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Industry • Best Practice

Overcoming The 3 Biggest Challenges Facing Nail Salons

Nail salons face many unique challenges, but you can overcome them with these best practices.

Nail styling is a complete beauty category unto itself, estimated at nearly $43 billion in the US alone. And while the revenue potential for nail styling is significant, the practice faces its share of unique challenges. Along with the struggles of running any business, nail salons often face low profit margins, limited product inventory, and specialized health regulations. The good news is these problems are far from insurmountable if you use the following techniques to overcome them.

Overcome low profit margins with pricing and upselling

Nail salons have notoriously low prices and profit margins compared to the pricing standards of most beauty businesses. The average manicure in the United States costs anywhere from $15 to $50 in price, while pedicures can be $15 to $75. That is a staggering range for a core beauty service, yet many nail salons choose to offer lower prices in order to get customers in the door.

Luring in lots of customers with low prices does not mean your business will succeed, however. In fact, low prices can undersell your service and contribute to unsustainable working conditions as stylists overwork themselves for modest revenue. You’ll also miss out on profits that can expand your business, enable technicians to earn more money, or do anything more than maintain current operations.

Many salon owners hesitate to raise prices because they fear losing customers, but most customers will remain if you’re offering a good service. More importantly, higher prices increase every client’s value, significantly improving your bottom line. If you are reluctant to raise all prices evenly, one strategy is to keep a core service low while finding opportunities to upsell each client. If they book an appointment for a manicure, see if they will upgrade to a mani-pedi or are interested in purchasing some products off your shelves.

Can’t locate the right product? Go to the manufacturer

Beauty products are an essential upsell for any beauty business, nail salon, or otherwise. Selling home care products that supplement the work accomplished during an appointment is an ideal opportunity to gain additional revenue. Unfortunately, obtaining the right products can be a challenge, especially for nail salons.

Many beauty distributors do not place the same emphasis on nail products as hair or skin care categories. The range of available nail items is often quite limited. In this case, it can be worthwhile to bypass distributors and reach out to manufacturers. Most are quite happy to sell products directly, especially with e-commerce options on the rise. And if you know that a particular product will sell exceptionally well, it may be an opportunity to arrange a discounted wholesale purchase.

Always, always, always follow nail salon health guidelines

For a business category that’s all about nail beautification, stylists and technicians face a surprising number of health risks. Working in a salon exposes staff to potentially harmful chemicals in polishes, glues, removers, and other frequently-used products. And that’s not even getting into the biological hazards from infected nails or skin.

For these reasons, it’s vital to not only follow safety procedures but to stay up to date with them as well. Organizations like the EPA and OSHA maintain nail salon safety guidelines you must follow, including:

  • Always wear gloves when working with clients, and dispose of them after a single use

  • Run adequate ventilation at all times during business hours to clear fumes from the air

  • Avoid clients with open cuts and sores; If a client starts bleeding, give them a cotton ball and ask them to apply pressure instead of treating the wound yourself

  • Clean and disinfect all tools in between clients with EPA-regulated disinfectant; Don’t forget to clean equipment like foot basins!

Nail art is a vital part of the beauty industry, so it’s critical for owners, stylists, and technicians to do the job right. By following these guidelines, you’ll be well-equipped to handle the unique challenges salons face and ready to focus on the most important work: attending to your clients.

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