The Math of Paying 60% Commish

Quote seen on Facebook:  “If the owner is not paying you at least 60% you’re getting ripped off!”

We’re seeing this all over FB lately…especially in massage therapy groups where some people are advising posters they are being taken advantage of if they are not being paid at least 60% commissions. This is not a discussion of employees vs independent contractors….this is a discussion about hired employees.

We are saying 60% is NOT sustainable for businesses who actually fulfill all their obligations as employers.  And if you hire people and boss them, then you NEED to classify them as employees and handle your business. If you are doing that…then you are paying people to do the work for you and at 60%, probably taking a loss. Let’s see how that works…

Let’s say you have two employees who generate about $100K in gross services revenue (round numbers…just for math’s sake). $40,000 left to you…so…hey…that’s great!

But you have employer’s share of Social Security and Medicare which is $7,650.00.
You have Federal Unemployment Insurance which is 6% of the first $7K or $420.00 x 2 employees

State Unemployment last quarter varied between Nebraska at 4% and Rhode Island at 12.8% and lots of states were between 6-9%, so let’s say….on average 8%  on the first $7K (varies) or $480.00) x 2 emps

So take $9,450 right off the top, leaving $30,550 for you. All good still!

Worker’s comp rates in the salon industry vary according to the work being done, but according to one provider the cost is 49 cents per $100 of wages paid or $294 for the 60K paid out. And a general liability policy to cover their errors and omissions is about $375. So now we’re down to $29,881.00. (

But wait! In today’s cashless world, credit card fees will come right off the top, too. There are credit card processors who routinely quote rates like 1.65%…but …only for qualified cards. Processors who use that bait-and-switch marketing are selling a tiered fee plan and don’t tell the facts: barely any credit cards actually qualify for that lowest rate. Any cards that have points or mileage or are membership benefits cards or corporate credit cards do not qualify. (Almost everyone uses a card for miles, right? Who do you think pays for those bennies? Not the credit cards! They pass those costs along to their merchants by way of fees). In addition, many processors who quote low rates add on little fees here and there – swipe fees of a few cents, monthly billing fees of a few dollars. PCI compliance fees.  Government tariffs…etc. etc.

Sorry to tell you this, but you are most likely paying just under 3% on card processing…no matter what they quote you.   So…yeah…let’s take off another $2,900.00  Oops! Don’t forget the credit card fees on employee tips!  You have to pay those fees even though you didn’t earn that money.  Say your employees are great….and some people tip well…some not so much…so let’s be realistic and say your employees were tipped an additional 15% – the credit card fees on that additional $15K is another $450.00 off the revenues.  Now we’re down to $26,531.00.

Let’s look at that….your employees are receiving actual paid wages, legal obligations and benefits valued at $73.469.00 This makes their actual rate 73.5%.  Not 60%.

This is without paid days off-no holidays, no sick days, no vacation days. Many employers (in the real world…or in corporate salon businesses) pay a couple week’s paid vacation, 5 or more days of sick leave and a few holidays – let’s say 5. That’s around 20 days off per person per year!  Let’s math some more… on $60K, let’s say 2 employees each got $30K. There are on average 260 work days in a year (working 5 days a week). Divide 30K/260 that’s $115 per day x 20 days…so paid time off is worth $2,300 per person per year.   If your small business is trying to pay holidays/vacation days, you’re now down to $21,931.

There’s a reason corporate salons, spas and chains do not pay out these crazy-high commissions. They know there are a lot of additional benefits they are obligated to provide for their employees.  This is why you see sustainable commissions being in the higher 30-40 percentages. They have to make a profit – many have stockholders to answer for. They know their stuff…why would you discount their methods?

As if it weren’t enough…in my years of experience, product costs for nails were right at 7.2-7.5% of gross nail revenues. Skin care was between 11% – 14% (depending on if I had added a new modality). Linens were more.  Massage therapy has much lower per service product costs, and less linens than skin care. So, products could run you between say $1,000 for massage oils, lotions, disposables, new linens to up to over $10K for skin care.  Now you’re down to between $11K to $20K per year.  You gotta ask yourself is it really worth a lousy net revenue gain of $916 – $1666 per month to have two employees to worry about?

