What should I do when clients have their check prepared for one service, but the price ends up higher?

November 30, 2014

I have been a nail tech for many years and I’ve never been good at standing my ground with clients. What should I do when they come in with their money (cash or check) already prepared for one service, but actually get a higher-priced service? For example, they need a repair on top of their fill, or if it’s been longer than three weeks since their last fill (which I charge more for). I’ve tried putting up signs but that hasn’t made any difference.


You are not alone. Dealing with customers’ bad habits, whether it’s timeliness, last-minute cancellations or prepaying, is a common and frustrating problem among nail technicians. Not to worry, they can be retrained! It requires a willingness on your part and a little straight talk. Simply put: Communicate, communicate, communicate. Regardless of your clients’ frequency of visits or tenure with you, they deserve a proper and thorough consultation. Be sure to take the first few minutes of every service to find out what they like about their nails, what challenges they’re currently experiencing, and if they’d like to change anything. Once you’ve heard their needs then you can analyze their nails and make your professional recommendation. It may sound something like this: “Jane, what I heard you say was that you still love your acrylics but the length seemed a little long. (Wait for client to give confirmation.) What you also mentioned was that you have some lifting on three of your nails. (Wait for confirmation.) Perfect, I must say that after looking at the overall condition, you’ve taken really good care of your nails. You do have lifting on three but only one of them will require a complete repair. Additionally, I would suggest that we go ahead and trim them a little shorter. How does that sound? (Wait for confirmation.) Great. Your fill and to repair the one nail will be $__ (fill in the blank).”

If your client has already filled out her check then you can simply say, “No problem, from time to time we do need to make adjustments, so I would suggest waiting to fill it out until we’ve talked. You can either write another for the difference or just write a new one — it’s up to you.”  Don’t assume that because your client wrote a check she is not willing to pay for her service. On the contrary, your client assumes that her service is the same price because you don’t communicate anything differently. At the end of the day, the result you receive is directly related to how you manage your business.

— Julie Shepperly, product team manager, Milady (

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