Five Ineffective Strategies Nail Technicians Need to Abandon Today


So many variables affect your success in the salon. Even when things seem to be working, there’s room for improvement. If you find yourself doing any of the following, we recommend that you stop. These are the 5 most ineffective strategies you need to abandon today.

1. Seeking business advice from other nail professionals.

Not all advice is good, and hearing the same bad advice from multiple sources doesn’t make it any better. The “common” way of doing something may be popular, but not necessarily the best way.

Some of the most ridiculous advice ever shared can be found on Facebook.

When inexperienced professionals pose questions, imagine how frustrating it can be to read multiple comments encouraging just the opposite of what a responsible professional would advise. As educators, sometimes we’ll interject, other times not, even though we can often predict the bad results that will follow from acting on bad advice.

When seeking advice, consider the source and be more selective. Don’t assume that someone in a position of authority can provide relevant and accurate information; be informed by researching qualifications, asking valid questions and requesting (or seeking) verifiable proof.

As an advice seeker, be willing to pay for quality information, training or coaching; there should not be any expectation to receive anything for free, any more than someone should be obligated to give it away.

2. Offering discounts.

When you’re new or desperate for clients, the temptation may be to offer services at a lower price. No matter how you try to justify it (new client special, referral rewards, seasonal specials, Groupon, etc.), the result is the same: clients will expect more for less. The perceived value of your services will be the lower price you actually charge, regardless of your original service price. If you’re willing to do a $50 service for only $25, that service is worth only $25, and your other prices will become suspect. Note that Groupon requires you to discount your services by 50% and then takes 25% for itself, leaving you with just 25%. In effect you’re providing services at a 75% discount, likely eliminating all profits and costing you money instead.

Don’t confuse being busy with being successful. Quality should trump quantity.

Even seasonal specials can have this same effect. When it’s not likely that your costs change according to the seasons, why would your pricing? We’re selling services, not produce. Restaurants don’t lower their pricing on menu items when their costs temporarily decrease. When you’re able to purchase professional products at a discount, you don’t pass that discount on to your clients.

If you’re trying to compensate for a lack of income or lower profits from more popular services by offering discounts on less popular services, you’re complicating things. Before offering discounts as a way to increase a service’s popularity, you need to do more work (namely math) to reconcile your pricing with your costs. When your services are properly priced and adequately marketed, the services your clients choose will be the ones they value. The services they don’t choose are ones you should consider eliminating.

No matter how popular, any service that can not be structured and priced to produce adequate profit should not be part of your menu. If that describes most of your services, your entire business needs to be reevaluated.

Those who believe that having clients at any cost is better than having fewer or no clients at all don’t understand business.

We try to caution you about comparing your salon business to others; appearances are not always what they seem. The salon in your town that has the most and best Yelp reviews may have a well-executed marketing strategy, but that salon also may not be operating legally, safely or profitably.

3. Choosing brands based on popularity and marketing that brand.

When determining which products to use, there are multiple considerations including quality of ingredients, performance, ease of use, cost efficiency, customer service, technical support and availability. Note that packaging is not a consideration. (This is a service business, not retail, so what’s inside a container matters far more than how the container looks on the outside.)

Unless you’re using a brand exclusively and have some special arrangement with the manufacturer like free product, advertising that you use a particular brand does not help you develop yours.

Because most nail manufacturers will sell to any salon, there is no exclusivity. Promoting a product brand does not leave you with much flexibility to adapt to using other products. Putting the focus on the products you use also gives clients the false impression that the product is more important than the skills and talents of the professional.

4. Making yourself more available.

We know what you’re thinking . . . clients are requesting hours beyond what’s scheduled and you want to do what’s most convenient for clients, even those who are not yours yet. So you compromise your personal time, work your days off, come in earlier and stay later to avoid telling any client that you’re not available. But that would be a huge mistake. Expanding your work hours to give clients more options only makes sense if your schedule is already full AND you want to work more hours. Otherwise, you’ll just be creating more gaps in your schedule and wasting your time.

More availability in itself does not bring more clients.

Unless you really want to commit to more hours, a better solution would be to commit more fully to your current schedule. That is, be firm and offer clients only those appointment times that fall within your stated work hours. You’ll develop a schedule that uses your time efficiently while developing a clientele that fits into your ideal work schedule.

5. Expanding your services.

Many salon owners believe that doing more, offering a wider range of services, will attract more clients and generate more income. This strategy may seem entirely reasonable, but it will only make operating your business more expensive. More services equates to more products, and a more diluted brand (“jack of all trades, master of none”). A better strategy would be to specialize and become known for being exceptional.

Before offering any service, ask yourself, “How does this enhance my reputation as a successful and ethical nail professional?”

If the service is not nail-related at all, then the answer would be obvious: not only does that service not enhance your reputation, it could completely undermine your professionalism. Some examples of services we don’t recommend: “detox” foot soaks, ear candling and teeth whitening.

To ensure your success, it’s important for you to start being more pragmatic. Become an over-thinker. Evaluate every angle of every decision and practice you utilize in your business operations. Ask yourself if what you’re doing makes sense, or if there’s a better way. Don’t make impulsive and irrational decisions, while expecting others to support the reasoning behind their advice with logical arguments. Above all, when you’ve determined that what you’re doing isn’t working, be proactive about ceasing that behavior and researching and implementing a new strategy as soon as possible.

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Jaime Schrabeck
Salon Management Consultant at Precision Nails
Celebrating more than 25 years in the nail industry, Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D. works as a licensed manicurist and owner of Precision Nails, an exclusive nails-only salon in Carmel, California. Beyond the salon, she directs international competitions, teaches classes, organizes events, consults with manufacturers and other salon owners and advises California’s Board of Barbering and Cosmetology as an expert witness.
Tina Alberino on EmailTina Alberino on FacebookTina Alberino on InstagramTina Alberino on PinterestTina Alberino on TumblrTina Alberino on TwitterTina Alberino on Wordpress
Tina Alberino
Salon Management Consultant at This Ugly Beauty Business
Licensed cosmetologist and beauty industry advocate, Tina Alberino is a trusted resource, providing a wealth of information and personalized advice. Tina’s extensive consulting experience informs her writing, available here and on her blog, This Ugly Beauty Business. Her first book, The Beauty Industry Survival Guide, delivers relevant content in the bold and brazen style that has become Tina’s trademark. Areas of expertise include employment law, tax law, ethical salon management practices and professional development.

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