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Should I stay or should I go?
#1
Sad 
I have been doing nails for 9 years and have been working at the same nail salon for exactly half of that time. I just finished massage school in December and my license arrived in the mail yesterday, so I have just begun looking for a part time massage job, and in the meantime am working full time at the nail salon.

I have been telling my clients and coworkers that my plan after school was to keep doing nails at least 1-2 days a week. I can't see ever giving it up totally because it fills a social need that massage doesn't, and I really enjoy the work. I have formed close bonds with many of my coworkers and regular clients, and the thought of leaving them is very hard on me. I also have full books, almost every day, even during slower months and make VERY good money. I never thought I would leave until recently.

The first thing that upset me was back in December I realized my commission had been cut without anyone telling me. I started at the salon when it first opened and in order to entice people to work weekends they were offering 5% higher commission on Saturdays and Sundays if you worked both days. I still do work both Saturday and Sunday, and was the only person getting that higher rate since everyone else either started later or never worked the full weekend. I guess they didn't expect me to notice that my commission had been cut, but I did. They still have yet to say anything to me about it. I let it go because soon I will not be working the full weekend there anyway.

Then recently I had a run in with our new manager who started back in November. We had a party scheduled for 10 people a week and a half ago. I was scheduled to work the party but I had just gotten a cold and was very, very sick. Like had to blow my nose every 5 minutes, sneezing and coughing constantly, etc. I called my manager early the day before to let her know that while I might be physically capable of coming in to work I was still very much contagious and did not think it would be right to expose coworkers and clients (not to mention the other people on my bus) to my illness.

She called me back the next morning, the day of the party, and said she was able to move all of my other appointments for the day but that I had to come in for one hour for the party because she needed 10 people and didn't have anyone else. I went in, even though I felt much worse than I had the day before.

So at out salon we have custom designed pedicure ottomans that adjust the client's legs and feet to a comfortable position, and a more comfortable height for us to work on them (although still a little too low to be ergonomic for us IMO). Well, not only was my client over a half hour late, and my manager told me I had to stay and do the entire service, when she arrived and I went out on the floor to start her we were short one ottoman. I asked my manager how I was supposed to do her pedicure and she told me I would have to use one of the rolling stools, like what the techs sit on, to prop up the client's legs. This would have put her feet at the same height as my knees, btw.

I told my manager hell-to-the-no. I said that my entire body was already in pain and I absolutely would not spend an hour bent way over in a way that would likely injure me too. She said it was my only option. I said, no it isn't, because I can walk out the door right now. I told her that I would stay and do this woman's pedicure IF I could wait for another ottoman to be freed up, and that was the only way it was getting done. She was mad but went and told the client the new plan, and I went to the dispensary to wait another 20-25 minutes. Five minutes later she came back and told me that one of my coworkers was going to stay and do my client's pedicure and that I could go home. I left and got no pay for the time I sat there, not to mention the two hours it took me to commute there and back.

I was absolutely livid about what had gone down, and so were all my coworkers. They told her they'd have done exactly what I did. But I came back to work after the cold was mostly gone, and things settled back down. It was water under the bridge to me.

Well, a couple of days ago my manager pulled me aside while my client who had just arrived was using the restroom and started laying into me over what had happened at the party. She said she knew that I was sick and upset at the time, but I needed to be more of a team player and blah blah blah.

I tried to be as nice as I could about it and told her that normally if we are going to be short an ottoman for a party we can borrow one from another one of our locations. She tried to cast the blame on the party coordinater, saying she had nothing to do with planning the party, and I pointed out that she had known how many people we were expecting because she called me that morning, and that as the manager it is really her responsibility to make sure we have all the furniture and equipment needed for us to do our jobs. I told her it's really not negotiable, and her expectations of me that night were beyond unreasonable. I told her that even if I were totally well I will not risk injury to myself by working in a way that will force really crappy body mechanics. She said that things like that just happen (it had NEVER happened before she started, for the record) and in the future I would need to just roll with it and make it work. I told her that if I were asked to do something like that again I would walk out the door. End of story. Of course by the time this conversation was over my client had been waiting for me for over five minutes, upsetting me even more.

I am now wondering if I should even bother staying and working part time once I find something else. I would hate to have to make good on my threat and then have to deal with a negative job reference in the future. I am wondering if I might be better off putting in my notice and leaving on good terms. On the other hand, I love working there. I would miss it a lot if I left, and while I know I could get another nail job in a hot second, I'd have to build my clientele all over again. I might also need the steady income from the nail salon to help supplement my income if I get into a massage job that isn't busy right away. I am hoping that after this incident she makes damn sure I am not put back in a similar position, but who knows. I don't know her well enough to know. I'm feeling very very torn.

