10 Things About... Searching for a Skin Care Vendor

Written by Kristina Viliani, L.E.

Every business comes with its challenges. Owning a spa is no different. Your selection of staff, policies and services offered all impact your clientele and reputation. However, there are important decisions that affect all of these and more. The products you choose to use in the treatment room and offer for retail purchase will shape your business, as well as influence your bottom line. Owners and spa directors need to consider several factors when selecting products while keeping in mind that the skin care lines they use are also a representation of their business' brand.

#1. Exceptional business-to-business customer service should be a priority for all potential vendors. Return policies, product guarantees, and even simple expectations, such as a prompt returned phone call, can vary immensely between companies.

1#2. How long a brand has been established and in business is also important. A more recognized company generally has more complex business policies and corporate flow. This can mean more steps to setting up an account and stricter guidelines when products are defective or require a return.

#3. In the spa industry, knowledge really is power. It is important to partner with product lines that offer education. Proper education is not only important to provide optimal service to your clients, but to also empower your staff. Skin care brands should assist with continuing education through in-spa trainings, webinars, product certification tests, and conference calls.

#4. Specials and promotions that your skin care partner offers your business are important to the spa’s retail revenue. Promotions from your vendor not only impact your profit margin, but can also introduce clients to new products or services and expand their skin care regimen.

3#5. Ask about the vendor’s promotional calendar to ensure the specials align with your calendar. This will help you effectively plan treatment and retail promotions in advance, which will allow more time to plan marketing support.

#6. Most manufacturers supply marketing material such as samples, brochures, counter cards and catalogs when opening a wholesale account or when you reach a minimum dollar amount of products purchased. These marketing materials are sales tools and help educate clients about the products and benefits.

8#7. Ask if the company conducts public relations internally or through an agency. This influences the amount of support that is available to your business at a local level. A brand that is actively engaging in public relations can boost the awareness of the skin care line and attract customers to your spa.

#8. Many skin care brands offer incentive programs. The incentive programs usually have different tiers (silver, gold and platinum) and will reward you with competitive sales margins, additional free marketing materials, and other great gifts.

9#9. The packaging a skin care brand uses makes a significant difference in client satisfaction. This should not be overlooked when evaluating brands. Products are packaged in jars, pumps, airless pumps, bottles, tubes and different distinctive containers. Different customers have their own preferences for packaging. Every time the top of a jar is opened, oxidation occurs and can affect the product’s shelf life, whereas airless pumps keep ingredients protected from oxidation while retrieving 98 percent of the product from the bottle.

#10. A good business must know its customer. Market your business to the caliber of clientele in your area. This includes the price point of retail products in a skin care line. Spas that attract a lot of young, busy professionals should retail products that are quick to use with as few steps as possible.

A practical way to find and truly evaluate skin care lines is at professional tradeshows. These provide an excellent opportunity to network with different brands in person, collect educational materials and attend vendor classes to learn more about the companies and products. After choosing a suitable skin care partner for your target demographic, it is time to introduce your spa’s new addition to your staff – and of course, your clients. Plan innovative ways to keep momentum and get your staff excited about retailing and keeping your clients purchasing their products from your facility.

Kristina-ValianiKristina Valiani is a licensed aesthetician and the West Coast Manager for leading skin care brand B. Kamins. Valiani conducts retail and business courses to spa professionals across North America while serving on the Washington State Esthetician Advisory Board. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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