Pedicures are definitely growing in popularity. Salons throughout the country report that technicians who work on clients’ feet are solidly hooked year-round — not just during normally busy summer months. To discover how you can concentrate on this growing area, NAILS spoke to three successful salons around the country and asked how they developed a profitable pedicure department.
Pedicures Account For More Than 16% Of Services
Day Spa Beautique, Inc., Houston, Texas. Ginny and Frank L. Burge, owners. Ginny and Frank L. Burge opened Day Spa Beautique, Inc. in 1956. Starting with a small space and six employees, the Houston, Texas, spa has grown into a two-story building spanning 12,000 square feet.
Sixty-two staff members, 14 of them nail technicians, perform a long list of services that includes foot care. “Pedicures have always been a profitable part of our business,” Ginny Burge says. “We started with tubs back in the fifties and gradually updated equipment over the years. When we designed this building, we included all underground plumbing and electrical (wiring) so we wouldn’t have problems with people tripping over wires, cords, and plugs. We also added European chairs with built-in whirlpools, and vibrators in the lumbar area. Currently we have eight of these chairs, and we’re so solidly booked we could easily fill several more.”
Day Spa Beautique clients can receive either a regular or spa pedicure performed in rooms offering partial to total privacy. “Our regular pedicures are $27.50 and they last one hour,” Burge says. “Spa pedicures are $40 and last an hour and a half. Spa pedicures include extras like paraffin treatments. Both are performed on throne chairs and concentrate on relieving the client’s stress.”
Velma Vinson, who has been working for the Burges for the past 30 years, says an important ingredient of the; pedicure service is massage. “We spend at least 40 minutes working the foot for our spa pedicure,” she says. “Using shiatsu and reflexology techniques, we start at the bottom of the foot and work our way from toe to toe, then all the way up to the leg. I’ve developed my own gentle manipulations over the years. Clients must like my touch because I’m busy all day long. Sometimes I don’t even have time to eat lunch.”
In January and February alone, Day Spa Beautique, Inc. performed 4,219 nail services, more than 675 of them pedicures. December gill certificate sales, most of which also include a pedicure, totaled $87,000. “So many women work full-time in jobs when they’re standing on their feet all day long,” Burge says, “that once they try one of our pedicures, we don’t have to ask them if they want to return — they ask us.”
Both Burge and Vinson believe pedicures will continue to grow in popularity throughout the ’90s. “Pedicure customers come to the salon wanting to relax and be pampered,” Burge says. “We’ve built our reputation as a stable, traditional salon that gives quality service. We’ve also been fortunate to retain a number of loyal, dedicated, and highly experienced manicurists, like Velma, who have been with us for a period of 20 to 30 years. Clients know they can depend on us and that our stall will give them the service they want and deserve.”
Besides a staff well-trained in the art of pedicures, Burge says it’s also important to run the department efficiently. “We run a very tight ship,” she says. “We try very hard not to have clients sitting around wailing to have a pedicure.”
To help promote professionalism and efficiency, the Burges installed a computer system with software developed at the spa. “Monitors are located throughout the salon,” Burge says. “By just punching a few buttons, any employee can find out who her next client is, what services she’s requested, and if there’s a cancellation or change in services.”
The computer software is designed to coordinate pedicures with other appointments so clients have the least amount of time between services. “When someone calls in for an appointment, one of our four receptionists punches in the client’s name and knows immediately for example, who her favorite technician is and when she last visited the salon,” Burge says. “As the client books her appointments, the computer automatically locates free blocks of time for each service.”
Spa services are available to employees at no charge. “Technicians need to experience everything the spa offers so they can easily recommend other services to their clients,” Burge says. “Pedicures are very profitable, and they are also an invaluable way to promote cross-marketing. Where else do you have a client’s undivided attention for 60 to 90 minutes?”
Successful Pedicures? Minimum Time, Max Relaxation
Grand Salon, Chicago, Ill. Kalhy Fanslow, owner. A busy career woman for more than 25 years, Kathy Fanslow used to spend her days off rushing from a hair salon to a nail salon to the spa where she received a facial. One day while lighting Chicago’s busy downtown traffic, she began to fantasize about a place where a businesswoman could go, park her car *** once, and have all three services performed at the same time. The idea took hold, and after doing a lot of research, Fanslow dusted oil the license she received but hadn’t used when she attended beauty school at the age of 20, and opened her salon with a partner in 1989. After several years, Fanslow bought her partner out, and Fanslow is currently the sole owner of the successful Grand Salon in Chicago, III.
Besides requesting hair, skin, or one of the other long list of head-to-body services the salon offers, a growing number of clients are asking for pedicure’s. “I have five nail technicians and I’m currently in the process of hiring another,” Fanslow says. “We have three pedicure chairs, which are always booked solid. Some days I could use five more chairs and technicians.”
When planning the 3,500-square-foot space, Fanslow admits she underestimated the popularity of pedicures. “We opened with only one throne chair,” she says. “Our first spring in business, we felt we needed to expand. So we called the contractor back and said, ‘You have to find a place for more chairs.’”
But simply adding more chairs doesn’t guarantee a busy pedicure department. Debi Bragg, a technician at the salon for three years, believes technical skills and speed are major reasons clients prefer a pedicure at the Grand Salon. “I’ve been a technician for 12 years,” says Bragg, “and I’ve worked hard to develop and sharpen my skills so I can perform a pedicure in 40 minutes and still offer clients a deluxe, relaxed service. My clients are busy professionals who need a quick, yet quality service. I’ve learned to file a client’s nails to any shape, and give a massage that is so relaxing it puts some people to sloop — without taking up too much of their time.”
