Simple Steps to a Booming Business

Written by David S. Goldstein

Aestheticians are well trained in ways to help their clients achieve healthy, beautiful skin. Having gone through aesthetic-specific schooling to become well versed in their discipline of choice, aestheticians have the knowledge to help their clients obtain the results they desire. However, aestheticians frequently struggle with the business side of their practices. Many simply do not feel equipped to run a business due to the fact that they are aestheticians first and foremost, and business operators second. Regardless of their backgrounds, there are several tactics all professionals can employ to develop their businesses in these ever-growing fields, including taking advantage of ongoing education and the best product lines available, building strategic partnerships, and making use of social media.

Be the Best of the Best
In this industry, there is no shortage of conflicting or misleading information. Consumers are searching for the truth and you can provide them this by dedicating time to researching conditions, studying ingredients, and keeping up on protocols. No matter how experienced an aesthetician is, there is always more to learn. Be open to learning new information. It will help you stay on top of trends.
When continuing your education, look for certification courses. A certificate on your wall reinforces that you are a reputable and trusted professional and that you have invested the time and money to attain a greater level of instruction than the minimum required. These types of credentials will elevate you in your clients’ minds and give you more confidence to treat them safely and effectively.
Education can also be obtained through webinars and tradeshow workshops offered through product manufacturers. When looking for training opportunities, look for companies that will give you product or a product credit in return for the seminar fee. This allows you to try the products and also optimize your investment in their education.
When you are considering the product lines to carry in your spa, the companies with whom you partner should provide the support you need to build your business. You should be able to reference clinical trials as well as design treatments and regimens specific to each client’s needs. It is important to know how long the company has been in business to ensure they are credible and established. Choose a partner who provides you with access to a team that is armed with answers to your questions, products that work, as well as an understanding of why they work and tools to explain the mechanisms of action to your clients.
You may also want to consider partnering with a company that allows you to manage your inventory by only purchasing what you need. Minimum opening orders can end up costing you money if you are not able to use or sell all of the product.
Marketing can be costly, so a product line that already has posters, brochures, consultation forms, and menus of services for you to use in your practice allows you to save money, since the design and print costs are covered by the company. These should be provided to you at minimal cost or may be complimentary with your product orders.

Strategic Skin Care
According to The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were 13 million minimally invasive procedures performed in the United States in 2012, up six percent from 2011 and 137 percent from 2000.
Approximately 1.1 million of these procedures were chemical peels. While such statistics prove the worth of the aesthetician today, they also underline a growth in competition in this space. Those who are trying to be competitors must find ways to stand out.
In an industry where client trust is so crucial, the first thing you need to do is sell yourself – you are the product. You can be the best aesthetician in the world, but if you do not connect with people, build relationships, and get your name out there, you are a hidden secret. Since your time is limited, focus on marketing efforts that will get you seen or heard by the
most people.
Local publications can be cost effective vehicles for advertising. Additionally, news and radio stations are always looking for industry experts to fill time slots. For example, you may want to talk about the truth about sunscreens, antioxidants or chemical peels. These outlets know there is a demand for skin health information and such segments will draw viewers. Your only investment will be your time and potentially a free treatment or product as you see fit. This is a minimal marketing investment with a big payoff.

Partnerships and Referrals
Creating innovative networking opportunities starts with strategic partnerships. It is through partnerships with other professionals and referrals that you will gain the most valuable connections and long-term client relationships.
Your clients themselves can help you with your business development. Maybe they own a print shop. Maybe they cut hair. You may be able to establish a trade arrangement where you trade products or services with each other. In order to establish a partnership, first offer the practitioner a complimentary treatment. It may cost you in product usage and time up front, but think of it as a marketing cost that you would be paying anyway. This is the best way to prove to someone the results you are capable of providing so that they feel comfortable partnering and referring their clients to you.
When a client refers someone to you, they should receive an incentive for the referral and the new client should also receive something in kind. You can offer a free treatment, a discount off services, or a free product. Make sure that if you have a client who has provided you with many quality referrals that you really take care of them, possibly by providing them with more than just your advertised incentive. This will make them feel valued as an individual, and they will likely continue to refer quality clients to your practice.
Referral incentives can be listed on your brochures or you may choose to send e-mails to your current customers to advertise your referral program. You can use social media platforms for this purpose as well.

Setting up Social
Social media has exploded over the last few years. It is a major way people interact with their friends, their co-workers, and the companies with which they do business. There are many platforms to consider, depending on the time commitment you are able to make; there are also some guidelines to follow in order to make sure that you are truly connecting with your current and prospective customers.
Facebook is one of the largest social platforms, making it the number one option you should consider if you are going to set up a social website. Start by creating a business page, then invite your friends and family to “Like” your page; you can ask them to invite their Facebook friends to do the same. If you have employees, ask them to share your page with their friends and find out if any of them are interested in helping to manage the business’ social media endeavors. Educate new hires about your page and encourage their involvement.
While there is no word limit to Facebook status updates, research shows that 80 words or less generate more engagement. Images included with messages are shared more than those without. Consider pairing photos with quotes or educational information that will resonate with your followers.
Make sure you have time to devote to this, posting at least once per day to start. If followers are going to engage with you, you want to make sure you acknowledge them. Follow up by mirroring offline behavior, thanking your fans for their input and responding to both positive and negative comments.
LinkedIn is growing faster than ever and is one of the best hubs to become involved, specifically in your industry. It is primarily business related and not a social outlet like Facebook. Create a personal profile as well as a business page on Linked-In. Affiliate yourself with others interested in skin health by joining industry groups.
To display your products and services visually, consider joining Pinterest. Set up different “boards” with themes like daily care, professional treatments, media mentions, and so on to share with your followers. You can also share the photos you post on this platform on your Facebook and LinkedIn pages for cross-promotion.

Following are some additional guidelines for using social media to network:

  • Photos and videos generate more activity and are shared more than text.
  • Open-ended questions and fill-in-the-blanks are great conversation starters.
  • Be consistent in your posting schedule to give followers a reason to keep coming back.
  • Integrate social sharing on your website and in your e-mail signature.
  • Reply to comments within one to two hours; this is an extension of your customer service and you want to reply in a timely manner, especially when a problem needs to be addressed. 

Overall, it is important not to use your social platforms purely for self-promotion or sales. Keep a balance between promotion and offering your followers educational information. For every one brand promotion post, you should be posting 10 that educate your followers or ask them for their input.

A Little Time Pays Off
Regardless of your experience on the business end of the industry, all aestheticians can help their practices continue to grow by employing some key methods within and outside the treatment room. From continuing education to partnering with the best companies and products, networking and using a referral system, to building your social media presence, a little effort will go a long way.

DavidS.Goldstein 2014David S. Goldstein is the senior vice president of global sales and field marketing at PCA SKIN®. He previously served as executive vice president of global sales and field marketing at Obagi Medical Products, Inc., served in sales management positions for Allergan, and sales positions for Johnson & Johnson with a particular focus on dermatology products. Prior to beginning his career in sales, Goldstein served for four years in the United States Marine Corps, earning numerous meritorious achievement and service awards. He received his B.S. in Business with a focus on economics and an M.B.A. from National University of San Diego.

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