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On My Mind: Retail Is My Friend

by Hannah Lee | August 19, 2011

Sometimes when I sit down to write this page each month, I cover a topic that I know you’ll back me up on. But there are also times when I wonder how my topic will be received. And this is one of those months. It’s been a while since I’ve really mentioned this word on this page (I just checked, and it was November 2008), but it’s one that I really believe should be part of every salon owner’s and every nail tech’s lexicon. Retail.

In the past we’ve called it a dirty word. We’ve begged you to pay attention to what we have to say about retailing. We’ve listened to your excuses on why you don’t — or can’t — sell retail. Many years ago, we even had a year-long editorial series dedicated to getting nail techs to retail. Many of you simply tell me, “I’m a creative person who performs a specialty service. I’m not a salesperson.” But we’ve also talked to salon owners and nail techs who have been very successful with the retail side of their business. In fact, in this month’s salon profile the owners of Diva A Nail Boutique told us that their retail boutique accounts for 80% of its revenue and helps them pay the actual rent. Could you imagine what you could do with the money you earned by boosting your retail profits by, say, 20%?

Here are three straightforward ways to ease into retail:

1. Sell the products you use. You are the nail care expert, so it goes without saying that you would be in the best position to recommend hand and foot care items like cuticle oils, lotions, scrubs, and foot files to your clients. Clients are buying these items somewhere, why not from you? Polish is the number-one selling retail item in nail salons. And professional manufacturers wouldn’t be looking for alternate distribution channels if consumers weren’t interested in purchasing polish. Your salon should be the first place your clients think of when they want the latest neon shade or that cool new crackle polish.

2. Sell other beauty products to your clients. From the latest hair feather trend to good old shampoo and conditioner, why can’t nail salons offer professional hair care — or skin care products for that matter — to your clients? How about lash lengtheners? Or self-tanning products? I know I’ll buy lip gloss or lip balm practically anywhere I see it. All of these things still fall under the purview of a licensed beauty professional and would fit in quite nicely on your shelves.

3. Step outside of beauty and add retail offerings your clients are looking for. If you have a good relationship with your clients, you can do an informal poll and find out what kind of things they would purchase from you. Would it save them time if you sold small gifts like cards, candles, and jewelry they could purchase when they’re in for their weekly or biweekly appointments? Would they buy cute flip-flops, T-shirts, or other clothing items? How about novelty items like fun books, journals, fragrance, or business card holders? (You can find fun new retail boutique items in our monthly Boutique column. This month we’ve got some great monogrammed items.)

Whatever path you take, I urge you — no, I beg you — to think seriously about adding retail to your salon. It will only add more money to your bottom line, which could be the determining factor of whether you are going to invest in a new salon software program or get to go to that big trade show next year. Say it with me: “Retail is my friend.”

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