Franchise Owner Succeeds With Small-Business Outlook

Erika Giannotti isn’t in the nail business for the money-she loves doing nails and helping salon owners get started.


Customer satisfaction is important in any business, but it is absolutely essential to the success of a service business. If you said that nail salons must provide the ultimate in client care, you’d get no argument from Erika Giannotti, owner of the Erika’s Naughty Nails Salon chain in Arizona.

Every new client who enters one of Giannotti’s five salons (she owns four; the fifth is a Franchise) is presented a very important document. The first few pages of the document deal with caring for sculptured nails (and sculptured nails comprise 90% of the operation’s service dollar). On the back page, you’ll find the Erika’s Naughty Nails “Bill of Customer Rights,” Providing this page is one of the ways Giannotti sets her salons apart from the competition.

It’s the seven straightforward statements on the page that have enabled Giannotti to expand from one location to five. She plans on opening more franchises in the near future.

Excellent Customer Service

The Bill of Customer Rights makes some bold promises. Giannotti, however, makes sure every one is fulfilled, even if it means doing it personally.

“The industry has grown. Now there’s a nail salon on every corner. You have to do something to really establish in the customer’s mind that you’re different and better,” says Giannotti.

“Our 24-hour hot line connects to my home whenever we are closed. Say a client breaks a nail and is leaving town the next morning on a 6 a.m. flight. I’ll meet her at one of our locations. I’ve gone out at midnight when someone jammed a finger packing her suitcase,” says Giannotti.

It’s not only the proud owner who possesses this enthusiasm for doing whatever it take to please customers; her staff does, too.

“There’s no such thing as, ‘I’m sorry, we can’t take you, or ‘We don’t do that.’ We never turn clients away. There is always a way to fit them in. We’ll pull a nail technician from another salon. We’ll move a client to a girl who is comparable. Our staff does whatever it takes to accommodate a customer,” says Giannotti.

“We deal in total service,” Giannotti emphasizes. “We take care of the customer, from the time she walks in until she leaves. And many times we take customers outside, start up their car, and get them into the car so they don’t damage their nails. No matter how busy we are, that’s always offered, and 90% of the time it’s requested. A lot of salons have an area up front where clients remove their own polish. We don’t do that. We always remove the old polish for them,” sye says.

This attention to detail spills over into many other areas of the salon, for example, in the quality of nail products Giannotti uses.

“We make our own products. I’ve had other salons want to buy the products. I tell them no, and they say I should sell the products because I could make a fortune. But I’m not interested in making a fortune. I’m interested in building my salons and having the best products available.”

Well-Trained Technicians

Giannotti also oversees the training of each and every staff member. This assures the same high level of service at all locations. “I don’t care if new nail technicians are taking people off the street and offering them a free set of nails. You need to be trained to do it properly,” says Giannotti.

“I had one nail technician come in and do a full set of nails on a model. I told her they weren’t very good. I told her they weren’t very good. I told her she needed to get 15 people in the next week and book them three hours apart. It would be free, of course, and she wouldn’t get paid, but that’s what you have to do to learn.”

Now this approach might sound a little heavy-handed, but Giannotti close it out of respect for an industry that means everything to her. These feelings are best expressed when she reveals her plans for expansion.

Future Francihises

Because it’s her name on the door, Giannotti is very careful about franchising. “If you offered me $200,000 for a franchise, that doesn’t mean I’d sell it to you,” says Giannotti. “The person who wants to buy a franchise has to be a person dedicated to the business. I care about my people. We’re like a family. We have respect for each other. I tell them to take care of their clients and do good work,”

Ironically Giannotti’s dedication to excellence may actually have cost her money in the long run. But it’s a sacrifice she doesn’t regret.

“I could have sold a lot of shops. I don’t want the type of owner who just goes in on Wednesdays and Fridays. I sat with one couple and their franchise lawyer three or four times. I could tell this was only a hobby for them. I explained to them you have to love this business. It can’t be a lark.”

Just as she did when she launched her first franchise in Ghandler, Ariz.., Giannotti plans to help any new franchise get up and running by opening the salon herself. “We opened the Chandler store ourselves. Before we sold it, we held on to it for four months. I trained the nail technicaians who started there and I brought a nail technician from another salon over and made her the manager. When we sold the franchise, it already had a clientele and five technicians hired and working. That’s when I stepped away. Now it’s a turnkey operation. I never take the money and run,” she says.

And when it comes to advertising, Giannotti continues her “one for all, all for one” philosophy. “We put all our shops in the same ad because this way they can all split the cost, which allows them to advertise in more places,” says Giannotti.

Even though she seems to work around the clock, opening, managing, and promoting her five salons, Giannotti still maintains her own clientele on Thursdays and Saturdays. Why? “I have my own clients because I love doing nails,” she says. We never would have guessed it.

The Erika’s Naughty Nails

“Bill Of Customer Rights”

  1. The right to have the services required, provided when and by whom they choose.
  2. The right to expect only the highest quality of products to be used.
  3. The right not to have to wait unnecessarily or have their appointment changed by anyone other than themselves.
  4. The right to have any cracked or broken nails repaired immediately or at their own convenience.
  5. The right to be completely satisfied with any and all services provided by this salon and its employees.
  6. The right to express their dissatisfaction to management at any time and have it considered a compliment, not an insult.
  7. The right to use our 24-hour hot line number for repairs on broken or cracked nails seven days a week.    



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