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My heart has been drained of my joy as I think about this situation. I hope someone can help. I have been a tech for over 20 years. I have never done great in my hometown- the mentality is geared for NSS...... I started in a salon back in February, so I have been there 6 months. I was doing good until a couple weeks ago. For the past 2 weeks I have taken in $20 and paid out $130 in rent. Yeah. I have overheard some of the hairdressers tell clients they need to get their nails done. They haven't recommended anywhere but they haven't spoken up about me. They go to a couple of the NSS places and come back with super thick, super wide nails that are so ugly. I have had some business from them, doing their toes because no one else in town does acrylic toes. I do colored acrylics and they love that. I am about ready to throw in the towel and told the owner that if this week is like the past two, I will quit. I don't want to owe her back rent that I can't pay and it's not fair to my family to take away from my husband's pay check that pays the bills. I am so down right now....I don't know what to do. I just want to turn into an ostrich and bury my head in the sand. I have never felt like this before. Thanks ladies...I didn't mean for this to go on and on.
My heart breaks for you, I can't even imagine.

One thing I think you should do is speak to the owner and see if she can discuss recommendations of co-workers at the next team meeting. Sounds like there isn't much team spirit there. The hair dressers should be talking up a storm about your services.. and of course you recommend them.
There are no team meetings. The owner actuallytries to put everything off on another stylist when it comes to any major decisions- we had a problem with sytlists bringing their kids....she told one of the other girls to tell this stylist notto bring her kids back, meanwhile, she and a couple others still bring theirs- one brings the kids she is babysitting. I know this sounds like I am whining....on the owner's birthday, everyone wasinvited to her party but me. I am not included in anything. Part of the time, I am not even asked if I want something for lunch when they order. I have never seen a more unprofessional group- and they act like they are proud of it. There is so much more....I sometimes wonder how they have been in business as long as they have.
Were you making a decent living before, and just had a few slow weeks? Or has it always been so bad? I only ask because in July I had two weeks in a row that I only brought in around 600 and I was thinking that wasn't worth it! Then things went back to normal... and I realize 600 sounds good, but I have a solo shop, so it's NOT a good amount with all my overhead! Even if the pay was decent before, it sounds like a no win situation if they are not treating you as a team member and there isn't good leadership - is there somewhere else you could go work? It's such a shame that we have such a difficult time finding a good place to work in this industry!!
I'm sorry to hear how you are feeling and being treated. I totally understand how u feel :/ In the place I was at for 11 yrs I never felt like a part of their "group". Never included in anything. A few Weeks ago my best was passed up and 2 days later I was asked to sign a big card for someone elses bday! So I quit and tried somewhere new and the only reason I really like the new place is because I truly felt so welcomed and a part of the group. That however doesn't pay the bills. My advice would be for u to try a different place! You have nothing to lose since u aren't making $ there anyway. A new environment/people/team might spark your excitement for your profession again and hopefully the $$$ would be better. And at least u could say u did your best. I have been doing nails and struggling with these same things for over 16 yrs but what keeps me going is I do love what I do and I KNOW there is money to ne made
Omgoodness...did we work at the same salon?? Lol..seriously...i just left a place like that. I brought in a bunch of new hair clients and never even got a thank u. And the stylists never talked me up.
You just have to go where u feel comfortable at. Im working in a little salon now and honestly i must say for the very FIRST time in my whole nail career...im working with sincere ppl. It is possible...u just cant settle.
The previous salon put the new stylists pic and had an ad in the local paper...but not mine. It was very clicky... and no team spirit at all. Everyone fended for themselves.. i honestly dont know how effective a talk wld be at this point....if the owner is chicken and has the other girl handle her business-- how far do u think u will get?? Maybe its time to move on. Thats the greatness of our profession--- their are Alwys more salons out there!!! I can tell u from experience that it prob wont get better. I was at that salon for almost 2 years and still wasnt making a decent pay. But u have to decide how much you can put up with. Dont sell yourself short.... somewhere out there is the perfect place for you!!!!
Yep, that place is definitely toxic, you need to be looking for another place to work. The first place I worked in Huntsville was like that, I was the odd person out. One of the most stressful places I've EVER worked in. I left after 6 months.
I really hate these threads about how bad everyone is treated and how nail techs struggle after a decade or more to make a living - it really makes me mad that the importance of what we do is not valued by so many who are basically in the same industry! I wish that all the nail techs who are working in their own homes or struggling in back rooms of hair salons would band together and start opening nail only salons where everyone can team up and build something wonderful and profitable together!

