Salon business consultant, educator, competition judge, competitor, speaker, salon owner, nail video technician, magazine columnist, color and image consultant — Paula Gilmore has been all of these and more.

Gilmore, owner of a salon consulting business, Tips Nail Industry Solutions, and co-owner with Stephanie Bricker of a salon, Tips Nail & Image Center in Redwood Shores, Calif., has been in the nail industry for more than 17 years. During this time, she’s seen the nail industry evolve.

 “The methods stay the same, but the products continue to improve,” she says. She’s been doing nails long enough that she’s gone from perfecting her technique and teaching those skills to others, to perfecting her business and professional skills and passing those skills on to others. Gilmore believes that business-related education is where technicians need the most help. “The sources for business skills are hard to find. Where are nail technicians going to learn those skills?” she asks.

Gilmore says, “We need to constantly improve the level of our professionalism and excellence.” For instance, says Gilmore, rather than nail technicians just doing a particular service or services, “Technicians need to learn to handle the client as a whole person.” This level of service includes a series of steps that Gilmore has numbered and described in one of the many instructional worksheets she’s developed.

Gilmore teaches that the nail service itself is only part of an entire process of beautifying the hands. The process starts with answering the initial client phone call and continues to setting up an appointment, interviewing and setting goals with the client, setting the next appointment, and following up with a phone call a few days after the initial visit to see how the nails are holding up.

This type of thorough client involvement eventually gets you fully booked, says Gilmore. Clients who are treated this way come back again and again and they refer other clients to you. “I see technicians sitting drawing up a poster for outside the salon (to drum up new business) when they should be working on their core clientele. If I get a juicy new client in my salon, which nail technician am I going to give her to — the busy one or the one who isn’t? I’m going to give her to the busy one, because that shows she’s the one who retains her clients.”

Nail technicians attending NAILS Magazine Shows can learn Gilmore’s customer service philosophy in her course, “Booked Solid Nailtech.” Another course she teaches, “Power Proscribing Nail Services,” instructs participants how to prescribe specific nail services for clients, each of whom may have different needs.

A natural nail manicure client may continue to have peeling and breaking nails. For this type of client, Gilmore suggests a consultation that would go something like this: “We’re having a problem. Your nails aren’t getting any longer or stronger. I’d like to try something. Let me put a wrap on one of your pinky lingers and a tip and overlay on the other, and you can see if you like either of them.” A few days later, you call the client and ask her how the nails are doing. An appointment for a set naturally follows, she says.

Gilmore’s Booked Solid Tips

Select a salon that has good business-building potential.

Become educated so that you perform all services well.

Don’t wait for others to act. Make your own marketing plan.

Track new, delinquent, as well as regular customers with client cards.

Focus on your success by setting and tracking exact dollar goals.

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