Ah…the never-ending battle: Trying to get and keep men in your salon. It may not be as hard as it used to be. With the booming spa industry comes new services and new attitudes. Whereas men used to only go into salons before and after hours so as not to be seen and labeled feminine, now they’re booking manicures, pedicures, and massages during their lunch hour so they can spend time getting pampered and groomed.

More and more members of the stronger sex are realizing the there’s no shame in wanting to appear easy on the eyes.

“We service men from ages 3 to 83, but our typical male clients are the businessmen, politicians, and lawyers who have realized that part of their job is to look well-groomed,” says Madrina Robelllo of Madrina’s Nail & Hair Studio in Gulf Breeze, Fla.

Besides looking good, men have realized that grooming is also beneficial to their overall well-being.

“My typical male client is a blue collar worker who’s very active and woods 14-hour days,” says Roberta Linfield of Nails Etc. in Alberta, Canada.

“They generally have cracks or calluses on their feet that need attention every couple of weeks.”

Besides instilling confidence and preventing real foot ailments, the bottom line is that men ultimately decide to come into the salon because it makes them feel good.

“The media, magazines, and celebrities have made it OK for a man to get a manicure,” says Olivia Collins of Bellezza in Atlantic City, N.J. “Men aren’t necessarily getting in touch with their feminine side, but enhancing their masculinity.”

A Threesome, Anyone?

Let’s face it-men don’t relate to feminine service descriptions like “Luxurious” and “glowing.” In fact, they may even be embarrassed to ask for such services. To make it easy for them, try adding services with names specifically tailored for men.

For example, Tony Cuccio, president of Cuccio Naturale, thought that men were an untapped market when he launched his Cuccio for Men line last year. With the line come menus with service ideas such as The Threesome, which includes a manicure, pedicure, and neck massage-serviced by two or three technicians, and the Gentlemen’s Hand Facial.

“The bottom line is that men like being catered to by women,” says Cuccio. “The Threesome is a unique service idea because it has three women working on one man at once and it makes him feel like a king.”

At M&M Wellness Center in Silver Spring, Md., owner Maisie Dunbar brings in the male clientele with her service menu’s masculine offerings.

“The Handy Mandy is described as a manicure plus exfoliation for those hard-working hands,” explains Dunbar. “It’s our most popular treatment for males.”

George Schaeffer, president of OPI, says that just about any service a salon offers fro women can be adapted to capture a man’s attention.

“Offer a ‘Power’ manicure or pedicure or an ‘Executive’ service, instead of using the traditional warm and fuzzy language used to attract women,” recommends Schaeffer.

At Madrina’s, the spa’s male clients opt for sports manicures and pedicures. “For men’s manicures we use a non-scented lotion and buff the nails to a high shine with a buffing cream, and for pedicures, men usually get a longer foot massage since no polish is involved,” explains Robello.

Pedicures seem to be one of the easiest ways to hook men on nail services. “No man can resist a foot massage” says Linfield.

Cuccio agrees: “The pedicure business and men is really stating to explode because men realize that feet are part of their body just like women did 20 years ago,” he notes. “But the thing that’s really starting to rope men into getting pedicures is fashion. Years ago men would never wear open-toed shoes because it was considered feminine. And now last summer, one of the biggest trends was men wearing open-toed sandals.”

Ambience Is Key

One of the biggest reasons men hesitate to enter a salon or spa is that they’ll feel uncomfortable. Salons that court men are successful in guiding them toward nail and spa services when they provide a non-threatening environment in which men can be men, even during a manicure.

“Men don’t want to walk into a salon and get a manicure or pedicure in the middle of a bunch of gossiping women and surrounded by pink walls and Cosmopolitan,” says Collins.

You may say you service men, yet expect them to sit in a pedicure throne in-between two women, feeling uncomfortable and exposed. In addition, it may make a woman feel more uncomfortable having a man sit next to her when she went to the salon get away from it all. Making all clients feel comfortable in a salon requires having treatment rooms or a section of the salon set aside for male services.

“Our salon has a neutral décor, we play soothing music, and clients get a neck-ease pillow so they can sit back and relax,” says Dunbar. “I’ve been told it’s a relaxing atmosphere for everyone.

To neutralize your setting, simply provide a separate pedicure area and supply the waiting area with sports, health, travel, and adventure magazines.

The interior décor should also be in neutral colors such as green, gray, or blue, with minimal decorations and the treatment furnishings should be able to accommodate any man.

