To get a better feel for some of the issues that weigh heavily on the minds of salon owners and nail techs, we asked several industry heavyweights to answer: What concerns you most about your business right now? Whether it is the state of our current-economy or the matter of education, both beauty school and continuing education, it is certain that these topics can cause people to lose sleep at night. Read on to hear what some of you think are the most pressing issues for today’s nail techs.

The number-one issue for me is the stage of the economy. As a nails-only, high-end salon we have started to feel a downward slide. We have attempted to market to inflation-resistant customers, but only to find they are being conservative with spending. Consumers across the board have discontinued nail services, due to layoffs and wage cuts. As the cost of goods rises, we are forced to raise prices, even when discount salons do not.

The tip reporting issue should be a concern of everyone in the industry. Many techs still are not reporting tips Salon owners have been forced to change payroll percentages in order to balance this change.

Education is another big issue with me! Many schools are reporting low to no nail technology enrolment. And students currently enrolled are receiving poor education Many schools do not have quality teachers. The education bar needs to be raised in order for us all to survive Mentoring programs must be implemented in order to move student techs Into the working nail world successfully Continuing education has to move from manufacturers to the private educator. Continuing education needs to help perfect skills, not be an infomercial. On a more positive note, product development has taken huge leaps forward. And after doing nails for 16 years I still find it exciting to work with new products and the old products in new ways!

Shari Finger, Finger’s Nail Studios Inc., West Dundee, III.

My pet peeve right now is product pricing. Professional nail products are being sold at lower prices other places than in a salon. I am a firm believer in honesty with my business. The public can trust me. And “for professional-only products’’ being sold at different prices really bothers me. I really don’t care where the products are sold. I don’t care about increasing prices. What I do care about is the price difference. And I personally believe that certain companies are not being honest with us, but using us. These companies push us to retail, but do not give us the tools to accomplish this in a fait market. It is my responsibility as a business owner to offer my clients products at a fair market value. Products being sold at a lower price elsewhere lower my standards.

Diana Bonn, Salon Eclipxe, Muncie, Ind.

I just taught a continuing education class and what concerns me is the amount of nail techs who are no longer working as nail techs. They are keeping up their license, but not working in the field. This has created quite a shortage of qualified nail techs right now. I ask them, ‘Why did you quit? Answers indude got divorced, needed medical insurance, not enough money, no one to teach me the ropes, and got frustrated. There are not enough salon owners who know how to run a business. Salon owners need to wake up and figure out how to run a business at a large enough margin of profit that they are able to accommodate more of the needs of nail techs.

Distributors could offer more business education. Some do but most don’t When are they going to realize if they don’t help us grow our business, their business will suffer? They also need to quit selling us what they need to sell and sell us what we need to buy Why not offer specials on everyday sundries once in a while? Reward us with a frequent buyer program, instead of just slamming us with more costs. One of my distributors just added shipping to all orders. My salon is small, but if I were spending thousands per month I would be pretty upset. Spending and being a loyal customer doesn’t get you anywhere anymore. Distributors need to help us grow our businesses, not add to our struggles.

Staffing is a Challenge: There are not enough qualified techs to fill the chairs I have gotten techs right out of school and I’m investing in their training. My only hope is that they stay with me long enough to get some of that investment back. My salon has been fortunate and grown during this time of economic downturn. But it has been a constant state of promoting, marketing, and advertising to keep clients coming in the doors. I do not regret for one moment opening my salon, however, I wish there were a few more salons making the effort to be as professional as we can be and upgrade the level in which the public views this industry Until then I will strive to be the best I can be and offer the best to my clients and staff.

Millie Haynam, Natural Beauty Salon and Academy, Twinsburg, Ohio

I am concerned with diversion of professional products. I think it is unfair for us to pay to obtain our licenses and then see professional products everywhere. You can go into a discount beauty supply store, Rite Aid, or CVS and find supposedly professional-only products. The manufacturers must come up with a plan to stop this. As far as continuing education, I believe state boards should require at least 10 continuing education hours a year to keep a license. I think manufacturers should incorporate business classes along with technical classes. If salon owners cannot afford to pay for everyone to go to shows, they should offer education as a benefit to the highest producer for the month and have the individual come back and teach the staff what she learned. We do have education in the industry, however, we need better education on all topics, product knowledge, retail, customer service, and client retention. Show people ways to work smarter and not harder. The saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” But as Geno Stampora says, “Add a little salt to that water to make the horse thirsty.”

