As a busy professional nail artist, how you manage your client schedule is the key to making the most of your time, talent and even your quality of life. The main issues here are about control and communication: should you have full control over how your clients get booked or should you allow someone (or even something else like an app) to take the client bookings for you? The resounding answer is like a dating profile…it’s complicated.
If you’re a nail tech and work in a salon on commission, the typical set up for bookings should be rather simple: let the salon owner or receptionist handle all the requests and send those good paying clients your way. While on the surface this could be an ideal set up, there can be a couple minor snags in this kind of arrangement. First, be aware that the person taking the appointments can only “guesstimate” the time required for actual services, especially when it comes to nail lengthening enhancements and detailed nail art. The receptionist can be flawless on the job but through no fault of their own; they might lack a detailed understanding of what it takes and how much time is needed to complete each service.
We all know time is money. All nail services have their own level of complexity from basic polish change to a full-on reconstructive acrylic makeover and your clients will walk in with their hands in various states of good health or disrepair. To make the most of this scheduling scenario, you should be your own best advocate. Introduce yourself to the receptionist. Give them a mini-presentation as a not-so-subtle way to educate them of your skill set. Show off a little. Now that they’re familiar with your work, they’ll be ready to engage the client on your behalf and request essential background info before the date of service. This is a mutually beneficial set-up so that the receptionist can assist in building client satisfaction ahead of time, manage client expectations, and prevent unexpected wait times or potential schedule screw-ups. After all, they are on the front lines of customer service team; why wouldn’t they want it to go smoothly?
The second snag in this scenario is when you allow someone else (or even a booking app to schedule your appointments), you’re missing the opportunity for some good old human interaction. When you can connect with your client; it makes it so much easier to understand their needs and to deliver what they want. Respect between a salon owner and their employees is crucial. Hopefully you’re working in a wonderful salon that partners with the nail techs it employs and is not threatened that you want to build a good relationship with the clientele through direct communication. As far as we’re concerned, this is another win-win for everyone involved: the client is pleased because all their nailfie needs have been met, the nail tech is generously compensated for a service well executed, and the salon owner builds rave reviews for customer service.
Now let’s look at the independent nail tech who is in relative control over their client schedule. This person tends to be in business building beast mode, neon 24/7. The nail tech on commission may be spared the daily logistics of bookings and cancellations, the complete opposite is true here. This nail tech will be the first and last point of client contact with no detail going unnoticed. The nail tech who table rents is a full-fledged business owner with many demands on their time. Beyond creating beautiful nails, there will be other responsibilities like shaking the trees for new business and generating opportunities for marketing engagement. The danger here is the blurred line between work/home life may diminish your earning efficiency. You will need develop your own code of professional conduct and determine the workload that suits your hustle.
Design your work life the way you always wanted. Maybe you prefer to keep a four-day work week with three days off. You determine what’s best for you. Remember your time is valuable. There’s often no limit to client requests. Their needs arise at all hours of the day. Protect your bubble of personal space by posting clear hours of operation and sticking to them. We recommend taking credit cards to reserve appointments, maintaining a strict 24-48-hour cancellation policy and charging cancellation/rescheduling fees. You’re committed. Your clients should be too!
In the end, no matter who is booking the appointments, the best way to manage your client schedule and maintain your profitability is by setting specific controls for an efficient business environment and having open client communication where possible. An easy tool we like to use is a short round of five questions at the time of booking. The answers allow you to determine the client’s needs in advance and be as prepared as possible to deliver a phenomenal nail service.
- What kind of nails do you have on right now? Polish, Gel Polish, Acrylic or Gel Nail Enhancements?
- What kind of nail service are you interested in? A traditional nail polish mani/pedi, a gel polish mani/pedi, or do you want to add length with nail enhancements? Are you looking for nail art?
- What is your lifestyle/profession? Active, non-active, etc. Hairdresser, Bartender, Mother, Office Worker etc.
- Can you send image of current nail situation? (Important because this exposes nail habits like cuticle picking or nail biting.)
- Can you send an image of the nail art and nail shape/length desired?
Lastly, in the golden age of tech and social media, we invite you to thoroughly research the new software options available to salon pros. What software are you using? Please share it with us on our YouTube channel. No doubt, clients really enjoy the convenience of booking online. Use something that allows for your customized menu of services with the typical service duration clearly marked. A good marriage between a booking receptionist and software/app booking is a well-composed and detailed follow up email confirming all the terms of service. This response could also be an auto-reply with the Five Questions above and have your digital signature with all your social media handles. This offers a fail-safe for you to prevent the sneaky client who wants the Mona Lisa of nail art design in a time slot reserved for a basic mani.
Habib Salo, CEO