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Most spa owners or managers wish for more time in their day; from checking-in clients and inventory checks to client follow-ups and marketing efforts, there is more than enough work to keep them busy from morning until night. Fortunately, technology for the aesthetics industry continues to evolve and, today, there are a host of smart technologies designed specifically for the spa. Spa owners should take advantage of the numerous ways technology can help them automate many of the mundane, yet necessary, tasks that consume their time and add much-needed hours back into their day.
1. BOOKING APPOINTMENTSHours Earned Back: 1-2 Daily
One of the easiest things professionals can do for their spa is automate appointment scheduling, which will allow their staff to better schedule and track bookings and centralize client information. It also makes it easy to set up online booking for the spa, which creates a new channel for client growth by adding the convenience of scheduling appointments at all hours of the day. According to Yodle, nearly 40 percent of appointment bookings happen after hours, while countless other potential clients who are booking appointments during the day would prefer to do so online in order to avoid having to make a call. Meeting these consumers half way is a foolproof method of adding revenue and converting searches to appointments.
Shen Tao Studio in New York City saw a 109 percent increase in monthly bookings when they brought their appointment scheduling system online. This increase, in turn, contributed to a 250 percent rise in monthly revenue for the body studio.
Most professionals do not think online booking is truly necessary. They should, however, consider the story of LookBooker founders, Giorgia Rossi and Renee Robbie, who found the ability to schedule appointments online a necessity in the most unusual of situations: working as management consultants underground in the mines of Australia. Due to the nature of their work and traveling from city to city, the two women found it impossible to look up, book, and pay for spa services during the day, yet marveled at the fact that they could book an international flight or order lunch using their phone. To solve the problem, Rossi and Robbie created LookBooker, an app-based booking aggregator for the hair and beauty industries that allows customers to search, book, and even pay for services via mobile app. After landing in New York City, the LookBooker team saw the need for their app skyrocket; now with more than 500 partners, they have reinforced the need for a tool to help customers research and book the services they want and need online.
Automated booking can also boost the spa's marketing efforts by honing in on repeat clients and reaching out to them with reminders and promotions. Gabrielle Applebaum, owner of Fabriq Salon in Philadelphia, finds particular value in reminder software: "Reminders to re-book are very effective. Before, our front desk associates were responsible for calling clients who hadn't been to the salon in a while and reminding them to schedule appointments. When a client doesn't book another appointment, it is a tremendous loss to our business, so having automatic text and e-mail reminders is incredibly helpful, much less work for us, and still has a personal touch."
There are also a number of internal benefits to bringing appointments online. For employees, having easy access to their schedules is extremely convenient. In the service industry, appointments can stack up quickly and go vacant just as easily. Gone are the days where employees need to bother their manager first thing in the morning or late at night to know their schedule for the next day or week. By tapping into automation, employees are given a real-time view of their schedule throughout the day or the night before their shift. That same calendar view can help owners and managers plan more efficiently for staffing, inventory, and more.
2. MANAGING INVENTORYHours Earned Back: 3-4 Weekly
Tracking inventory for both services and sales can be tedious and time consuming; many managers find themselves so behind on this task that they often have to work after hours to catch up and get back on track. Furthermore, not staying on top of inventory levels can result in having either too much or too little product, which can lead to unhappy clients, wasted money, and more. Inventory is a great area for spas to tap into the same technology that is used by bigger companies.
Automation software allows owners and managers to look into their numbers in an organized way – it can even be done daily because the information is at their fingertips with the touch of a button. Spa owners can not only make quick decisions on everyday inventory items, but also better plan for new and seasonal products and supplies, like the latest warm vanilla body scrub.
Beyond the products that skin care professionals will be using in their services or retailing, owners can also use the automation software to cut unnecessary product renewals by taking a look at what is and is not selling. Studying historical data will also prepare the spa for high seasons, like the holidays, so owners know what needs to be ordered ahead of time.
Professionals should be sure to clearly label all of the products to get the most out of this technological fix. When the holidays hit, and temporary staff is brought in, many mistakes can be made because the simple act of consistent and clear labeling did not take place. Clear labels also make it easier to manage inventory, point of sale, bookings, and customer information data all in one place and get the data to work together to make personalized recommendations to clients who have purchased a specific product or service.
3. CLIENT COMMUNICATIONSHours Earned Back: 2-3 Daily
In the midst of everything that is happening on any given day, the last thing owners or managers need to be doing when closing the spa is scheduling e-mails to go out to clients – whether these messages are following up on an appointment, promoting a special, or sharing information about new services or products. E-mail marketing works, but only if it provides actual value to the client: the spa must go beyond one-size-fits-all e-mail promotions or flash discounts that encourage clients to "bounce around" to different spas based on the best deal they can find. A recent MarketingSherpa report shared that only 31 percent of clients feel "the marketing [they] receive is meant for someone like [them]." Clients are craving personalized e-mails that take their specific needs into account.
Fortunately, technology can deliver tremendous value to spas by creating personalization in an automated fashion. What many spa managers and owners fail to realize is that they are sitting on a treasure trove of client data, which can be used to target marketing e-mails based on demographic and service data, with the right technology in place. Consider this scenario: the spa is offering a promotion on microdermabrasion, but only a portion of clients have either come to the spa for the service or shown an interest in a service like it. E-mailing the entire client list actually drives away interest by overloading clients with information that is not relevant to their interests. No one likes e-mail overload, especially when it has nothing to do with their interests. With today's technology, owners would not have to individually identify each person interested in the treatment and e-mail each of them the offer. Software for spas to automate e-mail marketing do the client outreach in a personalized, timely, and relevant fashion.
