Managing Client Expectations in the Digital Age

Do not be intimidated by clients requesting celebrity- or Instagram-inspired nail art—simply snag these expert techniques for nailing the proper preparation, communication and follow-through.

3D nails by Hillary Fry, nail artist and educator at Hillary Fry Nails; courtesy of Hilary Fry.
3D nails by Hillary Fry, nail artist and educator at Hillary Fry Nails; courtesy of Hilary Fry.

You have probably been there: A client pops in toting an image of drool-worthy nail art—but there is no way you can complete such a set within your given time frame or skill set. Or they would cost a small fortune to properly pull off, leaving the client mortified by the final bill.

In today’s trend-a-minute world, mismatched expectations can easily lead to uncomfortable situations, making advanced planning super important. “While these digital times bring artistic challenges never before seen—I actually had a client bring me nail art inspo in the form of a 3D-printed (as in, using a printer) nail—it has also never been easier to manage those expectations,” notes Hillary Fry, nail artist and educator at Hillary Fry Nails in Brookfield, Wisconsin. “Take advantage of everything that is digital to understand client goals before they get to the salon.”

Preappointment Pointers

Techs should clearly communicate service pricing and capabilities before clients even begin to book an appointment. “Use your online presence (website and social media) to publicize your services—with photos, service names, descriptions, the time required and price,” recommends Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D., licensed manicurist and owner of Precision Nails in Carmel, California. “Potential clients should understand what is possible and what is not. The more information you publicize, the less time you will waste negotiating to secure a new client.”

Laura Merzetti, owner and nail artist at Scratch My Back Nail Studio in Ajax, Ontario, Canada, uses her online booking portal to communicate with clients, offering a nail service labeled “Pinterest- or Instagram-inspired nails,” which has a higher price point than other services. And Chris Davis, owner of Buff Salon and Buff Beauty Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina, also uses her online booking service to lay out the many possible options for nail art clients, from “Full Set Swarovski Bling Nails—Medium to Long” to “Encapsulated Full Set (Glitter, Mylar, Shards).”

“Things are spelled out to give every possible situation with detailed info,” Davis explains. “It may seem wordy, but that gives me the ability to set expectations and give them what they want.” Alternatively, Fry notes that an online scheduling service can include an unpriced option for nail art, with a small description stating, “Extended time and pricing to be determined after consultation,” which tells the client this is not a typical in-and-out appointment.

Finally, Willem Avé, general manager of San Francisco-based Square Appointments, notes that nail art is more in demand than ever—Square saw a 461% increase from April 2020 to April 2021—so it is worth updating your website and booking pages with appointment timing and service prices. Then you can send customized appointment reminders conveying important details about the service, including a preview of any day-of add-on costs that clients may incur so there are no surprises.

Continue reading about how to manage client expectations in the digital age, including learning tips for making adjustments, giving consultations and offering advanced art, in the July/August 2021 issue of our digital magazine.

About the Author

Tracy Morin is a freelance writer and editor based in Oxford, Mississippi.

More in Business