A Field Guide to Nail Clients [Nailpro Magazine]

2009 Feb NailPro Note from Jaya: Allie over at Nailpro Magazine interviewed me for an article about the types of clients that visit nail salons. The article was intended for nail salons, but it’s 100% applicable to spas, salons, etc. 

A Field Guide to Nail Clients:

Learn how to identify the different types of one of the most interesting species in nature-the nail client.

By Allie Johnson. Illustrations by Naoko Matsunaga. Nail Art by Elaine Watson.
NailPro Magazine, February 2009.
[Interview with Jaya Schillinger]

Think about all of the clients who come in to get their nails done on a given day—the bubbly college student, the soccer mom, the corporate CEO-and you’ll realize that they’re so different, they may as well come from separate planets. This means that each one wants something unique from her nail salon experience.

“Not everyone comes in just to get their nails done,” says Tina Canada, owner of Tina Canada and Company in San Mateo, California. Canada has been doing nails for 20 years and also provides consulting services to other salon owners. Try to pay more attention to each client’s personality, communicate with her openly and pick up on nonverbal cues. This way you’ll have a better shot at retaining each new client.

The first step is to ask a new client exactly what she wants, then tailor the services accordingly. “The consultation is truly where it all begins,” says Lisa Arnold, owner of Salon and Spa Solutions in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. “Always put an extra 15 minutes in the book; don’t be cheap about that.” The consultation should be written and verbal; ask open-ended questions on a form, then ask more in-depth questions in a follow-up conversation.

Store this information for future reference by using an index card in a recipe box or high tech salon management software-either way, it’s vital to your success. Jaya Savannah (formerly Schillinger) from Inspiration Inc., a company specializing in coaching and consulting for holistic businesses, teaches a class on personally profiling salon clients as part of her Power Up! business classesfor spa and salon professionals. “If you want to have a successful service business, you need to be able to establish a rapport where you are able to make someone else feel comfortable with you,” she says. “If you understand personality types, you will be able to get along with a wider range of people.”

To help you better understand some general personality types and how to use this information to your benefit, here’s a handy field guide to the different sorts of clients you’re likely to spot in a day’s work:

2009 Feb NailPro Client Types

The Trendy Tina

Description: This client is hip, young (or young at heart) and expresses her personal flair through her hair, clothes and, of course, her nails. “A big part of it for her is fun-that’s tied into the whole experience,” says Schillinger, who calls this type a Creative. “She wants to know what the hot colors of the season will be-are we going gray on the nails, or plum, or metallic?-and she wants to try them all. You need to keep her stimulated.”

Arnold agrees: “She’s always looking for the latest and greatest. If she gets bored, she won’t come back.” But if you play it right, this type can become one of your best clients-she’ll visit you as frequently as she changes her stylish, perfectly coordinated clothes.

Identifying traits: This client wears designer jeans, the latest sensation in jewelry and sports a stylish haircut “She’ll have lots of bling,” Schillinger says.

Natural habitat: Shopping for designer bargains online.

How to wow her: Alert her to a new trend she somehow didn’t know about.

The upsell: Nail art, jewels, a trendy enhancement shape—anything new.

The Blissed-Out Brenda

Description: The results of any given treatment-smoother hands or heels and pretty nails-are a secondary concern for this client. For her, it’s all about the experience. Getting her nails done is a way for her to pamper herself and take a rejuvenating break from work, rush hour traffic and other daily stresses. To help this client unwind, take a few deep breaths and make sure that you’re not transmitting your harried energy to her with quick movements or a grating voice. Speak softly, be warm and gracious and keep conversation to a minimum. Check in with her periodically to make sure she’s comfortable. For example: Is the temperature of the water OK? Does she know that the chair reclines and features massage and heat settings? And little extras always help- think aromatherapy candles, ambient music or a few extra minutes of massage. “This type won’t spend as much on beauty, but she will spend on holistic wellness,” says Schillinger, who calls this client a Visionary. “Throw in some flower petals and she’s hooked.”