Note: None of these numbers are about overheads; these are the numbers from having paid staff perform additional services in the space at the existing overhead.

And if you are looking at taking a job as an employee…be sure you are receiving all the legal obligations required by the employer.  Be aware that if you demand more than say 40% of service revenue for commissions…something has to go. And that’s where the messy credit card fee charges, back bar charges, amenity fees for your guests…and all those other ways owner are desperately trying to cover the shortfall.

It’s all in the maths.


Email Addresses are Important!

Email names are important! An email may be your best chance to make a good impression with your clients, colleagues and vendors in your business. Don’t waste the opportunity.

Choosing a good email address is vital for the following reasons:

  • Consider the image your email address offers in your business communications. It will reflect and represent your business. For example, [email protected] may reflect the truth, but is NOT a good business email. Neither is [email protected], or [email protected]. Or, [email protected]. There are millions of VERY bad ones that will cause a raised eyebrow or a “Hmmmm” in your clients or vendor’s minds, even if it is just because it is a non-business name. It may not be offensive or stupid, may even be cute, but it may not be business-like.  It should be.
  • Many put numbers in their email address. This is a choice but be certain to consider that numbers can be difficult to remember. For that reason, I do not recommend using numbers in your email address.
  • Consider branding the name of your business in the email. For example, [email protected] leaves no doubt what business is sending you a communication. You can pay one of the email providers for custom email accounts. Your logo, if you are in business and have one, should be somewhere on your email. Ours is below our company description, below our signature. Put it in there permanently and then you don’t have to think about it ever again.
  • Using a signature block is a good idea – a description of who you are, company info, and even your logo. Following is a simple one:

Janet McCormick, Co-founder
Salon Gurus, LLC
Phone: 863-273-9134

On the other hand, having one that is half a page long usually causes rolled eyes!

  • Choice of provider – Some providers are so tightly filtered that many emails do not get through to you. These following are especially bad: msn, aol and yahoo. Some providers make it difficult for you to interact with people you choose to do business with, for example when you take online classes.
  • Length can be a consideration. My personal one is too long, for example, [email protected] is very long. Every time I have to type it out or provide it for someone I wish I had chosen something simpler but still “me.”
  • You may need more than one. I have many and must monitor them all. Yes, it is a bother, but I don’t mind because the emails come to me as who I am to that person. That is important, so that I can reply from the correct point of view. Many business owners/managers have one business and one personal one, and that is good business!

Your choice of email address could be considered almost a forever decision.  Consider it from every angle. I have one on an auto-answer from years ago saying that it is ”no longer an active email. To reach Janet, go to …..” and that routinely feeds email inquiries to me… and it’s been 15 years! Choose carefully as it is almost a disaster to change down the road after you have begun your business.

This is the bottom line: Your personal email can be whatever you wish it to be, it’s a personal thing. But not your business email. It can actually be considered a marketing issue if it is a poor one!


Doing Your Clients a Favor

by Janet McCormick

A new perspective and 7 steps to change your staff’s—and your clients’—opinions about carrying retail products.

In every staff meeting I ever had, the place would go silent with the mention of one word – retail. Everyone hated selling. Then one day I read an article by salon retail guru and consultant, Carol Phillips, and it changed my life – and the spa’s skin and nail sales, immediately. From that moment forward, I eliminated the word retail and added home care as the goal.

So, I developed a new strategy I called “doing your clients a favor.” I focused on the positives of them taking home product instead of training on how to sell product. It encompasses the whole concept of home care, not just getting it into their hands. This is what I have discovered over the years:

