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Time is a crucial element to orchestrating the success of a healthy salon business. How a nail tech manages their time (either with single-minded focus or squandered hours); is a major indicator of earning. Is there a way to make every minute of your day count? Might there be a magic formula for booking services? Consider this an invitation for nail techs everywhere to describe what efficiency looks and feels like in your salon today. Is your idea of success reduced to the almighty dollar sign or does it involve a holistic vision for living? The answer to this question can and will be different for everyone. We’re A-Okay with that and you should be, too!

Time management is a seriously underrated tool. With only 24 hours in the day; why does managing its flow often end up as an afterthought? If your day doesn’t start off just right it becomes like a runaway train; very hard to get back on track.  Sleeping through or forgetting to set the alarm. Running perpetually ten minutes behind. Phone is uncharged. No gas in the tank. No time for lunch but plenty of time for gossip. These are just a few examples of how time might NOT be on your side. If this sounds like you, things can change. Might we suggest setting small intentions and time planning? What does this look like in real life? It means you set aside 30 minutes to an hour at the top of your week to map out your schedule. You revisit the schedule daily. It’s important to do this before the “busyness” takes over. Don’t overlook the obvious for example like how long it takes to enjoy your morning coffee, hop in the  shower, or traffic during the commute. Figure out how long it really takes you to do a fill, a full set, rebalance and sanitize the work station for the next client.  The goal of time management is to minimize stress and reactive behavior in the areas of your life actually within your control. Time management can provide some peace of mind for times when things go wacky.   

Managing your daily schedule and your client bookings is a science. It’s a process of observing yourself, your services, and your clients’ nail beds. It’s discovering the patterns in your work. It’s a continuous loop. It can be complex managing all the moving parts. It takes time to get the hang of things and really get your appointment book dialed in. Fully anticipate the learning curve for new clients. Build in a buffer for first time appointments. Appreciate the ease of knowing your regular clients’ quirks. A simple fill, a full set or a more time consuming rebalance; assign each service a reasonable amount of time. As you build your client rotation and rapport, you'll know what to expect. The wild card clients won’t rattle you like they used to. You’ve made a plan for that.

Here is a simple baseline to start. Block off 8 hours for your work. Book a max of 8 clients per day.  Allow for one hour services. Consider this a full day for starters. Check in with yourself. How does that feel? It’s always an ongoing process. Just start where you are. Then take small actions to improve day by day. Consider how you can work more efficiently in the same time frame? To make the kind of money we know is possible in a salon, you’re going to want to add on. Without over exerting yourself, how might you be able to fit in a couple more fills or full sets into your day? Do you improve your speed or extend your hours to keep that coveted 4 day work week? Were there any opportunities to condense your time frame? Keep an eye out for those. Be reasonable with your level of expertise. Show yourself some compassion as you discover how to manage your time optimally. Clients with troublesome nail beds will take you more time. Allow yourself to enjoy the process and add time to services when necessary. Alternate the simple nude manicures with the full set of kitchen sink nail art/enhancements. You have your own pace. You will figure it out. We promise it gets easier.

As you build your devoted client following, it’s normal to lose a few clients here and there. Some move away or maybe some just want to take a break. Whatever the reason you have a vacancy to fill, don’t miss the chance to curate your clientele. We recommend keeping a waiting list of clients who want to get on the books. This is the perfect time to be picky about who you bring in. You are valuable. Your work is valuable. Your time is valuable. Make sure to find the right match for you.

Time management is not only about your service duration. It’s about what you do in your down time, too. What productive measures are you taking between clients? Do you know what day to launder the towels before you run out? Do you know what product inventory you have on hand? Are your files seasoned or your lamp surfaces disinfected? Have you sent out confirmations for the next day’s appointments? Have you done any social media marketing? A few days a week, we plan on front-loading the schedule. This automatically energizes the day and keeps the pace interesting. Work. Rest. Multi-task. Repeat. Think of taking on the day with bursts of action. A lot of stuff can get done in ten minutes if you have a sense of purpose and a quick to do list. If you are continuously getting swept away by the day with little to show for it, we recommend jotting down your time for a week to see what might be distracting you. Make a schedule and do your best to stick to it. Adapt the schedule as you grow. The bright side of the front load is that you’re actually creating space for the other important things in your life. Maybe it’s self-care, working out, or making mental space available so you can show up for your loved ones and fur babies.  When you can clearly define your work time, you can really enjoy your play time.

**This is an adaptation from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube, “BIZ TALK: TIME MANAGEMENT IN THE NAIL SALON” which originally aired on September 21, 2021.

***Follow our YN YouTube Channel and click here to watch the full discussion: