These four essential steps to retaining and expanding a successful skin care business have not changed, nor will they ever, but what has changed is how we do it! The process of growing your business must involve the whole team and must create great team spirit and motivation to succeed.
And, like a carnival juggler, you have to increase your coordination. It is not enough to do one or two of these things, or to do them in a random manner. You have to do all four, all the time. It takes planning; it requires rhythm and resiliency, so that you can respond effectively when you are presented with an unanticipated opportunity, or a crisis. But remember that mistakes and even seeming-disasters are opportunities in disguise; just keep looking forward, not back. Keep all four oranges (or chain-saws) aloft and moving. If you drop one, just smile for the crowd, pick it up, and carry on.
And a word about high tech and social media – professional skin care is all about the touch, the personal connection, the kinesthetic, intimate and deeply human. But undeniably, our personal screens, tweets, Instagrams, and so on have changed the game forever. Now, a client (or even a first-time walk-in) can broadcast a photo and a remark about her experience in your skin care center, salon or spa to literally thousands of people worldwide in the twinkling of an eye.
Step 1: Retain Current Clients
It is estimated to be twice as costly to acquire a new client as to retain an existing client, so once you have them, you must create the wow factor in an ongoing effort to keep them. However, do not mistake the wow factor for novelty. The wow factor simply means something that cuts through the clutter and noise to really reach and influence the client in an impactful way; the more personal, unique and original, the better. For instance, as a way to express your loyalty to every customer, consider handwriting a card, written on actual paper, stamped and sent to her/his home address.
Be an Expert at What You Do
Reduce quantity in order to enrich quality and value. Ask yourself, “Is every treatment we offer exceptional and results-driven?” If the answer is no, then it is time to retire that treatment from your menu. Remember, it is a new year so out with the old – especially things that do not produce clear returns.
Focusing on a smaller number of treatments that can be customized to suit your clients, and that you are able to deliver with maximum results will position you as an expert. Think of it as a weight-loss, New Year’s resolution for your business. Cut out empty calories, meaning services that do not nourish your business.
Beware the Chocolate Body Wrap
On the subject of New Year’s resolutions (which are made to be broken), I am not suggesting there is anything wrong with a bit of chocolate. But this type of pampering, luxury treatment is just that – a luxury. And these treatments cannot substitute your solid personalized service and prescriptive retailing. But the fact is that while it may be a luxury treatment, it is almost a necessity for your spa menu as it can bring unintended clients in your treatment room. Offer luxury treatments as seasonal promotions to get new business and create long-term clients. For instance, a guy might purchase a chocolate body wrap for his girl on Valentine’s Day because he is frankly clueless. This is not be a bad thing; treat her right and she may become a serious, year round client.
Find Reasons to Invite Clients to Your Space
Events can differentiate your past business from your future success. Events can bring in new clients, including random, wandering souls strolling the area – but most importantly, they can keep your existing clients excited about their relationship with you. Create events to keep clients informed in a fun, interactive manner. Never let a new product touch your shelves without hosting a launch event. This is a stimulating way to introduce your clients to what is new, provide education about the benefits, and keep your clients enticed… which of course helps you sell retail products.
Moreover, reward your clients for more than just a purchase. Points or punches on a member’s card could also be given for attending events, checking in at your location on social media outlets, or providing a positive review on Yelp. All of these things will help grow your business, as well as retain your client.
Step 2: Gain New Clients
How do you attract clients? Have your current clients spread the word – especially through instantaneous social media outlets. It is still word of mouth except that now it travels faster than the speed of sound (or gossip). Personal recommendations have never meant more.
Becoming an active member in your community is another key component to growing any business. Joining local organizations, volunteering to speak at women’s groups, volunteer events, or local company health fairs are all essential, easy, fun and great ways to meet people who can potentially become your future clients. Furthermore, other businesses and organizations participating could become strategic referral partners for your business as well.
Create a special locals only card for other area businesses to share with their clients. Instead of offering a discount on product, the card can provide locals with an exclusive on a free consultation, skin examination, an add-on service treatment such as a foot or hand rejuvenation, samples, and/or insider information on new product launches and introductions.
Again, events are a great way to bring people across your threshold for the first time. Offer each attendee a personalized skin analysis, allow them to experience the products on their own skin by setting up interactive try me stations, as well as services outside the treatment room. For example, these services could be short, rapid-result targeted skin treatments, eyebrow waxing, or hand treatments. You can also host a neighborhood business appreciation day where you can offer rapid or targeted services; encouraging your neighbors to invite a friend. As an additional marketing agenda, consider offering a promotion on services purchased and booked during the event and/or a special gift with purchase or promotional item with purchases made during the event.
Offer skin health parties to your top clients and 10 of their friends. This type of event will reinforce the bond between you and your current clients while also seamlessly expanding your reach to new customers. Who does not love a girl’s night out? During the party, offer a raffle or door prize that will allow you to collect the attendees’ information – e-mail address, Facebook account information, and Twitter handle – for future communication. This same idea can be utilized for clients who have teenagers. For these clients, offer to host a skin party for their teenage child and 10 (or more) of their friends. An interactive skin lesson allowing the teenagers to try products on their skin while learning how to utilize the products correctly will not only be fun, but informative.
