Can you survive the DIY era?

Back in the mid to late 90’s my Salon was hopping. I had an amazing team of Technicians from Nails to Hair, Skin Care & Massage.

We were fortunate to be in an area of Professional offices and were well known for the quality of our services. After all, we were the primary Salon services Show host, Models and Hand coordinators of the Home Shopping Network.

We also had a large clientele of executives from the area who were in many Management positions with such Corporate Companies as Tech Data, Jabil Circuit and Danka,  just to name a few. These names may not mean a whole lot to you, yet they were very big at that time and still, in our geographical area.

I remember when it started. The ladies (and men) whom we were servicing were coming back from their Business travel (mostly California) telling us they were able to get a Nail & Pedicure service done at the same time for a very reduced price.

I remember specifically thinking….it’l be here before you know it….and then it was.

The Asian market came on strong. Although, we weren’t so politically correct at that time. We had all sorts of names for these places who were under cutting our services. Salons which were charging 1/2 the price for the same service. And although there were many problems with licensing and sanitary practices, I can’t really say their end work was inferior for that time.

In any case, it made a big dent in our Industry. We were fortunate because we had already been established and we were well known for offering “camera ready” work. However, as I always believed for a growing Business. .. It isn’t so much of what you have today, as to what will you have tomorrow. Somehow we had to figure out a way to maintain, we also had  to figure out a way to continuously bring in new Business.

We soon found out of course, the use of inferior products and inexperienced Technicians using electric files were destroying the nails of our generation. Yet, the price was right. At that time, if we were charging $45.00, they were charging $15.00

I always like to think out of the box and sometimes you just have to point out the obvious. Therefore, I had two(2) banners made of which I used at separate times;

  1. We fix those $15.00 nails
  2. NEW – Wasabi pedicure

If my memory serves me correctly, “We fix those $15.00 nails” brought a whole lot of attention to the end user. It worked for sure and it not only brought attention to the inferior work which was out on the streets, it brought attention to the quality of our nail services. My Business continued to grow.

The “Wasabi pedicure” banner was quite interesting as we had many Asian people (who I believe to this day were the owners of other Salons), stop by and ask “what is that“?

Our Wasabi pedicure was our answer to their inexpensive prices. You only want to pay $15.00? Fine! You’ll receive a $15.00 “quick” pedicure or as I like to say “a glorified polish change”.

Right now there is a whole lot of hype about Mfg’s or Distributors marketing to the DIY client. One in particular is not shy about posting all over social media.

I don’t like it, yet I get it. (I am not endorsing this practice…just to be clear).

Our licensed Technicians have left our Industry to shop Amazon and other big box and on line stores. There is little or no loyalty which is creating product hopping AND, even our own Technicians are posting videos on social media including u-tube for ALL to see? Encouraging the DIY market, if you will.

You can blame the Mfg/Distributors all you want, this has been created by our own Industry and the truth is, it’s about survival.

As a Salon owner, how do you combat this new age era? How do you compete with the DIY market who can now learn what you learn….do their nails, their Moms nails, their friends nails etc…..taking away a portion of  your Business?

If you don’t think it will affect you, you are living under a rock.

The question becomes…“how hard do you want to fight”?

If what you are doing is where you want to be, then fight till the dying end.

When I chose to leave the Salon Business, it wasn’t because of my competition. It wasn’t even because of my income. It was because I began making bad choices and hiring people out of desperation instead of waiting for quality.

It was right around the recession of 2008 and a time when schools were starving for students. No one was getting licensed, consequently no one was available to work. I settled.  I learned from THAT mistake and will never do that again.

My point is, Business was good. I continued to advertise and distinguish the difference between my Salon and these Asian Salons which were trying to cut into my Business.

In addition, I learned around that time I don’t want that $15.00 client. That wasn’t who I was and it certainly wasn’t whom I wanted to be. What???? Work harder, not smarter? Do better quality work for less money? THAT would have been freaking insane of me.

If you want to stay in this Business and survive, the very first question you have to ask yourself is “who do you want your client to be”?

Is it the DIY market you want? I would think not.

