Editor's note: Go Ahead, Use the “R Word”

Nail  technicians, even those with a full book, still want to know how to increase their income.

When we ask experienced nail technicians who have full appointment books what their biggest business concern is, they almost invariably answer, “How to increase my income.”

Once the appointment book is full, how do you make more money? You can only extend your business hours so much, and you can only raise prices so high. So then what do you do?

Assuming you’ve already gone full-service and are able to offer clients their choice of services, your next step, most experts agree, is to retail items. By retailing professional products, items that will help clients maintain the gorgeous nails you give them, you increase customer satisfaction as well as your bottom line.

What’s really surprising is how many nail technicians and salon owners, even when armed with this knowledge, are reluctant to retail. They avoid the “R word” like the plague, spouting such lofty statements as “I’m an artist, not a salesperson.”

Sales has a bad reputation in our society. The word conjures up visions of used-car salesmen in plaid jackets, striped shirts, and polka-dotted ties, doing everything in their power to convince a customer that the lemon in the car lot is actually a Maserati in the rough. There are salespeople like that, but they are usually not successful salespeople.

You may say that you are not a salesperson but, in reality, you are selling every time a client sits down at your table. You are selling nail care. Selling products is just a natural extension of selling services.

The fact that a client is coming into your salon indicates that she (or he) is interested in better-looking nails, whether she chooses artificial nails or natural nail care. There is – or should be – an implied contract here: You make her nails look beautiful, and she agrees to perform the necessary maintenance to keep them that way. Obviously, she can’t do her own sculptured nails. She needs to come to you every two weeks for a fill. By the same token, however, if she goes home after her nail appointment and removes her polish with acetone polish remover, all your expert care isn’t going to do much good. So her beautiful nails are a joint effort – an implied contract between the two of you.

Retailing home care products is just taking that contract one step further. Yes, you tell her, you can help her grow her own nails, or improve the look of her cuticles, or whatever the goal is, but in order to do that, you need her cooperation. And her cooperation includes using the products you recommend, in the way you recommend them.

When you look at it this way, retailing is not a dirty word, it’s just another way of elevating the level of service you provide your customers – to say nothing of elevating your bottom line!


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