You know the situation. A new client is on the books and you’re not sure what you’re going to find. Maybe the product will be thick and so tightly affixed you make a mental note never to ditch the electric file. Maybe you’ll find a yellowish, gummy product, made from who knows what, that mercifully peels back and lifts off in one easy pull. Oh, and hey! Look at that — a little extra green surprise for you to clean up.
Following others’ work where it’s clear a professional-grade product hasn’t been used can pose challenges. How do you let your client know she’s come to the right place, while also educating her that this first fill likely won’t represent your best work? That conversation may go something like this:
You: I have you scheduled for a fill, so I know you already have enhancements on your nails. Let’s take a look at them. (Evaluate.) I can tell from looking at your nails and filing them that your last tech doesn’t use the same product I do.
Client: Is that going to be a problem? Did she use a bad product?
You: I can’t say what she used. I can say only that I know it’s different. If she used a professional-grade gel or acrylic, everything should be fine. However, because this is yellowish and is peeling off your nails easily, I’m guessing it’s a discount product. The best thing we can do is remove it and apply a new set of nails. I didn’t schedule that amount of time in the book, though, so now we have one of two choices. We can remove everything on your nails today, apply a strengthener and reschedule you for a full set, or …
Client: But I need my nails!
You: … OR … I will remove the excess product from these nails, including the part that’s lifting here at the cuticles and along the edges, and fill your nails with my product. As your nails grow, the old product will be replaced with this brand I trust. Just so you know, I always guarantee my work, but if we go this route, I can’t guarantee it because I don’t know what I’m building on. I’d also like to see you again in two weeks rather than three so I can make sure there’s no lifting or problems.
Client: OK. That sounds like a good compromise. I just want them to look pretty.
You have three options when a client comes in with inferior product, or with a set of nails that is going to be hard to fix or follow.
1. Refuse to work on her nails. This is not advised unless the client has a health issue that requires a doctor’s visit. You want to give each client a positive option if possible.
2. Remove the old product and start over. This will likely give you the best result, but is usually difficult based on time constraints.
3. Work over the existing product. Most techs opt for this, but many avoid educating clients during the transition. Don’t make that mistake. This is a great opportunity to build rapport and loyalty.
Whichever route you choose, be sure to protect yourself and the client by removing all excess product, discoloration, or lifting. And always take the time to explain to the client not only what you are doing, but why. Remember: Never bad mouth another tech or salon. It’s not professional. If you’ve done your job, your work will speak for itself.