Last week a local nail tech working as a booth renter in a hair salon came in to talk to me, and after she left I was really convicted that I needed to offer her a spot in my studio. I hate it that we struggle so hard just to be treated with respect and earn a decent living.
:/ that's so true...respect for our profession would be nice but it needs to start w ppl just being adults, not catty, and respect for ppl overall. Ugh. Just reminded me about my old salon...all employees (even some that had left) had nice framed pictures on a wall in the salon with a nice note underneath saying how long they had been there. I didn't get a pic taken or offered, and over the years new ones were added but the owner must hv never noticed I wasn't up there. Dang, how sad lol. I am so glad I finally let go of that place!
Thanks for all the great feedback. I got to talking to one of the stylists that is actually a friend- we have known one another for a long time and I value her opinion. She finally told me that one of her clients complained that I was too expensive. I hated to do it, but sometimes......If you can't beat them join them. I have lowered my prices quite a bit. I was at $35 for a set and have dropped to $25 with a Saturday Special of $20. I know that is a give away price but here in this town, the discount places rule. I know...I hate it, especially when a few years ago 10 miles down the road I got $40-$45 a set. I have set all my prices to meet or beat anyone in my town. I am still making money, but not exactly what I had hoped for. Wish me luck.
Just a short update. I printed new brochures and price lists to hand out and a flyer on the door- put it up yesterday. I handed out all the brochures yesterday and had to print more. I also placed a small newspaper ad saying I have the best prices in town- today was 1st time in the paper. I did better today than on any Saturday for quite awhile. Also, one of the stylists is friends with an Asian tech who is the best one here (he does have a license) and he told her he had been slow the last few weeks. I know we should work smarter not harder, but sometimes 3-4 people at $15 a head is better than no one at $25. (Truth be told, I think this may be my "smarter".
Well, and everything else aside, sometimes being busy doing what we love is better than sitting around without clients thinking about it all and getting discouraged!
TN Nail Lady - excuse me for asking, but is their any salon in your town that charges $35 or more for a set? The reason to ask, is that although I am not living in the USA, during the last 6 years I have spoken to many nail techs in different countries and what I hear is that many find it increasingly difficult to justify their prices against low cost salons.

I have some theories on this, but I'd like to hear your reply and perhaps some other comments first ;-)
Yes Bob there is. I called when I went to work to check prices and there are some that were $40 and $45. What I am seeing are people that want the fake look and are proud to wear it. It is like it is a staus symbol to have nails that are thick and wide so they are seen- I am not talking about flared or duck nails. These people do not know what a duck nail even is. This is what the Asian salons are doing. These people here do not know what a sculptured nail on a form is; most have never had anything but a tip and overlay. And tips are all half well and cover up most of the pink (nail bed) so there is more white tip- they think this is how it should be. They don't use cuticle oil. They don't care about the quality of products or workmanship, and actually think the nails they are getting are better because they don't pop or lift unless they take their nail with it- that just means it was on to stay. They think rings or fire and damage are the norm. And they think that a "white person does not know how to do nails". I am hoping to at least be able to show some of these ladies that it doesn't have to hurt to have nails and that my work is just as good as anyone's.
Ouch! Tough row to hoe there! I'm curious about your insight too, Bob. There aren't any salons in my town that charge more than $35 for a full set here. The discount shops advertise $25. There are two other techs in town - one is fairly hidden in a tiny back room down a hallway behind another business, I've heard she tells people I'm too expensive Smile. The other is working in a hair salon as a booth renter - I talked to her recently and she has lowered her prices 3 times in the last year trying to please people. I think she just doesn't have the confidence to charge what she's worth, and I know from talking to her, she has no idea what it costs her in overhead/product to do a service.
By knowing what my costs are, makes me able to lower my prices. Another thing you need to know is your timing. If it takes an hour to do a set, and it takes $5 in product, at $25 per set you are making $20 for that hour. Then there is the down time issue. You can make that time productive by checking supplies, cleaning, talking to clients, working on nail art designs, or reading a nail magazine and keeping up with "our" world. Even reading a ladies or fashion magazine helps you to keep up with trends. I never think of down time as wasted time. I know I should feel that I am making money, but as long as I can cover my rent and product, learn something either from my clients or a magazine, and have a few dollars left for me, I am happy. My reasoning- I love what I do! Maybe my mentality is my problem......
(08-26-2012, 06:32 PM)Tn Nail Lady Wrote: [ -> ]Yes Bob there is. I called when I went to work to check prices and there are some that were $40 and $45. What I am seeing are people that want the fake look and are proud to wear it. It is like it is a staus symbol to have nails that are thick and wide so they are seen- I am not talking about flared or duck nails.

