Many, many moons ago, way before nursing school, I was a nail technician. Nail techs like to be called “techs” instead of “manicurists,” because giving a manicure is way different from using a precise mix of powder and liquid to build fingernails. Nail Technicians do both, and like any other skilled professional, they like to get recognized for their full abilities.
Way back a million years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was a brand-new nail tech, there were very few people within the area I worked who knew how to do the “technical” part of manicuring. I was taught by someone from California, who was smart enough to bring the service and offer it in Georgia, where it was pretty unheard-of. (Shout out to Diana Tresslar McClarnon – one of the smartest, strongest and best business women I have ever known. Thank you for teaching me a valuable skill.)
We had a good thing going on, we set our own prices and the market held our prices, because we were some of the few who could provide the service. We got so busy, more people were eventually taught the skill and added to the market, and everyone in the area set their prices pretty much the same. There was enough business for everyone to make good money, as long as we didn’t undercut each other.
Inevitably, all good things come to an end. Beauty schools got wind of the thriving market and began churning out nail techs who were sub-par, and because of their sub-par abilities, they charged less for their services. The state licensing began and the official regulations and inspections began. This drove the market value of the service in the area down for everyone, and eventually, we were making half the profit we had made when everyone was doing good-enough work to set the prices, and standards, higher.
That was 30 years ago, and nowadays there’s a nail salon on every corner, full to the brim with technicians, because they have to do a heck of a volume to make a decent living anymore. Prices in these salons are just about exactly what they were 30 years ago, because they can’t be much cheaper without losing money, and once the market sets a lower standard and price, it’s almost impossible to go back up again.
I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. We’re watching the exact same thing happen in the trucking industry. The screams of “driver shortage” have produced a glut of sub-par abilities, and the calls to “take cheap freight and average it into your business model,” only encourage this behavior to continue. Just like the beauty industry, we’ve come to a low in rates and standards that is going to be difficult, if not impossible, to climb out of.
And just like the beauty industry, regulations won’t improve the market. If anything over-regulation will drive it down further, because more seasoned professional drivers will leave the industry and more sub-par drivers will be churned out of the trucker mills to take their places.
Here’s why I still have hope for both industries. The true professionals of the nail industry, the ones with clientele and established businesses, never caved on the prices. Granted, they lost some customers along the way, but they were able to keep their prices at a level that allowed them to also be able to demand the very best nail techs, and get them. The old adage “You get what you pay for” could not be truer.
The moral of this story is: Don’t cave. Don’t cave on the prices, or the quality of service, because doing so only cuts your own throat in the end.