As an aesthetician, empty books or big gaps in a daily schedule can feel insurmountable. Aestheticians know all too well the importance of building a business that can support them. Effective marketing and client education techniques are essential. Implementing the right strategy can deliver amazing, lasting, and loyal clients.
HAIR REMOVAL IS NOT OPTIONAL, IT IS A NECESSITY
Even when money is tight, or the economy is suffering, people need hair removal. Unlike other services offered by professionals, hair removal is a reliable long-term business – it is not a trend that will disappear. Hair keeps growing back, as much as clients wish it would just disappear. Although some waxing or sugaring services produce permanent results, new hair is always growing with age, hormonal changes, medications, and more. Those who have gone through laser treatments still need hair removal – it is called semi-permanent for a reason. Just like getting a haircut, many clients realize it is not a good idea to attempt removing their own body hair at home with wax or sugar. Many clients have limited choices because their skin is reactive to shaving or other options. Using other methods at home risks serious side effects that can make clients miserable, like itching, irritation, ingrown hairs, rashes, and much more.
WHAT TO EXPECT
How can a skin care professional capture the audience in this thriving market? In the skin care community, a constant question is, “How can I get more clients?” The first thing to ask is, “What are your expectations?” The following are a few expectations professionals can anticipate having:
- new business takes two to five years of growth to establish a strong clientele
- targeted marketing strategies accelerate growth
- website and search engine optimization (SEO) are critical – if no one can see the spa, it does not exist
- education sets a business apart and keeps clients coming back
- word of mouth referrals take time for clients to act on
- as the digital age grows, reviews go a long way
Professionals must be consciously aware of their emotional state from day to day. Part of marketing is attitude. Excitement followed by action is a powerful thing. It can create a thriving business. If a professional spends each day unsatisfied, upset, and down about a lack of clientele, it can really slow down growth. During down time, it is important to act on what can be done – leave the “can’t” attitude at the door. There is only so much energy to spend every day. Focus on ways to maximize that energy in positive ways.
Identify your top services and focus all energy on what you do best. When a professional spreads themselves too thin and does not stay tuned into what they love most, it can harm the business. For instance, some find that Brazilians and eyebrows are their top two hair removal services. Some aestheticians build their entire business around these services alone. Others do facials and hair removal for the whole body. A little bit of diversity can be a good thing but remember to not be a jack of all trades and offer too many services.
MARKETING TO AVOID
Effective marketing techniques are important in building a solid clientele. Some techniques just do not produce results. Here are some recommended items to not waste any time on.
Local Magazine Ads: Local magazine ads are most beneficial for branding but may not product a significant return on investment or phone calls for immediate sales.
Local Mailers: Local mailers, similar to magazine ads, may not produce any direct calls or bookings.
Television Ads: They sound glamourous, but for a spa business, they are not the best form of marketing to produce new clients.
Groupon or Coupons: First of all, they do not pay the spa until the highly discounted customer comes in for their service, meaning the professional has to be a hawk redeeming the certificate numbers. Having many outstanding Groupons or coupons can devalue the business or leave a professional short on paying employees. The coupon company takes 40% to 60% of the service cost, which is already half off, leaving the spa with 20% to 25% profit, and only if that client comes in. Also, these clients are often coupon-clippers – a one service and done type of client.
Yelp Ads: It is best to get many reviews organically to raise the spa’s ranking and visibility. Spending $300 to $500 a month on ads will lower profit and will not bring as many clients as hoped. Yelp may not increase new client calls enough, even when paid ads are used. An alternative might be a pay-per-click ad, where the spa pops up above other businesses.
Gift Certificate Campaigns: Several outstanding gift certificates can be a huge liability for a business – and its value, if ever sold. Although it produces a lot of money in the short-term, the long-term is not so bright. This also has the potential to leave the professional short on paying employees or bills.
TOP EIGHT MARKETING TIPS
Now, let’s get to the powerful marketing tools that should be implemented as soon as possible.