“So much of this business is based on personality and attitude,” Fanslow says. “My technicians are upbeat people who love; their work and care about their clients. They know how to pamper and relax them while getting them in and out of the chair. Hire talented team players and you’re almost guaranteed a healthy clientele because; clients will always come back to you.”
The salon offers only one type of pedicure, a $30 deluxe spa service designed to pamper.
While Fanslow could easily fill more pedicure chairs and expand into a larger space, she says at this point she’s content to keep her business exactly the way it is. “Bigger isn’t necessarily better,” she says. “And adding another three pedicure chairs won’t automatically make your business more profitable. It’s equally important to watch your profit levels and costs. Pedicure equipment and products are expensive and you have to be careful of waste. But if you watch your bottom line, hire skilled, personable technicians who really care about their clients, you can create a profitable pedicure department.”
Retail Products Make the Service Last and Last
Robin Kluge, general manager of Maximus Total Beauty Day Spa Deluxe, Long Island, N.Y. Richard Calcasola, owner. Robin Kluge’s impressive background in the beauty industry includes experience as manager of Bloomingdale’s cosmetic and fragrance department and head of her own successful consulting business.
It was during her days as a consultant that Kluge met Richard Calcasola, owner of the well-established, 25-year-old Maximus Total Beauty Salon in Long Island, N.Y. “Richard originally hired me to revamp his cosmetics department,” Kluge says. “While working with him, I suggested that he might want to consider using the additional 1,500 square feet of space he had just acquired to open a day spa.”
Richard agreed and hired Kluge to help develop the spa, which opened in December 1990, in space adjacent to his salon. “Part of the spa includes an innovative nail department devoted to educating people about the importance of foot and hand care,” Kluge says. “Two types of manicures and pedicures are offered, along with a variety of products that help clients maintain their nails between visits.”
For the feet, for example, clients choose between a 45-minule, $30 aromatherapy pedicure or a full hour, $35 spa pedicure. “We use oxygenating elixirs such as holistic aromatherapy oils derived from plants, roots, bark, and trees that rev circulation,” Kluge says. “For exfoliation of dead skin cells we use a special honey-almond scrub that differs from others on the market because it uses the more expensive and therapeutic meat of the nut, not the shell.” Other products include a nourishing avocado cream and, for the spa pedicure, a peach paraffin dip that locks in moisture.
Technicians are trained to educate; clients about the benefits of each pedicure product used, encouraging them to take home items for continuous home care. “From the business end, if you charge $35 an hour for a pedicure, it’s very labor-intensive,” Kluge; says. “Technicians really need to be earning a dollar a minute; to make it profitable. To make money in this area, we retail all of our products. We sell aromatherapy oils to calm or energize for $30. a trio of the honey-almond scrub, the almond bath cream, and the avocado body cream sells for $30. Recently we introduced glycolic nail treatments as an add-on service.”
Kluge; says it’s up to salon owners to teach their technicians that retailing is not a dirty word; it’s a trademark of a true professional. “I teach classes all around the country on how to be profitable,” Kluge says. “And one thing I stress over and ewer is, ‘tell, don’t sell.’ Technicians assume clients don’t want to be educated, but that’s not true. Clients go to you for your professional advice. They depend on you to tell them what they need. You already know the steps of each service and understand the benefits, and you do it intrinsically. What you need to do is tell clients what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how using these products at home will extend the benefits of their salon or spa treatment. Look at all the products you have to use to get her feet to look a certain way. How do you expect the client to take care of her feet between visits if she doesn’t have the right products?”
To introduce other spa clients to foot care, Kluge fills portable foot baths with potpourri and aromatherapy oils and treats them to a soothing soak. “This keeps clients calm during waiting periods,” Kluge says. “It also encourages them to try one of our pedicures.”
Not that the spa needs more clients to fill its chairs. Kluge says the pedicure area is constantly booked solid. “We’re currently looking into expanding the 4,500-square-foot space,” she says. “And one area we’ll definitely enlarge is the pedicure department.”
Meanwhile, Kluge tries to fill client demand with one of four portable spas. “I don’t like to turn down business,” she says. “So if both chairs are full and the client really wants a pedicure, we’ll ask her if she minds a technician using one of our portable spas. Most clients don’t care because they’re treated to the same deluxe service. The only difference is they don’t sit on the throne.”
To service more clients, dual services are also encouraged. “We take off $10 if a client schedules one technician to do a manicure or facial at the same time another technician does her pedicure,” Kluge says. “We also sell a series of services. Clients pre-pay for four services and get the fifth free. Clients like that because they save 20%, and we’re guaranteed to see that person five times. If we can’t make a steady pedicure client out of them in that amount of time, we belter take a good look in the mirror.”
Kluge advises anyone wanting to start or expand a pedicure department to hire a professional consultant because it’s easy to make costly mistakes, “Don’t try to do everything yourself,” she says. “Richard started Maximus with only two or three employees, and this is his third expansion. He works the business from the inside out, hands-on, and is savvy enough to hire consultants whenever he needs them. That’s how to be successful.”
The 12 Characteristics Of A Successful Pedicure Program
1. They pay strict attention to sanitation procedures.
2. They encourage retail sales of pedicure products.
3. They hire technicians who are skilled team players.
4. They encourage cross-over services.
5. They stay on top of industry trends.
6. They offer first-rate soothing foot massages.
7. They stress education.
8. They promote pedicures as part of gift certificate packages.
9. They treat employees with respect and equality.
10. They stress constant staff meetings and in-house retraining programs.
11. They do not pay to advertise. Word of mouth fills chairs to capacity.
12. They watch their costs and know their bottom line.
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