Building a following on social media is essential. There is no turning back; you need a website, you need a Facebook page, and you need a Twitter account. Other aspects of social media such as search engine optimization (SEO) and what drives a business up in the Google rankings, and so on are open to a lot of speculation. But, since your clients share information every minute of every day, you need at least a basic identity across all common social media platforms.
For instance, inviting your clients to check in on their Facebook page or tweet a shout out when they arrive at your skin center will show up in their friends’ feed and results in free advertising for you. Promote this form of marketing by offering special product sample to clients who interact with your business through social media. Ultimately, have fun with your social media pages! Post pictures of your team, your treatment room, and your events; do not forget to share skin tips to ensure that you are always positioning yourself as a professional authority, not simply a shop.
Step 3: Increase Retail Sales
Keep this in mind: In order for your business to be successful these days, at least 50 percent of your revenue should come from retail sales. This means that the skin care professional can no longer be tucked away with the aromatherapy candles in that quiet spot down the hall. Everyone should be out on the floor and everyone must know how to interact with customers in a way that leads to prescriptive selling and retail transactions. Shy people must be coached to look up from their work, come out from behind the counter, acknowledge, greet, ask, listen, engage… and sell.
The word sell should no longer be viewed as a four-letter word. Many skin care professionals still feel uncomfortable about being what they consider pushy to their clients and often shy away from recommending homecare products. However, recommending rather than selling retail products that will help solve or control skin conditions or concerns is a more manageable thought. What a difference a word can make. This is one area in which our business has changed and must continue to change. Without the S word, no one gets paid. It is really that simple.
Set Incentives to Reward Your Team
Creating incentives above and beyond commission is a great way to spark a little healthy team competition and keep your crew motivated. If your team consists only of you, then set a goal and give yourself a reward when you reach it.
Team incentives do not need to be extravagant. A gift card, a product of choice, a day off from cleaning duties, or whatever you feel will be the best motivator are all good options. If you have strong retailers and several weaker ones, you may want to work on setting a team goal, in addition to individual benchmarks, to encourage collective teamwork and help improve the results of your slower retailers.
Step 4: Increase Service Sales
It is a brutal fact that our clients are not booking as frequently as they did five years ago. This has caused many skin care professionals to drop the price of their services. While this may be the right step in some cases, a more strategic move is to carefully evaluate your menu and eliminate all of the marginal items. Less is not literally more, but in lean economic times, less is actually better. Conserve energy; conserve resources; make it count more. Likewise, discounting product is never the way to go; it erodes your brand. If you find yourself with a lot of inventory that is not moving, ask yourself why. Chances are, your team has not been educated about how to merchandise and effectively present the benefits of the product to clients. It is importany to note that great manufacturers provide education in these areas on an ongoing basis.
Get Smart(er) – Education is key to keeping your mind, services and business fresh and ahead of the game. If you have been offering the same facial massage to your clients for the past 10 years, or you have a galvanic machine gathering dust in the corner of your treatment room, it is definitely time for you to get back to class and freshen up your skills. The ability to surprise and delight clients with new techniques or to give treatments an extra boost with electrical modalities ensures that they will keep on booking and with more frequency, pun intended.
Get Seasonal – Offering seasonal specific treatments and rotating your treatment menu are great ways to keep your clients engaged and booking more services. This could be as simple as a Chapped Hand Treatment during the winter months or a Go and Glow Exfoliation Treatment during the holiday party season. Plan ahead and map out your seasonal rotating treatments for the year, so that you and your team are trained and ready to keep your pop-up treatments in step with the calendar.
Bundle Up for Value – Offering services in packages or bundles is a surefire way to increase your service, because this technique keeps clients coming in on a regular basis. But what happens when the package is complete? Build upkeep or follow-up components into the treatment packages. Offer courses of three to six treatments with a recommended monthly upkeep treatment
Think Bigger – If you are a full-service spa, then I can guarantee that you have hair or waxing clients who have never had a skin care treatment. Cross-promotion or sampler events are a great way for your existing clients to experience other services offered in the spa. Target single-service only clients and invite them to get a preview of other services that are offered. Create the event around stations where existing clients can participate and sample each of the services offered, such as a skin analysis, targeted skin care treatment, blow dry, or eyebrow shaping. Additionally, during the evening of the event, encourage clients to book a service for the first time by offering enticing incentives in the form of an add-on or other special promotional service or item.
Heather Hickman is a fully qualified skin, spa and body care specialist from London. She is CIDESCO and IHBC qualified. Hickman has 20 years of experience in the skin care and spa industry as a spa manager and senior educator. She has taught extensively throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Europe and Asia, specializing in advanced skin care modalities and techniques. In her current position as Director of U.S. Education for The International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica at the Corporate Headquarters in Los Angeles, Hickman is responsible for overseeing United States brand operations, curriculum development, marketing activities and education teams.