Business Management

30 Timeless Tips for Thriving in the Nail Industry

NAILS Magazine has made it to our 30th anniversary — and we want to help you get to your 30th career anniversary too! We present 30 timeless tips, culled from our three decades of experience, to help you build your book, run your nail salon, and, dare we say it, retire.

Build Your Book

1. Always double-check spelling and grammar. Nothing detracts more from a professional mailing piece than a glaring error. June 1986, p. 61

2. Never leave a client to take or make personal phone calls. Never eat at your station. Never put down another salon, technician, or product. March 1996, p. 18

3. Do you remember what your grandparents said to you? Use plenty of soap and water! Well, they were 100% correct. Before discussing the procedures and options for sterilizing and disinfecting, it is important to review the merits of soap. Good old-fashioned soap is a vital ingredient in the process of sterilization and disinfection. Without using soap, you run the risk of altering the effectiveness of these processes, since they cannot do their job properly when there is a build-up of foreign matter or debris on the surface. Pre-cleansing is a dirt-removing process that should be executed before sterilizing or disinfecting implements, equipment, or salon items. January 1988, p. 35

4. You waste time when you are disorganized. Make sure to reduce clutter and unnecessary paperwork. January 2001, p. 94

5. Aside from obvious personal uses of Pinterest — collecting decorating ideas, travel destinations, or maybe even fashion inspiration — salons may find a treasure trove of eager publicity. Type in “nails” on the site and you will find it’s already a trending topic. August 2012, p. 98

Retain Clients for the Long-Haul

6. Compulsive nail biters will keep putting their nails in their mouths causing the accelerated breakdown of product. The only chance you have is to give them the most natural looking and strongest nails possible. This, of course, is where the importance of application comes in. February 1983 (debut issue), p. 20

7. While well-groomed nails add the final flourish to a woman’s look, the manicure is most effective when the nail color complements the natural skin tones and the color treatment of the face. September 1990, p. 52

8. On each customer’s index card, note the following: name, address, phone, nail enhancement history, occupation, medications, if she’s diabetic, special interests or personal facts. July 1994, p. 16

9. Tips and sculpted nails are far less likely to lift if your client takes good care of them between appointments. Encourage clients to use moisturizing and conditioning lotion and oil daily to nourish their skin and nails. November 1989, p. 87

10. If you expect a client to remain loyal to you and your salon, you of course must be loyal to her. What this means is you must be reliable. March 1993, p. 56

11. You can never, never, never put a price on good customer care. Be the tech that clients describe as the person who “understands” her. If a client feels important at your salon, she’s less likely to want to reduce the experience of her service to a price tag. February 2010, p. 94

12. Place a manufacturer’s point-of-purchase display between the front door and the front counter. Look for ones that spin, because they invite the client to touch. August 1997, p. 26

13. Training a customer is accomplished by establishing rules. When the rule is broken, you — the trainer — need to give what is called a correction. When the rule is broken again, a tougher correction is given, such as rescheduling. February 2002, p. 88

14. If you accidentally cut a client’s finger or toe, wash the area with soap and water or hydrogen peroxide. Dress with a topical antibiotic and a bandage. Instruct the client to do the same for the next three days. August 2008, p. 120


Improve Your Service Menu

15. A little toe waxing can go a long way in terms of added revenue. The service doesn’t take much time, and clients will appreciate the option of having extra smooth toes. May 2009, p. 125

16. Nail art may be nothing new on the East Coast or in California, but all points in between are discovering that nail art is profitable and fun. Nail technicians can do art as an additional service, and some have given up any other service but nail art. If you’re holding out against doing nail art because it looks too difficult, think again. Training is available from many manufacturers, but there is a vast amount of product available that you can teach yourself to apply. May 1991, p. 38

17. Beyond the opportunity for additional income, the massage aspect of the nail service presents the ideal opportunity to transform a client’s nail appointment from yet another obligation to a must-have opportunity for relaxation. February 1999, p. 84

18. Every piece of luxury you can offer clients puts you closer to the top. A luxurious trend in treatments is paraffin dips — for the hands or the feet. July 2006, p. 61

19. People are withdrawn and reclusive in the winter. It gets dark early and they keep to themselves and head home early. Make your salon warm, scented, inviting — an escape. November 2006, p. 82

Manage Your Own Salon

20. Know how to destroy the finest manicure instantly? Use the wrong lighting fixtures and bulbs in your salon and you have turned off a customer faster than a slap in the face. That is the blunt warning of some of America’s leading lighting experts when NAILS Magazine surveyed them about proper lighting in today’s salons. Be especially cautious in selecting novelty bulb shapes and fixtures too. “They may look divine for the first day but within a few days love has turned to hate,” most said. April 1987, p. 88

21. Most everyone responds to praise for a job well done. Lay it on thick and watch for whose face glows most. Give this person praise at every opportunity. April 1992, p. 90

22. Invite the local patrol car officers into your salon. Get to know these officers and get their input about any problems in the area and their suggestions for crime prevention. They deal with it on a daily basis and are experts on what is happening in your neighborhood. December 1985, p. 82


23. Decorating and capturing the holiday spirit is very important, many salon owners agree. Their suggestions: Begin decorating by December 1 and tie in with a theme. Windows should not be overlooked as they can be effective for building that holiday spirit as well. The second key element for success during the holiday period is in personnel…you must be prepared to bring in extra technicians and extend hours to take full advantage of this season. The third and equally important aspect of the holiday season is patience. Longer hours, the hectic pace of work, and the scheduling nightmares of late clients and cancellations can try even the best holiday spirit. October 1984, p. 30

24. Purchase what you can, i.e. nail polish remover, in bulk amounts. Don’t replenish supplies with the nail products in your retail area. By buying in bulk, owners can save as much as 50%. December 1995, p. 50

25. Developing a training manual will provide your staff with a solid foundation, enhancing the level of services your salon has to offer. As a salon owner, you will create a strong team atmosphere when everyone on your staff is equipped with the same fundamentals. A manual — with step-by-step procedures on the services your salon offers — will produce consistency in each staff member’s service. This “service branding” allows your clients to know exactly what to expect when they enter your door. May 2004, p. 115

26. Always try to have at least two employees working at the same time. Having an employee working by herself makes it more appealing for a would-be robber or thief to do his dirty work. June 2005, p. 98

27. Instead of just dropping off a stack of salon business cards at the store next door in hopes they might be kept on display, try organizing an official cross-promotion strategy with neighboring businesses. October 2007, p. 85

Live Happily Ever After

28. If you start saving small amounts now, you will be used to saving and a little more familiar with your options — and the process won’t be so intimidating. You will also be able to gradually increase the amount you must set aside for your retirement — people who wait until they’re earning a sizable income must save larger portions than people who started off with small savings years earlier. Even with small amounts, the effect of compounding interest can greatly increase your savings over time. December 1991, p. 118

29. Before you put your clientele or nail salon up for sale, get your ducks in a row. Make sure your books are in good shape. Get your past appointment books together. Be certain that client files are up to date and completely filled out. Be able to produce records for the last three years including a simple-to-read profit and loss statement and IRS materials. September 2000, p. 100

30. There’s no need to leave the nail industry in search of new opportunities: It’s full of former nail technicians who’ve left the salon to work for manufacturers or distributors or themselves in a variety of challenging positions. Others have found they can enjoy the best of both worlds by supplementing the challenges and opportunities in the salon with such part-time positions as association board member, state board member, and manufacturer’s educator, to name a few opportunities. October 1998, p. 64

Leave your own timeless tips in the comments!

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