Do your clients have any habits that drive you crazy? You know, those moments when you find yourself thinking, “Did you seriously just do that?” or “Is this client for real?” This happens in all salons, regardless of setting or price point. And whether your clients are thoughtless or simply clueless about how their habits affect your work, they can change. Education is the key. By explaining that nails are a partnership and letting your expectations be known, you can lay the groundwork for a long and happy association.

Here are nine situations that may sound familiar:

Bad Habit #1: Chewing on the Skin

Providing our clients with beautiful nails discourages chewing on the nails themselves; however, with the nails off limits, some people will resort to chewing on the skin. Keri Cantu of B Salon & Spa in Portland, Ore., suggests giving clients something else to chew on, like sunflower seeds. Other options might be sugar-free gum, jerky, or another favorite treat to keep their mouth occupied.

You could also offer a skin cream for application at home along with their nail oil. Hopefully, the cream will reduce dry skin and hangnails, while reducing the temptation to chew in the process. Before proposing the purchase, it will be necessary to explain to the client that she is part of this nail care partnership and that home care is essential to your success.

Sometimes chewing the skin is less about an oral fixation and more about a need for control and order. Stress, personality, and lifestyle can factor in. If you notice the client is usually tense, you might suggest some things that could help her find a moment of peace. Maybe it’s watching a YouTube video of the ocean for a few minutes while massaging in nail oil at bedtime, maybe it’s an empowering song to start the day, or even a local yoga class that will give her a new way to focus and wind down.


Bad Habit #2: Peeling Off Nail Coatings

Other clients are guilty of peeling or picking off their nail coating. This is a huge issue because it damages the nails and can reflect poorly on your work if done repeatedly. The nail is the foundation for any coating that is applied, which means that an unhealthy foundation can lead to coatings that don’t last the way they are meant to. Most clients are not going to make the connection between peeling off their coatings and the fact that their nails don’t last anymore; they are going to start wondering at what you must be doing wrong.

Clients who remove the nail coating must be educated, potentially multiple times. Tameaka Crocker of The Fine Line Salon and Spa in Brainerd, Minn., gives clients home-care advice that includes using quality nail oil, lotion, and instructions for taking care of anything that starts to catch. Monet Macomber of Nine Stones Spa in Portland, Maine, threatens not to allow nail coatings if the client continues to pick!

When a client sits down for an appointment with naked nails that have had the coating picked off, one approach is to scrub them with cleanser to bring out the white spots, which will be plentiful. Then explain that all of the places where the nails are white indicate nail cells that have been torn apart! With luck, this visual demonstration will make your point.


Bad Habit #3: Being Late

Dori Swope of Essence Hair Salon in Pasadena, Calif., has one chronically late client who often shows up with Starbucks (just for herself, mind you). If you have a client who consistently places being on time near the bottom of her priority list, your only option may be to send her on her way. But before giving this thoughtless client the boot, you could attempt to bring her around by offering up some options. First, you should make sure not to punish the next client by running behind schedule, which means eliminating something from the late arrival’s service to make up the time. Another approach is to offer to figure out a different appointment time that she’s more likely to be on time to.

All tardy clients should be rebooked if they are late by 15-20 minutes. The time frame will depend on the service they have scheduled and whether you’re able to accomplish any of it in the time that’s remaining. Should rebooking be required, the client will need to pay for the appointment in advance since she’s now considered a no-show due to how late she was. Your late and no-show policies should be clearly posted so they can’t claim ignorance of the policy.

Once a client is late three times (short of genuine emergencies), it’s time to discuss finding another salon that may be better able to service them at a time they can make it. The same rules would apply to the client who is genuinely time-challenged, not merely inconsiderate.


Bad Habit #4: Lounging or Slouching

This client is committing a double offence: slumping in her chair and touching her clothing.

This client is committing a double offence: slumping in her chair and touching her clothing.

