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The Importance of Speed

Meet Genesis, a soft-spoken pro nail artist starting to make moves in the business. We found her at a crossroads that many nail techs often find themselves. With a year of salon experience under her belt, Genesis feels the itch to make a big career change from commission. She wants to branch off to start a business of her own. We can relate to this exciting and scary place to be. Joined by Tracey, YN General Manager, we check in with Genesis to learn more out her current situation. Along the way, we discuss what is working, what’s not working, and strategize where speed can be a key determining factor whether now is the right time to go out on her own.

[YN HABIB] I’m curious….if you’re working at a good salon with customers coming in and making good money, what more could you ask for?

[YN TRACEY] Some people are happy making the good money at a salon but really motivated to go out on their own for something more.

[YN HABIB] Genesis, we see that you’re having some challenges. Right now you’re working commission salon? Are you making enough money?

[GENESIS] It’s been a year since I got my cosmetology license and started working in nails. I started out in booth rent but it was hard to do when you have no clients and are located in a smaller city. There wasn’t a ton of walk-ins or foot traffic. I switched salon locations and found something closer to my house. Staring out, it wasn’t great. Now I see that I get most of my clients from my Instagram. Some days I’m booked all day. Some days I’ll get walk-ins later in the day. Is it better to expand on my own since I get my clients by myself? I have a station set-up at home with all the equipment, a drill, and products. Yet I’m scared to leave (the salon). I think it’s because I feel comfortable.

[YN] How many clients do you have now? What’s your client average in a week?

[GENESIS] Maybe 20 clients a week?

[YN] What’s the deal, are your clients rebooking or just walk-in? Are you building a book of returning clients every week?

[GENESIS] Here and there, I do take walk-ins to fill my cancellations. Most of the time I’m getting returning clients and referrals. I have a good amount of clients...but I feel like I still need to get more.

[YN] As soon as you finish the service, are you rebooking (the client)? Can you tell us what’s the average time it takes you to do the set? This is a great way to figure out how much room you have for salon growth.

[GENESIS] I take almost 2 hours for a full set but that includes extras like gel polish, acrylic, glitter plus a design with gel polish.

[YN TRACEY] OK. That’s a fine. But even for some experienced nail techs; that’s how long it might take them to do a full set. Don’t feel bad about it; especially since you’re just a year in.

[YN HABIB] I guess the important part here is; how much are you charging for those two hours?

[YN TRACEY] OK. For example, the two hour set that I just did with the design...I charged $50.

[YN HABIB] So it breaks down to $25 per hour. Then you take away commission on top of that depending on your split. Maybe a 40-60 split with taxes is less. Ideally, if you could be making $50 an hour, with a fully booked clientele you’re going to be doing really well! Tracey do you have any thoughts? I like starting with Tracey since she’s been in your shoes as a nail tech with salon owner experience. I’ll take it later from the business side.

[YN TRACEY] First of all, congratulations! For being out of school for a year and seeing 20 clients a week. You’ve got a great foundation. It’s also impressive to want to expand and do more. Maybe the first question to ask yourself is, how am I prepared? When making a decision like this, being prepared financially and understanding how many clients will be follow you? How can you build and improve your service time, get faster, so you can increase your income per hour. How can we build upon that (via Instagram or phone) to get you the clientele you want. And lastly, what does your work schedule look like? How much do you want to work, part-time or full-time which is like 40-50 clients a week?

[GENESIS] I want to work full time in the salon and I hope to get to the 40-50 clients a week.

[YN HABIB] Time matters if you want to build your career; that’s the number one thing. You already have great color combos and designs. To get you there, you really need to increase your service speed 1 hour sets. That’s the first goal, that’s how we train here at YN: 30 minute fills and 1 hour sets. You can maybe even consider booking on the 15 for simple fills and on the 45 for more complicated ones. Tracey used to book 14 clients a day and she charged for it. This is where we want you to get.

Hone your skills before you make the jump into booth rent. Stay in the commission set up. Utilize it for gaining experience and training to speed up your service times. With only one year out, don’t judge yourself too harshly.

[YN TRACEY] Technique First, Speed Second. It’s time to figure that all out now while you’re working on commission.

[GENESIS] Hmmmm, that’s what I thought from the beginning. Why do I take so long? I don’t get it.

[YN TRACEY] Don’t worry about it. My first set took me five hours. It took me a long time before I was doing a 30 minute fill or 1 hour full set. Seriously, now is the time to practice towards that.

