the beauty of the hands ... and even though your customers have had ugly duckling nails in the past, they can have beautiful nails with the action of five . . . and there are five major chemicals: the powders, the liquid, the lavage, the prime action, the release.
"Then we took the heart from Joico and put it dead center. To our customers that means that you can see quality, and you will get quality, and we care to bring you the very best."
Act Five's product offering currently includes the Complete Collection (the educational package), separates, the Essentials display unit, sculpturing material, nail tips, glue, artistic implements, files, dappen dishes, forms, etc. ... all devised and packaged as one complete line.
In conclusion, Carmen and Paula again returned to the discussion of the firm's educational program, and then offered the following statement about their nail line and company in general.
"We are competitively priced, we want to be aggressive salespeople, and better salespeople. The true customer, the nail artist and distributor, is not shopping prices today. They are shopping for tomorrow's needs, and that is what we offer.
"Is the industry ready for this kind of approach . . . more than ready. They have been asking for this, waiting for this. The reaction we most often get to this program is that finally, somebody has put it all together and made it look like a line of merchandise."