A stronger-than-anticipated pedicure business convinced Schaeffer to up the number of pedicure spa chairs at ROBJB.

A stronger-than-anticipated pedicure business convinced Schaeffer to up the number of pedicure spa chairs at ROBJB.

Robbie Schaeffer , ROB|B: An OPI Concept Salon, Studio City, Calif.

What I Did:

On the salon’s main floor, I started with six manicure tables but only two pedicure stations. Within about two to three months, I knew the salon needed more pedicure stations to handle the service load.

What I Would Have Done Differently:

I would have started with an equal ratio of pedicure stations to manicure stations. I wound up putting two of the manicure stations into storage and replacing those with two pedicure spa chairs. It was an expensive fix; an entire wall had to be ripped out, plumbing had to be rerouted, tilework had to be redone, and all of the TVs had to be moved. On the plus side, the changes opened up the floorplan of the salon and made it much easier for my employees to work efficiently.

 

<p>In retrospect, the huge discounts on these

CASSIE PIASECKI former nail salon owner (no longer in the beauty business, in part due to what she would have done differently), Newport Beach, Calif.

What I Did:

1. I spent way too much money on the original building and design of the salon, with items like custom-made bars and chairs and unique flooring, thinking that an awesome design would attract awesome clients.

2. In order to attract more clients, I often offered large discounts on services, and I’d wind up taking the loss (I didn’t want to take commission away from the nail techs). For instance, when I gave out a coupon for 50% off services, I’d lose all of my percent of sales, since I was paying the techs 50% commission. Those giveaways cost me a lot more money than I made from the clients who became good customers.

3. Because good nail techs were hard to find, I often overpaid techs to get them to work for me.

4. I never got a nail license, choosing instead to focus solely on management.  

What I Would Have Done Differently:

1. I would have stuck with tried-and-true furniture and design. It’s possible that the custom design attracted a few design-savvy clients, but I could have achieved the same success with more mainstream design ideas.

2. I would have kept in mind that I’d be the person paying for supplies, front desk, and other overhead expenses. So, I wouldn’t run giveaways where I wouldn’t at least be making enough of the service to pay for a portion of those costs.

3. Again, I had problems calculating the true cost per service. (I often overlooked items like rent, credit card processing fees, and towels used; instead I looked only at supplies.) What I should have done was calculated the true cost of service and offered corresponding compensation.

4. I would have gotten my nail tech license, so I could step in when a tech called in sick or we got super busy!

 

<p>These days, Turner tries to spend time just

CHRISTINE TURNER, The Nail Diva, Abbotsville, B.C., Canada

What I Did:

I was so busy trying to move onwards and upwards that I forgot to just enjoy the moment. In addition to owning a salon, I opened a nail school and a supply company. By the time I realized I’d taken on too much, it was too late to change.

What I Would Have Done Differently:

I would have stuck to working behind the nail table in my salon and not stretched myself so thin. I enjoyed teaching and reaching for broader horizons, but I forgot to appreciate how much I enjoyed doing nail services (for the creative and social outlet) and being part of the team environment in the salon setting. The decisions I made set me back a couple of steps. But on a positive note, in life I think we often have to take two steps forward and one back; in the end, we are still moving forward. I did learn the valuable lesson of living in the moment and to “do what you love and love what you do.” I’m a firm believer of “everything happens for a reason” so I’m looking forward to seeing what new opportunities are in my future that may not have come if I hadn’t taken those steps.

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Wentzel misses this elevated pedicure set-up that she had at her former location.

Wentzel misses this elevated pedicure set-up that she had at her former location.

CINDY WENTZEL, Nails at the Carriage House, Newmanstown, Pa.

What I Did:

I moved my salon into my home and didn’t move my unique pedicure setup — an elevated platform and a Hungarian baby bath — to my new salon because I didn’t want to put holes into the floor. I opted to use another type of pedicure chair, but it’s not ergonomically friendly. My back bothers me now.

What I Would Have Done Differently:

I would have the client sitting higher in relation to where I’m sitting, like the set-up in my former salon, to alleviate the stress on my back. I’m still trying to figure out how to improve my current pedicure set-up to make it more ergonomically friendly.

With Hackett-Belcher's busy schedule as an educator for Nail Tek, a partnership would be the ideal salon ownership arrangement, but she's still trying to find the right person.

With Hackett-Belcher's busy schedule as an educator for Nail Tek, a partnership would be the ideal salon ownership arrangement, but she's still trying to find the right person.

KESHA HACKETT-BELCHER, Lavender Nail and Make-up Studio, Oakland, Calif.

What I Did:

I went into business with a business partner who wasn’t a good fit. As the one-year contract ended, I had to make a lot of stressful adjustments as I needed to transition to a different salon.

What I Would Have Done Differently:

I am still optimistic about partnerships, especially because I think it’s a good fit for my lifestyle. But next time I will use my network to find out more about the integrity and reputation of a potential partner, including ensuring the person has a state board cosmetology license (if performing services), a business license, and insurance. I will also set clearer boundaries about who would take the lead on projects such as recruiting, training/orientation, ordering supplies, salon cleaning, and laundry.

Christie (right) wishes she'd hired a professional to design her salon.

Christie (right) wishes she'd hired a professional to design her salon.

VALERIE CHRISTIE, Pampered & Polished Salon Spa, North Pole, Alaska

What I Did:

I ran into a lot of building and design issues by trying to design my salon without professional help. First, I opened my salon doors without enough lighting. Trying to do hair color in the dark is difficult! (When I remodeled, I installed an overkill of lighting to prevent that.) Flooring was another huge problem. I chose laminate wood flooring, which proved to be hard to maintain in such a high-traffic area. I also didn’t realize laminate flooring comes in two finishes; I chose the matte, without realizing I could have chosen glossy. I tried to fix the problem with wax, which just made it worse. I also ran into plumbing problems, which caused three inches of standing water to flood the salon floor. The floor’s seams warped and bowed up, and, since I had just opened, I couldn’t replace the floor right away. I also chose a paint that, while beautiful, couldn’t easily be cleaned. I scrubbed the paint right off the wall trying to clean off marks.

What I Would Have Done Differently:

 I would have hired a professional to design the space for me. Some other design tips I’d pass along are to make sure you allow space for storage, extra electric outlets, phone jacks, and a break room/kitchen area.