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I need advice please! (kind of long)
#1
I have been doing nails for about 7 years now. I used to just booth rent part time in a near by town with a population of about 50,000 people. I worked full time at a doctor office which paid pretty well but about 2 years ago I decided my stress level had reached its max and needed a drastic change so I quit my job at the doctors office and went back to school and got my esthetician license and opened up my own skin care and nail salon in the town I actually live in. Its population is a whopping 2,500 people. I have been open a year and a half now and business is good and still growing but here is my problem. I am very meticulous and therefore slow, it takes me an hour and 45 minutes for a new set and most of the time 2 hours for a rebase with color change, just a rebase I can do in an hour as long as they don't want nail art (which I am horrible at!) I do facials and pedicures and natural nail mani's as well but I like to have time for clean up between clients. My problem is that I can only schedule at most 5 people in a day and I work from 9:30 in the morning to sometimes 7 at night. I am staying busy but not making any money. In fact for the last 2 months I have made just enough to pay my bills for the shop and buy product. The only money I have kept has been maybe $60 to $75 a week in tips. My shop is too small to hire any help or booth renter. I feel like I am defeated and should throw in the towel and find an actual job. My family needs my income. If anyone has been where I am at please help!!!!
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#2
(02-14-2012, 12:20 PM)laurab Wrote: I have been doing nails for about 7 years now. I used to just booth rent part time in a near by town with a population of about 50,000 people. I worked full time at a doctor office which paid pretty well but about 2 years ago I decided my stress level had reached its max and needed a drastic change so I quit my job at the doctors office and went back to school and got my esthetician license and opened up my own skin care and nail salon in the town I actually live in. Its population is a whopping 2,500 people. I have been open a year and a half now and business is good and still growing but here is my problem. I am very meticulous and therefore slow, it takes me an hour and 45 minutes for a new set and most of the time 2 hours for a rebase with color change, just a rebase I can do in an hour as long as they don't want nail art (which I am horrible at!) I do facials and pedicures and natural nail mani's as well but I like to have time for clean up between clients. My problem is that I can only schedule at most 5 people in a day and I work from 9:30 in the morning to sometimes 7 at night. I am staying busy but not making any money. In fact for the last 2 months I have made just enough to pay my bills for the shop and buy product. The only money I have kept has been maybe $60 to $75 a week in tips. My shop is too small to hire any help or booth renter. I feel like I am defeated and should throw in the towel and find an actual job. My family needs my income. If anyone has been where I am at please help!!!!


Are your days fully booked? If so then either your expenses are too high or you might not be charging enough. If you are performing 5 a day, 5 days a week, that's around 100 services a month, which should more than pay the bills if you are priced right and not paying too much.

I book 1.5 hr for a full set or re-tip and an hour for basic fills which is not that much faster than you. I only perform 4-7 services a day, and I only book at most 32 hours per week because of all of my other duties at the salon.

I think one of the biggest mistakes that we make in this industry is not knowing our cost per service. I use a very detailed cost sheet that includes everything, but you could just guestimate percentages.

So if you are available to work say 35 hours/wk or 140 hours per month, and your fixed overhead is $1000/mo, your cost might look like this:

$1,000/140hrs = $7.14/hr to overhead
2 hr service
$50 - 14.28 overhead
- $4 product/supplies (8%)
- $3 equipment & tool wear and tear (6%)
=28.72 or 14.36 per hour before taxes.

Try plugging in this simple formula with your actual overhead, pricing & times to see if you will make a decent hourly wage. If not then something has to give.

Hope you figure it out and can make an actual living doing nails!

Candice
Nail Tech/Owner
http://www.PanacheNailStudio.com
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#3
Good advice in the other post....don't get swayed by the small town economics, either. Charge what you're worth. There's no sense in going to work and dealing with the hassle of it if you can't clear enough to buy a decent week's worth of groceries.
(02-14-2012, 10:33 PM)Donna in Huntsville, TX. Wrote: Good advice in the other post....don't get swayed by the small town economics, either. Charge what you're worth. There's no sense in going to work and dealing with the hassle of it if you can't clear enough to buy a decent week's worth of groceries.


I meant to add this to the above post but for some reason my pc wouldn't let me, so I'll do it this way.

I truly understand the frustration you're talking about, you've devoted a lot of time, and money to getting your education. You don't want to give it all up and not do what you're passionate about, but if it's consistently not making a living for you, then you have to decide how you can fix it.

Are you turning people away because of how long it takes you to do a set? List your steps and see if we can help you pare down the time where you could get another service in, if that's the case. You could be streamline the service and make more money in the process.