Beyond simply helping spas target promotions to individual client preference, automated e-mail marketing tools can also take into consideration what clients do not want, how often they book appointments, and more. For instance, after a loyal client checks out after an anti-aging facial, set up the e-mail marketing to contact the client an hour later, thanking them and asking for feedback on their appointment (perhaps even a review!), as well as offering an incentive to come back, like a discount on anti-aging products or an added feature, like a skin brightening peel, on their next visit. This type of engagement is relevant within the moment and will, in turn, encourage clients to return to the spa.
Leiah Schiebel, co-founder of The Sparkle Bar, in Scottsdale, relies on e-mail marketing software to be strategic about reaching out after an appointment. "We're able to stay on top of follow-up and let customers know about specials without feeling like we're bothering them with too many e-mails. The e-mails go out automatically – no more than once a month – and allow us to be more productive running other areas of our business."
For those mid-day vacancies and openings, owners and managers can use the automated e-mail marketing to offer a discount to clients who book during those times. Promoting open slots with a dedicated e-mail increases the potential of filling them.
4. WORD-OF-MOUTH AND LOYAL CLIENTSHours Earned Back: 1-2 Daily
Today's society is extremely reviews-driven; only five percent of consumers say they have never looked up a local business' online review.1 Spa owners know better than anyone about the impact that each and every review can have on a local business. Positive buzz – whether shared in person or online – is an essential part of a spa's ongoing success, driving both new and repeat customers through good reviews and recommendations. Ensuring clients are happy is something spa owners and managers should be focused on at all times, but making sure they tell their friends about their great experience is an extra step that many clients do not have time to take.
The most obvious way to put these good words to use is for spa owners and managers to share reviews on the spa's website. Showcasing loyal clients' reviews on the homepage of the spa's website makes them feel like their opinions matter and incentivizes them to keep spreading the word. The ability to proudly display positive reviews on a spa's website can now be achieved with a simple widget to showcase to new and existing clients why others choose that spa's services.
Business management technology can easily automate the process of incentivizing and managing client referrals to help quickly turn existing clients into loyal ambassadors. A great way to incentivize the reception and promotion of positive reviews is by creating a loyalty program where clients become ambassadors while receiving extra value for everyday purchases (and counteract the temptation to go elsewhere).
This loyalty program can be automated using data that comes from bookings and point of sale. First, owners need to choose between the two different types of loyalty programs they want to incorporate: the points system program or VIP tiers program.
The points system is fairly simple – the owner or manager must first figure out which actions will encourage clients to come back and spend money and then assign points to these actions. For instance, a standard hot stone massage will earn clients 200 points while purchasing a moisturizer earns them one point per dollar spent; they can earn an extra 50 points for leaving an online review. It is important to note that the action that is most important to the spa owner and the spa should have the highest amount. Once the point system is in place, list and promote the possible rewards clients can earn, such as a free facial add-on for redeeming 800 points or earning a $15 gift card to any service if they reach 2,000 points. Be realistic and keep the rewards enticing and clients will engage with the program.
The tiered VIP program is also easy to establish and maintain with automation software and client data. First and foremost, decide on the number of tiers for the program (a good strategy is three: gold, silver, and bronze) and what a client needs to purchase in order to secure a tier. For example, five visits makes a customer a bronze member, while 15 visits makes a customer a gold member. Next, decided on what the rewards will be; ideally, they should be something that encourages the client to come back, such as discounts on products or services.
For instance, bronze members will be able to take $5 off any product, while gold members will be able to take $15 off any product. The more visits the client makes, the greater the incentive. One catch with this program is, however, that the owner or manager needs to assign and be clear about the frequency of reward redemptions to keep sales lucrative while clients continue to feel valued and that they are being rewarded for their repeat patronage.
Clients are a spa's best marketing tool beyond automation software, so encouraging ways to reward them and increase future visits, coupled with word-of-mouth recommendations, will steady foot traffic.
Easier ways to handle the day-to-day operations do exist thanks to automation technologies. Jamie Conrad, owner of Willow Creek Day Spa in Billings, Montana, states: "I want to come in, treat my guests, and give them a great experience. I don't want to deal with the day-to-day bumps in the road. Automation allows me to do a better job."
Who doesn't want to reclaim their time to spend more time on what matters most: ensuring their clients have the best possible experience at the spa? Introducing automation to take care of online booking, reviews, e-mail marketing, and inventory controls means more time spent on growing the spa and keeping clients coming back for more.
Reference1 BrightLocal. (2016). "Local Consumer Review Survey | The Impact of Online Reviews." https://www.brightlocal.com/learn/local-consumer-review-survey/
Josh McCarter co-founded Booker in 2010 and has served as the company's CEO since its inception. McCarter is focused on expanding Booker's reach through partnerships and client relationships while creating a culture of innovation and excellence in Booker's offices around the world. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science-International Relations as a Cum Laude Graduate at the University of California, Los Angeles and his Master of Business Administration at the University of Southern California. McCarter currently serves on the board of SpaFinder.
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