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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.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Giving Can Be Its Own Reward

Article Published in Stylist Magazine, October 2011

Nearly every week at my salon, some “great opportunity” presents itself in the form of an advertising solicitation. The companies soliciting my business would have me believe that I need to spend money on advertising to be successful. From print to internet, from AdWords (Google) to Yelp, the options for gaining exposure seem limitless. However, having realized the limitations of traditional advertising (especially print) many years ago, I haven’t wasted my money. For example, when a local weekly paper contacted me to advertise in a special beauty section, I offered to write an article instead. That article, which advised consumers about selecting a reputable salon, proved much more useful to the paper, its readers and my business than any ad would have been. Sharing my expertise costs me nothing and has greater impact.

Instead of spending to advertise my salon, I prefer to give to promote my salon. One of the most rewarding ways to give is to contribute to worthy causes within the local community. Very few non-profit organizations have adequate resources to solicit donations from small businesses like mine. I make it easy for them by regularly scanning local papers and magazines for their announcements/advertisements. The words “auction” or “door prizes” usually catch my attention. I then contact the organizers to donate a $100 gift card, good for either products and/or services with no expiration date. Even if the upcoming event doesn’t include an auction or door prizes, I’ll donate anyway; organizations can always use gift cards to reward hard-working volunteers and staff members. If I have the time, I’ll drop off a gift card to the organizers for greater convenience; otherwise, I’ll arrange for it to be picked up. Either way, the presentation of a gift card must be attractive. My presentation, which costs less than $3.00, includes a custom plastic gift card in a metallic gift card box (labeled with the salon logo) placed in a metallic kraft paper bag (also labeled with the salon logo) with a brochure and tissue paper. (Instead of paying to have the salon logo hot-stamped on boxes and bags, I save money by buying custom-made labels that can be put on almost anything.)

In exchange for making a donation, my salon is listed in the event program, linked on the organizer’s website and later printed in newspaper/magazine ads thanking sponsors. I may not be able to afford $500-a-plate dinners, but my business can be represented to people who can. And that’s the point.

For tax purposes, I organize all my donation information in a binder filled with sheet protectors. Each event is contained in its own sheet protector, including the donation form and the confirmation/thank you letter confirming receipt. I also keep a spreadsheet updated with the gift card number, the amount, the name of the event, the name of the organization, its tax identification number, etc. Once a donation is made, the organizers know to contact me so I can donate again in the future.

To promote these organizations and their events, I share information with my clients. This encourages them to participate, either by attending, volunteering and/or making donations of their own. Likewise, I encourage clients to suggest organizations/events that I may not be familiar with. Given my work schedule, I don’t have much time to volunteer, but I do make an exception for the Sunset Center (www.sunsetcenter.org), a unique performing arts venue with a rich history in my town. In addition to my time, I also donate money to sponsor the program that’s distributed at all performances. This year, the Precision Nails advertisement will be double its previous size, and still will not include any special offers or discounts. The primary purpose of the ad is to demonstrate support for the Sunset Center, not attract new clients. The ad lets people know that money spent at my salon gets reinvested in our local community.

During past holiday seasons, I’ve shown appreciation to my best clients with gifts. Last year, after losing two clients to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), I didn’t feel giving gifts to certain clients was appropriate. Instead, I donated that money to the ALS Association (www.alsa.org) on behalf of the salon to honor those two wonderful women. The client response to this decision was so affirming that I never plan to buy client gifts again. Each year, I’ll donate to an organization whose cause holds special significance.

You can give in many ways: your expertise, time, money, products, hosting and more. Whatever your interests (education, the arts, sports, health care, disaster relief, the environment, animal welfare, military/veterans, etc.), there are organizations in your local community that need and will appreciate your support. Which organizations you choose and how you support them, if at all, are very personal decisions. If I could make one suggestion, I urge you to consider organ donation. There’s no tax deduction or other financial benefit, but sometimes giving is its own reward. To become a donor in your state, register online at www.organdonor.gov.

By Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D.

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