Business Management

Lessons Learned

If you’re looking for wisdom and inspiration, a good place to start would be to listen to the advice of some very successful people right here within our own industry. Executive editor Hannah Lee asked principals at a number of professionals nail companies for words of advice so you, the nail tech, can get back to basics.

From mastering technical fundamentals and keeping abreast of continuing education to offering top-notch customer service and truly grasping basic business skills, these leaders in our industry offer a wealth of information to help you refocus and refresh your business.

One Basic Piece of Advice:

Backsratchers Salon Systems Michael Megna, CEO

At backsratcher we believe in education as the primary principle in all business. The most basic platform all nail techs should work from is ensuring salon sanitation and protecting their clients from cross-contamination. You may be surprised how many nail techs don’t know how to make the product they are using or even themselves as an asset to their clients.

Blaine Labs Dr. Robert Blaine, President/CEO

This is a business that can bring in as much or as little money relatives to the amount of effort you put into it. Call clients with either a reminder or to set up a next appointment. Keep a card with as much information as you can get about your client’s personal preferences (sensitive ring finger, allergies, birthday, etc.) Going above and beyond the average walk-in, “Hope to see you again” service will give you an edge far beyond what she will get somewhere else.

Creative nail Design Jan Arnold, co-founder

My advice for nail professionals is to dream BIG and shoot for this dream. If you can see success, you can achieve it. Surround yourself with successful people. When you do this, you learn to walk, talk, and think like a success yourself. My advice for salon owners is that you can’t manage what you don’t know. Learn every aspect about your business and get involve personally. Success in the nail business requires an understanding of the art of nails. Take a class, do a nail, wear the service, and find the passion.


Entity Nail Couture Tom Bachik, Creative Director

The key word is “basic.” Advanced techniques are just refined basics. Techs shouldn’t focus on creating the most beautiful, perfect nail as a whole. Instead focus on the steps that create it. I learned a very valuable lesson in art: if you start out trying to draw the whole picture, you wind up with a big mess. In order to draw anything correctly you must first break it down into pieces. Nails are no different. If you focus on each basic step one at a time the pieces come together and voila, a work of art the most beautiful, perfect nail.

Essie Cosmetics Essie Weingarten, President

Deliver quality service and results - every time. If you deliver top-notch results every time, listen to what your customer like and need, plus offer them advice, they will become lifelong clients. Don’t confuse your customers. This means being true to a brand you trust and can depend on. You have to be the expert. You can’t be all things to all people but if you stand behind a brand and you work, your customer will be more likely to trust you and trust what they will receive from you. In turn, they will be loyal clients and spread the word about your work

EZ Flow Nail System Danny Haile, Founder

My advice is to practice and always continue to practice. This is a MUST to make you the best you can be. I still learn every day in my teaching and training with our global educators. Once someone knows everything, they are in the wrong business.

Flower Beauty Products Geoff Geils, President.

Success comes from a positive thinking persistence, patience knowledge, timing, humility, and “brass ones.” Keep trying, don’t give up, and have a goal to power through the hard times.

Kupa Vicki Peters, Vice President of Operations

Take care of the business and the beauty. Doing good nails is not the only skills you need. One third of your business is doing good nails. One third is customer service. And one third is business skills. Master the fundamentals. If you can’t control your product you struggle for years to perfect your skills. Master the fundamentals first. For salon owner: Do not try to manage your business while working behind the chair. This is never an effective way of management. Hire a salon manager if you still want to do nails and set the standards on how things are to be handled.

Misa Cosmetics Brian Tran, President

You should always listen to your customers’ feedback because they’re the people who could make or break you in the business. They can tell you what is great or wrong in your business so you can make adjustments. In addition, be sure to show your appreciation of your customers. Your customers depend on you to guide them through the buying process since there are so many products out there.

Nail Tek Stu Williamson, President

How can you make more income this year, especially if you don’t have the time to see more clients? Retail sales. No matter how talented you are or how experienced you are you can only perform a finite number of services per day. Retail sales offer you the opportunity to continually increase your income no matter how busy your schedule. The secret is not to think of retailing products as selling but think of it as recommending a good product like you would a new restaurant or a good book.

The Nailco Group Larry Gaynor, President

Always offer your clients a “WOW” experience. Giving the clients the ultimate customer service where you can delight them and go beyond their expectations has many benefits. They walk out happy and hopefully they will tell four of their friends how great their experience was - ultimately sending new clients your way.

Nailite Betsy Ayotte, Vice President

Salon owners need to know what the cost of a basic service is so they know how to price services. If you don’t know the cost of your goods, you cannot know if you’re profitable. Keep things simple, provide excellent customer service, and don’t worry what every other salon is doing.

NSI Rick Slack, President

There is a lot of competition out there. While many of these salons are competing on price, the most successful salon are competing on client satisfaction and quality of service. One of our NSI salon owners offers each customer a cup of freshly brewed tea. She takes tie to listen to her clients. In essence, she makes the experience at her salon a unique, client-focused, warm and hospitable one - an environment that her clients look forward to experiencing again and again.

OPI Products Suzi Weiss-Fischmann, Executive Vice President

Continuing education is the key to success. Nail technology school prepares you with the basic knowledge, but the road to success requires honing those skills to exceed client expectations. Attend educational classes at trade shows, and manufacturer’s classes through distributors. These classes help you stay abreast of the least products and techniques. They also help you learn to maximize your time spent with each client and earn more money as a result. There are always new products that will help you offer a full suite of services that will attract more clients.