  1. It has to be on the shelves. If it’s not there, the clients cannot take it home to use. So, someone (you, the owner, front desk) has to check where the holes are every day. When it gets down to the minimum number, order it – don’t wait until it’s gone or your concept of doing them a favor is gone—as is the sale.
  2. Displays are important. After you have introduced the product to the client. It doesn’t have to be huge, just attractive and near the area for the services it supplements. You and the client pass it on the way to your service area and on the way out. After you have talked about it to the new purchaser, there it is! Or, one who is a regular purchaser can reach for it on the way out from another service.
  3. Choose your products wisely. Not because “it smells good,” but because it works. Did you know your service skin care only lasts about 48 hours? Whether it is hands, feet, body or face. It doesn’t even last that long, if the product is not high-quality. So learn your essential ingredients for each condition and focus of your service (hydration, acne, prevention, etc.) Certain ingredients are standard positives for each part of your body, and you need to know what they are, and then choose a product line that covers the needs of your clients by having the targeted ingredients for each need. Understand that a product that works well influences whether a client is 1) getting results, and also 2) going to return to you as a client regularly. When you hear “My feet are so much nicer,” or, “I’m seeing such great results from this product,” they are yours, forever.
  1. Choose a line that educates. Getting the products into the hands of your clients is through education and recommendation, not through selling – tell them about the ingredients and how they will work for them. Educational presentation is a professional substitution for “sales.” Recommendation and listing the benefits and results for the client far out weigh their walking through a big box store and saying, “wonder if that will soften my calluses?”
  2. Get your orders aligned with the “free shipping” and “free product.” These incentives from your distributor or product line can be a huge factor. By aligning your orders with these numbers, you can cut your retail costs by as much as 25%. Further, you’ll be assured it is always there on the shelf. Granted, all this organization takes time, but within months your orders will be organized into the numbers you need to cut your costs dramatically.
  3. Keep records of what they buy, and check it every time. Most home care products are bottled in 3 month amounts. This means if the client is not purchasing at least every four months, you know they are not using it as directed, and you can usually tell that by the condition, and then comment on that.
  4. Last, get everyone on track. Every department has a desired home care sales amount, and it’s been proven by successful salons and spas. Manicurists should sell 17-20% of their service amounts in home care – minimum. In skin care, estheticians should sell 30-40% of their production. Massage therapists, 10-15%. If your departments are not hitting these targets, consider the lower results many times are shown by lower retention of clients and/or slower growth in clientele because the clients are not seeing the results they would like to see.

The key to all this is educating yourself and your staff that retail is no longer retail in the spa or salon: it is “home care.” And if you educate your clients along that line, their attitude changes, right along with yours. You are no longer pushing product, you are offering beneficial.

For more business building ideas, take a look at our short course on Subtle Marketing 


FTC Reminds Influencers of the Rules

Social media influencers need to make full disclosure for anything of value they’ve received. This includes any gifts or “PR” from the brands they publicly endorse.

In a much needed clarification of their policies, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a new document.  These guidelines are for the behavior of all those who benefit from advertising or endorsing any product or brand.

The new guide, “Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers,” provides influencers with tips from FTC staff. It covers what triggers the need for a disclosure and offers examples of both effective and ineffective disclosures.

The guide and accompanying videos underscore that the responsibility to make disclosures about endorsements lies with the influencer. The guide outlines the various ways that an influencer’s relationship with a brand would make disclosures necessary, and it reminds influencers that they cannot assume that followers are aware of their connections to brands.

One influencer, Jen Luvs Reviews made an informative video going through the guidelines. Click here to view that video.

Because we in the beauty industry are often approached by influencers requesting products or services in exchange for exposure, we need to carefully qualify these offers. Be sure the exposure they offer benefits you and your brand since an influencer with a smaller following of locals might really benefit your business. If you do decide to work with an influencer, give them all the information they will need about you and your business/brand to make full disclosure on their posts. Don’t make them ask you for information–have all the details written out the way you want them communicated.




Count ‘Em All…Count All Your Blessings

As Featured in NASNPRO – November 2019 Issue

We’ve heard it said that “a moment of gratitude makes a big difference in your attitude’.  Let’s take a moment to think about why we pursue the aesthetic

When you think of it, one of the best perks of our industry is that we spend all day long making people look and feel better. They come to us stressed, hurried and knowing they need this care, but feeling guilty, they’re indulging in something for themselves. They leave recharged and refreshed and feeling pretty – even after a quick waxing! This is such a wonderful part of our daily lives. How many others must work where people are not made to feel better?

Then add to it that we function in positions of authority – we get to say what product to use, when, and how. Even if you are an employee on a strict protocol, you are in charge of the cabine and all that happens in that space; you are the authority. Working under our own impetus in a position of authority, we are in charge of making things happen. How many people in your community do you know have that kind of say-so in their work?