Identifying traits: She wears loose, flowing clothing, possibly with sandals.

Natural habitat: On her mat at the yoga studio.

How to wow her: Schillinger suggests throwing a sprig of rosemary into the pedicure bowl or offering her a mug of herbal tea.

The upsell: Aromatherapy-but only with 100% natural oils-or reflexology.

The Practical Peggy

Description: This type of client is most likely coming in because she has a gift certificate-maybe her husband or best friend thought she could use some pampering-and she’s making sure to use it before it expires. While she likes to look neat and clean, she’s also very money-conscious, so she’s not likely to make salon or spa visits a cornerstone of her life. This type might work in an analytical or high-tech environment and just doesn’t spend much time thinking about beauty. She’s no muss, no fuss. “Style isn’t an issue for this type,” Schillinger says, so don’t expect her to become a regular. “She doesn’t like to spend money on fluff.”

Identifying traits: Her look is plain—think T-shirts and jeans or slacks with a simple chain around her neck.

Natural habitat: Her kids’ soccer practice or picking up takeout.

How to wow her: Keep things simple-she’ll get overwhelmed if you give her too many options and recommend a few muted polish colors that you think would flatter her skin tone.

The upsell: It’s probably not happening. “About the best you can do is get her to tell a friend,” Schillinger says. But if you don’t fuss over her too much and provide her with a straightforward service, you never know-she could turn up again when a special occasion arises.

 The Chatty Cathy

Description: If you’re too quiet and laid-back, this client will think there’s something wrong. She considers any silence awkward and wants to ask you questions-but mostly tell you all sorts of details about herself: traffic was horrible on the way to her appointment; her 10-year class reunion is coming up and it’ll be the first time she’s seen some of her friends since graduation; she’s had really bad morning sickness since she got pregnant. And if you’re the type who wants to talk about your husband’s job or the practical jokes your kids like to play on each other, it’ll just make this client feel connected to you, which is, of course, great for business. “When you’re holding someone’s hands or touching their feet, it’s a very personal service,” Canada says. “So there has to be some sort of bond there.”

Identifying traits: She tells you something very personal on her first visit There’ll undoubtedly be more to come.

Natural habitat: Chatting up the next customer in line at the post office, or the grocery store, or the coffeehouse.

How to wow her: Ask about her kids, her job or her dog, and really listen to her answer. Then memorize it “I try to remember everything [my clients] share with me, especially if it’s something personal,” Canada says.

The upsell: Anything that you can personally recommend.

The Workaholic Wanda

Description: Efficiency is key here since this client might be squeezing in the service on her lunch break. Don’t keep her waiting; be professional and courteous. And don’t be offended if she’s writing a speech, buying plane tickets for her next business trip or sending email from her BlackBerry while you work. Even if this client doesn’t have a job in the traditional sense, she’s likely involved in her community and probably serves on boards or organizes charity events. She can be one of your best clients if you help make her busy life a little easier. “She values tradition and .. consistency,” says Schillinger, who calls this type a Builder. “When it comes to getting her hair and nails done, she wants the same thing every time.” This client might be especially demanding-she wants her nails to look perfect. If you impress this type, you’ve got a client for life because she books appointments like clockwork and doesn’t like change.

Identifying traits: She likes nice things, perhaps driving a Mercedes and carrying a Louis Vuitton bag.

Natural habitat: Ducking into Starbucks on the way to work or a board meeting.

How to wow her: Be ultra efficient. Get her in and out quickly, and remember exactly how she likes her nails done. “She . will get annoyed if, when she walks in, you ask her what length or shape she wants,” Schillinger says. “She wants you to keep track of the details.”

The upsell: Book appointments with this client more frequently, maybe weekly instead of every two weeks.


Jaya Savannah recommends Nailpro Magazine. Click here to subscribe.


About the Author

Jaya Savannah - Chief Inspiration Officer. Strategy Coach for Holistic Businesses. Trainer, speaker, and writer. Spiritually aware, yet street smart. Elephant lover.