E-mail Newsletter: Send these once to twice a month. Do not exceed twice per month or clients will not stay engaged. News should focus on latest hair removal specials, sprinkled with a little story or education about what is going on in the business that month.
Blogging: Write a blog every two weeks. Think of new quick articles that can really help educate clients. Many of the search engines are now looking for regular new content – blog articles are part of what the algorithms want. Include good search engine optimization (SEO) in articles. This helps people searching find the business. On the spa’s website, create 20 to 50 articles about hair removal with good SEO. It will get local and national placement, which leads to free, organic traffic to the spa’s website and high-ranking local placement.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This is how people find the business in searches. Websites like Yelp rely on lots of keywords like “waxing, (your city, state)” to show a business to new potential clients. Algorithms are how the programs are written for a website. SEO is the language.
Instagram and Facebook: These are great platforms for businesses and the best right now for hair removal. Snapchat is becoming a big way to promote a business. Keep an eye on what is trending in the community, as the world of social media is always changing.
Post Frequency: Post once every other day, up to twice daily. Once a week is too little. Use all of the top social media websites, posting to each from their website, rather than using the repost feature or a third-party posting app. Visibility is much lower without a direct post. Sometimes, not varying the content from platform to platform can also hurt visibility. If using the same photo, change the post caption from place to place.
Content: Clients want to see the professional’s face and make a personal connection. Try a mix of photos doing different things in the spa or skin care-related memes and quotes, before and afters, and specials the spa is offering. Make it interesting. Clients will quickly disengage with specials only or run of the mill memes. For a service like eyebrow design, before and afters can be very helpful in a client choosing you over competition.
Hashtags and Keywords: Study what others in the industry are hash-tagging – it is the language of Instagram. Hashtags help lead clients to you. They should include your local city and top services offered, with plenty of before and afters.
Business Listings: List the spa’s website on as many free business listing websites as possible. This creates high visibility for the spa’s website and makes it easy for clients to find it. Start with the most popular websites, like Google, Yelp, and Facebook. There are hundreds of places where it is free to list a business. Downtime at the spa is the best time to do this, so see where the spa’s competition is listed and start with those websites. There is also a service called Yext that does a good job of getting websites listed everywhere or updated.
Paid Ads: Targeted ads in the spa’s local area through Google Adwords can be especially successful. Professionals have to target the audience they want very specifically or this can be a waste of time and money. They can choose the exact audience, male or female, display the ad to people in their local city, and time of day is important, as well, so the ad pops up only when the spa is open.
Three Week Check-Ins: This is an amazing way of keeping clients coming in regularly. Many clients have such a busy schedule that they cannot rebook while they are leaving. This gives the professional the opportunity to call clients who have not come in for three to four weeks. When a client is leaving, if they do not rebook, ask if they would like to be put on the three week check-in list. This way they are expecting a call. Cold-turkey check-ins may be useful for anyone who has not rebooked in time. Be persistent. Do one weekly call for up to three weeks saying, “This is (your name), I am calling to let you know you are due for your next hair removal appointment. Please give me a call or text to get rebooked for your (service they get). I will check in again next week unless I hear from you. Have a spectacular day!” This is effective in filling up a spa’s books during a slow week. There are times where a spa will only have two clients in a day. After doing calls, the spa will at least double its bookings.
Reviews: Reviews are one of the most important things a professional can do for their business. Reviews are everything when it comes to search engine optimization and they are how a customer chooses a provider. Google is responsible for 80% to 90% of the searches on the internet. They re-programmed their algorithm to pay a lot more attention to websites with reviews and fresh content like blogs, so monthly fresh reviews mean more business. Consider offering a discount to clients when asking them for a review on Google. Google reviews are just as important as Yelp. Yelp will not allow professionals to give clients a discount for reviews. Do not wait for them. Ask for them. It will make or break a small business.
