Special Additions

by Gina Lafazia, April F. Buford, Candace Layne | January 1, 1998

Fun and Easy Art

How can a nail salon compete with all the new nails-only salons popping up around town? And how can nail technicians easily increase their service ticket? The answer to both is simple: through airbrushing. Since many nail salons do not offer this service, clients who become hooked on airbrushing well be knocking down your door to get it done. With airbrushing, your client will enjoy the convenience of fast-drying nails and she'll like having a choice from a very subtle design (with one soft color) to an elaborate palm tree scene complete with rippling water and sunset.

There are four major factors to consider when introducing airbrushing to your salon:

1) When you purchase your airbrush system, I recommend that you don't practice on or in front of your clients. Practicing can be messy and you don't want to turn off a paying client. Remember, you want to control the airbrush, not let the airbrush control you (I strongly recommend taking a class). If you want to charge extra for the airbrush service, educate yourself first, then follow that with three weeks of practice. You need to feel comfortable with the airbrush in your hand. Once you get the swing of it, you'll find that airbrushing nails is quicker than using nail polish and it dries 80% faster.

2) If you want to sell the service- wear it. Whether it's a simple French manicure or a detailed design, if you're wearing it, clients will want it. 

3) At your workstation, have a display board of airbrushed nail tips in different colors and designs. Do not show the client the airbrush paint in the bottle; because the paint is water-based, it looks dull and unattractive. To get a high-gloss shine, remember to seal the nail with a top coat sealer.

4) Put a pricing plan in place. Enticing clients to try airbrushing while increasing your salary at the same time involves charging them for color (polish or airbrush color), without raising your current prices. For example if your fills are $22, charge the client $20 without color. Then charge $2 for a polish application, $5 for a one color airbrush, $10 for a two-tone color blend and designs at $5 per color for all 10 nails.

Heavenly Treatment

Are you ready to differentiate your salon services and develop a new profit center? You can now provide your clients with an exciting, therapeutic, and refreshing skin treatment that will keep them coming back for more. It's based on a simple product your grandmother used- and perhaps some of you still use for canning- paraffin.

For years, physicians and therapists have prescribed paraffin treatments for pain relief, primarily to treat arthritis sufferers. Because the product (a lightweight, flexible wax) provides heat and softens skin, it's also ideal for use in manicures, pedicures, facials, artificial nail services, and full-body treatments. A dip into this warm, soothing solution leaves skin feeling rejuvenated, soft, and healthy. Paraffin surrounds the skin with a healing heat, which serves to increase circulation and open skin pores; wrinkles and age lines melt away, and dry skin is brought back to life.

To enhance the experience, paraffin is also available with a peach or wintergreen fragrance or enriched with pure, soluble vitamin E and essential oils. 

Marketing the paraffin service is important to its success. Equipment manufacturers and suppliers can provide point-of-sale posters, displays, brochures, and video presentations on the features and benefits of paraffin. These promotional materials can be displayed near workstations. 

Salon owners can organize special salon events to promote paraffin with demonstrations, prizes, buy-one-get-one-free specials, or tie-in promotions with other salon services. Clients can refer others and receive a free treatment for every three to five clients referred and serviced. It's also important for you to try the treatment yourself so you can promote it from firsthand experience. 

Complete start-up kits for paraffin are available for about $250. This includes six pounds of paraffin, sufficient for about 24 pairs of hands or 18 pairs of feet at the prescribed five times each. (Purchase separate baths for hands and feet if offering both manicures and pedicures.) Electrically heated mitts and boots are preferred over the terry cloth version and cost about $10 more. They hold more heat for a longer period of time, therefore allowing the paraffin to penetrate deeper for better results.

If you use a start-up kit efficiently and charge an additional $10 for a manicure with the paraffin bath treatment, the kit will pay for itself after the first 24 customers. You only need to re-order the less expensive items, such as paraffin, lotion and liners. If you service eight clients per day five days a week for a year, your profits wold exceed $15,000. Hawaii, anyone? 