In Memphis, Tenn., David Pryor, president and owner of a Touch of Health Day Spa’s decor. A Touch of Health services a 50/50 male-to-female ratio. “Our spa is decorated with hunter green walls, Italian-set-marble, and leopard skin massage tables, so men feel right at home,” says Pryor.

At Linfield’s salon, nothing is done to differentiate where men and women get their services done.

“I don’t buy into the idea that men and women want to be separated from each other,” says Cuccio. “I think it’s an asset to not have separate areas for men and women because it becomes an entertainment, communication, and networking vehicle for both sexes,”

It may be one day that men and women get beauty services side-by-side, but it seems for now the consensus is the farther apart, the better.

“Men want a comfortable, private setting for their service,” agrees Linfield.

Male Marketing 101

Men became a viable market a long time ago, but it seems the nail industry seems to have caught on slowly. Men get facials, hair color, and massages, but seen to skip over their hands.

“Marketing to men is very simple,” says Cuccio. “One of the easiest ways to get a man into a salon is by their spouse, girlfriend, or friend, or friend giving them a gift certificate.”

Getting them into your salon or spa may be easier than you think. At Bellezza, all promotional materials and service menus emphasize that theirs is a spa for both women and men.

“It doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve had male clients tell me that when they saw that we had both services, it automatically put them at ease and made them comfort making an appointment or coming to their first appointment,” says Collins.

Schaeffer recommends appealing to men’s frugal side to get them into your salon.

“Men, like women, are beginning to view their nails as part of their total look. Professional men, in particular, want their hands and nails to look well-groomed,” says Schaeffer. “There’s no point in wearing an expensive suit and shoes when the hands don’t look the part as well. Compared to the cost of a quality suit, a manicure is a drop in the bucket.”

During the holidays and Valentine’s Day, Robello incorporates packages for couples into her marketing strategy.

“We sell a lot of gift certificates for his and her pedicures and massages,” explains Robello. “It’s a great way to get men into the sap.”

Cross-promotion has worked for Dunbar, who gets at least a couple referrals week from local businesses. “I have a good relationship with two barber shops that send male Clients my way and vice versa,” She explains. “The Sunday before the Super Bowl I have al all-male pedicure and massage party, and Father’s Day is always a good time to promote to men. And I can’t stress enough how important referrals are.”

The joy of having male clients is that they’re more likely than females to follow regiments prescribed and to keep their appointments. After all, men aren’t the ones working 40 hours a week and picking up the kids from school, taking them to soccer practice, and rushing home to make dinner. They have time for grooming. And it seems that once you have male clients, they’re not hard to keep.

“I service a lot of blue-collar workers whose feet are in horrible condition,” says Linfield. “After a man’s first pedicure, he’s hooked. So I set up a schedule for them and they stick to it.”

But what about first getting them in? There’s a lot to be said about a man’s curiosity.

“The best marketing tool to get male clients into the salon is referrals,” says Linfield, “Their wives, mothers, or sisters usually bring them in for their first appointment and after that they feel better about coming in by themselves. They just need an icebreaker.”

The simple fact remains that men buy grooming essentials to make themselves look and feel better. They generally don’t ask for a gift with purchase. They don’t discuss their grooming secrets or mishaps with their buddies at the gym. They follow the regimen prescribed and turn to professionals for recommendations, taking to heart what you say, and often making purchase based on impulses.

“Men really make the best clients,” notes Collins. “They’re easy to work on, easy to please, and are very loyal.”

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus

When it comes to marketing and servicing men, there are some golden rules to live by. The unisex approach doesn’t always fly and to make men as comfortable as possible on their new venture into the salon takes some proper know-how. Following are some bits of advice that every nail technician can use for both men and women.






To keep things neutral, try adding men’s magazines to your reception area and keep pastels to a minimum.

Women like décor best. If you keep a separate men’s and women’s area, light candles or spruce it up with some scented potpourri.


Salon owners who service men can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have men’s services on the menu and on display. Direct marketing such as mail outs work great, too. The surefire way to get men into you salon is to have the women in their life entice them with a gift certificate.

Women love gift with purchases and freebies. Offer them deals such as a free paraffin clip with a manicure.


The jury is still out on whether it’s better to have separate men’s and women’s service areas. Whether you do or not, men tend to like no-nonsense and masculine services such as sports manicures and pedicures. Use scent-fee products, especially with lotions.

Women go to salon to get away from it all. They want to be pampered as much as possible. Don’t skimp on the foot massage or be afraid to introduce the latest products. Women love products!



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