Too often the nail department is the Cinderella of the salon and spa. She’s outshined by her siblings—the glamorous, cutting-edge hair department, the profit-boosting color department, and the spa that envelops guests in its luxurious embrace.
Tucked into a corner, the overlooked stepsister frequently suffers from a lack of attention as she toils away churning out manis and pedis. But try introducing your Cinderella to her fairy godmother, who’ll infuse her with innovative services, tempting retail lines, top-notch education and talented technicians, and your nail department promises to be the belle of the ball.
The business of nails has changed in the past decade, points out Kim Lento, a trainer for Milady. “At one time having your nails done felt like a luxury,” she says. “Unfortunately, that aspect has become lost. With the competition of generic under-priced shops, the industry has become oversaturated and the cost to the industry has been detrimental.”
Granted, nail departments are boosted by the scores of regular clients who view the services as a necessity, but Lento points out that often the quality of those services has been compromised due to the boom in the industry. “Clients are less willing to pay higher prices and are flocking to the lower-quality, lower-standard generic nail shops because of the perceived value.”
The challenge in creating a nail business that stands apart is in exceeding your clients’ expectations. “If your client leaves with the services they ordered, you have only met their expectations,” says Lento. “But if they’ve left wanting more, you’ve exceeded them. If a client is going to pay $20 for a manicure and $40 for a pedicure, then the entire experience should feel like a $120 service.”
Sweeten the Services
For many salons and spas, nail problems begin with the menu, which frequently lists manicures, spa manicures, pedicures and spa pedicures. While these basics may continue to be your top sellers, more tantalizing services will create a niche for your nail department.
For example, at Faces Dayspa in Hilton Head, South Carolina, Spa Manager Hope Mims invented the Ice Cream Pedicure, which includes a strawberry fizz foot soak, chocoholic sugar scrub, cooling caramel mask and vanilla whipped cream lotion. Other Faces nail services tackle particular issues, such as the Fountain of Youth Hand Treatment, which diminishes age spots and restores and softens rough, neglected hands.
Bonnie Conte, owner of Avalon Salon and Day Spa, draws on her manufacturer to help create exciting services, such as the Caribbean Therapy Manicure and Rosemary Mint Manicure and Pedicure. “We’ve also done a Purifying Stone Manicure,” she says. “When we have something new or exciting like that, then the staff gets behind it and it quickly becomes a favorite.”