YOu could save money maybe by using bulk product or a completely different brand of the same type of thing. List your products, too, and see if anyone can give you cheaper products with just as good of quality. In these tough times, you've got to figure out how to lower your costs without sacrificing quality.
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#4
Thanks for that. I don't think I charge enough but I am afraid of losing the clients I do have if I go much higher. I charge $45 for a new set and $33 for a color change or $28 for just a rebase. I am really comparable to the other nail techs in town (all 3 of them). I recently changed from CND acrylic to NSI and I really like it better. Not sure it is much cheaper though. I also use Light Elegance gel system (kind of spendy but I have tried others that didn't work as well for me). I do know I don't buy in bulk near enough, I am trying to work on buying smarter! I just recently starting using Linkage so hopefully if that cuts down on some lifting issues I was having with some of my clients maybe that will help with my time. I am also hoping NSI attraction acrylic will help with some of the pocket lifting I was having with CND (another time killer). I seem to be the slowest at filing off the color and taking down the acrylic when it is time for a color change. It never fails my client will go from dark blue glitter to light pink so it takes me forever to file off all the blue. I of course use an e-file, I use a carbide bit specifically for 4 week backfill but sometimes it just seems to take FOREVER. As far as other services my pedis are an hour and facials are an hour but I schedule at least 15 minutes in between for clean up. I don't know if any of this information can help you determine where I am going wrong but hopefully it will give you more insight.
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#5
So using your new numbers, but guessing at a lower overhead... and with these product/equip percentages, I am assuming you are buying in bulk, otherwise your costs will be higher than what's listed.

$700/140hrs = $5/hr to overhead
Color Change 2 hr service
$33 - 10 overhead
- $3 product/supplies (8%)
- $2 equipment & tool wear and tear (6%)
=18.00 or $9.00 per hour before taxes, credit card fees, advertising, business cards, etc...

Fill 1 hr service
$28 - 5 overhead
- $3 product/supplies (8%)
- $2 equipment & tool wear and tear (6%)
=18.00 or $9.00 per hour before other expenses

You might be afraid of losing clients if you raise prices, but can you afford this? Of course, the overhead is still a guess, but I know when I was booth renting at $350 a month my true overhead was still about $700 by the time I added in my cell phone bill, insurance, licensing, etc.

You are on the right track IMO for scheduling the 15 minutes to clean and set up and your speed will for sure improve with time, but even when that happens if you are not looking at and dealing with real numbers your speed won't completely solve your problem. Even when you get to where you schedule a color change in an hour you will only be bringing in $14/hr before the other costs and taxes. (I still schedule 90 min which includes my clean-up)

As Donna said - don't let small town economics sway you. Bottom line, if you're not charging enough to make a living you will eventually lose all your clients anyway, when you are forced to quit doing nails and "get a real job". Sorry to be so blunt... but I hate seeing people work for less than a living wage. Can you band together with the other 3 techs and work on a strategy to increase pricing across the board? Hmmmm




I should add, you can see my prices on my website, there are 3 or 4 NSS shops in my little town of 16,000 people, plus two other nail techs. The NSS charge $25 for a full set of P&W tips and I think about $13 for a fill. I think their "spa" pedi is only about $25. The other two techs in town don't charge nearly what I do, and yet some of my clients used to be their clients. Our own fear sometimes leads us wrong on what people will be willing to pay for quality work.

A possible strategy.. you could "grandfather" in your existing clients for a period of time, raise your prices across the board, and then run some "first time client" specials to bring in new people and then convert them to clients paying you a living wage. Be as honest with your existing clients as you are comfortable - tell them you realized after expenses you will only be able to earn $x/hr and at that rate they won't have a nail tech! I'm pretty up front with my clients that overhead is expensive and if I don't run my business to be profitable I will be out of business! They definitely don't want that.

Sorry for the mini-books, I hope that you and anyone else reading this who's in the same boat will take a long hard look at your profitability and make changes that ensure your long term success.
Candice
Nail Tech/Owner
http://www.PanacheNailStudio.com
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#6
When I remove glitter or another color from nails, I use a regular carbide bit, about a med. grit. If it's taking your longer than a min. or two to remove most of the color, then you're either using a dull bit or you're not putting enough downward pressure on the nail to make the flutes of the bit cut in. I remove about 90% of the color with a reg. bit because i won't get too close to the cuticle. Once I've done that, I go back with a carbide pencil bit and remove the rest of it around the edges.

When I was helping a friend/new nail tech learn proper pressure to remove product, I let her use me as a guinea pig....I had to keep telling her press harder! I could barely feel what she was doing and she was literally making no progress toward removal. Use more pressure on the tip area, lighter pressure as you get on the nail bed. You definitely want to see dust coming up when you're filing, tho. If you're doing it too light, there's going to be hardly any dust coming up.
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#7
Thank you both for your suggestions. I will definitely sit down and taking everything you both suggested into consideration and see what changes I can make. I know I am not ready to give up yet I was just having a bad day and letting frustration get the best of me. I know when I wrote my business plan it all looked good on paper so I need to go back and figure out what I am missing or doing wrong. Thanks again for your help. I'll keep you posted.
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