PASCO, Wash. — A nail salon nightmare right here in the Tri-Cities.
More and more nail salons are opening in Washington State but that means more businesses for the Department Of Licensing (DOL) to inspect, leaving room for error and risks to your health.
KEPR met one Pasco woman who’s finally recovering from what she calls punishing pedicure.
“I almost could lay my life down on it that every nail salon has an issue,” said Christine Hazen.
A bold statement from an unhappy customer, angry at the trauma her toes experienced.
Hazen says her pain started at Regal Nails in Pasco back in April 2015 when she paid for a pedicure. She says the salon worker caused more discomfort than relaxation.
“And I kept telling her, that hurts. You’re digging too deep along the cuticle,” said Hazen.
But Christine claims the digging didn’t stop.
“The more she worked, the more I was concerned,” said Hazen.
One month later, Christine tells Action News she felt pain in her toes and immediately went to a doctor who then sent her to a foot specialist.
The diagnosis was fungal growth on both feet. The transformation was shocking.
Christine says peeling skin caused by medication scared her straight.
“I was shedding like a snake,” said Hazen.
So she filed a complaint with the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL.)
The DOL says these nail salon nightmares are not uncommon. “We do receive complaints from people who have visited a salon and then shortly thereafter end up having some type of infection.”
The DOL inspected Regal Nails and it scored above 85 points, a passing grade.
But three months later, Regal scored a 64 and an employee by the name of Christina Tran was caught performing a service without a license.
Vincent Vu, the owner of Regal Nails got slapped with a $1,000 fine for aiding and abetting unlicensed activity and two failed safety and sanitation inspections.
Vu did not want to speak on camera but told KEPR Tran started working at the salon in March of 2015 and is no longer employed.
“I think they should be on the radar for a monthly inspection,” said Hazen.
The DOL says there are about 14,000 licensed nail salons in the state of Washington.
But there are only eight hired inspectors to cover all of that ground.
“That is all our budget has allowed for at this point in time and we just do our best with the eight inspectors we have,” said DOL spokeswoman Christine Anthony.
So it’s buyer beware when selecting a nail salon. Christine learned her lesson the hard way.
She says she is finally off medication and her feet are slowly recovering but she says even wearing a pair of shoes is a risk for infection.
“I have to dress according to a flip flop in the middle of December. Now that’s not fair. That’s not right,” said Hazen.
The unlicensed nail salon worker finally got certified in March 2016.
The DOL wants you the customer to be on the lookout for visible licenses and any complaint should be reported immediately.
It’s important to note that Regal Nails passed two of its last three inspections (September 2015, February 2016).
The social media bullhorn has not delivered for most brands. Barb Mosher Zinchk explains why brands struggle with social media marketing, but she doesn’t advise abandoning social altogether. The alternative? A savvier approach that includes social for service, insights, and competitive analysis.
You can’t ignore social media. It is the defacto location for people across the world to find and share information, and express their thoughts and ideas. And that includes what they think about the brands and the products and services they offer.
The problem is, it’s hard to figure out how to use wisely and most of the time brands spend the majority of the budget for social on only marketing their wares. Social is a megaphone, but not for brands. Yes, you do need to use it as a distribution channel for content marketing and product marketing, but that’s not the best use of your social network or your social marketing buckets.
There are better uses.
This one is key, but can be hard to implement. Using social as a key channel for customer support is smart, but you need to plan and apply it very carefully.
According to a recent survey by Sprout Social, social is the top choice for customer care (34.5%), followed by web/chat and then email. However, 89% of social messages to brands go ignored and the average brand response time on social is ten hours.
Now consider this: the same survey found that most people will wait a maximum of four hours and one in three will go to a competitor if they are ignored.
If your customer is unhappy with you, social is the most obvious outlet to share that anger or frustration. How many unhappy customer tweets or Facebook posts have you seen? How many shame a brand for poor customer service.
So what if you could flip that around and use social to provide better customer care and support? It requires you to think about a few things:
If you decide that social customer care isn’t right for your company, you still need to have some process in place that deals with the customers who don’t know or care and continue to connect with you across social. It will happen, and you can’t ignore it unless you want to give your business to your competitors.
Eric Berridge from Bluewolf Consulting says that brands have to look at social with restraint. In his book, Customer Obsessed, he says that social is more valuable in terms of the data than as a megaphone. Just think about the information spread across social every day and insights it provides. Mine social media, not just your feeds, but the entire social firehose:
Doing competitive analysis on social goes hand in hand with using social insights above. Social is a great way to find out what your competitors are doing, what audiences they are reaching out to, what kind of content and advertising they distribute and whether it’s all working or not.
If you see a competitor is getting negative attention, how can you leverage that to bring focus to your better solution? Twist the complaints into stories with happy endings or find opportunities to improve your products and services based on problems competitors are having.
You can even look at the content your competitors are distributing and figure out how to twist or spin it differently, or better. The options for how you can mine social media to understand the competition and how you can get ahead of it are endless.
So I know I said there are better ways to use social than as a distribution channel. But, you still need to use this way, you just need to be smarter about it. One of my favorite points came from CopyBlogger when it stopped using Facebook a couple of years ago.
“It’s not our job to tell our audience where we live. It’s to grow communities where they live.”
Too many brands think they need to be on every social channel, but they don’t. The key is know where the majority of the people hang out that you want as customers. This is where you focus your social efforts.
Also, while you want to distribute your content so that your audiences know it’s there, it’s not enough to set up a bunch of automated tweets or posts that link back to the content. You need to think about what your message is. What’s unique about your content that people should drop by and read/download it?
If people are liking, favoriting or retweeting your messages, what does that really mean? Does it translate into conversions? Page views? Increased followers? It won’t necessarily. You need to measure and know when it does so you can replicate that success ongoing.
But even if it doesn’t, what does that tell you? What insights can you take away from a thousand likes, but no downloads? Look at the characteristics of the audience that liked it; if it’s your target audience, then you know your message resonated. Keep telling the stories that message told. Sometimes you have to work hard at getting those conversions. Maybe it doesn’t happen in the first message or the second, but if you are hitting the mark, it will happen.
I’ve worked with enough brands to know that everyone struggles with social. It almost seems like a necessary evil more than an opportunity to build an audience and loyal customer base.
There’s too much tweeting simple messages once or twice, trying to follow key people to get noticed, and in general, not thinking through how to build a presence that provides real value to the brand and the customer.
And that’s because it’s not simple. It’s time-consuming; it requires creative thinking on the fly, it requires actively, constantly listening and proactively responding.
Doing all that doesn’t guarantee success. But doing it half-heartedly is a waste of time and money, and doing nothing is just really not smart.