If you’re a tech looking to grow your business, you need a USP: a “unique selling point.” That’s a fancy way of saying you need to differentiate yourself and your services from other techs and salons so you can stop competing on price.

Competing on price is a race to the bottom. It’s a hard way to pay the bills and an easy way to get burned out.

Differentiating yourself with your USP can be simple. In fact, it’s usually the simple things that “stick” so someone remembers. Maybe you’re the tech known for natural nail care, your medi-tech certification, or trending nail art. Maybe you differentiate yourself by offering the most natural-looking acrylic nails in a five-block radius. Whatever your magic, it’s easier to build a loyal clientele when you have something you can claim as your specialty.

Want to set yourself apart as a foot care expert? Attend NAILS Foot Forward Summit!

One way to do this is by positioning yourself as the educated tech.

Remember, from the clients’ perspective, all techs know how to make nails pretty. But you can give them what they want and need when it comes to their feet; these survey results are your fly-on-the-wall opportunity to hear a client wish list! From there, you can tailor services and recommend home-care products based on targeted needs.

24.5% say they’ve suffered from dry, cracked skin or heels. 


While it’s possible that dry, cracked skin is from a deeper problem, such as a fungal infection, eczema, or psoriasis, many times it’s a simple issue of neglect.

Foot care is a year-round job. Winter is brutal on our skin as the cold, dry air causes it to crack, while heavy socks and shoes make feet sweat. In summer months (and in warm climates), feet are more exposed from sandals and flip flops, which can cause the skin to become callused and cracked. Help clients understand the importance of keeping feet clean, dry, and moisturized.


In the salon: Offer masks, peels, and soaks that will soften skin, then file, slough, and abrade to remove dry, dead skin.

At home: Recommend professional products from your retail shelf for daily use according to the severity of the condition.

As a resource: Recommend a podiatrist or a dermatologist if you suspect a skin problem or if you notice signs of infection.

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16.1% say they’ve suffered from bunions/corns/callus.


Bunions are different from corns and calluses in that they may be caused from a misalignment in your bones or abnormal foot structure. While corns and calluses could be caused by a structural problem, most often the problem doesn’t run that deep, which means you can help.

Talk with clients about how their footwear can cause friction and pressure points that lead to calluses and corns. This isn’t limited to heels, but could also be caused by a shoe that’s too small or too narrow. While shoes aren’t likely to be the cause of bunions, they certainly increase bunion pain if they don’t fit correctly.


In the salon: Soak the foot in warm water to soothe the pain from the bunion and to soften the skin surrounding the corn and calluses. Abrade the skin of the corn and callus within the limits of your state’s license. Provide bunion pain relief with a foot massage that focuses on the toes and arch of the foot.

At home: Emphasize the importance of shoes that fit properly and avoid rubbing and pressure. Suggest a daily foot soak, along with cream from your retail shelf that softens the skin of corns and calluses and that works well as an at-home massage to soothe bunion pain.

As a resource: Help a client understand the likelihood of these conditions worsening without proper footwear and pedi care. Schedule regular pedicure appointments to manage corns and calluses. And recommend clients see a doctor if they have chronic bunion pain.

12.9% say they’ve suffered from ingrown toenails.


Because techs are restricted from performing any service when signs of infection are visible, such as heat, swelling, tenderness, etc., some believe even identifying an ingrown nail exceeds a tech’s scope of practice. However, it’s clear that techs can often prevent an ingrown nail from developing into an issue in the first place. It can take a long time for an ingrown nail to become a problem. As you’re performing her pedicure, talk with your client about the proper way to file toenails.


In the salon: Properly clean and shape the nail to remove any sharp points that are prone to dig into the skin. Clean along the sidewalls of the nail, removing dirt and debris. This often removes the pressure clients can feel when a nail is at risk of becoming ingrown.

At home: Recommend clients wear shoes that fit properly with a wide toe bed. Also suggest they clean under the nail after a shower, making sure debris isn’t trapped and that the nail isn’t lodged in the skin.

As a resource: When a client presents you with broken skin or an infection, refer her to a doctor.

8.4% say they’ve suffered from arthritis. 


Arthritis is an inflammation in the joints. It may be a result of wear and tear or it could be an autoimmune disease. In our aging population, you’ll have more opportunities to tailor services to this clientele. Help clients view you as a resource by recommending your own retail items as a way to find relief.


In the salon: Offer clients soothing treatments, such as paraffin dips, warm heat wraps, etc. Create mani and pedi services specifically focused on arthritic care, which includes a gentle massage that targets swollen joints.

