In our research for NAILS’ annual Fact Book we follow salon service prices very closely. It's a distressing fact that for the last few years there has been relatively little movement in prices. Prices for artificial services have been going down (from $42.02 for an acrylic full set in 1991 to $38.40 in 1996), yet manicure prices are going up (from $10.43 in 1991 to $12.69 in 1996). As we said in our analysis in the Fact Book, “A full set is fast becoming a commodity service,” which means that customers purchase these services based primarily on price because they do not recognize a difference in either the service they receive, the finished results, or the product.

Instead of simply a way to lengthen nails, how about applying acrylic (or any other enhancement system) as a very thin overlay on natural nails and skip the tip or form altogether? Clients tend to like the fact that their own nails are actually growing. Learn to do a super-fast set and fill. Time is money, so if you can’t get $45 anymore for a one-hour full set, get it by promising a client will be in and out with beautiful nails in under 45 minutes. Use the flexibility that acrylic sculpting offers. You can correct a natural nail deformity with the right sculpting technique. You can make a crooked nail look straight, or a flat nail look naturally curved. You can stop a nail biter. Keep before-and-after photos in the salon to demonstrate what steady salon maintenance can accomplish.

Excel at every system available to you, not just acrylic. Offer a fabric overlay or gel service, for instance. If clients complain about product smells, try an odor-free product.

You don't need to get swept up in the tide of falling prices or switch your focus to natural manicures entirely. Give clients what they want, but steer them to options they might never have considered.


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