Customer Service

Ask the Manicurist

Tired of biting your tongue where your clients’ misdeeds are concerned? Let The Manicurist tell it like it is. This beauty industry veteran doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to salon etiquette and client complaints. Share these pages with your clients — if you dare.

Q: Is it okay to leave my cell phone on during my nail appointment?

A: Uh . . . no. Duh? Do you have any idea of the countless hours a typical manicurist (and I’m sure I speak for abused hairdressers as well) spends in a year on cell phone blunders? First off, there are the repairs. Then there’s digging in a client’s purse for an annoying ringing problem that isn’t even hers to begin with. How about waiting on you to hang up so that she can stay on schedule? If you’re expecting a call from the President, leave him the salon number. That’s much more polite.

The lowdown: Don’t do it, toots. Your nail tech may smile for professionalism’s sake, but in her heart, she’s seething.

Q: I never seem to be able to please my nail technician. If I’m even 10 minutes late, I can feel tension has built while she waited. When I’m ahead of schedule and drop in a half-hour early, I feel another kind of tension in the air. I try to be friendly and make small talk with her and the client before me, but I feel uncomfortable, almost like I’ve horned in or something. What can I do to please her?

A: When you make an appointment at 9:00, that doesn’t mean 9:10, 9:15, or 9:30, nor does it mean 8:30 or even 8:45. Some large salons can afford a wide range of interpretations of time with their clients, but most small ones cannot. Ten minutes late for a repair or repolish can mean the whole appointment. Ten minutes late on a hectic day can determine whether or not your nail tech can scarf down a bite of lunch in a 10-hour day. Heck, 10 satisfying minutes could save a marriage — just ask any sex therapist!

As for being early, there is a reason you feel uncomfortable, like you’ve horned in. If your salon doesn’t have a private waiting room, please remember that the hour before your hour is bought and paid for by the client before you. For all you know, she’s just divulged a sordid affair to her trusted nail tech. How can she finish the details with you looking over her shoulder? There is still time to salvage your reputation if you change your ways now.

The lowdown: Be on time. It’s the right thing to do, and it tells the other party that they possess your respect which is very pleasing to all. Five minutes early is acceptable.

Q: My nail girl had the audacity to charge me a cancellation fee! I have been a loyal client for six years and have never cancelled an appointment without calling. I’m miffed enough to look elsewhere. Is this standard procedure for most nail salons?

A: Well, if it isn’t, it darn well ought to be. First, let me give you the proper protocol for canceling appointments with “your nail girl.” Cancellations should be in advance except in emergency situations such as, er, ah, you know, your husband left you for your best friend’s husband or something. Otherwise, you should give at least a 24-hours notice. If you really want to stand out as the ultimate classy and savvy client, volunteer to pay a cancellation fee and insist that she take it. Cancelled appointments are often not filled, which can cost an operator a good deal of money, and I believe you wouldn’t like it if your paycheck was docked unfairly. Most hardworking nail techs have rent to pay, not to mention transportation costs, and insurance. And their kids, like all kids, want name brands and braces.

The lowdown: Pay up, chick. You never know when the ultimate classy and savvy client will walk in and usurp your standing appointment time.

Q: I am a young mother of two, and the highlight of my week is having a manicure for which I must sacrifice other things to be able to afford. I cannot afford to pay for a babysitter for my 2- and 4-year-old and still pay for my manicure. Don’t you think my nail tech is being selfish and unreasonable to frown on my bringing them in? We’re only there for an hour or so. I always bring lots of their toys and they are very well behaved.

A: Why sure they are, like all 2- and 4-year-olds. Since you stated that you are young, I am going to be kind. It is customary to be clueless when you are young, as well as selfish, and I ain’t talkin’ about your nail tech. It is completely selfish, unkind, and unreasonable for a mother to expect a 2- and a 4-year-old to be well behaved for an hour or so in a nail salon. Grow up! I’m also too kind to say that your nail tech and everyone else in that salon hates you and your children, but please be assured that they are relieved when your hour is up. A lot of your nail tech’s other patrons did get a babysitter and for what? To listen to how well-behaved your children are? I don’t think so. Aside from being inconsiderate of others, there are many other reasons to not bring toddlers to a nail salon. Many of the products used in a nail salon are simply not kid-safe. I find it hard to believe that your toddlers are being watched every second of your visit.

The lowdown: For your nail tech to be selfish and unreasonable, she would have to chase all three of you out of the salon, screaming, with a large stick in her hand, and even then it would still be a matter of opinion.

Q: Recently when I’ve had to rearrange my schedule a few times with my nail tech, she has seemed uncooperative. I’ve given her my business for years, and in the past, she’s always seemed reasonable about my summer and fall vacations (I have a vacation home on the coast). Once, trying not to upset her routine, I gave my time to my daughter for a month and she even seemed irked about that. Sometimes I have to ask myself, who in the world does she think she is? I truly love my nail tech, as a professional and a friend, and I do not want to lose her. What do you think?

A: I think that if you truly love your nail tech as a professional and a friend, then you need to look at things from her perspective. You say that you’ve given her your business for years almost as if she hasn’t given you anything. She’s given you years of her time, expertise, and from the sound of things, her patience. Gave your time to your daughter? Good grief! I know that men and women can come from different planets, but what planet of entitlement did you come from? If you need to reschedule appointments for a month or more at a time, then you need to relinquish that time to someone else. Your so-called appointment time belongs to your nail tech, and she graciously holds it in good faith, especially for you, until you pay her a fee for either her services or your absence. It’s that simple. Shucks, has it ever occurred to you that your nail tech may not even like your daughter? I mean, I know she’s probably precious to you, but come on. The day it is no longer my prerogative as to who sits in my chair, I quit.

The lowdown: I’m sorry, but some questions always remind me of the book, “All I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.”

About The Manicurist: The Manicurist — aka Rebecca Seals — is a licensed cosmetologist, esthetician, and salon owner with 18 years experience in the beauty industry. She has traveled many roads in the U.S. preaching and teaching the gospel as she sees it.

KEYWORDS: business, question and answer, client questions, handout, The Manicurist

Facebook Comments ()

Leave a Comment


Comments (0)

Featured Products & Promotions   |   Advertisement

Market Research

Market Research How big is the U.S. nail business? $7.3 billion. What's the average service price for a manicure? Dig into our decades' deep research archives.

Industry Statistics for

View All


FREE Subscription

VietSalon is a Vietnamese-language magazine and the sister publication to NAILS. Click the link below to sign up for a FREE one-year subscription.

Get a free preview issue and a Free Gift
Subscribe Today!

Please sign in or register to .    Close
Subscribe Today
Subscribe Today