The Solar Nail Salon, a small but growing nail salon and day spa near the Jersey Shore and Long Beach Island, is owned by a woman from Vietnam who has tremendous ambition to increase the size of her business. Ms. Lu Van arrived in the United States as a child from her home country of Vietnam in the 1970s. She watched her own family work very hard to pay the rent and then ultimately purchase a home. Ms Van was raised looking Vietnamese but feeling and been very much like an American citizen.
Ms Van saw firsthand how Vietnamese nail salon workers were being exploited by unscrupulous shop owners. Many of the workers were her fellow Vietnamese immigrants and members of her extended family.
When Ms Van graduated from college, she had a lot of choices to make. The exploitation of the nail salon workers never left her thoughts. Although she had many opportunities and job offers to enter the New York metropolitan areas corporate work force, she instead chose to open up her own nail salon and revolutionize the way workers were treated and the services that were offered to customers.
Ms Van noticed that nail salons never did any marketing. All of the nail salons in her area were very passive businesses who did not reach out to customers or former customers. Rather, each morning, a little sign in the door would be turned to read Open and they would wait for customers to walk in. Some of the nail salons would distribute stamp cards to customers who had a manicure or pedicure. The stamp cards are marked whenever a customer had another manicure or pedicure in the salon. After a set number of procedures, usually at least 10 but often up to 20 manis or pedis, then that customer would present the fully marked arid and would be granted a free manicure and pedicure.
Ms Van also noticed that nail salons were quite often much more dirty than they should be. Perhaps it was because the workers inside the nail salons were being so badly exploited that they did not feel the pride of ownership in the business that would propel them to keep an immaculately clean nail salon. Whatever the reason, the result was that Ms Van believed that she could own a healthy business in the nail salon industry, pay her workers a fair working wage, offer her customers an immaculately clean, sophisticated environment. In this way, she felt she would accumulate more customers than any other nail salon in the area.
Ms Van found a vacant store with a good amount of retail square footage, hired store architects, contractors and a retail store designer with a good background in nail salon and day spa design. Together, the team created a sleek, modern nail salon with an emphasis on cleanliness, customer privacy and comfort. A very significant feature of the storefront was the use of hi-definition electronics and flat screen televisions in the street level windows. The team invested in alluring video presentations the showcased the interior of the Solar Nail Salon as well as the services offered inside. Prices for all procedures were clearly presented right on the window. Ms Van's salon created the sweet spot for any storefront: mystery and clarity of what's behind the door.
Ms Van also created a lot of innovative marketing activity to promote her business. One of them found their way into a partnership with Shades of Fun! Ms Van and the Solar Nail Salon loved our high gloss red sunglasses. Since pure red nail polish is the traditional color for both nails and lips (old school), Ms Van chose the red color to splash her bold salon name and logo on the sides of the sunglasses. She created a marketing program in the local mall and street festival, in which a potential customer would receive a 30-second hand massage and listen to another 30-seconds in which the presenter would market the salon's other services. At the end of the experience, the customer would be offered a pair of red sunglasses with the salon's address and telephone number on it. Most accepted the gift, though some would decline the offer. Ms Van noticed those who declined the offer of the sunglasses, she noticed it was those customers who wore prescription glasses themselves.
Sometimes, it is the idea of sunglasses as part of a marketing strategy that is the driving force behind selecting sunglasses. Other times, however, it can be more than just the item itself, but the color of the sunglasses themselves combine to drive a message home with customers. Such was the case with the Solar Nail Salon. We appreciated being part of an morning of this wonderful business story.
Note: Our customer stories are composites of actual customer backgrounds. Locations and names have been changed to protect our customer's privacy.