Lounging, slouching, leaning back, sitting sideways, or fidgeting in the chair can make the service uncomfortable for the nail professional. And client after client, day after day, it can actually lead to pain that becomes lasting.

It’s important to encourage the client to sit facing forward with both feet on the floor. If she is leaning back too far in the chair, you might place a pillow behind her back to make it easier for her to sit up properly. This also makes it easier for the client to place her hands further forward on the table.

There are also a plethora of wrist rests available that help the client relax the arm and hand in the correct spot, which eliminates the need to constantly tug them towards you and enables you to see the work. If you have clients with short legs, a small platform to rest the feet on could help eliminate fidgeting. While the client’s comfort is important, your comfort is paramount!


Bad Habit #5: Being Tense

On the other side of the spectrum from the sloucher is the client who is so tense her fingers nearly cause you pain to maneuver or hold. This client is struggling to give you control of the nails and may not even consciously know how to relax. Melissa Finch, a tech at Estilo Salon & Day Spa in West Des Moines, Iowa, uses a warm neck wrap, which can help mellow out a client as she relaxes into it.


Bad Habit #6: Touching the Nails After Prep

Have you ever finished prepping the nail plate and scrubbing the nails clean with the cleanser, only to have the client touch her nails? The purpose of the prep is to establish a clean surface to work on, so when the nails are touched by fingers, face, or anything else, they must be re-scrubbed, which adds time. Some clients may need a reminder at every appointment instead of only at the first one.

Place both your hands on theirs before you apply the cleanser and let them know what’s going on: “I am about to scrub your nails with cleanser to improve adhesion. Please remember not to touch them from now until they are completely finished.” By taking a moment to connect, look them in the eye, and touch both hands at once, you give your message its best chance of being heard.


Bad Habit #7: Touching Nails During Application

The tacky layer is a magnet for fuzz.

The tacky layer is a magnet for fuzz.

Hand in hand with the habit of touching prepped nails comes the habit of moves her hands around during the service — often resulting in random stuff getting stuck in partially done nails. Kimberly Ensign of Adorn Nail Boutique in Bloomington, Ill., says fuzzy sweaters are one of the worst culprits, while Eva Perkins of Chic4Eva in Ramsgate, England, claims that fluff is her nemesis. This problem client could benefit from a stern reminder similar to the previous one: “I am about to scrub your nails with cleanser to improve adhesion, then apply a product that remains tacky until the end of the service. Please remember not to touch them from now until they are completely finished.”


Bad Habit #8: Changing Your Mind at the End of a Service

Deb Borrie, a nail tech at Beautiful Nails by Debbie in London, laments the frustration of showing a client multiple color swatches and design ideas, having them select a look, then deciding they would like a different look at the end of the service. This can usually be avoided with a thorough consultation; however, there are those clients who will make choices during the consultation only to backtrack.

Chances are good that you have another client booked right after the indecisive one, so changing the nails is impractical. One way to handle this is to offer to make notes of the look she is suggesting for the next appointment. If you have a client who makes a regular habit of this, perhaps she lacks vision and needs to see a finished nail design before choosing. Having some premade display tips will allow the client to hold the nails over their finger and experience the look before committing to it.


Bad Habit #9: Cell Phone Use

Finally, perhaps the most notorious bad habit has to do with the dreaded cell phone. Talking on the phone and moving the hands around, typing on the phone and delaying the service, digging the phone out and getting the nails dirty are all things that drive nail professionals crazy. Crystal Blake of Bella Rose Studios in Grove City, Ohio, has gotten the message across to her clients by stopping the service to clean when they take a call or start a text message.  

You could either have phone-free services, implement a cheeky move similar to Blake’s, or even have a charging station for phones that tethers them to an area away from the client to try to get your point across. Another idea would be a phone fee tacked onto the service of repeat offenders. Add an additional 10-15 minutes to the booking to allow for the delays and charge for it!


Holly Schippers

Holly Schippers


Holly Schippers is a contributing editor to NAILS and a member of Team CND. Follow her FingerNailFixer blog.


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