Therefore, you must market to your target market. Is it;

  • The home bound?
  • The elderly?
  • The Professional?
  • Nursing homes?
  • Podiatry care?

There are a whole slew of options you have. You just have to decide which direction you want to go. Reality is, the list above…..they are NOT DIYing it.

My suggestion is to do what I truly try to do every day. It isn’t easy, yet to save your sanity and your Business it is imperative;

  • Think out of the box
    • Is social media marketing really bringing you in Business? It doesn’t matter what avenue you use, you need to know that answer. If social media IS your medium of choice….be different. Don’t follow what everyone else is doing. Make a plan and stick to it. However, you have to continuously  come up with ways to make YOU different.
  • Know your target market
    • If the professional is what you’re going after…go to the places Professionals hang out. Office buildings, community events, Networking events etc.
  • Don’t let Social Media get you down
    • I see so much negativity on SM. Don’t feed into it. The great thing about all of the social channels is you can scroll and you can certainly NOT respond.
  • Be authentic
    • Authenticity shows. If you are passionate about what you do, it will come through. People do like to see authenticity.
  • Be creative
    • Never let your brain stop. Continue to come up with “different”. Lord knows, we see the same thing over and over again. Dare to be different!
  • Work for a cause, not the almighty $
    • Chasing the money is never the way to go…in my opinion. I get this from my Dad and I don’t regret a moment of it. I see others charging for things I give for free….I wonder sometimes how stupid am I? However, when I think about who I really am, what my passion is and what I want to contribute to this Industry…it isn’t about the $$$
  • Absolutely love what you do
    • If you don’t love what you do, find what you love.

Business is tough, our economy is scary right now, so many new things being presented to us which we never had in prior Business lives.

However, the choice is yours. You can join it, fight it or love it and make it better!

Cj Murray, President

8 thoughts on “Can you survive the DIY era?”

  1. Thanks CJ!! I definitely needed to read that today. I’ve started at a new salon and I’m going to start doing better at selling retail. It’s never been my strong point could you let me know where you are located now. I went to life of Riley and unfortunately you were not there.

    1. Michele, it only takes one person for me to feel like I made a difference. Thank you. I would absolutely love love love to help you with your retail venture. Please? I’m close to Life of Riley, right around the corner in fact. 8233 Ulmerton Road, Largo Fl 33771. Email me, and let’s get together

  2. Cheers CJ!! You have it completely right!!

    Find your niche, & work your niche!!! Whatever it is! Go for it!!!
    3 concepts that I’ve used…
    1) find your niche.
    2) create raving maniacs out of your clients, then you don’t have to advertise or do social media.
    3) I never refer a client to Walmart, Amazon or another distributor point than myself! And if I hear a client talk about it, I ask them if they don’t like me being in business??
    4) I educate my clients on why I do what/how I do…. And why they shouldn’t try it….
    5) I LOVE what I do and Love my clients, but will never short change a service….

    Thanks for pointing out the obvious, we sometimes get lost in the forest and have to revisit our founding principles!!!!

    Bravo Zulu!!!!

    1. Man oh man I can hear you in my head LOL…such great points…hence why you are a consistent success. Thank you so much and for putting a smile on my face today!

  3. Just had this debate in a nail group about the company now marketing products as DIY & using influences. I felt betrayed because they used us to get it popular. And because company focuses product to consumers I remind the consumers to beware of allergies.

    Welp. I pivoted my business to footcare to elder & immuno compromised demographic because 2 nails salons opened up the street from me & I lost 10 clients to them. I didn’t panic because I make more money focused on med pedi service than doing Manicure, nail art, and gel.pedicure.

    Thanks for bringing this much needed discussion.

    1. It should be a topic of discussion because it is seriously already affecting our Industry. I don’t know what the right answer is however, congrats to you for recognizing the issue and taking that pivot. I go back to what I am constantly trying to do…..we have to change the image of our Industry for us to be taken seriously. Today there is a market for DIYers….however, what can YOU offer to separate yourself from that market? Yes, pivot AND Professional image, communication, knowledge….all of it.

      I so value your comments as well as enlightened to see Technicians like you staying in your Professional lane. Just because everyone else does it, doesn’t mean we have to follow right?

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