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Friday, 04 March 2011 16:02

Successful Retailing: The Key Component of Repeat Clients

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If you want clients to follow you to the end of the earth and back, you better be the biggest expert on the block. Yes, great hands (touch therapy) do matter, as does your relationship and other such things, but the end all/be all deciding factor in them coming back for more will be the respect and awe you inspire with your results driven, customized system of skin care for each client. And by far the largest component of that is the clients at home skin care program. Don’t you agree?

Let us do the math. Monthly in-spa facials allow you to treat your regular client 12 times a year, with this once a month time frame typically being the best possible case scenario. On the other hand, they are caring for themselves 365 days x 2 (including the night skin care routine) equaling a whopping 730 times each year for your client to possibly do the right thing and further their long term plan through their home skin care.
When you add it up, your ability to counsel and advise clients on their home care is the real key to their results. For clients, using the right combination of products with discipline for that many times per year is absolutely essential. Now, while you are sharing the importance of their home care with them, be sure to also reiterate the many potent services you have in-spa to complement their everyday product use. We do not want to unintentionally underplay the importance of their spa visits, now do we!

In order to influence and monitor your clients at home skin care system, two things should be happening. You first have to get them to use your products. Then, they should be coming to see you at the spa regularly, at a bare minimum quarterly, so you can review their home skin care system and institute changes or refills as necessary. Obviously you are not refilling anything unless you sold it the first time, so let us start there.
Some of us have a phobia of sales. Let me be the first to tell you it is all in your head. The sale of products becomes nothing more than filling a client need. After all, they came through your door, looking for something from you (products and services), and now it is your job to figure out what they want or need and provide it. Why else would we be in a service business if not to provide goods and services?
The biggest shift for me came from tweaking my intention behind the sale of products. For a portion of my career, I sold products partially by accident, trying but only succeeding in fits and starts. I did of course make a conscious effort to recommend, but I seemed to be very inconsistent in the results. And all the while, I did not always feel good about the successes even when they came.
The shift came in convincing Jamie (me) that number one, I was an expert; and number two, that I was on the same team as the client. No more feeling like selling consisted of me against the client. We simply will not ever win that game. Even if we sell something, we will not feel good about it. The goal: a win/win/win situation for you, the spa, and the client.
So in speaking to clients, I began literally telling them I wanted to be on their team, and that their skin care success, whatever the ultimate goal, would come from a consorted effort of matching the proper home care products (used religiously) with our regular in-spa treatments, for a synergistic, customized program or system. This changed my intention to a total client based focus, and my retail sales exploded seemingly effortlessly.
I also embraced the fact that I was an expert. I was at a corporate sales training, generic in nature, and the classily dressed and appointed trainer spent 10 minutes telling us of her trials in buying skin care products. It hit home for me at that moment how little the average woman knows about taking care of their skin.
Since my own mental shift – over the last six months, I have been able to average a 35 to 45 percent ratio of products (retail) to services. If you do not understand this percentage, use the following equation:

Weekly Product Sales (WPS) ÷ Weekly Service Sales (WSS) = Percentage Ratio of Retail Product to Services (RPS)

Here is an example: $1,000 (WPS) ÷ $2,500 (WSS) = .40 (or 40% of RPS))

A 35 to 45 percent retail to services ratio is quite high as the average for our industry is more likely in the 10 to 20 percent range. I should know, I used to hover in that range until I changed my thinking!
So the first key is to get your head on straight. If you feel guilty for a moment about selling products, consider these few questions. Can you possibly think a client is better served buying skin care products through mail order, from a drug store, or from a makeup artist in a department store? Or perhaps they should purchase their face products at a wine drinking, home skin care party?
Even if you just entered the skin care field from aesthetics school, you are way more qualified than any of these other sources to advise your client on products for skin care success. The bottom line - your clients will buy products, and in massive yearly dollar amounts. The question is, are they buying them from you?