Sanitation can be an ugly business in hair removal – many professionals do not have good practices. Some of these habits begin in school. A recent student I was teaching said they used Clorox wipes for bottles in school. The proper solution to use for cleaning is hospital-grade disinfectant, something that is rated to kill bloodborne disease. Without proper sanitation, clients can be exposed to pathogens, exposing the professional to a lawsuit. One of the scariest bloodborne diseases is hepatitis. It can live on surfaces or in wax for days. Professionals have a lot to think about because they must follow OSHA standards due to the follicles bleeding. The follicle gives off a drop of blood when removed for the first time because the root is imbedded in the blood supply.
Speed without compromise – after getting all the spa’s marketing up and running, it is time to look at the services provided. Making services more efficient in every way is very important. Have you maximized your speed? If you are taking an hour and a half to do a full leg, would it not be amazing to get that down to 45 minutes? One of the reasons speed does not improve is because aestheticians do not focus enough on it. Sometimes, on smaller areas, it is a matter of continuing to work on removing hair versus pausing, looking, thinking, and ultimately delaying the service timing. On larger areas, strategically lay down a lot of wax or sugar and cover large areas at once. Take a class in getting speed up. It never hurts to continue one’s education.
Make sure the goals with speed are realistic, factoring in all possibilities such as:
- checking a client in with new paperwork
- the client running five to 10 minutes late
- the client uses the restroom when they arrive
- preparing the skin properly, cleaning and powdering
- finishing the skin properly, wiping it down, and coating in after product
- checking the client out, selling product, and rescheduling
Educating clients is the biggest problem in so many aesthetics practices. Creating a relationship with clients based on education is critical in ensuing they start out right. The client does not know what they should be doing until the professional teaches them. Every new client should be treated like they have never been given the right information. Countless hair removal clients are never educated properly, even if they have been doing hair removal for years. Professionals should review all of the items below with each new client.
Before Waxing or Sugaring: Make sure to have a great write-up on what clients should do before their hair removal service. If a client comes in sweaty and full of body lotion or oil, it can make the job impossible. They need to arrive freshly showered, no lotion, no oil, no deodorant. This reduces bacteria and leaves nothing on the skin to block the wax or sugar. Clients should be using a body scrub three to five times a week. Some prefer a foamy sugar scrub that washes skin completely clean with no oily residue. In a couple of passes of wax or sugar, the professional should be able to tell if the client is scrubbing. Without a good scrubbing regimen, services can take twice as long, especially on legs and arms.
Contraindications: Make sure each new client knows, if anything ever changes on their intake form, they need to notify the spa immediately. This includes allergies, medications, and 24-hour blood thinners that increase chances of bruising. Usually, if a client experiences bruising or lifting, one or more of these items is present. Thin skin can also be a side effect of using bar soap, especially on a Brazilian wax.
Staying on Schedule: A client will not reach the best results by coming in infrequently. A client needs to come in every three to four weeks – sometimes, after years of hair removal, every five weeks. They should not be shaving or trimming in between. Shaving in between may make it necessary to start the process over. It takes three to four appointments in a row to get all the hair on the same growth cycle, making for smooth results each appointment. Going longer than that can cause full regrowth, which is 50% to 75% more painful than staying on schedule. It also means the root of each hair will grow deeper and imbed itself in the blood supply.
After Waxing or Sugaring: Make sure each client takes home proper homecare, this should include a scrub and moisturizer with ingrown fighting abilities. A great take home item is oxygen in the form of ozonated oil. Consider carrying a non-oil based scrub and instruct each client to begin scrubbing three days after their appointment. They should then apply their lotion or cream.
With time, incorporating these hair removal marketing tips will help professionals utilize their knowledge and see greater success and client satisfaction.
In 2001, Jessica “Jessa” Roberts, a California native, became a licensed aesthetician and certified massage therapist. Her goal is to empower people by informing them about skin care, green living, and their health. In 2005, she created her own skin care line and spa. Named after her nickname, “Jessa,” the Jessa Skincare and Sugaring Spa and Jessa Skincare Products are a reflection of her high standards, attention to detail, and belief in continued education. Roberts has always had a love for hair removal and founded SugarLove Sugaring in 2014 offering national education.