Maisie Dunbar, M&M Nails and Wellness Center, Silver Spring, Md.

The first thing that comes to mind is the education new techs receive in beauty schools. When I was a student in 1989, 1 already had nine years’ experience applying acrylics on myself It was a hobby for me. When I decided to attend beauty school to get my manicuring license, I was so excited to finally learn how the pros did it.

Sadly, I was very disappointed to learn the nail techs didn’t have a nail teacher Our instructor was a cosmetologist who took some time away from her cosmetology students to tell us to read chapters in the book and then practice on each other She was a nice lady, but didn’t really know how to teach nails I found myself offering what I had learned through practicing on my own to the other students all the while saying. ‘Well, I don’t know if this is the proper way, but this is how I’ve done it.’ We watched one or two demos from educators for different acrylic companies, but they would show how to do a new nail and never showed us how to do a fill, repair, or anything else that we needed to learn as a working tech.

I found out later you must be a cosmetologist to be an instructor at beauty school, but most people who are cosmetologists focus mostly on hair and very little on nails or skin. Fewer still are experienced, working nail techs. A couple years ago, I went back to beauty school to get my cosmetology license and found the situation for nail techs better, but still similar to when I attended school. Being a professional I didn’t have to do nails in school, but I enjoyed helping whenever I had a chance. I could see the students struggling and wondering if that week in theory was going to be enough. I feel nail techs should be allowed to become instructors. They shouldn’t have to go back for their cosmetologist license if they are just going to instruct on their field of expertise.

I realize the whole purpose of beauty school is to prepare the applicant for passing the state board exam. Unfortunately, the new applicant believes she will be ready for anything once beauty school is finished and this is far from the truth. It’s only scratching the surface of what needs to be learned.

Lois Kuntz, Plaza Day Spa, Lemoore, Calif.

My biggest concern for our industry is staffing nail technicians. It seems as though nail techs are not getting the training that is needed to be successful in the salon — from nail skills to professionalism to business skills. They also seem to believe that they will come out of school and make tons of money — tomorrow. And that’s not how it works It seems to me there is a different breed of techs from those of us who have been doing nails for 10 years or more. We are self-motivated, have lots of drive, and love to get education. We work for our success and don’t look to others to make things happen for us. I have recently been holding interviews and it saddens me and leaves me wondering, “What is happening to our industry?” It also makes me wonder what we can do to inspire and motivate old and new nail techs to want more. The nail industry is a wonderful place to be in and it has so much to offer. I just wish more nail techs realized that.

La’Shaun Brown-Glenn, Nails Naturally, Inc., Chicago

Many things about my business concern me at the moment — the national economy, the rising cost of doing business, the unprofessionalism in our industry, and the jack of participation in continuing education. The economy is something I cannot do anything about The rising cost of doing business is something we all have to deal with, but fat can be trimmed without jeopardizing quality services. The unprofessionalism in our industry is something that is learned, and taught. I sometimes come across nail techs who put others down, put continuing education down, and decide that they don’t have to change or learn anything new. This is an ever-changing industry. All aspects of the beauty industry change regularly. We need to keep up with the times and educate ourselves. If we don’t educate ourselves, it shows in our work. Then our clients will go to someone else who has taken the time and effort to upgrade her skills and knowledge Continuing education can be expensive, but if your budget does not allow for a more expensive two-day class, take a smaller class I take classes even if I do not use the product After all, I can always learn something new.

Genie Webber, The Nail Room & Spa, Wetumpka, Ala.

I am most concerned with the economy. I have talented nail technicians to do the work, but we need more clients. With so many people losing their jobs each week it’s become very scary. The town where my business is located has more and more empty storefronts Businesses just aren’t making it Right now, there are three more stores on my street that are talking about closing. I feel lucky that we are not feeling the need to close. We are continuing to pull in enough business to stay afloat Much of my success comes from my continuing education. There aren’t many salons that offer pink-and-white nails, let alone acrylic design nails. I have found a niche that helps my business survive.

Mary Metscaviz, Awesome Nails, Grayslake, Ill,

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