Q&A

How do I diplomatically turn away a pedicure customer who has a fungus?

Q.

How should I handle it when a valued customer comes in for a pedicure but I have to turn her away because she has toenail fungus?

A.

Dear Shari,

How should I handle it when a valued customer comes in for a pedicure but I have to turn her away because she has toenail fungus? Sincerely, Afraid of Offending

Dear Afraid:

This can be an uncomfortable situation. First off, let’s simplify the issue of fungus. The first step to a pedicure is checking both feet for any signs of toenail separation — with or without discoloration. (While we are on the subject, you also need to keep an eye out for signs of plantar warts, athlete’s foot, open sores, and infected ingrown toenails.) While separation can be a sign of toenail fungus, you need to be aware it could also be a sign of an injury. People who run or hike can also experience toenail separation due to the constant pressure of the shoe on the nail.

So you need to be diplomatic when questioning your customer. I always use the line, “Oh Mary, you must have injured your toe.” If she says yes and explains the injury, you can proceed with the pedicure. But if she hesitates and says “Gosh, I really don’t know what is causing that,” you need to address the issue and explain why she won’t be getting a pedicure in your salon today. Take the time to quietly explain to the customer that fungus could be spread to other customers so it is salon policy never to service customers with possible fungus until they get a doctor’s OK. Always act as if you’re doing your client a favor. Approach it as if you’re lucky to catch it early. If you do it right, she will leave thanking you.

 

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