How to Increase Your Nail Salon’s Profits

In today's nail salon business it pays to get creative.
It's important to stay creative and keep up with the latest trends to attract customers and earn big profits. (Photo: antoniodiaz/Shutterstock)

In 2015, nail technicians brought in about 2 percent less than they did in 2014, according to the 2015-2016 NAILS Big Book. And market saturation and discount salons are making it hard to build and keep a clientele.

To keep profits up and customers coming in, you’ll need to get creative.

Set yourself apart

Robert and Marina Torosian, owners of Laqué Nail Bar in Beverly Hills and North Hollywood, California, opened their nail salon because they noticed sub-par sanitation in others. To stand out, they chose a “regal” design motif. And they adopted a bar theme — their express manicure is called a “Quick Shot,” and the “Dirty Martini” mani/pedi includes choices of scrubs.

They also included a beauty bar that offers eyelash extensions, threading and waxing, makeup applications and more.

Add trendy services

“It’s important to stay on top of the current trends, such as Swarovski crystals and chrome pigments, which significantly increase the salon’s sales and income,” noted Robert Torosian.

According to the NAILS Fact Book, the services nail salons added most often in 2015 included hard gels, eyelash extensions and brow grooming. While lash extensions can take up to two hours, they can bring in $300 to $450 for the initial application.

To focus on maximum profit with minimal product and/or time investment, explore adding men’s sports manicures (same price, no polish time) and chair massages ($1 per minute).


The best time to raise prices is around the holiday season when clients are extra busy, says Jill Wilson, consultant at Summit Salon Business Center. (Photo: Jill Wilson)

Court Baby Boomers

Karen Hodges, co-founder of the online education site Nailcare Academy, suggested adding services aimed at Baby Boomers, such as gentle hand care treatments to remove age spots, and ones for people who have health conditions that require special hand and foot care.

“Why not make $75 for an hour-long ‘Safe Foot Care Treatment’ instead of wearing yourself out against the competition for a $25 glitter-polish pedicure? Older people and those with health issues will never leave a technician who can provide safe, aseptic services. Changing the focus of your work to attract this market segment will yield more profit.”

Hodges added, “Obtain advanced safety training and implement practices that prevent infection-transfer and injuries. This advanced level of care commands a higher price.”

Test the hottest new upgrades

Another idea is to upgrade or enhance the services you already offer.


“Obtain advanced safety training and implement practices that prevent infection-transfer and injuries. This advanced level of care commands a higher price.” –Karen Hodges (Photo: Karen Hodges)

Images Luxury Nail Lounge, with multiple locations in California, touts $25,000 diamond-studded manicures. But the average nail salon can offer an IBX Repair or Strengthen Treatment. This can add $8 to $10 to a gel polish price or $10 to $15 when used under a basic manicure as a strengthener.

Spa/specialty mani-pedis can significantly increase a service price without doubling the time. Just be sure to sell the benefits — ”that Pumpkin Puree Pedi is great for exfoliating.”

“Look at the money behind the math,” said Jill Wilson, a former nail salon owner, licensed technician and consultant at the Summit Salon Business Center in Plymouth, Minnesota. “Just one add-on or upgrade adds $10 a day. For five-day work weeks, that’s an extra $50 per week, $200 a month or $2,400 a year in revenue. Selling three a day adds $150 per week, $600 a month or $7,200 a year.”

Be careful how you present those upgrades and add-ons. Said Torosian, “Train employees to properly upgrade services without being too aggressive or pushy. Have them explain the differences between and benefits of regular polish versus gel polish.”

Make hay over the holidays

There’s no better time to promote special services and VIP events than during the holidays.

Plan a holiday open house, include prizes and giveaways and promote gift certificates through social media. Torosian said he found Instagram worked best for his nail business.“The key with social media is to be active and engage with your followers. Posting a photo of nail art is not enough. Monitor comments, respond to clients and supporters, and most importantly, be transparent and honest.”

Another idea, from Wilson: Give away a $20 gift certificate with each $100 one purchased. “Limit the free one to one per-person and make it valid from January 2 to February 28th, which fills stations when clients cut back to pay off holiday credit card bills.”

Wilson said the holiday season is also the best time to raise prices, which too-busy-to-look-elsewhere clients won’t mind as long as you maintain sanitary practices, show you appreciate them and keep up with education.

Increase efficiency with technology

Many nail pros (53 percent according to the NAILS Fact Book) still use paper books despite the fact that software programs can track inventory and loyalty programs, manage payroll and take credit card payments. They save time, and time is money.

Said Hodges, “Software with built-in marketing platforms lets owners reach out with a ‘flash sale’ to move inventory or fill last-minute appointments.”

Torosian added that salon software can make a huge difference in how the front desk operates. “It increases efficiency and profitability.

“But the key element of any successful nail salon is having owners who are dedicated to their business, their employees and their clients — and who are directly involved in day-to-day operations. Create a unique identity, don’t just copy what other successful nail salons are doing.”

Want A Demo?

Sign up for a POS demo from NCR Silver today.

Let’s Connect

Have a direct line of communication with NCR Silver and get the latest news on the social media site of your choice.