Yes, there are the unglamorous parts of our services—laundry and bill paying and dusting the shelves. These things support that pride of ownership, however. Whether you are an employee, booth renter or day spa owner, all the support activities lead to the ultimate payoff:  a client leaves feeling like a million bucks, and every time she thinks of her experience with us, she smiles and is grateful for her time with us. Not everyone is thought of fondly when their clients and customers leave.

Then there’s the expense of all the many things we must keep on hand. Wipes and swabs and so many things. Applicators and lotions and potions, oh my! It seems our business shopping is endless—just when we get stocked on products, we’re out of disposables. The guilty secret of our industry is that we actually love all the little bits and bobs. Don’t you enjoy finding the exactly right thing to use for every service? Not many people have the luxury of choosing tools and implements for their work.

One of the things that sets our industry apart is the absence of an 8 to 5 grind. (I would have said 9 to 5, but in my former career in business, I was never allowed the luxury of starting work so late in the morning!) One of the best parts of a career in aesthetics is being able to work in tune with our own internal clocks. This industry’s flexibility allows us to see to our children and pets when we need to. We can structure our weeks to suit our lives. Many of us never punch a time clock, though some do; but even with a time clock, the schedule is usually flexible when we need it. There are many who work within strictly rigid schedules with no allowance whatsoever for life’s happenings.

We often advise our clients to take a few moments for themselves. We should do that, too, and think about all the many reasons we should celebrate and be grateful for the work we have. Skills we can take with us wherever in the world we go are priceless…and even more so when they afford us so many pleasurable aspects of our work. Find your gratitude…and elevate your attitude.



Spray Tanning for Estheticians – NASNPRO

As Featured in NASNPRO – July 2019 Issue

UV-free tanning is a smart add-on service for estheticians who want to protect their hard work to remediate sun damaged skin.

There’s something about that glow

People seek the look of a tanned “glow” and the perception that a little sun is healthy. As our ozone layer thins and UV exposure becomes more intense, however, the sun can quickly damage the skin you and your clients have worked hard to correct. A very lucrative (if set up and performed correctly) auxiliary service for esthetics, professionally applied tanning solutions can give the look of a nice tan without the inherent dangers of skin cell damage and the risks of hyper- or hypo-pigmentation.

What is spray tanning?

Tanning solutions are all based on DHA – dihydroxyacetone as the active ingredient, a plant-based, colorless chemical derived from glycerin, that interacts with the amino acids in dead skin cells to produce a brown color change. This is a chemical event in the stratum corneum – the skin’s melanin is not involved in the “browning” effect. You might compare it somewhat to a sliced apple being exposed to the air.  Once the DHA is applied, it takes a few hours to fully develop the final color that will be achieved.  Since DHA itself is colorless, often “bronzers” or marker ingredients are added so the spray tan artist can visualize an even application. This is a case of “more is more”, so even application is the key to successful spray tanning.

How does a spray tanning service work?

The service is set up for the client to come in with clean, lightly exfoliated skin—spraying DHA on cells that will be shed in a few hours is futile. The client dons a bathing suit or single-use garments. The product is sprayed lightly all over the exposed skin using a compressed-air machine – very similar to air brush compressors used for spray-on makeup, but with bigger wells to hold more product. The technician systematically coats the skin with one or two light layers of the DHA solution, then allows the client to “air dry” for a moment. They should then put on loose clothing – a dark color is recommended so the bronzer/marker will not stain their clothing.

Is spray tanning safe?

The FDA has approved DHA for external application to the skin; however, DHA shouldn’t be inhaled or applied to areas covered by mucous membranes, including the lips, nose or areas around the eyes because the risks of doing so are unknown. Clients should be given shields for their eyes or instructed to keep them and their mouths closed and verbal cues are given as to when to breathe.

UV-Free tanning is an excellent choice for an additional revenue stream in any salon or spa. Another potential idea is to see if your state allows on-location spray tanning. If so, you might think about developing a VIP concierge spray tanning clientele.

