For this month’s On the Couch, we turn to Louis Mattassi for advice. Louis Mattassi began his professional career removing nail polish in his mother’s salon. A longtime salon owner himself, he is founder of Mattassi Education Trainings, a consulting service. He is also the author of the “$100 Manicure.”

Show Me How

I’m a new tech and I’m a little lost. Unfortunately, I’m not getting much assistance in the salon I’m in and I think I have no choice but to look elsewhere for help and support. What qualities should I look for in a mentor? Do we have to use the same acrylic system?

Dear Lost in America: A mentor should be a successful, mature, passionate professional who has an eye for the many facets of the nail service craft and business. When looking fora mentor to help improve your technical skills, yes, it’s important that she use the same product system as you. To get full benefit from a product, you need to know all its subtleties from A to Z and each brand is slightly different.

When looking for a business mentor, on the other hand, seek out someone different from you. Find an individual or company whose image you admire and that you would like to have for yourself. Don’t limit your search to the nail business. You can learn a great deal from other types of beauty professionals, hair manufacturers, and even general business seminars.

Beach Bums

I’m a salon owner and my techs (who are employees) dress very casually—jeans, T-shirts with logos, crummy sandals. How do I go about imposing a dress code?

Dear Fashion-Conscious: As a business owner, you have to figure out how to persuade with a positive attitude and give your employees a needed attitude adjustment. It’s up to you to be bold and raise the bar of professionalism in your own salon. What kind of statement do you want to make? Can you make it with medical uniforms, fun clothing, a two-colour scheme?

Include the required dress code in your techs’ employment contracts and follow through! Remember, it’s your salon, your vision, and you’re the boss.

Double Standard

I have my own home salon. I keep my old clients at one rate, but charge my newer clients higher prices. It’s getting hard to keep them from talking to each other. I’m not sure how a big increase would sit with my old clients.

Dear Two-Tier Tech: Idon’t believe in old client prices and new client prices. With every price increase you must add value — this can be a free file, a beverage, upgraded products, or a longer massage. A client who sees the added value will never mind the increase.

You should offer manicure services at several different price points. Focus on adding value at your middle-priced service. Your other prices will naturally move up in step.

Sometimes you have to clean house or you won’t move forward. If you lose a client you’ll be able to expand your horizons — and increase your income — with a new client who fully values the quality and variety of services you offer.

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