I will never regret standing up for myself when I need to do it though. I am extremely flexible as an employee and have gone out of my way for the company many many times in the past. Staying late, coming in early or on days off, taking clients during my lunches and breaks... I got out the tool kit and repaired a broken ottoman right on the floor a few weeks ago, and my manager saw me do it. I just saved the company a hundred bucks and don't get paid any extra for it. I recently did an interview about current nail trends with a local magazine when the person from corporate who was supposed to do it wasn't able to make it, and I didn't get paid for that either. You're welcome. I resent what my manager said to me a great deal. It was incredibly unfair.
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#2
Why aren't you speaking up for the commission cut? Just because you wont be working weekends does not mean you shouldn't be entitled to back pay. If you work on straight commission than why would they pay you for just your time? Yes it would be nice if they handed you money just to be nice but if you don't have an hourly plus commission than that's unfortunately it. There were many days that i sat an entire day and all i got was a sore behind with no pay. If you can work out the commission cut , your job really doesn't sound so bad. If you are as booked as you say than really why would you leave? Each time you leave you will lose a few, no one is loyal in this business. You can be doing a client for 30 years and you think they are your best friend and oh so loyal all of a sudden they can vanish. No job is perfect and the next one could be much worse. If you are booked solid count your lucky stars and try and work things out before you leave.
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#3
I have not pressed the issue about my pay because I know it will not make a difference. There is nothing I can do legally about it. If a company wants to cut your pay they can. I don't want to hear their BS reasons. It will just tick me off more. I told my manager about it (it wasn't her that did it) and that I wasn't happy it was done without informing me.

Yes, I make straight commission, and no if I am not working I don't get paid. That is why I was so angry I went out there for nothing when I shouldn't even have been out of bed. Insult to injury.

Yes, I am fully booked almost all the time and that is the main reason I want to stay. If I got another nail job it would be closer to home for sure, and I wouldn't expect anyone to drive half an hour to follow me. I would be starting over. I.hate working for someone who has so little regard for my health and safety though. My concern is that she will push me too far and I will wind up leaving on bad terms after all this time.
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#4
I am not sure what you should do, but here are a few things to think about.

Now that you are able to do both nails and massage, have you looked at a day spa that offers both and you could work at just one place?

On the otherhand...

There will always be parts of a job that you will not like, no matter where you are at. Are you unhappy enough to loose the majority of your clients and start over?

It might be time to make a list of pro's and con's to help decide...
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#5
I have thought about maybe trying to do both nails and massage somewhere. A few spas like you to he dualy Licensed. Many want you to pick one thing or the other for ease in booking though.

There will always be things I don't like about any place I will work but my health and safety are just so important, you know? I hurt my back two years ago at the gym and made the mistake of working for the next few days despite being in a ton of pain. Well, I wound up having to take six weeks completely off because I made it so much worse, and I was only able to work part time for a while when I came back. Not to mention the lost pay and medical bills. My short term disability plan only pays 60%. I am not eager to repeat this kind of experience, so I'm not willing to do something where the likelyhood of injury is high. I mean, I don't think that is unreasonable.

Maybe I should try talking to her about it again. She has worked in the industry before but has never held any license so I don't think she really understands the stresses that doing nails can place on your body, and we have to be really careful. I was also put off by the fact she wouldn't take any responsibility for what happened. Other than this incident I have gotten along with her fine.
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#6
Personally, I would go. My health and safety are more important to me than having a full book at a place where I'm happy. I just left a salon where the nail setup is ridiculous. For pedicures, we had to sit under a short table with the client's feet maybe 10 niches off the ground. The client chairs were too high for the table so the client can barely lift her feet.
Fortunately, pedicures.weren't very popular.

You can always build your book again but you can't repair the damage from working in improper positions for 8+ hours a day.
----
Shirley
Scotch Tape & Rhinestones
NYC Based Nail Artist
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#7
It can't hurt to get your resume ready and look to see if something is out there that you would really enjoy.
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#8
I'm with you on the whole body mechanics thing - and it should be pointed out to the manager at an appropriate time that if the tech is physically uncomfortable while performing a service, the experience for the client suffers - and it's that experience that determines whether or not they come back. As for having you come in to work sick, that's another bad move on customer service to expose clients to illness when they are there to be pampered. It sounds like this manager is very short sighted on how to run a service based business - and both of these situations should be looked at from the client's point of view rather than expediency in the moment.

That said, if you're making good money and have the option to work part time while you build your massage business, I would probably opt for that. If you do it knowing that you're just using them (ha-ha) for your financial peace while you establish a new income base elsewhere you can just let these things roll off your back and leave when the timing's right for you. Though I would definitely stick to your guns on the body mechanics in the meantime!

Good luck either way!
Candice
Nail Tech/Owner
http://www.PanacheNailStudio.com
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