If you need a career boost, check out the wide variety of training programs at; or if you are a Guru, yourself, and have wisdom to share, contact us at [email protected]

For more information about NASN and the many benefits of this elite esthetics industry group, see




Customer. Service. Putting Them Together

By Karen Hodges

An experience, from a customer’s viewpoint, has made me aware of some things I didn’t realize were so important to me. Now that I know, however, I wonder if they are important to my customers/clients?

Today I wanted to get my car detailed. I’m driving across the state on Friday to attend a work conference, and decided my time was more valuable with tasks other than scrubbing and vacuuming my car. I did a google search for “Full Service Car Wash near me” and was presented with several ads, and several non-ad listings, complete with reviews.

I scrolled past the ads, looked for a business with at least a 4.5 star review and looked at their website. It did not perform very well on my phone. “Pinching” with my fingers and turning sideways let me eventually see all the pertinent info. Decent reviews. Price seemed reasonable. Not far away, so I navigated over there.
I pulled up to a car repair garage, that had a little sign in the corner of the office window referencing the detailing business. Went inside, only to be told, “No, that’s not us, we have a guy who rents a bay from us. I think he’s on vacation but you can call him.”  OK. That was not successful.

Customer service Tip #1 – Communicate with your customers. I should have called, maybe, but it’s very easy to add a text box on your website “Closed for vacation until_____.”

Tip #2 – Be sure those who would be directing traffic your way represent you in a positive light. They should use your name and don’t “shrug you off” when someone inquires.

Back in the car, I searched again and found another business with 2 locations, the nearest was about 6 miles away. “Full service auto spa” it said. Decent reviews. Prices were not listed, but how much could it be? I navigated there, only to see it was actually the “express” version of their business: nothing more than an ordinary spray booth with a coin operated vacuum.  I went to the other location, because now I’m 38 minutes into the process and determined to get this done.  Should have called, maybe, but no where on their website did they state “by appointment only.”  They had a drive through car wash similar to many other businesses, but “detailing” was not available on a Wednesday at 10:15a without an appointment.

Customer service Tip #3 –  Your advertising should never be misleading. If you call yourself “full service” you should actually provide that. If you have two locations and one of them has different amenities and services, you should state that clearly on all your advertising.

Tip #4 – If you require appointments, you should say so. You should clearly state appointments are needed and exactly how to make one. A booking link is a great idea.

Back in the car. I searched again. Another place – decent reviews, they have a menu that lets me decide what level of “clean” I want and it’s about 4 more miles away from my home base, but I’m into this now. I navigate there, pull up and see a man talking to a driver, so I wait. He returns to a little podium and picks up a phone and has a conversation. Then puts the phone down and begins writing some things.

I’m patiently waiting and he finally looks up at me and from the podium says, “Yeah?” “Ummm…I was thinking I wanted the “Super Clean” package. I really need the inside windows cleaned and vacuumed…” He held up his hand (as in “stop talking”) and picks up a mobile phone and makes a call asking about how long they have the crazy lady’s van so he can decide if he can take a “Super Clean” customer or not. (wow…referring to a customer as a “crazy lady” in front of me?) He listens a minute….then dials again and speaks to someone else…and then I hear “I already asked her—”  He then hangs up, and makes a third call…”Yeah, I’m calling back because she told me to ask Ruben—how the hell would Ruben know anything?”  At this point…he’s getting louder and angrier….and I’m thinking “I wonder if I can reverse out of this lane without hitting anything…”

Customer service tip #5 – Never denigrate a customer in front of another one. It’s so uncool. Makes the one customer wonder “what must they think of me?”

Tip #6 – Don’t ever make your clients feel as if it’s a great imposition for them to be there. Make them happy to give you their money.

He hangs up the call, walks over to me and hands me a piece of paper and said, “Go behind the blue car over there. It’ll be about an hour.”  Alrighty, then. I guess I’m in. I gather my satchel and phone out of the car and stand there watching people working on other cars….and I caught the eye of a woman and asked, “Do you have a waiting room?” She said, “yes” and kept working. Oooookay! I started toward an unmarked door when a different woman came around a car and said, “That door” and pointed to a second unmarked door.

Customer service tip #7 – Give your customers clear instructions on how to navigate through your system. Give them a tour! Never assume they know the things about your business you know.

Tip #8 – Clearly mark doors with signs and arrows.  So cheap to do…so cheap-seeming if not done.

