What I Learned About Service Pricing After Getting My Nails Done by Someone Else

by Holly Schippers | October 24, 2016 | Bookmark +

I recently had the opportunity to have my nails done by someone else. I did not know this person and she did not know me. The salon was an hour-and-a-half away from me in what’s considered a “big city” for the area I live in. It is a rare treat for a nail professional to be on the client side of the table. There are several things that occurred during this service that really made me question a lot of things about our industry and how we assign value to ourselves when it comes to pricing. With the last blog being the speech about raising your prices, it seemed like the perfect time to share my story and eye opening discovery.

Let’s just touch on the highlights of the nail service as it will be plenty for you to get my drift! It began with asking me to soak my nails in a bowl of water. You know this is wrong, I know this is wrong, yet here is a gal not more than a year out of school who believes this is what should be done. She explained that the water would soften my cuticle while she finished setting up for the nail service, which meant eight minutes of soaking. The first thing that makes me sad is that she hasn’t been out of school more than a year, so schools are still misinforming students on how to perform services. Note to self – see if the fault lies with the school or an outdated state board exam. For those of you that may not know, soaking the nails is an outdated method of a manicure. Let me explain it a bit further. Exposing the nails to water for more than 30 seconds of soaking, gives them the opportunity to swell and expand like a wet sponge. The longer they soak the more time it will take for them to shrink back down to original size. When the nail is back to its normal size the polish which did not shrink is now slightly too big and only needs to catch on a hair or something similar to be lifted up, if one is careful you can actually peel the entire coating off like a sticker. It is too much fun to resist!! Back before we knew this would happen and before there were products to loosen and soften the cuticle, this procedure would have been accurate. Now we know it actually slowly damages the nails over time, they begin to split or peel from the weekly or bi-weekly soak and expand.

Moving on to the rest of the service, if I ignore the aggressive shoving back and trimming of my eponychium that literally had me chewing on my tongue not to say anything, the next thing that really jumped out is her explaining halfway through the service how much she dislikes doing nails. I’m not a cosmetologist because I do not know how nor have the desire to know, how to do hair. As a cosmetologist, in my opinion, just because your license allows you to be a jack of all trades, it does not mean it is forcing you to be. If you do not wish to do nails then please don’t. I was rather perplexed at this point as she is polishing my nails with a gel-polish that did not get shaken, that she is professing such a strong dislike. It doesn’t really matter what your job is, you don’t tell the customer that you don’t like it. This is highly unprofessional behavior in any position! After ensuring I felt awkward about her having to do my nails when she dislikes it so much, out comes the makeup retail spiel. She is very excited and passionate about the new makeup that has just arrived and smells so good.  This is a complete turn around and gives me no desire to look at the makeup as I’m just antsy to stop being such a bother.

The service comes to an end, my jaw is sore from clamping it shut and it’s time to check out. She hands me a business card and requests that I come back to see her for a haircut. This leaves me fairly speechless and I wander up to the register. Paying for my service it slaps me in the face that she charges the same thing for her gel-polish that I charge for my CND Shellac manicure which most would consider a comparable service. Yes she is in the “big city” and I am in a small town. She did the service in 45 minutes (as I came in with naked nails), which would be the same time I could do a similar service. Do you feel like my service pricing should be equal to hers because that’s just the average price? Should we be charging the same so that someone doesn’t choose to go to her over me?


The biggest excuse I get from nail professionals is that they are afraid of losing clients to cheaper salons. This is where I want to interject and really make you think. Do you want a client that thinks the clean, educated service you do for them has no more value than the other type of service? I would like to think my clients would have been horrified to receive that service and promptly come back with an apology and promises to never leave again.

Take the amount you charge right this minute for your most popular service and multiply it by 3.7%. Do you really feel your clients are going to leave you if you raise the price by that amount? Do you really want to put your heart and soul into their nails if they do?

Hopefully this gives you some food for thought and remember, YOUR time has value! XO

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