Orly International Jeff Pink, Owner/CEO

To be a success, every nail tech must first be in tune with her customers’ needs. When you are performing treatments on your client, remember that you have a captive audience. As personal time is precious, this intimate setting provides an opportunity to build your business. Introduce additional services and show clients how to use the products at home. You must understand the latest technologies and innovative products to help customers develop and maintain beautiful, healthy nails.

Poshe Sue Irwin, National Sales and Marketing Manager

Timing is crucial to building a clientele and earning potential. Quick efficient application builds confidence, both for the nail tech and the client.

 Spilo Worldwide Marc Spilo, President/CEO

Spilo was founded on the premise that the customer is the focus of our universe. Our success has depended on relationships we have built and the way we take care of our customer. A nail tech who follows this credo and always puts the client first will have a client for life. A client who feels you are committed only to her while she is in your chair will look forward to returning. The one practice that will keep clients coming back is always using good sanitation methods.

Star Nail Products Tony Cuccio, CEO/President

Every nail technician needs to always be searching for and incorporating new ideas, techniques, and business-building opportunities. By doing this on regular basis, it becomes second nature. Keep up on current topics and trends by reading top trade magazines. Consumer publications give you the insight on what the stars are wearing and what your clients are reading about and want. Schedule a time once every week to learn something new and then implement it in your salon or spa.


Worldwide Cosmetics Donna Louis, Vice President of Development and International Sales

Continuing education in the nail industry is vital. Understand your customers’ needs and retail specific “between appointment/home use” products to you clients. Advertise in local papers. Get involved in community events and market your business by networking within your community. Referrals are the cheapest form of advertising!

Young Nail Greg Salo CEO

It is most important to structure a plan for success. Structuring the proper business plan and setting your short- and long-term goals are keys to having a successful business.

One Book You Should Read:

Michael Megna: For new ideas and business concepts, we recommend think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki. Basic business principles transfer to all industries, so keeping apprised of new ideas will garner a fresh response.

Robert Blaine:  Raving fans: A revolutionary Approach to Customer Service by Ken Blanchard & Sheldon Bowles is a quick read I asked my entire staff to read this book and I recommend every nail tech make the practices in this book part of their daily business.

Jan Arnold: My favorite is The Agony and the Ecstacy. A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo by Irving Stone. It teaches the discipline behind art and success.

Tom Bachik: The Bible, because wisdom is power.

Essie Weingarten: Professional Manicure Bible by Betty Morgan is an absolute necessity. It has answers to all your questions and the questions you didn’t know you had. It really is the nail technician’s bible. Every one of you should own and read it.

Danny Haile: Milady’s Standard Nail Technology gives you the basics and overall view of applications. One of the best sources and tools to make you better in the salon is continuing to read NAILS Magazine - providing continuous education in every issue.

Geoff Geils: Whether it’s this industry or another you need a voracious appetite for information. Read as much as you can about leadership, fortitude, and human triumph - for example, Endurance by Alfred Lansing about Ernest Shackleton. Read about what makes a good company.

Vicki Peters: Of course you should read every trade publication you can from cover to cover - don’t just look at the pictures. Read every word, and know who did the cover, who wrote the articles, and read the masthead so you know the principals of the magazine. Outside of that, constantly read motivational, business management, and marketing books. We need to step outside of the nail industry and find alternative methods of growing personally and professionally.

Brian Tran: You should subscribe to at least one of the trade magazines for the nail industry.

Stu Williamson: Speaking of good books, I highly recommend the Purple Cow by Seth Godin. His premise is that successful companies have learned how to stand out from their competition by being different and remarkable. Is your salon a “purple cow” or just another boring brown one?

Larry Gaynor: I would suggest you read any books or articles written by Tom Peters. You can log onto his website ( to read articles.

Betsey Ayotte: Start by reading the daily paper. Be aware of your surroundings, understand your community, and read about business. Besides staying informed, you’ll be able to talk to your clients intelligently about current events.

Rick Slack: Blink: The Power of Thinking without thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s about how split decisions that are made. As a company, we have a lot of information that we inherently know about our customer and we are acting on that information rather than over-thinking it.

Suzi Weiss-Fischman: Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson, M.D., is a simple parable about positive ways to deal with challenges and how to make success out of any circumstance. Many leading organizations have used this book to help employees focus on the positive, including Exxon, General Motors, Kodak, Marriott....and OPI!

Jeff Pink: Clicking: 17 Trends that Drive your Business & your Life by Faith Popcorn, a highly regarded trends forecaster, is another great source to get you thinking about the next big thing. This book is guaranteed to stimulate creative thinking as you plan for the future.

Sue Irwin: Doug Schoon’s book Nail Structure and Product Chemistry, and something simple on bookkeeping, Start thinking of your new career as a business. Track everything - from cost of supplies and length of services.

Mark Spilo: I would recommend nail techs read their industry publications regularly. These are the best sources for information on health issues, sanitation, new products and procedures, and service issue.

Tony Cuccio: The Purple Cow by Seth Godin is a great book for nail techs. You can do an incredible set of nails and provide a relaxing spa experience, but if you can’t get the clients in the doctor the first time then your business will go bust. This book helps you look at your business from different perspective and inspires ideas in building your brand and your business.

Donna Louis: You should read any and all nail beauty publication. Any small business articles that educate you on marketing and growing your business sense are also great. I also recommend you read any fashion magazines, and magazines focusing on interior design for serene settings.

Greg Salo: I recommend the 7 habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This great book provides an incredible foundation for success.

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