One of the more exciting, yet challenging, tasks of any solo aesthetician is in deciding which services to include on the spa menu. This is an opportunity to be creative, selecting services you especially enjoy performing and those you are most competent in. For the solo aesthetician who once worked for an employer, the right to do only preferred services can be a cherished freedom and a more pleasant work experience. But, given all the options for services a skin care professional can choose to perform, what are some important things to consider when planning the service menu?
A good place to begin is by asking yourself a few questions. The right questions about what will most influence the success of the practice can make the difference between a thriving business or one that struggles to gain traction. With this in mind, consider the following as a starting point for menu choices:
- Is there a proven consumer demand for the services you want to focus on? Do you know from experience that customers have a history of scheduling the services you’re considering? Often, an aesthetician will be excited to bring on new treatment technologies without truly knowing if enough clients will make the investment worthwhile. That can prove to be a costly mistake.
- Is the service time-efficient? Will one choice make more money in the same time or less than another? Can it be upgraded without necessarily having to extend the length of the appointment?
- Do these services present a strong product retail opportunity? Those extra dollars from a customer’s visit can add up to a huge annual income boost.
- Is the service well established among customers or is it more faddish and likely to fall out of fashion over time?
- Will the services challenge you physically, possibly limiting your ability to perform them in the coming years?
- What is the cost per treatment of the services you’re considering? Does that number cut deeply into the price you will charge?
- Are the services time-flexible and easy to adjust in the event a customer is running late, as they so often do?
The point here is that professionals are more likely to prosper if service menu decisions are guided more by business wisdom than personal preferences only. Let’s face it, no one wants to operate a skin care spa without the financial rewards necessary to continue it. Unless your spa is a hobby and net income is not important to you, sooner or later that detail will need to be addressed. The best time for that is in the beginning before your menu heads to print.
So, if the goal is to earn money while simultaneously feeling fulfilled in your service performance, consider this list of best choices (non-medical) from among those within the scope of practice for most aestheticians.
ANTIAGING FACIAL TREATMENTS
These treatments have a high proven customer demand, are easily upgradable, and are not physically demanding. They also provide great retail and referral opportunities. The antiaging client is emotionally motivated to minimize signs of skin wear and tear, positively affecting self-esteem. He or she may remain loyal to your services for many years (my longest antiaging client has been with me for 35 years and many are now at the 30-year mark). This customer values personal time out for greatly needed relaxation as much as the visual benefits – if not even more. Some aestheticians are tempted to include a vast list of treatment options on the service list in an effort to cover all potential client concerns. However, this often proves to be overwhelming to the reader, particularly those who are not all that familiar with aesthetic therapies. Select between three to five choices and let it rest there. You can always expand your selection if customer demand is there. Resist the urge to go big at the outset.
Another emotionally-driven skin care service, acne treatments reach into the vast teenage market and is a solid offering for any skin care professional, especially those located in areas where many families reside. Personally, when I began a new aesthetics practice after a period of retirement seven years ago, I had no intention of building a large acne clientele. It just was not my preference. But, after a pediatrician brought her acne-afflicted son to me as an alternative to drug-based therapies, the success we achieved in clearing his condition led to a blizzard of referrals among local parents with children experiencing similar skin problems. The pediatrician was so pleased that she displays brochures from my practice in her clinic reception area. She regularly directs patients my way who want to avoid a medication approach to acne control. While the retail and upgrade opportunities are not as broad as with antiaging services, many clients visit me weekly, filling an impressive percentage of my service hours. Unlike the antiaging client, the acne customer has only one goal in mind: to never need acne treatments at some point. Every fall, I lose anywhere from six to 10 regular clients to universities across the country (though many do schedule with me when home on breaks). But, many mothers, after weeks of watching me work with their children in my luxurious treatment room, begin antiaging treatments once their sons or daughters have gone off to school. And, remember, scores of kids are reaching puberty every year, so a fresh supply of acne business begins to arrive on cue.
What I like most about these services is the client reliability and profit they offer. While fairly labor-intensive and potentially challenging on the body, over time, the wax client is more plentiful than facial customers, allowing a quick start option for the newer aesthetician. This client is also a great target for introducing to facial treatments. After all, there is plenty of time to describe other services while removing hair, so market away! For most aestheticians, the waxing customer rarely produces much in the way of retail product sales, but the opportunity is still there for promotionally-savvy professionals.
Where do microblading and eyelash extensions fit in? Aren’t those services in hot demand today? Yes, today. But, in my almost 40-year skin care career, I have witnessed a long list of once-popular beauty treatments recede from favor or disappear altogether. Personally, I do not want to be invested in building business from services that may decline as a fashion statement. Time is another factor to be aware of. In my opinion, the greatest danger to skin care professionals is the increasing shortage of time people seem to have (hello internet shopping and home delivery services). Slowing the aging process, eliminating acne, and body hair have proven resilient over the decades, so these are the services that are sure to be around in the future.
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.