Business Management

On My Mind: !#&*?

Is retail a dirty word?

I just said a bad word. But I really wish it wasn’t considered a bad word. And actually, it seems like it’s only a dirty word in the nail industry. Want to know what it is? Lean in close so I can whisper it to you. (Retail.) There I said it. I’ll say it again, this time louder. Retail. Repeat after me. Retail.

Part of me understands how a nail tech feels. You’re not a salesperson. I get it. You didn’t enter the industry to push products. Or maybe you worked retail at some point before your nail career and you hated it. (I mean, that was the impetus to get you to cosmetology school, right?) You are a nail technician. You are a service provider. But you are also a nurturer, a style maker, a confidante. So why can’t you also be a retail specialist?

So yes, a part of me understands, but there is also a part of me that doesn’t understand how you can’t make retail a larger part of your job. I’ve seen many contradictions in recent months and I’d like to point out a few.

1. Clients want to buy nail polish. Why else would professional polish manufacturers be selling to consumers online or through “alternative distribution channels”? If clients want to buy nail polish and you aren’t selling it, they have to find it somewhere. Who can blame a professional polish-maker for putting products in retail outlets?

2. You can sell Avon, but not professional nail products. We’ve heard from nail techs who sell Avon or other multi-level marketing items to their clients. If it’s as easy as leaving a catalog and order form out at your station, why can’t you do the same with professional nail products? In addition to nail polish, a few other items that will practically “sell themselves” include cuticle oils, nail treatments and strengtheners, and lotions.

3. The consumer press is making your job much easier. More than ever, consumer beauty publications, websites, and blogs are touting the benefits of professional nail care products. Why aren’t you taking advantage of that from a retail perspective? Stay on top of “what’s hot” in the mainstream media and you’ll be able to have conversations about it with your clients. “Did you see that great article in Allure this month about the new trend in gold nail polish? Well I’m running a special on all of my gold polishes this week so you can keep your fingernails looking like they’ve got the Midas touch.”

4. Do you go to a trade show to buy sparkly hair clips or “magic” corsets? Probably not, but I’ve seen you all buying them. Even those of you on the hunt for new products and great deals are swayed by these impulse purchase items. You can do the same thing with professional nail care products. Have testers out so clients can see how great those new lotions smell and how well they moisturize the skin. Create interesting retail displays that everyone will be attracted to.

I know we’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: You understand your clients’ nail needs better than anyone else. You are in the best position to recommend take-home nail care products for your clients. At the very least you should be sending each and every client home with cuticle oil, lotion, polish, or some sort of treatment or strengthener according to her nail type.

I want to help you figure out a way to bring in more money from your existing clients during the sagging economy. If you already have a client in the salon getting services, why not boost your income by selling her something she needs. Don’t be afraid to offer — yep, I’m going to say it again — retail. Now that you think about it, it really doesn’t sound like such a bad word, does it?

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