Presumably, these same people want a bad hair style so they can show they visited a hair salon? ;-) At the end you can't entirely blame these people for their ignorance, the industry does precious little to explain the benefits of a professional salon and how a good set of nails should look. So at the end it is up to the nail techs to educate their customers. But getting those customers and especially ones that are willing to listen and pay more, is difficult - particularly for new nail techs whose skills are limited or those established techs whose region has been badly affected by the economy. In addition in Europe especially, we are generally much less savvy about marketing than you guys in the US who from an outsiders perspective, seem to understand sales, marketing and good customers service as part of your DNA ;-).

I may be wrong, but I do believe that every town has their share of wealthier, professional and/or intelligent women - even in the poorer countries. Often they have busy lifestyles whether visiting the golf club or making business, these women typically want natural looking nails and nails that are reliable. From our experience running a salon in Sweden in a wealthier area, these customers are more difficult to catch, spend their money wisely and want to see a perceived value in what they buy. They also appreciate the oasis of calm that a professional salon can give, and are the type to avoid factory nails and a hassled environment.

These customers have one other advantage. In a bad economy they suffer less and while they may shop smarter, can afford to retain much of their lifestyle - unlike the ordinary Joe's.

We have a subsidiary in the capital of Ukraine, Kiev. Ukraine and other east-european countries have been especially hurt by the economy because their currencies are weak which increases food, clothing and oil import costs, they started from a poorer level (the monthly salary for a teacher is $200 but the food/clothing costs are similar to Western Europe) and because many of the "middle-class" has mortgages in Euro currency (which made them 30-40% more expensive as the recession took grip). This made things especially difficult for the professional nail salons, because the middle class were their customers. (there are also a lot of home-working techs, who are often self trained and don't pay tax - their customers typically have lower incomes).

The point of mentioning this will become clear ;-). When Iryna worked in Kiev before capturing my heart and moving to Sweden, she was the only salon in her Kiev region that could make high quality nails and was properly trained in nail art. Today there are at least six salons that we know of who have taken additional education and are now at a good level. They are the ones attracting new customers and getting the customers who are willing to pay more for a good service. On the other hand, the homeworkers are charging less and moving more and more to cheap Chinese materials to reduce costs. These good salons have shown that quality attracts quality. It takes time, but what we are talking about here is building a good reputation and increasing the perceived value in the eyes of the customer.

Now coming back to the US ;-). It may be that you already make very good nails, but is it possible that you are attracting the wrong customers? Is there something you can do to visibly stand above the low-cost competition and attract customers who think?

When Iryna moved to Sweden, we had several disadvantages - she didn't speak the language and she was not only foreign but from east-europe. But she knew how to make nails better than most the salons here, and she was the first person here who was trained in Russian-style nail art. I decided that we had to work on her uniqueness and sent her off to be further trained by the best nail artists we could find in Russia and Ukraine. Then she updated her example tips and we mounted these on black velvet in showcases and put them in the salon window. Next we took all her education diploma's, and diploma's she received as a nail competition judge, and put these in nice picture frames and mounted them behind her salon chair - so any customer had between 1.5 to 2 hours to understand who the heck they had doing their nails! ;-)

Next we contacted the local nail magazine, which ended up that they began publishing our nail art tutorials. We found a model, makeup artist and a photographer that was willing to work for free to get additional exposure and started to magazine cover style images, which we sent to the local and international nail magazines. When any of these articles or images were published, we put them in nice picture frames and hung them in the lobby.

At this point you are thinking that Iryna is lucky to have me;-) (but believe me, I am lucky to have her!).

What happened next was that she did start to attract customers, and those willing to pay more for a specialist. We had managed to increase the perceived value in their eyes, and despite that she was a foreigner and didn't speak the language. (In fact, many of the women were business women who were willing to speak English and allow Iryna to practise her Swedish on them). Because of the nail art, she also attracted the more arty outgoing types - some who would travel for 2 hours each way for their "Iryna nails".

At the start we did approach the product distributors and offer classes in nail art. But we were rejected because "no customer wants that". It's a sweet irony that now all of the distributors do understand the value of nail art and are trying like crazy to show that they can do it (no comment to that). Today the Swedish nail group on Facebook is awash with new nail art images from nail techs - which gives a little glow of pleasure that we started that with the help of the local magazine editor, who believed in Iryna from the get go.

