Fine-Tuning the Front Desk: 5 Strategies for Boosting Revenue

Written by Douglas Preston

The successful spa or skin care salon cannot afford to allow reachable income to slip by throughout the day. Every effort must be made to maximize productivity, without harming service quality or the client’s experience. Fear of the latter makes many business owners and their employees reluctant to act in any way that might evoke a negative response from customers, even when the chances of that outcome are remote.


A combination of training and rewards can encourage front desk staff to push beyond their sales concerns and add meaningful increases to a business’ daily totals. Here are five methods to employ to make the most of per-customer opportunities.


Often, when a new customer calls in to inquire about a facial treatment, the number one facial sellers are typically the lowest priced ones on the menu. Why is this? The answer is that most receptionists have either never had the spa’s treatments themselves or do not know how to recommend the higher-grade services. Therefore, they default to the cheapest treatment and, then, leave it up to the aestheticians to upsell that service if they choose to. This is a seriously expensive routine to allow. To change this, be certain that all receptionists have personally experienced the services they are selling so they can describe them to customers with authority and enthusiasm. Select a facial service that is costlier than the spa’s basic offering and require that employees recommend that one first. They can always offer down in price if a caller prefers that – though they rarely do.


Next, always suggest something extra to anyone scheduling a facial appointment. For example, “Okay, Lisa, we have you set for Friday at 11:00 with Debra. Oh, by the way, many of Debra’s facial clients like to have their eyebrows shaped during their appointment. Would you be interested in that, too? She can do it within the timeframe we already have scheduled.”


When booking first-time clients, always open the door to retail product sales. Encourage the new client to bring along any skin care products they are currently using, the professional can better understand what is influencing their skin. Explain that the professional will evaluate the client’s routine and may suggest adjustments to better address his or her skin type.


When customers walk in or request to purchase a gift certificate, do not ask them if they have a treatment or a dollar amount in mind. Instead, inquire about the recipient and purpose of the gift. “Are you purchasing this gift for a wife or mother?” Once you know whom it is for, assist the purchaser with a helpful idea. “Unless you had something specific in mind, may I tell you what every woman loves with us?” It is almost certain to receive an enthusiastic “yes” from the customer. Then, suggest a service package worth at least $250 and up, or a dollar amount equal to it. This is especially useful when selling to a man who may not know what sort of gift to buy but wants to get something that will please his recipient. Employing this strategy, professionals will not only be surprised how well this works, they will love the extra income, too.


Another strategy is to sell slower appointment time slots. Rather than offering call-in customers an open schedule of appointment times, (“what time would you like to come in?”) first, suggest appointments that are open during the harder-to-fill days and hours. “Right now we have Wednesday at 2:00 available. Will that work for you?” It can be surprising what a customer will accept if they think the spa’s services are in high-demand and that they should take what is presented to them.


More convenient times can be offered from there, but offer what is best for the company to start.
When front desk resources are used skillfully, profits will rise and the cost of these employees will be reduced. Just like a service team, the front desk staff can become far more self-funding when they have the knowledge and incentive to produce more. This also permits the business owner to create contests and sales incentives that will stimulate sales and make the process fun for those who enjoy working to achieve a goal. Train staff regularly and monitor the results – the outcome will surely be worth the effort.


Douglas Preston, president of Preston Beauty Professional, has a career that spans 33 years in professional aesthetics, education, and skin care career mentoring. His business articles appear in DERMASCOPE Magazine, Spa Management Journal, and others. He is a past president of Aesthetics International Association and a former committee chairman for The Day Spa Association. Preston has started and operated award-winning day spas, trains spa and skin care professionals internationally, and is a featured speaker at numerous spa and skin care trade events.

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