You may have worked at a place for eight weeks or eight years, but something’s telling you it’s time to move on. Here are 10 situations where you should heed that inner voice.

 Nail technicians work long hours, sitting in one place. So when something at the salon is not right, it can quickly lead to an intolerable situation from which the only way out is . . . well, out.

For a long time, Karen Barrett worked in an ideal environment. She wanted to work at her first salon after developing a close mentor relation­ship with the owner of the salon. Things went well until the owner made an abrupt decision to alter the commission splits. "We split everything 60/40 and she provided all the prod­ucts," Barrett explains. "Suddenly, she decided she wanted the same split, but that the nail technicians were responsible for buying their own products. We found out about this when a memo was placed on our desks."

When Barrett and some cowork­ers tried to talk to the salon owner, she wouldn't answer any of their questions. "It was really the manner in which she handled it," Barrett re­calls. "When I quit, she was con­cerned about me leaving, but she still wouldn't talk about the change." Today, Barrett works as an independent contractor with The Nail Boutique in Laurel, Md., and is satis­fied she made the right decision to leave.

The following 10 reasons for leaving a salon are just a few of the adverse circumstances a nail tech­nician might encounter. But no matter what the situation, exhaust your resources first. If you can't work it out, then maybe it is time to leave.


Getting along with coworkers is often a challenging proposition. But cooperation is critical to everyone within the salon. "You have to work as a team," says Kimberlee Nicholas, a nail technician in Grand Rapids, Mich. "If you find yourself in a salon where the competition is fierce among coworkers, it isn't the right place." Nicholas worked in a salon where one of the nail technicians was in­timidated by Nicholas' maturity and experience. Consequently, the two could never develop a good working relationship. For Diana Pengitore, a nail techni­cian in Virginia Beach, Va., the problem was being surrounded by coworkers who wouldn't take re­sponsibility for anything except their own clientele, whether it was taking turns cleaning the bathroom or answering someone else's telephone.

Problems with coworkers range from personality clashes, to bad habits such as inappropriate attire, lack of cooperation, failure to take messages, and even serious trans­gressions such as theft or altering the appointment book. In some cases, talking with the coworker about her offensive behavior will get results. But sometimes the only answer is to leave.


Unfortunately, much can hap­pen between nail technician and salon owner that will cause discord, and may even be good cause to leave. An employer who doesn't re­spect her employees:

  • Will make decisions without consulting anyone;
  • Will not effectively settle dis­putes, or encourage teamwork and cooperation;
  • Will play favorite's with em­ployees and clients; and
  • Will not invest in her stall by encouraging continuing education.

An owner's management style, in short, can make or break the nail technician's chances for suc­cess in her salon. "The owners have a responsibility to keep the salon up and stay on top of things, and to be aware of the situations that arise there," says Chris Bar­ber, a nail technician working as an independent contractor in Tulsa, Okla.

Barber left her previous salon after working there for eight years. She felt that the manage­ment had started taking her for granted. "If I had been included in the decision-making, and even given consideration for a management position, I would have stayed," Barber says.


Many nail technicians are dis­tressed by the less-than-ideal sani­tation standards at their salons. For some, it's enough reason to set out for cleaner pastures. Uncleanliness at one table, the restroom, or at the front desk can make everything look bad. "As an em­ployee, you can't control what everyone else does," says Jeanie Stewart, a nail technician in Denison, Texas. "One of the reasons I left my first salon was because of its unsanitary conditions."

When Nicholas searched for a new salon, she would first make personal appointments and ob­serve the nail technician as she did her nails. Were files all thrown to­gether in a drawer? Were there ashtrays on the tables? Were the tabletops wiped down after every client? "I wouldn't work in a salon that I wouldn't patronize myself," Nicholas says.


Barrett's experience at the be­ginning of this article illustrates some of the unfair financial prac­tices that exploit unsuspecting nail technicians. The most com­mon complaints relate to unrea­sonable commission splits, or abrupt changes in the financial agreement between employee and employer.

According to NAILS' 1995 Compensation Survey, the average commission paid to the nail technician is 53.6%; however, the range is anywhere from 20% to 75%. If you fall on the lower end of the range and are also re­quired to pay for your own supplies, the deal might not be such a good one.                                   

Pengitore ran into the problem of bounced paychecks; after two them bounced, she didn't wait around to see what would happen.

Think about the value you bring to the salon; if you've brought in more new clients than anyone else in the past year yet haven't received any financial rewards such as a raise or a bonus, it might be time to talk things over with the owner.


Chronic overbooking might stem from the owners attempt to in­crease her salon's hourly earnings. As a result, nail technicians strug­gle with the burden of fitting three manicures, or a full set, into a one-hour slot. "I'm a perfectionist — I need at least an hour and a half to do a set," says Lisa Furchak, a nail technician in Pompton Plains, N.J. She felt her salon owner was money-driven and put a lot of pres­sure on the nail technicians to work fast. Furchak left after six months.


Unfortunately, some salons still treat nails as an afterthought. Nail areas are placed in small corners, sometimes with poor ventilation and lighting.

Stewart left her first salon not only for the unsanitary conditions, but also because her fellow nail technicians didn't care about the nail industry. "They did hair," Stew­art says. "They weren't interested in continuing education or anything else related to nails." Of course, many full-service salons give great attention to all their services, mak­ing sure everybody's phone is being answered, and that the salon layout is as spacious and pleasant as possi­ble. Consider whether that descrip­tion applies to your salon, and how mm h support the salon owner gives to promoting your business.


One sure sign of a salon that's out of touch is one where education is not a priority. Techniques and client preferences change so rapidly in the nail industry that nail techni­cians must take classes and attend tradeshows to be able to offer then-clients the best service possible.

"A good salon owner keeps her salon up-to-dale on products and education," says Furchak.

Many salon owners might help their nail technicians with further­ing their education if the nail tech­nicians show how motivated they are to succeed. When Stewart signed up for a tradeshow, she mentioned it to her boss. "She hadn't been to a show in years, and she decided to go with me just two weeks after I started working in her salon," Stewart says.


Sometimes there's nothing real­ly wrong with a salon — it’s just wrong for the individual.

Furchak started in a budget salon, where services included linen wraps and quick glue jobs. Then, after tak­ing a few years off to work in an of­fice, Furchak returned to the indus­try, landing a job with a salon that was part of a large department store chain. "It was just too corporate," Furchak recalls. "Nail technicians had to punch in and out, and they were required to take lunch breaks even though lunch is a busy time to do nails." Furchak felt that the at­mosphere was all wrong for the business: "You can't bring a corpo­rate world into a salon," she says.


Nail technicians are licensed pro­fessionals, skilled in a variety of per­sonal services. Therefore, working in an environment where no efforts are made to promote or improve their work can be hazardous to their career. Barber found, her for­mer employer was simply basing all her management and purchasing decisions on what worked in the past. "You have to be willing to change all the time," Barber says. "The owner thought she knew everything, and she didn't." Goals, such as promotions, raises, and new responsibilities should be part of the salon's management structure.


Sometimes a salon starts out in a great neighborhood; then over the years, demographics change. The street may become more crowded with commercial buildings, it may de­teriorate to a point where customers are unwilling to drive1 there, or new salons may cut in on your business. If you are losing clients or notice that the women most likely to come in for nail services have moved away, you might think about changing to a salon in a more promising area.

Do What's Best for You

By the time nail technicians suf­fer through one or two negative salon experiences, they are usually more careful in selecting the place they work next. Learning from his­tory and standing firm with one's value system will ensure a much better fit between a nail technician and her salon.     


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