At home: Recommend retail items you sell for at-home use, such as a cream that contains CBD, arnica, menthol, or another natural anti-inflammatory.

As a resource: Schedule regular pedicure appointments that not only provide soothing relief, but also ensure regular maintenance of the skin and nails.

7.7% say they’ve suffered from sweaty feet.


While all of us sweat as a response to nerves, exertion, or heat, someone who suffers from excessive sweating could have a condition known as “hyperhidrosis.” According to the International Hyperhidrosis Society, treatments include antiperspirants, iontophoresis (a type of electrical stimulation), and Botox injections. Botox paralyzes the nerve to stop it from sweating. An antiperspirant lotion called Carpe is formulated specifically for excessive sweating of the hands and feet — giving techs a retail solution to offer clients.


In the salon: Explore the possibility of offering a pedicure (and manicure!) specifically for people who suffer from hyperhidrosis. The service could include a finishing step where an antiperspirant cream is applied to curb sweating.

At home: Research which products you are able to sell clients to use daily, which will increase their confidence and reduce the discomfort caused from hyperhidrosis.

As a resource: Consult with dermatologists and podiatrists to let them know about your hyperhidrosis services and inquire about a referral relationship that more holistically serves clients.

7.1% say they’ve suffered from plantar fasciitis.


Plantar fasciitis develops for a number of reasons, but the result is the same: the fascia band has stretched and torn. If you suspect a client has plantar fasciitis, refer her to a doctor. She’s likely looking at months of treatment, which could mean orthotics, a brace, therapy, or medication.


In the salon: Contact a doctor or a physical therapist to learn the best way to massage or stretch a client with plantar fasciitis. This specialized knowledge could help you become known as the “go-to” tech for athletes and could expand your referral relationships with podiatrists or therapists.

At home: Clients may benefit from applying ice or an anti-inflammatory cream at home, but this doesn’t replace a diagnosis and treatment from a doctor.

As a resource: Use the relationships you’ve established with podiatrists and therapists to build a group of doctors you can recommend to clients.

6.5% say they’ve suffered from torn or missing toenails.


If the area surrounding the missing or torn toenail is an open wound or is infected, refer the client to a doctor. If not, inquire about the cause to learn if it’s an emotional or esthetic concern to your client.


In the salon: If the toenail is torn, trim and file it to remove rough edges and to help guide its growth. Schedule regular pedicures so you can check the progress and prevent an ingrown toenail from developing. If the nail is actually gone, products are available that allow a tech to apply a nail enhancement to the area where the natural nail would be. If you are fully trained on the use and application of these products, this is a fantastic way to differentiate yourself.

At home: A client may benefit from purchasing a buffer or file in case the torn nail splits or tears before she makes it back into the salon. If you’ve applied an enhancement, stress the importance of regular appointments to ensure dirt, water, and debris don’t get trapped under the nail.

As a resource: Become known to dermatologists and podiatrists as the salon or tech of choice for this type of problem nail. Once they’ve given their patients a medical release, they can recommend you to make the nail beautiful again.

5.8% say they’ve suffered from smelly feet.


Smelly feet could be the result of many different problems. It may be caused by athlete’s foot or a skin condition. Or it could be just a good, old-fashioned case of bacteria from sweat.


In the salon: Soak the foot and clean out all the debris from under the nails. This should solve the immediate problem, but help clients see long-term results by explaining the importance of keeping the foot clean and dry. And warn them that socks and shoes made with synthetic material could contribute to smell.

At home: Over-the-counter talc powder and foot sprays can cut down on foot odor. Stress the importance of wearing natural fabrics and alternating footwear in order to give the shoe time to dry out.

As a resource: If a client complains of foot odor over a series of appointments, the issue may be excessive sweating (see page 44) and the client may benefit from a visit to the doctor.

5.2% say they’ve suffered from fungal infection.


Unfortunately, fungal infections in the foot are common. As a tech, you put yourself and your clients at risk if you perform a pedicure on a client with a fungal infection. Your number-one priority when you suspect a fungal infection is to refer the client to a doctor.


In the salon: The best way to differentiate yourself in the way you handle fungal infections is to alert the client to the seriousness of the problem. Take a firm stand to stop “business as usual.” Remove any enhancements on nails you suspect have fungus. Let the client know the nail has to be healthy before you’re able to provide pedi services again.

At home: Stress the importance of keeping the feet and nails clean and dry. Make sure no dirt, water, or debris is trapped under the free edge or on the skin surrounding the nail.

As a resource: Consult with a doctor or a dermatologist to see how you can assist them in their treatment plan. Establish trust with a medical professional who can refer his or her patients to you once they’ve treated the fungus. n

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