So, What do Your Clients Really Want from Their Pedicure Anyway?

I don’t know about you, but I have grown up with the normalcy of two types of pedicures; either they are whirlpool chairs lined up like dog cages at a kennel, or a pretty, yet uncomfortable 90 degree angled homemade bench with a glorified mixing bowl used to soak your feet in. My butt and back hurt so bad after those 🙁

In beauty school we had whirlpool chairs, and after a couple services our arms, backs, and butts would be sore from having to put our bodies in awkward positions in order to apply scrubs, file off calluses, or massage in lotions.

After my 10 pedicure services were done at school I really understood why technicians don’t like to do pedicures. It’s not so much an aversion to feet, but your body takes such a beating from conducting one! And I workout 4 days a week with cardio and heavy weight resistances!

Surely with all of the options available in the free market known as the internet we could have better. But what about clients that are used to ‘soaking’? What about the massage features on whirlpool chairs? Do people really care about these things?

The short answer is no, they are looking for the pressure release section of a pedicure, they’re paying all that money for a foot massage that they can’t get at home. Most clients get their feet regularly cared for in middle to high income tax brackets. They’re paying for an experience with you, not a chair that they need a pillow behind their back to make the massaging rollers to not hurt them so much. You’re breaking your back for nothing with a whirlpool chair.

They come for a foot and lower leg massage to assuage aches there that happen over a month. The back massage rollers don’t matter much to them, they are generally too rough on client’s backs; almost every time I’ve had to stop during a service to get a client a throw pillow to lessen their pressure. If pressure is relieved off of the hips and spine, it will accomplish the same thing without having costly repairs of fixing a whirlpool chair. You have to be particular about your gravity chair though, it has to have certain features to work, or it’s going to be a multi thousand dollar piece of junk to work with.

Here is a cost analysis of having a whirlpool chair versus a zero gravity chair:

Spa pedicure chair: Cost $8000 for a good one, service profit $6 Number of services 2,000 durability 5 years downtime 20 minutes per service. Maintenance shipping, freight, expensive repairs. There is a zero gravity spa chair, but you’ll still be dealing with the dirty whirlpool issue that freaks a lot of clients out.

Super Relax Zero Gravity chair in the video: Cost of $2000, warranty 1 year, Service profit $6 number of services 2,000, downtime: none, maintenance for motor over time. Maintenance shipping, freight, expensive repairs. This one is made out of leather, which disqualifies as a chair for my salon. If you don’t care about it being leather and would like to buy one, here is the manufacturer’s link: Super Relax zero gravity chair

Human Touch ‘Perfect Chair’ zero gravity chair: Cost of $1500 – $3000+, durability 5-Years Structural, 3-Year In-Home Service and 3-Years Parts limited warranties, Service profit $6 downtime none, maintenance none unless you get a motorized one. There are usually at least one local store of relax the back type stores for repairs or customer service. The motorized ones will make your life a lot easier though. As a business owner, I want to make sure the upholstery is replaceable, parts are easily changed out, and the warranty is over a year. Human Touch Zero Gravity chair

There are a lot of different models for Human Touch; the higher number the model, the more options it has (or as my mom would say ‘more things that can break’). The button on the side is ideal because you can easily move the chair from one level to another without having to have 500 buttons like the cheap zero gravity chairs do. No massage rollers to hurt your client, no heater to burn your client. The openness of the design is also helpful when it comes to cleaning a chair or putting a sheet over it.

Personally I would spend more for upholstery to be replaced (for my commercial setting), a durable motor, and the leg rest section to tuck in so clients can sit and get out easily. For my demographic, and for the majority of the United States, Pedicures are the most purchased service in a salon setting. Many people feel they can do their own manicures and even dabble in extensions, but pedicures they all seem to not want to do at home if they can afford it.

Out of all my equipment, supplies, and tools for startup costs, I’m pretty sure this will be my most costly investment. I might buy two for the discounted rate offered and charge more for a service with those chairs, then offer a bench or simple throne for basic pedicures. NONE of my two zip code area list of discount salons offer a chair like this, and I have about 23 salons on my competitors to consider list. It helps that most of them are identical in their poor service, products, and business plan structures too though 😉 .

Ideally for us, we should be able to sit or stand with a straight back while being able to access and groom away rough patches of skin. Whirlpool chairs do not allow for this; we have to always be spread eagle around the tub to access our client, or extend our backs over the tub unless the tub retracts under the seat. Most don’t. You have to be selective though with your zero gravity chairs too, because if the footrest doesn’t tuck in to create a straight up position like a standard recliner does, you’re going to have to expend your back over to reach your client’s shins and that will strain your back. The legs base of your stool will get stuck on the leg rest protruding out, making you stretch over.

Here’s the reason why I vote for getting a motorized chair: I was loaned an old school manual zero gravity chair that has knobs to tighten the sliders on the sides so you could suspend the client in the chair at certain elevations. It was awkward to adjust the knob while holding onto the top edge of the chair so my client didn’t fly around in it. This basic chair also showed me how important it was to make sure the foot rest part of the chair tucks completely in too. It showed me how much more my client relaxed during services; they didn’t have to use their back or abs to get in or out, there was no pressure on their backs, legs, or neck during services, and I could easily do my scrub, filing, clean, cuticle prep, massage, warm towel wrap, and polish application with it. I still want to work on getting my protocols down for gel application for pedicures down, since with a traditional whirlpool chair or a zero gravity chair I fumbled with my LED lamp. I could sit at it easily using the tech chair that I reviewed in earlier posts.

If you have a demographic of young families, pregnant clients will flock to you to use this chair for a pedicure service. So will obese clients (many have sensitive backs), elderly clients, or clients that sit for long periods of time at work in crappy office chairs. Pretty much everyone will love this chair.

Have you used this kind of chair before? Are there any others fellow technicians should consider for their salon?