How To Model The Vietnamese Nail Salon For Massive Profit

I had a friend once who was taking this class in becoming a certified (I’m not sure what the right word is) nail salon specialist. She explained all the different certifications you need to work in that kind of shop. It’s a little similar to the kind of license you need to cut peoples hair, but not as intense. Meaning that you don’t have to attend as many classroom hours, or take a very difficult class to pass.

Having never been to a nail salon to get my nails done, I wasn’t aware of the different requirements for opening and running a shop. Because it is a health related industry (sort of) and there is the possibility of transferring germs, you need to follow certain health guidelines. That is basically the gist of the course, not the proper way to cut or polish nails, but to ensure that the equipment that is used over and over again remains clean and germ free.

And just like restaurants, those nail salon places are inspected (or are supposed to be inspected) on a regular basis. Because my friend is from California, and California is currently undergoing a huge budget crisis, I’m not sure if the have the money to send health inspectors out running around checking on nail salons.

One interesting phenomenon that happened recently (or maybe not so recently depending on your time frame) is the massive increase in Vietnamese nail salons in southern California. Before, most nail salons were run and catered to upper class patrons.

But when the Vietnamese came in, they changed all that. They changed the target market, the operating procedures, and the profits. Soon almost every single strip mall contained a nail salon run by Vietnamese. And they were very profitable.

The thing to be learned from this is that no matter how saturated a market appears to be, there is always another way, always another angle to swoop in a dominate, even in a market that has been well established for many years.


  1. I don’t know If I said it already but …This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, 🙂

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  2. Is your friend Vietnamese?

    You did not explain what the differences were in the way it was being run before and how it is done now? Are you saying that the Vietnamese shops are less strict in following guidelines and that’s why they are able to open up shop more often?

  3. Yes, she is Vietnamese. What the Vietnamese specifically changed was switching from a long, extended session with a rich client, to a quicker, cheaper, nail cutting (or whatever it is they do) session. The end result, the quality of the “nail job” was the same, only it was quicker and cheaper. Before, the non – Vietnamese salons focused on a “pampered” experience. But when the Vietnamese started opening up shops, they focused on more of an “end result” “nail job.” They switched from selling a few high priced, extended sessions to selling several medium priced, much quicker sessions, without sacrificing the quality of the “nail” job. And they found that the market preferred cheaper, quicker service, rather than longer, more pampered more expensive service, with the same end result.

    Had you asked any “nail salon” expert prior to the influx of Vietnamese nail salons, they likely would have said the market was saturated, with no room for growth. Obviously they would have been wrong.

  4. The polars of the nail business are converging I believe. More Vietnamese run salons are raising prices, including spa chairs, foot masks and scrubs.

  5. I was talking to the woman who does my nails and asked her what her days off were. She had Tuesdays off. She started work at 9:30 and ended at 7:00. She is an independent contractor so management can get away with these hours. Also in these salons (Happiness Nails) all the managers are men while the women do the work. There are a few token males working. I was reading an older article in Forbes about the descrepancy in licensed manicurist and the number of nail salons. I think even when a woman is licensed, it is still some kind of sweat shop and no one seems to care.

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