According to NAILS 2007-2008 Big Book, men make up about 8.2% of the total clients for nail services, but trends indicate this percentage will likely continue to rise in the coming years. Cashing in on this growing market is probably simpler than you think. Here are 12 tips for attracting this sometimes-elusive market.

1. Pay attention to color. Color is one of the first things we notice in our environment, and the colors used to decorate a salon say a lot about what kind of environment it is. Roula Nassar, owner of Roula’s Nail Spa in Houston, says she keeps her 15% of male clients by first establishing a gender neutral décor. “I use lots of earth tones and hues that are more unisex, like browns and greens, and I like to decorate with natural materials such as wood,” she says, “I think some women even prefer a more gender neutral color palette over the super feminine pinks and reds.”

2. Know the nose. Smell is probably the second most important factor when a guy walks into a salon. If he’s immediately hit in the face with the smell of monomer, he’s probably not going to stick around for a service. Keeping a good ventilation system will increase your air circulation along with your chances of snagging more male clients.

3. Stay privy to privacy. Creating spaces that provide privacy for male clients is a big part of getting them to feel comfortable in a salon environment. Jill Wright of Jill Wright’s Spa for Nails in Bowling Green, Ky., says, “Having several footspas side-by-side in a row is not an asset when trying to build a male clientele. I have a private room for pedicuring and I keep my men’s privacy and comfort in mind at all times.” If private rooms are not an option, consider partitions or curtains to create a similar effect.

4. Offer menus for males too. If a guy walks into a salon and is hesitant to indulge in a service, handing him a menu that includes male-specific services will let him know it’s not “odd” that he’s there. Tina Albanese-Stauffer, owner of Tina’s Natural Nails in Rochester, N.Y., says of her Manly Men’s Pedicure, “It features products that are unscented and the service concentrates more on the massage. And it’s important to name the service something masculine so men know we cater to them as well.”

5. Would you like something to read? Don’t forget to have some men’s magazines on hand for them to read during a service or while they wait. Albanese-Stauffer puts out Rolling Stone for her male clients, and Wright dusts off the old This Old House mags to keep the male brain stimulated while in the salon.

6. A beer will quell the fears. Many salons offer drinks as a complimentary treat for a service, and what says man more than beer? Faith Glionna, of Cuticles in Indialantic, Fla., offers beer and wine to her male customers to help them relax and unwind during their service.

7. Keep them tuned in. If you have a television in your salon, consider changing the channel to a sports game when a guy is getting a service. Definitely do this if you’re hosting a guy’s night at your salon. Hosting a Monday night football service is a perfect way to introduce your salon to men and impress them into becoming regulars.

8. Bring them in together. In keeping with the “using the girl to get him in the door” approach, don’t forget about offering couples’ services and packages. Rachel Wong, owner of ZaZa Nail Spa in San Francisco, has a special couples’ corner that is secluded from the rest of the spa. “It helps create a more comfortable and safe environment for the man,” she says, “So they can just focus on relaxing without worrying what anyone is thinking.”

9. Host a men’s night out. Think about giving your existing male clients a couple of free service certificates for their friends and then have them all come in on the same night. This is a great way for you to introduce male-oriented services and products in an easy-going and fun environment. Provide some food and drinks, turn on ESPN, and you’re bound to produce some return clients.

10. Partner with local gyms. Take the time to check out any nearby upscale gyms, and get to know some of the trainers. Offer them a free service or two in exchange for recommendations. Athletes typically need quality foot care so having an ally at the gym can bring in some clients you otherwise never would have had.

11. Partner with local shoe stores. Wright says making friends with the salesmen at the local shoe store is another way to get your foot in the door (pun intended) with male clients. She finds the best, most aggressive salesmen and offers free pedicures in exchange for his referrals. Runners are always in need of a good pedicure, and the salesmen can use your knowledge of feet to make better sales pitches on his end, while filtering more clients toward your salon.

12. Add boyfriend discounts. Leah Pierce, owner of Simply Nails in Punta Gorda, Fla., encourages her female clients to purchase gift certificates for their spouses or boyfriends. She then tries to schedule them to come in at the same time. “Mondays are good days for a relaxed atmosphere,” she says, “And once they come in, our quality of work keeps them coming back.”

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