I walked down a hallway and found a waiting room. Set up my computer and did some work. About an hour and 15 minutes later, I looked up, decided to put my things away and go wander around to check on the progress.

About that time, a man came in, caught my eye and motioned me to the cashier. All is well.  I paid $74.68, tipped the guy for bringing my car around and got in to move it out of the way—there was no place to park on that side of the building, only a driveway onto the street. So, I went on my way. My next errand, I walked around the car and checked the back seat and the trunk. The back seat was supposedly “treated” but a throw I keep back there was in exactly the same position with the same corner flipped up I’d noted earlier. (My OCD had wanted me to fix the corner, but I’d already shut the locked door.) And the trunk had clearly not been vacuumed. I tolerated the poor greeting. I put up with running over the time by 25%. But I am ticked off I paid for work I did not receive.

Customer service tip #9 – If you charge for it, then you have to do it. Not fully providing the services promised is theft. You entered a contract when you accepted the customer’s money…keep your contracts!

Tip #10 – Follow up. Just as you want the waitress to stop by to be sure you have everything you need before presenting the bill, you want any service provider to be sure you are happy with their work before they hustle you out the back door.  Don’t be that provider.

I hope my little adventures this morning helped shine a light on some things we all need to be very clear about in our own businesses:  putting “customer” with “service” 1) takes work 2) is vital to success.
Anyone know a good car washing business in Fort Myers?


Threading Guru Antoinette Haynes Offers Threading Courses

Salon Gurus, an Online Educational Site, Announces Programs to Learn the Ancient Art of Threading

­­­­­­­­Threading Guru, Antoinette Haynes, teaches a unique, simple and fun service to add to your service menu.

April 19, 2019, Fort Myers, FL – Salon Gurus, LLC, an online educational platform, salon-gurus-threading-101 announces a new program, Threading 101 – A Mini Course, from threading guru, Antoinette Haynes, Serenity Suite Skin Care, Greensboro, NC. This short course, a video, provides a sneak peek into threading for beauty professionals interested in learning threading. “It’s a great introduction for those thinking of adding this new skill set to their menu of services,” says Haynes.

Haynes also launched an upgrade to her Fundamentals of Threading – Unleashed, a comprehensive training program, also published by Salon Gurus. Adding a new module, this program is now a comprehensive four-module course which presents a Certificate of Completion to those who complete the requirements. The student will learn a new skill set which will rapidly repay their career investment due to the popularity of this service.

The art of threading is said to originate from the Middle East thousands of years ago as a beauty preparation for special events for women. It did not become a hair removal practice in the West to any degree until the early 20th century. It is a unique and interesting hair removal technique for beauty professionals to offer clients that uses inexpensive cotton thread which is twisted and rolled along the surface of the skin. The thread entwines the hairs and then lifts them out from the follicle. It is said to be more precise than waxing. Traditionally, threading is used on the entire face, including upper lip, chin, eyebrows, sideburns and cheeks, but it can also be utilized anywhere the client has hair he/she wishes removed, such as the arms, legs, bikini area and so on.

Haynes holds small, hands-on training classes for beauty professionals at her location or travels to teach on-site for salons and spas. The Fundamentals of Threading program is prep for attending her hands-on training. “I want these professionals to be service-ready when leaving these classes,” says Haynes. Students are taught how to set up for practice so they can hone their skills, once learned.

To read more about Haynes courses, go to Antoinette’s Page, here.

To discuss a training program, contact Antoinette Haynes at [email protected]


The educational programs on are offered by true gurus in the beauty industry. For more information concerning Salon Gurus educational programs: go to , email [email protected], or call Janet McCormick at 863-273-9134.


Mind Your Gloves!

Editor’s Note: This social media post was by PMU Guru, Kathleen Cronin, of Albany, NY. Shared with permission.

Mini Rant:  Infection control and cross-contamination when artists have gloves on. salon_gurus_pmu_expert

I just watched a very long video of an artist from start to finish… great work, but, complete breaks in basic aseptic technique with gloves on.

She put on gloves (great) but then proceeded to touch everything around her with the gloves, then work on the client, touch surfaces, lights, iPhone, work on the client, touch her mask, etc. This is a complete break in aseptic (this is not about sterile) technique.

