How many times have I run into someone who tells me that where they live there AREN'T any nail salons where English is the primary language, or that there AREN'T any nail salons where they live that disinfect, use top notch products, etc.
Look folks, this just isn't true. I spend hours online networking with other professionals who are constantly saying that they are having a hard time building a clientelle because the consumers in their area don't CARE about a clean salon, or a nail tech who speaks English, or uses high end products and offers high end services...
So, how is it that Group A can't seem to find Group B?
So here are some things to think about next time you go looking for a good nail tech:
A. If you want clean, professional, knowledgeable, and talented-- it's going to cost you. There is a REASON that some nail techs charge $65+ for a set of pink and white acrylic nails when there's a salon on every corner with a banner on the window advertising a new set for $19.99. These two services are no more the same than a Hyundai is the same as a Mercedes Benz.
I do not understand how people who know the difference between the clothes at Walmart and the clothes at Nordstrom's can't seem to make the same connection between a 20 dollar set of nails and a 65 dollar set? --and believe me! I'm using that $65 figure as a baseline for an upscale set of nails. Depending on where you live, a high end nail tech might charge anywhere from $50 to $150 for a set of nails!
By the same standard, I've seen low end salons advertising nails for as low as $9!!
According the newest data available (Nailpro Essentials, 2008) the AVERAGE PRICE for a new set of tips with overlays is $41 in the U.S. And the AVERAGE PRICE for a new set of Sculptured Pink and White Acrylics is $48. If you are paying considerably less than that, you are receiving considerably less than average work-- and considerably more than that typically represents considerably higher than average work.
Some adjustments need to be made to account for what might be "average" in your area, of course and there are always some exceptions to the rule on both ends of the spectrum-- but I trust you aren't stupid and can figure that much out for yourself.
B. Once you come to terms with the fact that you aren't going to be able to get really GOOD nails for the cost of a McDonald's happy meal, you'll need to come to terms with the fact that you are going to have to schedule an appointment if you want some quality time with a quality nail tech.
We do business the old fashioned way; we develop a relationship with our clients. We like to know who's coming in, we like to make sure we have reserved the appropriate amount of time needed to do your nails the way you like them, we learn your name, we want to know about you-- tell us who you are, how many kids do you have, where do you work, show us pictures of your grandkids (but please don't bring them with you.) We hope you like your nails, please let us know if you have any problems with them, and we hope to see you again.
Many of us are in demand-- even when we claim we are slow (like I have been lately) it can be difficult to put a claim on a piece of our time. Especially if you require an appointment after 5 p.m. So call in advance and be prepared to wait a couple of weeks, or be placed on a waiting list that might mean waiting several months before you get in! If you are able to schedule appointments during regular business hours, it'll increase your chances of getting an appointment sooner.
C. Be prepared to commit to your appointment.
We don't have you schedule an appointment just for fun! This is a RESERVATION. By scheduling an appointment, you are entering into a verbal contract to receive a service in exchange for payment. We agree to set aside a specified time period in which to perform that service. Once that time is reserved, we can't give it to anyone else. So if you default on your reservation-- we don't get paid. This is just like booking a hotel room. You have a certain amount of time to cancel that reservation, but after a specified point, you're credit card will be charged for the first night's stay even if you don't show up.
Many high end salon professionals have cancellation policies. In most cases, there is a minimum amount of notice required to cancel or reschedule an appointment. 24 to 48 hours is common. If you don't give enough notice, the salon professional will probably expect you to pay a fee. Usually the fee will be equal to the cost of the service that was scheduled.
Don't get all huffy about this. Just like the hotel that charges you for holding that room even if you don't show up-- it is not our fault that you were not able to keep your end of the agreement. We were there, with time set aside, waiting to give you a great set of nails. If you "forgot," "totally spaced," or just plain decided to blow us off-- it is unfair to expect us to cheerfully reschedule you and take the risk that you will deny us the opportunity to work for a living again.
Most salon professionals will take emergencies into consideration-- I once had a client miss an appointment because her husband suffered an aeortal hernia and had to be airlifted to Stanford University for emergency surgery... I let that one slide. On the other hand, I have had clients remember to call to cancel their appointments while they were IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM awaiting emergency surgery!
Believe me! when a 16 year old can call her nail tech to cancel her appointment because she has had an ovarian cyst rupture and needs emergency surgery, it will NOT bode well for you to expect me to overlook my cancellation fee because YOU decided to go shopping with your sister but didn't bother to let ME know you wouldn't be getting your nails done.
D. You will have to look for us.
The vast majority of high end nail techs are working in high end salons. Possibly fancy day spas. Possibly in home-based salons or even alone in small studios. We are not (usually) located in the mall. We are not (usually) in strip malls. We do not advertise our services with faded neon-colored banners, or window decals of 1980's style Nagel prints. You will not stumble across us accidently by walking into the salon next to your local laundromat.
If you are looking for a high end nail tech, you might start by inquiring at your high end hair salon.
You might start paying attention to the nails of people you see daily. When you see someone with really nice nails, ask her where she has them done. Ask questions. Are you looking for someone who speaks English well? Are you looking for someone who does gel nails? Who does full acrylic instead of using tips? Who does nail art? ASK.
Google probably knows: I have a friend in Denver who does nails, one of her clients found her because she asked Google for "the best nail tech in Denver."
E. Pay attention to what Google tells you.
Google (or any other search engine) may not link you directly to a nail tech's or salon's website. For instance, Google refuses to link to my own website. The ways of Google are mysterious and I can't figure out why it doesn't like my site but Google will link to several sites that are about me. Including this blog. [edit 10/25/12: This blog was originally posted on Myspace in 2008. My website was originally located at/hosted by lycos/Tripod. I have since moved the hosting to Blogger and the site Googles very well.]
Even if the links aren't directly to websites that are interesting to you, they may tell you a lot about a particular nail tech or salon. Do the search results link you to articles from industry trade magazines? Isn't it a good sign when a nail technician has been featured in magazines for other nail technicians? Are there links to local newspaper articles? Community involvement?
F. Don't just look for pictures.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a nail tech can do awesome nails and still not be at the top of her game. I've seen great talent that used products with MMA, didn't disinfect-- or never bothered to change her disinfectant in the jar! (yuck) And techs who did great nails, but routinely cut their clients, and used the same files and buffers (non-disinfectable items) over and over on client after client.
G. Find someone you can communicate with.
I hear many people complain about nail techs that don't speak English--Some of the best, and most respected, talents in our industry don't speak English all that well. I certainly hate to think that anyone would walk away from a great nail tech just because English wasn't their first language-- but it IS important to be able to communicate with anyone who is performing a service for you! This goes well beyond speaking the same language however!
I cannot believe how many times a new client has sat in front of me and complained that her previous nail tech never did her nails the way she wanted. Many times the previous nail tech has been someone who speaks English fluently, but didn't bother to pay attention to what the client was asking for, or didn't bother to clarify what the client asked in order to be sure they were on the same page.
Once you know what it is that you're looking for, it'll be easier to find it. We're out here! Just don't go visit your aunt's nail tech 2 states over and complain that there's no one like her where you live until you've actually looked!