I tried a different nail salon recently – and loved it. Housed in a historic downtown building, this small, boutique nail salon is owned and operated by a driven business woman who is also a mom with two kids. Her staff consists of a small but trusted close-knit team of locals who seem to have quite a bit of chemistry. Right from the beginning, I knew this experience would be different.
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Before I went in, I visited the website to see what kind of services the boutique offered, and to view some of the staff. Bingo. I easily booked my appointment online and in true omni-channel form, was welcomed with an offer of tea or water as soon as I walked in the door. The brand promise on the website matched what I experienced at the shop.
The owner did my nails, because the salon was just busy enough that all technicians were with clientele – sans the host, who walked around to every station talking to the customers and making sure the technicians had everything they needed. (I love that model.)
Because I’m also a business owner, I took the opportunity to talk to the owner about her business. Her goal? To create a customized relaxing experience for every patron that walks through the door. We discussed the building’s character, the code restrictions, how she chooses to represent her brand and where she wants to be in 2 to 5 years.
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During our conversation, the owner also asked me questions – mostly about my business – but some just about my preferences. She complimented my toenails (I don’t think anyone has ever complimented my toenails.) and asked my how often I get my nails done. When I answered truthfully that I only indulge on special occasions or when I need a quick “me moment,” she recommended gels.
The experience for me suddenly came to a halt. I felt I’d been lured in with the promise of something new or different, only to find that the owner was trying to up-sell me on something I had no desire to purchase. I was here to relax, after all, not be pulled into some every two-week nail scam.
I laughed nervously, replying, “I’ve tried gels. I am too low maintenance for that.”
To which she said, “They last longer than a regular mani-pedi, and look amazing. You just have to come in every couple of weeks and get them soaked off.”
Like I have time for that.
But surprisingly – and to my delight – she picked up on my queues and recovered. “Gels aren’t for everyone,” she said, “especially if you don’t have time.” She promptly changed the subject.
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To build a successful business, sustain the salon long-term and scale according to the owner’s goals, the salon needs dependable repeat business. Gels are one way to get repeat business because they require quite a bit of maintenance. Some folks are into that. They choose to spend their exposable income on these small indulgences, they have the time to invest every couple of weeks, and during their regular visits, they may also take advantage of the spa services that are offered.
Me? I’m not one of those people. I let my nails go until they are breaking and tearing – and sometimes even beyond that. When I do go, it’s because I have an upcoming event, someone bought me a gift certificate, or I have a few extra hours on my hands. I am not my own priority.
And the owner recognized that. Because she took the time to get to know me, and picked up on my emotional signals, she gained my trust. It’s likely that I’ll return. While I may only get my nails done four times a year, I will pass referrals on to other friends who will actually purchase the gels. Through one little experience, the business owner gains many clients. Because she recognizes that one size does not fit all.