Dear Shari: How do I build my nail business in a full-service salon that is made up of booth renters?


I am a booth renter in a full-service salon with no receptionist. We are all responsible for our own appointments. With so many hairstylists renting in the same salon you’d think my book would be full but it’s not. I get very few client recommendations from the stylists and they are usually one-shot deals. I understand they have no obligation to talk up my services with their clients, but you’d think that as part of a team they’d want to do so. The salon owner has brought up the subject at almost every quarterly meeting but it has made no difference. I don’t service the stylists’ nails because they do their own or have acrylics done by techs they’ve been going to for years. Any suggestions? Sincerely, Baffled


Dear Baffled:

Oh yes, you do have a problem! Building your client base will be harder without the help of the rest of the team. But if you have chosen to start your career in a salon that is made up of booth renters, it’s the way it goes.

Still I would try to build relationships with the stylists. Start by approaching them one at a time. I would pick one stylist who is trying to build her clientele or is new and offer a barter situation. You will do her nails in exchange for a haircut. And that could get the ball rolling. I would also jump at the chance to give free polish changes and fix broken nails. Eventually they will feel obligated to send business your way.

If that isn’t possible, then go after new business. I worked in a salon years ago where none of the stylists had their nails done (I know! How could that be?). So, I drew from other markets such as health clubs, tanning salons, bridal stores, hotels and resorts, restaurants, and bartenders.

The best advice I can give you is to practice, attend classes, and become the best nail tech you can be, and then the stylists will all rally around you.

Veteran nail tech Shari Finger — owner of Finger’s Nail Studio in W. Dundee, Ill. — fields reader questions in the areas of salon management and workplace politics.

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