This artist had NO barrier under the client’s head, no barrier on the chest area and a big ole blanket up to the neck.

You may not see it happening, but, there IS blood splatter when you work…especially when you tap with hand shaders.

Gloves should be worn to set up a tray…then discarded
Fresh Gloves are worn to start the procedure.
Discard the gloves before touching ANYTHING off the tray.
FRESH gloves to begin again.

NOTHING that is reusable should ever be on your tray, except your barrier-wrapped machine. There should be no bottles of pigments, no wash bottles that are not completely covered in barrier film, no eye drops bottle… etc. If it is barrier wrapped, no part of the unwrapped item should make any contact with a contaminant (blood and fluids). Calipers and tools that are reused need to be cleaned with hospital grade disinfectant and that needs at least 10 minutes from wet to dry to work or they need to be sterilized.

If you need to touch ANYTHING off your clean tray, you must remove the contaminated gloves. Anything you touch with gloves is contaminated…including your face mask, your hair, your chair, your headlight, your lights…unless these things are covered in Barrier film or plastic.

You may NOT adjust your lights with contaminated gloves UNLESS the lights are barrier covered. That holds true for your headlamp, chair and your tray if it is not completely covered including the sides. Covering just the top of the tray is not enough.

If you touch any surface that is not barrier protected, and then touch your client with opened skin, you introduce bacteria/pathogens into those open areas. Think of how many punctures or cuts have been made into the skin beyond the epidermis–the layer that protects us.

Fresh gloves MUST be put on BEFORE you touch the client and if you touch anything after you begin work. ANYTHING

Your hair should be covered or pulled back. There should NEVER be hanging hair near your clients face or in your work space–ever. Now I know many do this too, but, bare forearms should be free of all jewelry or covered…the forearms and jewelry can easily get contaminated with BBP’s too and are you going to clean those between clients? I wear disposable sleeve protectors or a gown. No necklaces or earrings dangling over the work zone, either. We are not there to look pretty or cool. We are supposed to protect our clients and ourselves.

Have extra gloves out and ready to change. I can go through 5 sets so easy during a procedure. If I need something while I am working, if I stop to take photos, if I adjust my glasses or anything I touch that is not barrier protected, I change my gloves.

I am tired of hearing that tattoo procedures are not “Medical” procedures! NO…they are not, BUT, when you break the skin, you need to take the proper precautions as though it were.

MRSA can kill you
STAPH can kill you
Hepatitis can kill you

The list goes on. This is SERIOUS people. You can NOT see germs.

This artist has now been seen by who knows how many people and her visual message is one of gross cross-contamination. If you have not refreshed on Blood Borne Pathogen protocol, I highly suggest you do. Take the course again, get the newest Infection Control manual from SPCA or Softap…but please just refresh your knowledge.

Anything you post, especially if you are a known artist and respected artist, will be a non-verbal visual message and OK to others…especially new people who think anything you do is cool and right!

Kathleen Cronin is a nurse of 39 years and has been performing PMU since 1980. She is an educator, mentor and advocate for the industry as an active member of SPCP.  Her work may be seen on her website.


Third Party Promotions – Groupon, or Not?

There are a number of 3rd party coupon and promotion providers – whether you use Groupon, Living Social, Spa Finder, Amazon Local, Google Offers or another brand – and all can help you build your business.  The best use of these platforms as tools is when you are building a new business, launching a new service within your existing business, or perhaps rebranding. It’s not recommended that you utilize discount marketing for very long – your business will not organically grow and you’ll find your books filled with “deal hoppers.”  You want people to come, enjoy your space and offerings, and then be motivated to come back to you, directly, because they love their experience…not because they can get a service done for cheap!

Before you start negotiating with a 3rd party coupon provider

Do your homework

It’s important that you target your market carefully. Some providers allow you ZIP code targeting. Some have other demographic information they can provide to help you set parameters:  age, gender, history with the company, etc.  Some are not able to help you, but may have a larger following in your area. Ask lots of questions. And insist on true answers, not replies (“That’s a good question, I’ll tell you more about that later” is not an answer–it’s a reply.)

