At the NAILS Magazine Show in Las Vegas last November, nail competitors were subjected to a new category in judging: Table Management and Sanitation. In this judging category, competitors were evaluated on the neatness and organization of their work area as well as their adherence to accepted sanitation practices. In the words of show manager Vicki Peters, “Someone shouldn’t win first place if she’s a slob!” The category will be a permanent fixture in future NAILS Magazine Shows competitions.

The new award was developed by Peters and show consultant Doyle Sims, salon manager at Edward Douglas Salon in Flossmoor, III. Placing the sanitation issue in competition, says Peters, is indicative of how important cleanliness has become to a nail technician’s professionalism. Says Sims, “We’re interested in improving the professionalism of nail technicians and raising industry standards. The way you handle yourself at the table shows how professional you are.”

Peters and Sims say managing your workstation professionally is a way to get respect from your peers, your clients, and your coworkers.

Your work area should enhance each step of your service, keeping you we’ll organized. Arranging your supplies and implements in an organized manner lets you perform your services smoothly and efficiently.

It’s Easy To Get Organized

You don’t need to be a competitor to keep your work area in prize-winning shape. Getting organized is easy. First of all, have all the tools you are going to need for your next service out and ready. Set out only what you’ll need so your table doesn’t look cluttered.

Second, arrange your tools in working order. It doesn’t matter if you arrange all your brushes by size or your polishes alphabetically or by color — just as long as it makes sense to you and you can retrieve; each item quickly. “If you pick something up, put it back down right where it was after you use it,” says Sims.

Finally, allow time between appointments to sanitize and disinfect your work area and implements and organize the tools you’ll need for your next client.

Salon management experts advise keeping a list of appointments for each day, and the services scheduled for each of those appointments, taped to the wall next to your table. This helps you know what to expect for the day.

How Do You Measure Up?

NAILS Magazine recently checked out a few salons to get some pointers from nail technicians on good table management. Michelle De Nicola, owner of Michelle’s Nails in Redondo Beach, Calif., encourages her nail technicians to make the sanitation system the “centerpiece” of the table. “Clients remark on the sanitation system all the time. They’re obviously impressed by it,” says De Nicola. Except for the sanitation system, the tables are relatively sparse. The salon does gels primarily, so the gel curing light, a single gel brush, and the gel are neatly arranged on one end of the table. “Why keep several brushes on your table when you use only one?” asks De Nicola.

Tantanika Coleman, an independent contractor at Michelle’s Nails, displays her nail art at her table. She keeps a pencil holder full of wooden tongue depressors on her table. Glued to the end of each tongue depressor is a beautifully airbrushed nail tip. “This way, clients can see that I do airbrushing and can see all the styles of art I do,” says Coleman.

Maggie Gallegos, who runs Nails by Maggie in Redondo Beach, Calif., doesn’t have a lot of space to spare — she occupies a small corner of a hair salon. Right next to her table is a clear plastic modular retail unit that doubles as a room divider, Gallegos, who shares shell space with the hairdressers, keeps her polishes on the shelf and her working tools on her table. Because she specializes in acrylic sculpting, she keeps one liquid and two powder dappen dishes, brushes, and primer on the right side of the table. A utility tray holds files and a sanitizing system on the left. Personal items and nail tools and products she rarely uses are stored away in her table’s side pockets and drawers.

Gallegos keeps her tools for a basic manicure; in a small tote bag stored under the table. When someone requests a regular manicure, she pulls out the tote and is ready to go. As for wall space, she has just enough to display her license.

Nancy Massey, sole nail technician at Curl Up And Dye salon in Redondo Beach, Calif., has an entire room to herself. There are two unoccupied hair stations in the room with her nail table, and Massey says she has the room to herself most of the time. Gel curing lights go on a low shelf. Her pedicure bench rolls under one of the unoccupied hairstylist stations. Her footbath goes in a curtained off area. Sanitizers are kept in the bathroom. She doesn’t have to be concerned about where her things are — everything’s in view. Her “robot,” a black, wheeled, five-drawer cart, holds most of her tools. Massey mostly does pedicures and manicures; several hairdryer chairs against one wall serve as pedicure soaking stations.

More rarely, gels and acrylics are requested, so the items needed for those services are kept in the manicuring table’s cupboards. Retailing isn’t a big concern to Massey, but she does have one retail display of polishes and she keeps a few bottles of pink polish on the table.

Massey’s number-one concern when arranging the work area is client comfort. “I like this salon because I have a quiet room to myself. Clients can come up the back stairway to my area and avoid going into the main hair salon. There is a sunny patio right here so clients can sit outside and wait for their nails to dry. I can turn the music up or down. My clients like to be relaxed, and I give them a chance to relax,” she says.

Table Organization Checklist

Display your license so it is highly visible. Clip it on your lamp, tape it to the wall, or frame it and mount it at your station. Keep your sanitation system with implements and files soaking in the liquid right in front of the client. If you don’t use disposable towels, make sure the ones you use are freshly laundered.

Make your client’s comfort your number-one priority. Have an armrest of some kind for her, whether it’s a padded foam armrest or a folded towel. Have your products and implements ready to use and organized so clients aren’t kept waiting and so you can work more efficiently. If you’re not sure what you are going to need, keep frequently used items in a top right-hand drawer and leave the drawer open a little so you can reach in to retrieve what you need.

Keep a covered trash can to the side of your table. Use it for discarding used tissues and cotton. “Show-off items and knick-knacks, such as baby pictures, don’t look professional on your work table. Nail art samples, pretty product containers, or a portfolio tucked neatly to the side of the table are acceptable. Other than these, put away anything you do not need for your next appointment. Wall-mount your phone.

You can save space by keeping some things, such as polishes for retail, on a separate table or shelf or in specially designated retail areas of the salon. Put retail items within eyesight of the client — but don’t clutter your table with them.

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