Ask the Day Spa Coach with Jaya Savannah

Q: I own a nail salon and have been an Esthetician for 10 years. My biggest problem is building a skincare clientele. All they see is pedicures and manicures and think of me as only a nail technician. Does the environment of the salon affect the way clients think of you?

A: Yes, absolutely. The physical environment of your business is a lot like a restaurant. It creates a context and mood that influences people’s perception of what is served there. If what they order is delicious, the service good, and the environment clean and comfortable, they will come back.  After looking at your website, I think the problem you’re having is a business identity crisis. To continue with the restaurant analogy, you’re like a place that serves both Vietnamese and Italian food. People who like rice noodles might also like spaghetti, but they’re going to be confused about them both being served in the same place. Ultimately, the décor is going to set their perception. In customer’s minds you’re either a Vietnamese restaurant or Italian. Make sense?

Your branding actually seems to communicates 3 things:

You company name includes the word Zen. The definition of Zen is “a Japanese school of Mahayana Buddhism emphasizing the value of meditation and intuition.” When it comes to decorating, Zen style is usually minimalistic, harmonious, and with Japanese influences. This is like a sushi bar.

Your website colors (purple and red) are energizing. That combined with the contemporary décor in your waiting area creates an upbeat and eclectic mood. One of the photos on your site shows a cozy fireplace with wrought iron screen and whimsical winter decorations—in July. (Don’t put seasonal things on your website unless you plan for and commit to a take-down date.) This is like a café.

Your skincare page is very clinical. Descriptors such as “high-performance products,” “state of the art equipment,” and services focusing on acne, LED treatments, and “no-needles face tightening” take your brand into a scientific oriented direction. Sorry- I just ran out of restaurant analogies. This is like a clinic.

So then it makes sense to me that people are perceiving you as a nails-only place. Your website colors and decorating are contemporary and energizing. Pedicure and manicure stations are visible by necessity. Those are services people can see being done, unlike your clinical skincare in a private room.  In the case of a confusing identity, the environment wins.

You need to make your brand identity more cohesive. Here is how I would approach it.

Go Big and Go Zen

Your company name makes a promise that isn’t being delivered. Go minimal, leaning towards modern.  Calm your website colors down. Perhaps monochrome. Get rid of the colorful patterned rug, the wrought iron and flourishes. Choose one or 2 bright accent colors at the most. Then make your nail services more Zen, too. Natural pebbles, flowers, perhaps an emphasis on natural nails.

You have some perceptions to overcome regarding your skincare services. A lot of people do not want to get facials at the same place as their nails. Why? Busy-ness and odors. Out of curiosity, I did an informal poll of my Facebook friends asking if they would get a facial by a licensed esthetician at a nail salon. Small group replied, but these are spa savvy people. Their answers were brutally honest.

  • 20% Yes.
  • 20% Maybe. All qualifying that it must have a relaxing spa-vibe without odors.
  • 60% No way. Mostly citing the odors, but also the mood. One person explained, “The places where I tend to get my nails done are over-lit for any kind of relaxation.”

So if you want a chance of capturing the business of the 40% who are open to the idea, you must make it clear that your facials are relaxing. Not just relaxing, but in a quiet odor-free room. There’s no hiding that your salon is busy (looks like 12 pedicure chairs in one of the photos.) You will need to make it clear that the facial room is very quiet and private.

Beyond overcoming concerns about the environment of your facials, I think you need to make your skincare services menu less clinical. Too much talk of technology, ingredients, “jet peels,” and “ultrasound.” It sounds like going to the dermatologist. It’s a fine niche to be clinical, but it’s causing a brand identity mismatch that is clearly a problem or you wouldn’t have written in for advice. You can still use technical tools, but instead focus on results. Zen is about simplicity. I would simplify your menu. Ensure your treatment room isn’t like a doctor’s office. You focus on acne. That can tie in very nicely with Zen! When one has a clear mind, the skin is also more clear. Also, be sure to show photos of your quiet, tranquil facial room on your website. If you have excellent ventilation and the room is indeed odor free, you might even mention that on your website as well.

Good luck and I hope your branding makeover comes together nicely.



Jaya Savannah

Jaya Savannah

Chief Inspiration Officer - Jaya Savannah International

Jaya Savannah is a strategy coach and consultant for holistic businesses at JayaSavannah.com.

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