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A client comes in with a last minute request for some serious nail art. What to do? The answer is usually, “No, problem. (I’ll be happy to take your money)." However, what should a nail artist do when the client's wants don't match the day of booked appointment? Unexpected upgrades or downgrades have the potential to mess with your earning power. Let us walk you through some effective ways you can respond rather than react to the client who changes their mind at the last minute.

Keep your salon policies in plain sight and ready to view at the time of booking. When an appointment is made send a confirmation email/text in advance. This clearly lays out the expectations of your client relations: deposit requirements, terms for accepted payment (cash only, credit cards, Venmo, Zelle etc.), late/cancellation policy, plus any current health and safety measures.  Before they land in your chair, the client needs to know what your idea is of mutual respect. Equally as important as technique; this is just good business for all nail techs regardless of how many years they have under their belts.

New nail techs can panic when a client goes rogue. Thoughts of losing money or client disappointment stirs up fear and worry. The new tech may choose to say nothing. When a client asks for something they weren’t scheduled for like high nail art instead of a set of simple nude nails or even fill; the new tech may bend over backwards. Accommodate what you can but minimize your stress. A work day already carefully balanced with services, doesn’t have much time for unplanned monkey wrenches. You may have to find a way to gently turn the client down. Take this opportunity to inform and educate your client of how your salon works. The conversation might go something like this- “Just so you know, each appointment is assigned a particular amount of time based on the type of service. A basic mani or fill takes about 30 minutes. High nail art may run a lot longer like two to three hours depending on the design complexity. Today, I only have you booked for a fill. Here are some ways we might add bling during the short amount of time we have together. Glitter or sugaring will still look incredible and here is the price list for the upgrades. I’d love to take you to up a  level of nail art on your next appointment. Let’s put something in the calendar,  what would work for you?” If the client is a little dense and still can’t take the hint; you might want to continue with-, “I know I make it look easy but you might not believe how complicated it is to operate a well-oiled nail service machine. Based on my business plan, I have to take care of a certain number of clients a day to earn a good living. Each service is limited to a certain amount of time agreed to at the time of the booking.” Forever the professional, we deliver this Ted Talk monologue on nail services with gratitude and a smile.  

In human nature, the emotional dopamine high comes only from the pursuit and not the actual possession of a person, place or thing. If you bow to the last minute nail change addict when your schedule doesn’t have the space, it is an act of not valuing yourself and your time. You are setting off a chain reaction of clients having to suffer an extended delay just because of one person’s whim. Your time is just as important as crypto currency. Take care of the clients, who take care of you. Start to notice if your level of dread ramps up a day before any clients with a chronically indecisive,  flair for drama, and the worst luck show up..When it comes to the salon, early is on time and on time is late. Only you can prevent the evil eye and nip the negative thought spiral of an early client or on-time client. Your clients should walk away in the positive glow of their own nail experience and not the spill over from the prior person in the chair.

If a client always seems to want some version of the Mona Lisa on their nails but fails to book the actual appointment a masterpiece requires, don't assume they're going big every time. Do not set up your schedule based on what you think someone “might" want. You don’t get paid extra for mind-reading. You can't build a business on “might”. You will never regret being able to clearly communicate. The client will learn when you're consistent with your messaging. Walk them back to the policies. Sometimes folks are sneaky just trying to get in. They will ask for the fill because the appointment is available; then pull a bait and switch.  If a client shows up demanding bling, tell them what they need to do to book the appropriate appointment. Open communication helps you provide phenomenal customer service and convert a basic client into a blinged out regular.  Have a heart to heart. It may sound like this: "It looks like you have a serious nail art addiction. I think I’ve created a monster…hahahaha.  Listen, you just need to start getting bling on the regular. Let’s make sure we can keep giving you what you want. Let’s switch your standing appointment to include nail art moving forward.” The same type of conversation needs to happen when someone books major nail art and repeatedly downsizes for a basic look. Your time is money.

**This is an adaptation from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube, “BIZ TALK: LAST MINUTE NAIL CHANGES” which originally aired on October 12, 2021.

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