I don't entirely blame those distributors, because I do think nail art is largely misunderstood. Our experience is that few customers are willing to pay a reasonable price for the skills and time to create a unique art work on their nails. But as we discovered it has other benefits. Now I see nail art as a very effective marketing tool - it allows the tech to get published and help position her salon above the competition. In doing this, it helps the tech create herself as a brand and at the end of the day, that is what brings the best customers who are willing to pay more. Even those professional ladies who can't wear nail art for fear of being seen as unprofessional by their male colleagues, love to look at nail art. Every one of Iryna's customers asked to see her latest examples during each visit, and were always impressed if her work was published. At the end I am sure they were proud to be her customer and tell their friends.

I do think that there is more that manufacturers could do by providing advanced education that doesn't cost a fortune to attend (flight and hotel costs are an education killer). I wish more would promote their brands based on their competence to make nails and not today's gimmick or "we are the best" statements. A good nail tech can make good nails with any brand of product and although I understand product brand loyalty (and as a manufacturer in Europe, I'm grateful for that too), I urge all nail techs to remember that the most important brand is you. If a manufacturer offers a new type of product and it is easy to apply, then ultimately you will compete with the low cost salons on that too and prices will fall (in the UK some mobile nail techs offer Minx for $12, and of course nail wraps are now a retail product - as it is likely that gel polish will become on an ever wider scale).

If you live in a region where there aren't any good customers, your options are to move or quit. Business is business, some work, some don't, for all kinds of reasons. It's not worth dragging on to the extent that it damages relationships, digs you deeper into a financial crises and makes you feel worthless. While you are struggling to keep a failing business afloat, you don't have time to think like an entrepreneur and find an idea that will work. Be like a professional gambler who knows when to quit.


In summary:
1. Find a way to be unique, create you as a brand.
2. Although many nail techs come to the industry because it's a life-style choice, remember it's a business and businesses need investment. The most effective investment is to get the best education you can, because it will pay for the rest of your career and helps develop your brand.
3. Seriously consider to start entering nail competitions. Few things impress customers more that a shelf of trophies! Plus it will help you to develop your skills.
4. Attract customers who think and are willing to pay for quality. Typically these are the professional business owner and business women or married to successful businessmen.
5. Promote yourself through the nail magazines, social media and your professional designed website (don't try cutting costs, who wants to look through a dirty or chaotically organised shop window). Make sure you explain who you are, your experience, why you are different and prove that by showing a gallery of your best work (ideally with professional standard photo's)
6. Display your work and diploma's thoughtfully in the salon or salon window. Customers understand that more diploma's = higher competence.
7. When you have achieved a high perception of value and have enough good customers, don't be afraid to increase your prices. Thinking people understand that quality costs money and that higher prices are also an indication that you are more of a specialist.

Finally, I want to leave you with two images. But I hope the information here can be useful for you. Please bear in mind that I am European and can only speak from our experience.

Bob xx

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Imagine these tips mounted on black velvet, in an ornate gold picture frame (like used for fine oil paintings), and hanging on the wall of your salon. The tips show some of the techniques we teach on our 3D acrylic level 1 class.

[Image: 2012-07-27_Acrylic_level_1_800w.jpg]

or these, created by one of our Russian educators who won Gold at Nailympics UK last year:

[Image: Tatiana-Klester-4.jpg]

I don't need to say what the reaction would be from customers who saw work like this. If they can't afford your prices, then at least you leave them with a great impression and they will tell their friends what they saw that day. I understand that this work is of a very high standard (I'm showing it to motivate you and for you to understand what is possible in a few years with great education and dedication). But it doesn't take much to be better than the local competition and to be seen as different.

...and this is the image we now have on the back of our business cards used by all of our Educators (the medals are from Nailympics USA in June). Even as a manufacturer we have to work to increase the perceived value of what we offer ;-)

[Image: 20120828_medals_300w.jpg]










Well said, Bob! Looking forward to getting to work with the new product. Hurry up!!
Donna - you are up early! Have a great day!
Bob!
You always have such great things to say! I think you hit the nail on the head, that showing off your nail art is a good idea, even if you don't think your particular clients are interested! It gets you talked about!

Personally, I would love to create the niche in my town of not having any heat spikes in the product that I useBig GrinBig Grin
Heres to hoping I get my paws on that new product of yours SOON!!!!
Bob, once again you've given great advice to many who will read this. This post is a keeper Smile