The Better to See Your Nails!

With manicures done under the microscope, the finished nails speak for themselves.

<p>Microscopes at Micro Manicure Salon allow technicians to examine minute details on nails without hunched backs or squiting eyes. (Insert, top right) These microscopes magnify the nail's surface to six times.&nbsp;</p>

Dr. Albert Capanna was just completing a day of lab work when he could  no longer stand the irritation of a hangnail. He could feel it, but he could not see it well enough to grasp it with clippers, frustrated, he thrust his hand under a microscope and suddenly the hangnail was clearly visible. He proceeded to manicure the hand under the microscope. After finishing the one hand, he went on to manicure the other without the microscope.

When he compared the hand manicured under the microscope with the other hand, he was amazed at how much neater and cleaner the nails done under the microscope looked. At that moment, he decided to someday open a salon and use microscopes to do nail services.

On April 16, 1990, Albert and his wife Dawn opened Micro Manicure in Las Vegas, the salon offers hairstyling and facials as well as microscope manicures and pedicures. Now a practicing neurosurgeon, Albert depends on Dawn to handle the salon operations as well as advertising and public relations. Dawn, who also works as a registered nurse, spends about four hours a day in the salon, while salon manager Deanna Witty handles the day-to-day salon management.

Nails on a Large Scale

Clients don’t dare come in with food under their nails, because most of the manicure is performed under the microscope. New clients can examine their hands through the microscope and are amazed at the detail.

Using a microscope helps technicians prepare the nail better because the nails and cuticles are magnified to six times their normal size. Says Witty, “You can see every hangnail, every piece of skin. The nail looks real porous and all the ridges stand out. And you see all the rough edges on the nails.”

The difference is most obvious with natural manicures, says Witty. The cuticles are neat and the nail plate is very smooth because even the tiniest ridges can be seen and buffed away under the microscope.

“With artificial nails, you don’t get the hills or valleys,” says Witty. “The product is tucked very close to the cuticle, so it doesn’t grow out as far between appointments.”

There are 22 microscopes in salon; 16 sit on the side of the manicure stations. An arm swings the microscope into the work area. The six other microscopes are attached to the three manicure/pedicure whirlpool spas. A microscope at one pedicure station equipped with a camera so interested clients can watch the magnified procedure on a TV monitor.

“Another unique thing we’re doing is micro-manicures and micro-pedicures at the same time,” says Dawn. “We have spas where one technician works on the hands while another one works on the feet. People love the foot Jacuzzi and the lumbar massage, and they’re her just one hour for both services. They really like that.” The combined services are so popular that she has considered opening another salon with just the manicure/pedicure spas.

Through careful planning, the Capannas were able to keep a lid on expenses, and the high technology hasn’t resulted in high prices: acrylics, wraps, and gels cost $40, natural manicures are $20 (including a hand facial), pedicures are $30, and paraffin dips $10.

Employees Must Pass Muster

Just as the Army looks for recruits to be all they can be, Dawn Capanna and Deanna Witty seek technicians looking for challenge and growth. Witty quizzes prospective employees about their attitude and goal, looking for motivated and enthusiastic technicians who want to move up.

“We want to know they have positive attitudes and that they want to improve people’s looks and images. They can’t want to just do nails,” explains Witty.

At the second interview, technicians bring a model to the salon and demonstrate acrylics and gel overlays and fiberglass and silk wraps. Witty and another senior nail technician judge the work.

Once hired, a technician goes through a week of salon-paid microscope training to familiarize herself with the equipment and new procedure. New employees also learn to disassemble, clean, and reassemble the microscope. The Capannas hire specialists who regularly teach surgeon microscope technique to conduct the salon training courses.

“It’s hard at first to learn to look through the microscope,” says Dawn. “Most technicians are willing to do it, but it takes a while to get used to it. For three to four months it slows down their time by 10 to 15 minutes. But now some techs say they can’t doe services without the microscope.”

It’s All Give and Take

Micro Manicure’s 13 employees receive a base salary for about six months until their sales reach $380 per week, then they switch to a 6-% commission. The salon buys all the supplies, and employees get five personal, sick, or vacation days after a full year of service. Employees also receive medical insurance.

Witty says that employees are most enthusiastic about salon-sponsored continuing education. Dawn agrees: “We pay for all continuing education because our goal is to never stop learning. We sent one of our hairstylists back to school to become an esthetician, and our manager went to a management program in Colorado that we paid for.”

Dawn believes that education doesn’t stop with job skills, and that employees are happier when their education is well-rounded. The salon holds in-house personal development seminars and workshops on topics such as fire drills and CPR. “We offer good benefits and educational opportunities to attract professionals,” Dawn explains. Employees receive a copy of the policy and procedure manual and are expected to take the rules to heart. The dress code calls for nail technicians to wear white lab coats and hairstylists to wear black smocks. Soon employees will be required to wear black and white clothing to coordinate with the salon’s black and white décor.

To encourage communication, a salon meeting is held the first Thursday of each month. “The agenda is posted two weeks beforehand so people known what we’ll cover and they’ll be ready,” explains dawn. “We cover policies and procedures at the beginning of each meeting so people don’t forget the rules.

“We talk about our monthly sales and service goals and how we can achieve them – this means how to make our services better and customers happier. We also talk about educational programs, she says.

Maintaining High Standards

Micro Manicure focuses on being in tune with its customers and their needs. Says Dawn, “I have found that professionalism is the key. People coming into a beauty salon are looking for beauty. You should reflect the current beauty fashions because that’s what they’re looking for.”

In addition to offering nail, hair, and skin services, Dawn stresses retailing. “We have a boutique where we sell leather goods, all kinds of jewelry, handbags, jeans, T-shirt, suits – one-of-a-kind things.” The salon also retails hair products and makeup, as well as select nail products. Dawn hopes to make retail sales account for 30% of gross receipts – the boutique already accounts for a hefty 20% of salon business. Nail services are 60% of sales, and hair services are 20%.

Dawn regularly advertises and holds monthly promotions to build the salon’s client base. “We advertise in the Nevada Casino Journal for casino workers and in student newspapers. We do television and radio advertising, but not all at the same time. And we advertise in the yellow pages, which has been our most successful draw.

“Every month we feature a different special. In June we offered 20% off full sets. Specials really draw in clients. We also put signs in our windows,” says Dawn.

The salon also gets involved in community activities. “We have sponsored candidates in various beauty pageants and we do all their hair and nail, and we get in the programs as part of our sponsorship. We also did some charity work with the Moscow Circus for a children’s charity.”

The salon’s client base continues to grow as new customers are drawn by the great nails and professional atmosphere at Micro Manicure. The Capannas’ microscope concept is so novel that they’ve registered the salon’s name and have a patent pending on microscope manicuring. Eventually, they plan to franchise the salon. And to think it started because of a little hangnail.

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