The first thing we do with clients is ask questions. This can be thought of as the probing stage. After all, if selling is nothing more than providing solutions to clients, we first must know what their challenges are, correct?
How often do you get facials? Would you be willing to increase that number if you felt comfortable with a spa and a provider? What do you like about your skin? What would you change? Are you conscious of aging gracefully and what are you doing about it? These are just some of the many versions available, and we must learn to not only ask a majority of open ended questions, but to actively listen to the answers!
In my experience there are usually two general levels of skin concern. The first is “How do I get my face (skin) to behave in a healthy manner that makes me proud to show it to the world every day?” This is more prevalent in the younger set, but definitely possible in the 35+ arena, and revolves around how to keep pimples, clogging, and other such congestion somewhat at bay; usually requiring the proper cleansing and exfoliating product regimen to be prescribed by us.
If you have an older client with congestion challenges, mention that you would like to solve this first, and then move on to the common level two concern: “How do I age well and with grace?” This concern is probably the opposite of level one in that it should be more important to the 35+ crowd, but again, I have pockets of younger clients already paying attention to aging in the best possible way, and this is good.
While it is important to recognize trends, be careful not to be dictated by them. In other words, be adept at accepting each client as an individual, trying not to group them based on any preconceived notions you may have. Whenever we force our limited mind opinions on another’s situation, we have delivered to them a disservice, which is the antithesis of our goal of complete, unbiased service to our clients.
As an example, most of us would assume a couple of things about a 25-year-old female, first- time facial client. Number one, we might think that she is not consumed with aging gracefully, and two, even if she was interested, our 20 something is either not willing or capable of investing the proper dollars in products and services to fuel her concern.
All I can say is I have been shocked and delighted more than once, when I have been able to put my pre-conceptions away long enough to hear them out, in finding that some are both concerned and will invest appropriately. Generally speaking, trends are trends because the majority fuels them. But the point here is to not miss the sparkle of the real gems in a minority group who can and will be ideal clients for life if you hear and fill the needs projected by them.
And while we are talking about preconceptions, what kind of monetary lack are you consciously or unconsciously projecting onto your clients. This, especially when it is unconscious, meaning we do not even realize what we are doing, may be the biggest deterrent to our ability to recommend successfully. Who are we to decide what and what not a client can afford?
Let us look at what may perhaps be a harsh fact. Most of our regular facial clients probably have a higher per capita family income than we do. So if that is the case, would not it be easy for us, in our income range, to look at a $150 jar of face or eye cream and shut it out as too expensive. I have done it in the past, and I know you have, too. But this is as wrong as assuming all 25-year-olds are not concerned about aging. We simply do not have the power to decide anything for the client, nor should we lead them in a direction of lack.
If you think you are not guilty of this, monitor your thoughts. If this seems too difficult, our words often tell the story. For instance, you may think you have none of this ‘lack’ mentality, because you often recommend the $150 cream. But how many do you sell?
Maybe we sound like this: “For exfoliating the skin and turning cells over for brightness and freshness, as well as to stimulate collagen which will give you tone and firmness, I’m going to recommend the retinol cream.” Pretty good so far, yes?
And then the lack thought pops in and we just cannot help adding: “It is kind of expensive, and not many people buy it.” Ugghh, that ‘lack’ statement slipped right out of our mouth, now didn’t it? Is it any wonder we do not sell much of that cream?
And by the way, a small tip, yet a very powerful one, if quoting a price on anything, first call it an investment, not price. Secondly, say “it’s 150.” Do not say dollars after the 150, just 150. The word ‘dollars’ adds a negative slant, and we want to always give the client the best chance of saying yes!

So as we learn, 1) to change our intent from ‘us against them’ and in turn get back on the clients team, 2) to embrace ourselves as the expert, 3) to ask questions of clients, uncovering needs to fill, 4) to listen unconditionally without making assumptions, especially as to what others can afford to spend, 5) to keep the ‘lack’ out of our thoughts and especially our verbiage and, 6) to quote the product investment (not price) without the word ‘dollars’ after the figure, our recommending results will turn into more successful product sales and a higher retail to service ratio. Among other things, this will make you a rock star with ownership/management.
With this ratio phenomenon comes at home skin care results, assuming you are good at picking products for your clients. When clients get results, they tend to return for more facial services to complement their home skin care program, and continue to buy products as they run out. Some even tell their friends about you, so you garner not only repeat clients, but referrals as well.
So, is it worth it to change up a few things, think a few different thoughts, and speak in a way that gives the client the best opportunity to make positive retail choices? No doubt!

Jamie Scalise is a full-time aesthetician for the Spa at DelMonte, an upscale Renaissance property in Rochester, NY. There he shares his 10 plus years of experience with clients combining anti-aging knowledge with a healing touch. In addition to his current book, "The Power of Three Method."

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1 comment

  • Comment Link David Green Thursday, 20 February 2014 18:58 posted by David Green

    Great article Jamie and I fully agree. A consultative and educational approach to selling successfully skin care products is the best.

    This is why we tell all our skin care business clients to focus on content marketing methods. Content marketing such as quality blogging, articles published, press releases, videos, and Infographics are easily shared, published, and marketed via search. This results in building a trusted brand with consumers. Therefore, product sales opportunities tend to be much greater.

    Thanks again for the article.

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