Welcome to the Precision Nails Blog

As a salon owner and licensed manicurist, my perspective on the nail industry could not be more practical. While some may be offended by the opinions expressed, please understand that I want to share information and stimulate discussion. Whether you want your nails done or do nails professionally, I hope you find this blog both useful and interesting.

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Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D.

Monday, January 17, 2011

From Nail Girl (or Guy) to Nail Professional

Article Published in Stylist Magazine, November 2010

After years of hearing consumers casually refer to either me or another manicurist as “my nail girl,” I’ve heard enough. That kind of job description ranks somewhere between pool boy and cleaning lady. Nail girl? Every time I hear that term, I’m so tempted to ask, “How do you refer to your dentist? And your gynecologist?” You get my point.

It’s a given that being a manicurist usually doesn’t engender much respect. Perhaps this explains the imbalance of power that many manicurists experience in their client relationships. Rather than being treated as a respected nail professional, a skilled individual who’s paid accordingly to provide service, many manicurists tolerate being treated as a subservient nail girl (or guy). While assuming the role of obsequious manicurist may seem harmless, or even necessary to build a clientele, this attitude of inferiority can have unintended consequences for your business. Ultimately, it will give your clients the sense that they can tell you what to do and how to do it, thus trivializing your work, minimizing your education and undermining your professionalism.

As you might imagine, I don’t play this role in my salon, and wouldn’t recommend you do it either. I feel so strongly about the lack of respect that I developed a class titled, “I’m Not Your Nail Girl!” The class focuses on the 5 biggest mistakes manicurists make:

Being incompetent. Realizing we all start somewhere, it’s the progress you make, particularly after being licensed, that sets you apart. Developing your skills and knowledge not only improves the quality and efficiency of your work, it gives you the confidence to charge more and be more selective about your clients. However, if you don’t have the aptitude and inclination to do professional-quality work, find yourself something else to do.

Refusing to learn. This is even more inexcusable than being ignorant, enough said.
Failing to follow through. Know your limitations and don’t make promises you can’t keep, like guaranteeing how long polish will last, or that artificial nails won’t break. You don’t control how your clients treat their nails. And don’t overextend yourself; for example, attempting to complete within an hour a service that normally takes 90 minutes is sure to frustrate/disappoint someone.

Lacking discretion. The beauty business is based on relationships: with clients, colleagues, other businesses, manufacturers, etc. As tempted as we are to connect people to others, resist the temptation and keep it to yourself. The best advice I could give would be to compartmentalize the interactions you have to protect yourself from sharing, whether intentionally or not, information that you shouldn’t.

Being cheap. Using your thumb nail instead of a metal cuticle pusher? Toilet paper instead of nail wipes? Reusing files when you know better? Clients will realize quickly how invested you are in your business, and they should not be questioning where their money goes.

A transition is the process of changing from one condition to another. The most significant transition a manicurist can make? From being considered just a nail girl/guy to being respected as a nail professional. Your long-term success in the beauty industry depends on it. These are my 5 best recommendations for polishing your image and becoming more professional:

Enjoy your work. Doing nails is hard work; it can be both physically demanding and emotionally draining. We cannot afford to have a bad day technically, or be in a bad way emotionally. Our clients expect and deserve to have their services provided competently with enthusiasm. Your passion for doing nails will help you overcome the most challenging nail problems and manage the most difficult clients.

Be efficient. From scheduling appointments to providing services to ordering products to paying your bills, every activity related to your business should be accomplished as efficiently as possible. Don’t waste your time, money or efforts without asking yourself if you’re making the most of your resources.

Do the right thing. Knowing what you should do, and actually doing it, earns you respect. Follow all applicable laws, understand product chemistry, provide safe, quality services every time, claim all your income, pay your taxes, respect the privacy of others, support your coworkers, clean up after yourself, etc.

Value yourself and your clients. Whether you’re a new licensee or a seasoned veteran, you control how others perceive you. Present yourself as a professional committed to a lasting career, rather than a temporary job, and discover that clients will be more willing to commit to you. Long-term client relationships, based on mutual appreciation and respect, should form the foundation of your business.

Share your knowledge. Educating clients demonstrates that you care about their health. Educating other manicurists demonstrates that you care about the health of our industry. Nail professionals would benefit from more collegiality; it’s in our best interests to encourage each other to be the best professionals we can be.

By Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D.

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