A good campaign, well planned can be very effective in bringing new souls through your door.

Plan Your Campaign

Before you speak to a sales rep about a coupon discount deal, decide how much you are willing to spend on an advertising campaign. Understand that these deals nearly always create a net loss to the business. In one example, a spa sold 1038 deals that created a net loss of $8.31 each. This meant the spa signed up without realizing they were committing to spending over $8K on advertising. ($8.31 x 1038 = $8,600+)

Understand the dynamics of working with online deal providers–the sales reps are commission sales people, and they only get paid if they sign up businesses. They are skilled at “closing the deal” and will use all the techniques they have at their disposal to get you signed up, as quickly as possible, so they can move on to the next client. Another pressure they are feeling is their manager is pushing them for content. The providers constantly seek fresh new deals to offer their impetuous followers. They will  work with you–just be as insistent as they are. Negotiate every aspect: the # of deals, the amount they’ll go for, the % you’ll split with them, when you’ll be paid…every single thing. If you ask them for something and they say “No, we can’t do that,” simply say, “OK, that’s a deal breaker for me, thank you for your time” and move to end the call. They will not let you get away! Trust!

Plan Out Guest Services

Once you’ve chosen a deal provider and set up a campaign, make sure you are fully ready to perform. Stock your cupboards. Make sure staff is all on board. Write scripts–talking points–to go over with each client who enters.

  • Greet and welcome each guest
  • Be prepared to give each guest a tour of the facility – cross promote other services
  • Have a sign in sheet harvesting contact information
  • Mention all the services you provide
  • Offer a beverage
  • Perform their services with your very best efforts
  • Invite them to rebook directly with you
  • Offer an incentive for them to come back (it doesn’t need to exactly echo the deal they purchased!)
  • Ask them to refer you to their friends (make it easy–give them some of your cards and a brochure)
  • Give them a promotional item to take with them that’ll remind them of their experience with you
  • Send a follow up email (per the sign-in sheet)


Things to do:

  • Plan your campaign – who will you target? How much will you “spend” on marketing?
  • Limit the number of deals you allow to be sold.
  • Set the pricing on your FULL top-of-the-line service prices, not on an already discounted package price.
  • Negotiate a greater split % – if your sales person balks, ask to speak with another sales rep.
  • Insist that you review the copy of the deal before it is published–one spa campaign talked about “soaking your little piggies”–not the image a day spa wants to convey.
  • Manage your booking. You have no chance of bringing them back a second time if you make them feel rushed or if you can’t take care of them properly.
  • Limit the number of “deal” appointments you make each week, leaving enough time for your regular clients and for rebooking those who enjoy their first experience with you.
  • If you are an owner building clientele for your business, don’t expect your staff to “eat” the cost of performing the services without being paid their full due. Your calculations should include labor costs when you’re figuring out the cost per service.
  • If you are a booth renter or a sole proprietor, make sure your monthly bills will be covered without the small amount of income created by a campaign.
  • Make every guest feel welcomed and provide an extraordinary experience for them. You’ve invested a lot to get them there, so make sure they leave with a great impression.
  • Do adjunct marketing when they are in your salon–give them a tour and explain all that you offer. Give them printed incentives (coupons or referral program cards).

Things to avoid:

  • Don’t agree to a sales campaign based on a time-frame with no limits on the numbers sold.
  • Don’t cave in to high pressure–the sales reps are on commission and they are highly motivated to make the most possible commission for the time they spend talking to each business.
  • Don’t sign the contract immediately. Take the time to sleep on it. The sales rep will create urgency but the only true urgency is their commission check.
  • Don’t lose control of your schedule. Deal buyers are impulsive. You will hear crazy stories to get you to book them right now–brides (“The wedding is tomorrow!”), birthday gifts, dinner parties, boyfriend coming home from Iraq…and on and on. Take the emotion out of it, and book responsibly.

Stand firm or risk it all.

Be sure of yourself – your offerings and your capabilities. Don’t give into sales pressure or client pressure because you want to provide the best possible experience for each guest. If someone asks you to go outside your established boundaries, ask yourself “will this help me provide a great experience for all my guests?” If the answer is “no”…then the answer should be “no.”