[YN HABIB] Here’s the thing. You have an Instagram page. You post. You have 772 followers. Your stories about Last Minute Appointments is great. You’re showing a little bit of a story of the product you’re using with the final product on the nails. You’re already bringing them in. Keep that going. Remember to utilize the commission salon set up. It’s not “using” them. It’s a perfect synergistic relationship. They need you as much as you need them. Use the time to seriously hone your skills/technique, getting your time down like second nature, and continue to build your clientele. Then you’ll be in position to get into business ownership.

[YN TRACEY] One thing, are you happy where you are? Is it a bad environment? Do you feel like you need to get out soon?

[GENESIS] No. I like where I work and get along great with everyone there. When I was younger, I always knew that I wanted to be in the cosmetology field. I always wanted to be different. I know that this type of business, you have to work and stay late; but I want to manage my own time, too. If I want to take certain days off, I want to be able to do that. Of course, I will keep track of my work. So here in the commission salon, I can’t do that. I have to follow their rules. I know my time needs to be worked on but my sets are good work and I don’t get enough money for what I do.

[YN HABIB] You can work on all these things. For example, we pump out 20-30 students a month. Here in Anaheim and in 40 countries around the world, we train in a one day class or full week course. We train the same method. We’ve been building successful nail techs for over 25 years. So trust me when I say, get that timing down and increase your price a little bit. Then down the line, to give yourself an immediate raise - get the set down to an hour = $50 an hour. If you go out on your own, you automatically give yourself a raise by not having to pay out commission fee or raising prices. Yes, there are expenses but it won’t be the same. The next raise comes after you’ve settled in, start slowly charging 10% and the next year another 5% more.

[YN TRACEY] Make sure to ask for additional fees for the nail art. How is it working out with the salon you’re in right now? Are they bringing you clientele? Or are you bringing in all your clients through Instagram?

[GENESIS] Well, I’ll take walk ins. Most of those don’t care who they go to; so those won’t want to stay. They hop around to who’s available. I try to stay away from walk-ins; and try to keep myself booked so that I have people who want to come back to me. I don’t treat them differently. I try to make them see me to want to stay with me.

[YN HABIB] You have so many fundamentals right now on how you want to build. You’re already thinking ahead. When you’re building a business, it just takes time. You sound (and based on your Instagram) young to me. Just know that you should use this time right now to build and hone your skills. Set up your business goals for the next year or two. For example, I want to have my own booth rent, own business. So that in that time, you will be giving yourself instant raises when it happens.

[YN TRACEY] The beautiful thing about being in business for yourself is controlling your own schedule. When I started, I went straight to booth rent and worked 7 days a week. I didn’t want to work 7 days a week but that’s part of paying the dues. This is just a part of the process; working more than you want to. It’s painful but at this stage of your career it would be happening in a booth rent or the commission set up you’re now in. Then when you go out on your own and you’re in charge. You can book everyone into 3 days a week or however you want. You’re in control.

[GENESIS] It makes sense. For awhile, oh my gosh, I really wanted to leave. You’re clarifying things. I feel like now (staying) would be the best thing. I feel also timing tells a lot.

[YN HABIB] Yes, timing absolutely does. Pay your dues. Work on your time. Hone your skills. So when you walk into the commission salon and you don’t want to be there, you can frame it under the idea of being “In training”. Tell yourself, I am here to improve my technique and time.

[YN TRACEY] And here’s a helpful hint for marketing/showcasing your range of skills. Try to post some short or more active length nails in addition to the long nails everyone loves. Don’t worry about the likes or comments section. They represent what you can do for the client who might not want the longer profile. Make sure to highlight the nails and describe the work: acrylic set, gel set, active length, overlay, etc. Tag it up with hashtags to build your business. You’re already doing good call outs. Just do it consistently.

[GENESIS] So do you guys think I should get business cards?

[YN] We’ve gotten away from it. However for you, they’d be really important for marketing as a pro nail artist. Drop them off and be aggressive on hitting up potential clients. It’s great to have a walking billboard of your work at retail locations like banks, grocery stores, clothing stores. Anything to get your nails visible. The cards should definitely have your Instagram handle so they can DM for an appointment. Don’t buy crazy expensive ones...plenty of websites who can do a good job for less. Be sure to talk to the owners of your salon to see if they’re open to a you having a limited number of people to come for free practice sets. Good Luck! Please feel free to connect with us any time We’d be happy to help you along the way; please reach out to us any time.

Genesis, we know it can feel like you hit a wall; the key to getting over that is to tweak your perspective on working on commission. We really believe that the issue with speed will get handled. As a result, no doubt the hard work and practice will lead to a huge career.

*Note this is an adapted transcript from an actual BIZ TALK LIVE CALL. View the entire discussion via this link from our YN YouTube Channel.