Manicuring or Pedicuring in a Paraffin Bath

  1. Follow equipment instructions for preheating the paraffin bath; you can keep the bath plugged in continuously at a cost of 5 cents per day.
  2. Follow all of your normal pre-service sanitation procedures.
  3. Perform your usual soaking/cleaning procedure and apply lotion up to your client's wrist or ankles smoothly and evenly without rubbing the lotion onto the skin; use a heavier application on drier skin. If performing artificial nail services or repairs, do so before proceeding to step four:
  4. Dip one of the client's hands or feet flat with the fingers or toes spread apart. Repeat this submersion four times, allowing the paraffin to solidify between each application. 
  5. Cover the treated hand or foot with a plastic liner.
  6. Repeat steps four and five with the second hand or foot.
  7. Cover both hands or feet with the terry cloth or electrically heated mitts for 15-20 minutes. While relaxing, a client can watch TV, listen to music, or read.
  8. Remove the mitts and break up the hardened paraffin while the liners are still in place. Remove both the liners and chips of paraffin.
  9. Provide a seven-minute massage to each hand or foot, rubbing any excess paraffin from the skin surface.
  10. Prepare nails and apply polish as usual. 

Relaxing Massage

To offer reflexology (the art of reflexing the nerve ending in the hands and feet to destress) you must have a plan. It begins with the proper training, so check your state's requirements because there is no national or even state standard. Some states are regulated by the Board of Massage, while others are regulated by the Board of Cosmetology. Other states have no requirements at all. The state board rules and regulations in most states say that incensed manicurists, who are acknowledged as pedicurists, can massage up to the knee and elbow. I recommend taking a massage therapy class at a certified school to learn more.

When choosing the proper reflexology program, look for one that offers certification, which means a certificate of completion is received at the end of the class. Who is teaching the class? Who is the certificate acknowledged by? The reflexology program I teach is recognized by the Oregon Department of Education. Training programs are also offered by reflexology organizations. Compare the material offered from these organizations. Watch the price! More money does not always mean the program is better. 

In the program that you choose, make sure that the class objective is to understand the purpose of reflexology, to explain the reflex points in the hands and the feet, and how to massage them. Your selected program should include history, principals, anatomy, techniques, procedures, and promotions.

Promoting reflexology is fun. Talk about the class with your clients before you go. When you receive your certification, put in a frame and hang it on the wall near your workstation for clients to see. Sometimes I'll have a sign in the reception area and at my workstation that says, for example, "For the months of August and September, first-time clients will receive a complimentary reflexology session." Another promotion I do is after the holidays. On the back on my business card, I'll offer a coupon redeemable for a five-minute reflexology hand massage. Also, if an organization asks me for a prize for a charity event, I'll donate a 20-minute foot massage and a 10-minute hand massage.

Even though you're new to the service, don't be afraid to charge for reflexology right away. Choose a price that is suitable for your area. The usual rate is $1 per minute, although I'll never say that to a client. For example, I charge $20 for a reflexology foot massage, and if the client asks how long it takes, I'll tell her half an hour-10 minutes to soak and relax and 10 minutes of reflexology on each foot. If she requests more time, I'll explain that I will build her up to more time. I never go overboard on her first visit unless she has been having regular reflexology sessions. I charge $10 for a hand reflexology massage, which includes the manicure and five minutes of reflexology on each hand. 

For the reflexology service, not much is needed in terms of tools since your hands are your tools (although I have seen wooden dowels used to pinpoint the reflex points). The supplies needed are minimal: massage oil, powder or cream, essential oils, and a cleansing soak. A quiet atmosphere is really important, and so is a comfortable chair. 

I recommend keeping a client file and jotting down any important information you find out during the session. If you are keeping track of the client's tender spots and reactions, you will be able to develop your knowledge of the skill quicker. Practice, practice, practice. This is a skill that gets better with time. Read every book you can on the subject. Reflexology is a beautiful gift to give to your client and a profitable one as well. 


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