As an owner, you want what’s best for your employees. After all, a happy employee improves the atmosphere of the salon, draws in new customers, and makes your job easier. But even if you have one-on-one meetings with your employees to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly, it’s possible they’re holding something back.

That’s not always the case, of course. Alexandra Lopez, a nail tech at Spa-ta-neity Natural Nail Salon in Fort Worth, Texas, says she can’t think of one thing she wouldn’t be able to tell her boss. “I even asked my coworkers and the response was blank stares,” she notes. Kudos to the team at Spa-ta-neity for creating such an open workplace.

If that’s your goal but not your reality, read what these techs — who wished to remain anonymous — resist revealing to their boss. Could they be talking about your salon?


ONE. Explain the financial cost of business.

“Let us know where the money goes. Every single tech says, ‘We charge $45 dollars for Service A, and I only make X%? Where does the money go?!’ Anyone who has been self-employed knows a business has expenses, including the cost of product, rent, power, and taxes. Plus you have to pay those nice people who wash your towels and answer your phones. While we know it, it’s easier to understand if you show us the expenses; help us own the bottom line. We may even help reduce costs if it means you will reward us with bonuses or goodies.”


TWO. Be consistent/fair.

“We don’t mind procedures or rules, but we despise them being applied unequally between us. Stop playing favorites. How are we ever going to be a team, build the brand, and be happy with each other when you bend the rules for some but not for others?”

 “I’m a nail tech who works as an employee, but I also manage the nail department, which has a total of nine nail techs. Sometimes I’m told to look the other way for certain people, but then I have to address the same situation with a different employee because the owner makes exceptions for the techs who are flexible or more helpful. I understand rewarding people for helping us out, but I think we should thank them directly or even with a gift certificate. We shouldn’t look the other way when they do something negative. We need to treat everyone the same. The employees notice, and they think it’s unfair.”


THREE. Remember the Golden Rule.

“Do unto others... Be kind. Be fair. Be honest. Do as you say. When you need help, ask. When you are stuck, tell us. If you lead by example, we will respect you. We follow who we respect.”

 “Don’t gossip in front of clients or tell them your personal problems. You’re teaching us to ‘do as you say, not as you do.’”

 “When you talk negatively about other employees when they are not around, we assume you are talking about us, too.”

 “Anything you ask us to do you should be willing to do yourself.”

 “Remember the old adage that says, ‘Catch people doing something right’? It’s true. If you never notice when we are busting our behinds, but scold us whenever we do something wrong, we will get cranky and revolt. You worry about the attitude we give clients, but the attitude you give us is the one that is not good for business.”


FOUR. Make the hard decisions.

“When you have one employee who is trouble to the rest of the team, do us all a favor: Ride her until she acts right. If that doesn’t happen, give her three write-ups and then fire her. We will pick up the slack in the more pleasant working environment, and it will be easier for you to hire someone into a happy team.” 

“When an issue needs your attention, deal with it immediately, not at your convenience.”

FIVE. We are trained, licensed, educated professionals. Use us as a resource.

“We have valuable input about our profession. We read, try new products, and learn through trial-and-error on willing, select clients who ask us to push the limits. Listen to us. Encourage open conversation because our combined experiences make us all a stronger team.”

“Don’t assume because you’ve sat in on a few training classes you can explain the service to a client or tell us how the product should be applied.”

“Trust us to make decisions. If you don’t think we can handle it then you shouldn’t be hiring us.”

SIX. Don’t cut corners on product.

“We can’t do our job without all of our supplies. In the same vein, if the supplies we are given are low-quality or difficult to work with, that will be evident in the quality of our services.”

“Don’t change our product without telling us. (And don’t fill name-brand containers with off-brand product.)”

“Ask us when it’s time to place an order if we need anything. Don’t wait until we’re out of product to order it. Make sure it’s there when we need it.”


SEVEN. Let us have some control over our schedule.

“We are not magicians; if a client calls to say she will be late, don’t respond with a flippant, ‘It’s OK. No worries; we’ll see you when you get here!’ Explain that being late means we may have to forego polish or some other part of the service ... or the appointment may need to be rescheduled. The front desk staff should support, not undermine, our policies. Teach them how to explain the policies to clients.”

“A nail tech is not like a stylist who may be able to sneak a break in during a color process. We give our clients our full attention the whole time they are with us. Don’t reschedule or shrink our lunch breaks to fit in more clients.”

“I wish my boss had a better understanding of what it is we do. Even though she is a licensed nail tech, I think she is out of the loop because she isn’t doing nails anymore. Every client is different, so some may need a little more (or less) time for an appointment. When I can’t extend a service time, I end up doing a mediocre job to be finished on time.”


EIGHT. Consider our side of money matters.

 “Don’t hold my tips all week and include them in my paycheck. Tips are the clients’ gift to me. I should receive them in cash on the day of the service.”

 “Uniforms should be provided as part of the company’s expense, not the employees’. If it’s too costly for you to provide uniforms to everyone, at least sell them to me at cost. You shouldn’t be making a profit on something I’m required to buy.”


NINE.  Give us some respect.

 “We know that customer satisfaction is important, but if a client has a complaint and you know we did nothing wrong, please back us up.”

 “The customer is not always right! Some clients complain just to get a discount.”

 “Don’t allow the unlicensed receptionist to sell retail to clients based upon what she feels suits the client’s needs.”

 “So many times the nail tech/nail department is seen as the red-headed stepchild of the beauty industry — the last to be recognized for any work and the last to be supplied with proper education and supplies. We want to be treated with the same respect as the stylists; we work just as hard.”

 “Communicate with us. If you decide to start retailing a new product or want to run a special, make sure we all have the pertinent information. It reflects poorly on the entire company if a client has gotten a promotional e-mail and the employees have no idea what they are talking about.”

“Making major changes to benefits may cost you some good employees. Many people make decisions on where to work based primarily on the benefits being offered. Big changes put many people in a difficult position.”

“Get to know me. Be genuinely interested in how I am and what’s going on in my life.”


TEN.  Expect excellence in everyone.

“Don’t assume employees will continue with their education on their own. Either include training as a benefit or insist we show proof of further education. We want the standard of excellence to be an expectation and requirement for all nail techs working in the salon.”     


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