A complex cultural history
In 1975, after the Vietnam war, actress Tippi Hedren resettled 20 Vietnamese women in the United States as part of a humanitarian effort . To empower these women to make an independent living, she commissioned her nail artist to impart skills to them.
Tippi Hedren’s initiative gave rise to the nail industry – as more Vietnamese immigrants entered the United States, they looked to these first 20 women as an example of how they could make a living. By the 1980s, immigrants were a common sight in nail salons, and they democratised the nail salon business to serve the average customer rather than rich socialites from Beverly Hills.
However, as with most cases of immigration, the Vietnamese immigrants faced xenophobic sentiments from the rest of the United States. Many felt that Vietnamese were opportunistic job-stealers, stereotypes which still exist today in nail salons run by immigrants.
In the present
Because of these historical precedents, many nail salons in the United States are run as small businesses. According to statistics from IBISWorld, there are over one million hair and nail salons in the United States . However, the number has dipped considerably due to COVID-19 restrictions. Although the nail care industry has had varied developmental trajectories globally, there are many nail salons also run as small businesses.
Number of hair and nail salons in the United States, from IBISWorld
However, there remains high demand for nail technicians. The demand for nail technicians is growing by 10% from 2016 to 2028, which is faster than the average across occupations .
In light of the uncertain future, especially for minority-owned nail salons, how can salon owners make use of technology to become more efficient and customer-centric?
To kill two birds with one stone, nail salon owners can make use of their POS device. Unless nail salon owners are doing their accounts with pen and paper, most would require a POS device regardless. This article will suggest potential uses of an effective nail salon POS. In fact, all nail salons can take a leaf from this book, and incorporate technology to increase efficiency.
Customer relationship management
Regular and loyal customers are an important source of income for many nail salons. To ensure that customers return, nail salons need an end to end customer relationship management system. This entails a nail salon POS system that can handle scheduling, membership packages, gifting, and reviewing.
Nail technicians, photo by Kris Atomic on Unsplash
Salon appointments scheduling. Most nail salons will hire multiple technicians. Nail salon customers tend to book salon appointments with specific technicians. Thus, having a reliable POS system which can organise salon appointments is imperative to establishing a good workflow.
A common strategy to prevent no-shows is to use an appointment management system. The system can automatically send SMS appointment reminders to customers a day before their appointment, so that busy or forgetful customers can confirm or reschedule.
Membership packages. Offering a membership service package is a common practice in the beauty industry. Membership packages of different tiers give customers more pricing options, and include additional rewards for customers to enjoy.
However, offering membership packages can also be an administrative nightmare when coupled with different promotions run by nail salons. A good salon POS system will be able to calculate the cost of services after comparing all the promotions seamlessly and quickly, so that there are never any disputes at the counter.
Gifting. Gift cards for nail salons are considered an “affordable luxury”. Thus, they are a common gift. Nail salons should tap on this trend and encourage the use of gift cards because they are a good form of word of mouth marketing.
Nail salons can also build a loyalty program around gifting in the form of referrals. Nail treatment sessions can be social events, and referrals prompt customers to bring their friends and family along instead of booking a session alone.
Generating customer reviews. Customer loyalty is key for businesses in the service industry. To keep track of customer service levels for all nail technicians, owners can harness nail salon POS software. For instance, at the end of each session, the counter staff can prompt customers to rate their nail technician. The rating and feedback can be keyed into the system immediately, and fed into an analytics software.
Nail polish brushes, photo by Dan-Cristian Pădureț on Unsplash
Over time, the use of simple reports can provide meaningful information for nail salon owners. For example, nail salon owners may be able to pinpoint how changes in nail technicians, products, or other business measures affect customer satisfaction.
From appointment scheduling to customer service, let your POS device do the work.
Depending on the needs and scale of a nail salon, salon owners can choose between basic features and advanced sales reporting features in POS systems.
For example, if a nail salon owner only has a few technicians and is more concerned about overall revenue, a simple POS system would do the job.
However, more a more advanced nail salon POS system would be able to conduct advanced sales analytics such as determining which configuration of membership packages would potentially bring in more revenue to determine spending habits through customer tracking.
In addition, nail salons which use a cloud-based POS system that run on Android software can look forward to real-time reporting and automatic syncing across devices.
To provide consistent service to customers, nail salons need to keep track of the performance of individual staff. Many small businesses may rely on intuition to gauge performance, but this method is prone to human error. Instead, businesses should take a data driven approach by recording customer feedback and generating sales reports.
Nail salon owners need to accurately record the hours clocked by each technician for payroll management. If the nail salon also extends staff commissions, it is even more critical for nail salon owners to track the right rates easily.
Thus, the checklist for a good POS system is to be able to record working hours of nail technicians, their performance, and calculate commissions if applicable.
In the nail service industry, inventory tracking can be a huge headache. Nail designs, textures, and color preferences come and go very quickly, and some never make a comeback. Furthermore, nail preferences can be very subjective, and the rate that nail salons use up stocks can be heavily dependent on which customers walk in the door.
Also, although nail polish is meant to last up to two years after opening, it may not be usable (and certainly is unsightly in front of customers) once the liquids separate.
In this scenario, having inventory management tools is extremely helpful for nail salon owners. A POS device will be able to take on this task, and more.
Typically, mobile POS devices would be more efficient for inventory management purposes as they can be carried around to scan the products. However, since nail polish bottles are small, lightweight, and easy to organise, any POS device equipped with a scanner can be used to do the job.
Hit the nail on the head
An effective nail salon POS is key to increasing customer satisfaction as well as productivity. Nail salon businesses can tap on the powerful tools in their POS systems to go the extra mile for their customers.
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