The Pedi Paradigm

Peter C. Anderson shares tips on how to keep your spa's nailcare services flourishing long after the flip-flops have been packed away.

Q: My spa earns a healthy profit from its nailcare services. However, with the winter months upon us, I'm afraid my regular mani and pedi clients will forego booking their weekly appointments. How do I keep my nailcare services front and center this season?

A: It is logical that there will be some fall-off in your pedicure business during winter. Unfortunately, this decline will most likely be exacerbated by the current economic climate. Your nailcare business may experience a drop off equal to or greater than any other you have ever experienced in previous years. Keeping your spas' nailcare offerings front-of-mind to your clients will mitigate some of this business erosion.

The following are 10 simple suggestions that may increase your spa's nailcare sales.

  • Evaluate the actual cost of both your manicures and pedicures and create a mani/pedi package that provides perceived value to your guests without compromising your bottom line. What you might sacrifice as a unit cost, you should be able to recoup in volume.
  • Package your manicures and pedicures with other spa treatments. This helps create a price point that telegraphs value to your customer and keeps your sales volumes brisk.
  • Boost future sales by pre-selling packages of five or 10 treatments. Consider selling a book of mani/pedi coupons that are individually priced—slightly higher priced than your manicures and slightly lower than your pedicures—but when combined are less expensive than the combined price of a mani and a pedi purchased individually.
  • Use vendors to help promote your manicures and pedicures. Ask them to provide products to your clients as free gifts with a mani/pedi purchase. In addition, combine a nailcare product with the purchase of a gift card. Lastly, you can have your vendors underwrite mani/pedi parties and provide either training to your staff or perks to your better customers.
  • Create new winter pedicures that focus on dry skin and feet that have been trapped in shoes and boots. Focusing on the pedicures' therapeutic benefits makes price points easier to justify.
  • Develop a men's package. Because open-toe shoes aren't really motivating factors for the male market, December and July pedicure needs are virtually the same.
  • While considering expanding market segments, promote your spa to seniors and senior centers. Elderly people often have neither the flexibility nor eyesight to care for their own nails.
  • If that market is too small, you may negotiate a rate with a local senior center and have nail techs provide on-call discounted services to interested residents. Once again, this is not only good business but also good work. In the end, it may drive other demand to your spa.
  • Offer a 25 percent discount to anybody who can produce proof of an upcoming warm weather trip. Why not create the "Christmas in Hawaii" or "Thanksgiving in Rio" pedicure?
  • Remind your clients that while the world may not see their feet in winter, there is probably at least one other person in their life who would greatly appreciate silky smooth feet.


Although these tips will help boost your nailcare business, they may not be the solution you are seeking. While downward trends in business are not comfortable concepts with which to deal, a realistic view of the situation will allow you to focus on attainable solutions. It is important to know exactly what you are facing. Once you have defined the worst-case scenario (WCS), you must then delineate a way to achieve your goals using the WCS as one of your baselines.

To establish a WCS baseline, I recommend you do some detailed forecasting for the upcoming season. You must first review your historic operations and calculate, tabulate, or pull your mani/pedi service sales on a month-by-month basis from your software reports. Tracking these trends month by month for prior years provides a baseline from which you can forecast the upcoming season.

If your anticipated forecasted volume is low enough, it may allow (or require) you to reconfigure the nailcare space in your spa and allocate some of the "found" space for other more profitable uses. You might consider additional nailcare retail and promotional displays (think monthly specials, raffles, community service promotions, or even gift cards). Depending on your configuration, you might even find that additional space could be allocated for spray tanning or other services that might provide a seasonal up-sell.

When promoting your nailcare services, keep in mind that the cuticles, like hair, are an organic byproduct of the body's growth. Clients treat, condition, and cut their hair for not only aesthetic reasons but also to keep it healthy. Think of your manicure and pedicure business in the same way. If you present your pedicures as an extension of foot health and relaxation versus nail aesthetics, you may find more customers wanting to embrace your "pedi" as a real "pedi-cure." Include a foot-soaking ritual, some reflexology, and serious efficacy-based nailcare as part of your pedicures. In addition, ensure that your staff is current in hand, foot, nail, and cuticle hygiene and can speak fluently to the issues of foot and nail fungus, athlete's foot, and cracked heels. In the end, you will shift the "pedi-paradigm" from creating the perfect foot for sandal season to offering a soaking sanctuary from the harshness of winter. —Peter C. Anderson

Peter C. Anderson is a principal at Anderson & Associates, a spa consulting firm based in Santa Monica, CA. He is also on the board of advisors for the Spa and Hospitality Management Program at the University of California-Irvine. You can email him at [email protected].