Add-ons and upgrades to increase your bottom line

Written by Lydia Sarfati

It is the little things in life that make us happy – and a lot of little things can mean a lot of extra money for your spa! Think about it, airlines and credit card companies have been using add-ons and upgrades to bring in extra bucks for years. Consumers think they have just saved themselves a ton of money on great airline tickets, so they decide to check their bag for $25, purchase an in-flight meal for $15, and have a cocktail for $10. All of a sudden all those savings are adding right back up. But the airline does not let their spending go unnoticed; loyal and frequent fliers are treated to perks all the time. There are few things that make me happier than hearing a customer service representative say to me, “Ms. Sarfati, you have been upgraded!” Suddenly, all the money I have spent in the past has been worth it and I am more than happy to be a loyal customer. The same can ring true in your spa. There are many ways that upgrades and add-ons can turn your client’s experience from ordinary to extraordinary.

Every member of your staff should be trying to up-sell your clients. When your clients call to make a facial appointment, employees should follow with, “Thank you, Ms. Smith, I will book that for you right away. Would you also like to schedule a manicure for that date? I can schedule it to immediately follow your first appointment.” This is how you turn regular clients into VIP clients. This is especially important for new clients who may not necessarily be well versed in all of the spa’s offerings. I recommend creating an add-on menu for your business, featuring services under $40. It is also important that add-on services will not add a lot of time to your client’s appointment. More often, clients will ask how long it will take before they ask how much it costs. Therefore, make sure the menu options are less than 30 minutes.
By having a menu set in place, you are giving your staff the tools to successfully up-sell their clients. It is also important that they understand their client and what add-ons in which they could potentially be interested. They can do this by looking at the treatments they have already booked and then make recommendations based on their current needs.
If you have a client who is coming in for regular facials, you know that they are already interested in anti-aging benefits. This is the perfect client to offer an anti-aging eye treatment. For a small cost to them, they will now be addressing the whole face and will notice a difference. They will be hooked on this extra treatment!Main-3
Anti-Aging Eye Treatment:

  1. Cut open eye contour cream and remove contents. Apply in circular motion towards the nose area. Follow with effleurage movements in a figure eight, using alternating hands. Then apply pressure to the orbicularis oculi muscle. Employ petrissage, pinching movement along brow bone. Stroke several times, alternating fingers on corrugator muscle. Follow with a tapotement movement for three minutes. Conclude with pressure-point movements and light effleurage. Massage should last five to seven minutes.
  2. Cut open mask powder and empty contents into the enclosed, medical grade rubber bowl. Add mask gel and mix until smooth. Apply to the eye contour area, using enclosed spatula. Allow the client to rest for 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Remove the lift-off mask by rolling it back in a downward motion. Gently remove any remaining residue with wet cotton.
  4. Cut open lift serum and gently apply around the eye contour area. Do not rub. Allow to dry undisturbed.

For add-ons at the shampoo bowl, you have a few options. You can offer a 15-minute deep conditioning hair mask to pamper stressed hair, or turn this hair client into a skin care client with an express facial treatment such as a quick sheet mask. It can be done right at the shampoo bowl. Just apply the pre-saturated sheet mask and remove for instantly hydrated and lifted looking skin. Your hair clients will be interested in what other skin care treatments you offer and will be thrilled over your full service offerings. Main-4
Express Lift Mask:

  1. Sanitize hands with antibacterial hand wipes.
  2. Squeeze a small amount of oil-free makeup remover onto damp cotton and cleanse skin. Rinse well with water and blot with tissue.
  3. Apply sheet mask to clean skin. Adjust over eyes, nose, and mouth for a perfect fit. Leave on five to 20 minutes. Remove mask and discard. 
  4. Blot skin with tissue.
  5. Apply appropriate day protection cream.

Your manicure and pedicure stations offer a lot of room for upgrades. You can even offer some of the facial treatments I have mentioned above! I suggest running seasonal add-on promotions. For example, this time of year clients are probably noticing a lot of dehydration on the skin and could use a little tender loving care. Offer hydrating elbow treatments or a shea butter-based mask for the top of the hands for anti-aging and hydrating benefits.

Anti-Aging Hand Treatment:

  1. Sanitize hands with antibacterial hand wipes.
  2. Apply a thin layer of mask with a brush or sponge.
  3. Wrap the client’s hands in a plastic wrap.
  4. Insert hands in electric mittens. Leave hands in the electric mittens for eight minutes. During this time, administer a shoulder, neck, and scalp massage.
  5. Remove one hand at a time and remove mask with a hot towel.
  6. Dry hands with a towel and proceed with a relaxing massage with hand cream. Massage and relax each hand for five minutes.
  7. Proceed with the manicure.Main-5

It is also important that your staff is well-versed on what the add-on options are. You cannot just throw a few enhancement menus at reception and cross your fingers. Hold a staff meeting and make sure that your entire team is on board. Allow them to experience the treatments so that they can speak firsthand as to why they are so wonderful.
The next step to your business’ success is upgrades. Client retention is a key factor in the success of your spa and showing your appreciation to your loyal customers will keep them coming back time and time again. Each client who receives a service from you should be treated with the utmost care and kindness, but you should also give your top clients a special treat every now and then to show how valued they are. Ultimately, you will spend more money on gaining a new customer than retaining your current customers. Little upgrades are a small price to pay to keep your clients loyal and happy. Going the extra mile will differentiate your spa and give you an edge over your competitors.
One way to structure incentives for your clients is by stating that a specific upgrade will be offered after spending a certain amount of money. They do not necessarily need to know what that mark is – simply keep notes on their spending so that the next time they come in your receptionist can say, “Ms. Smith, we appreciate your being a loyal client. Today, I am going to upgrade your service with a complimentary anti-aging hand treatment.” Main-6
Make your clients want to buy more, without pressuring them. Encourage clients to purchase services in series by offering them rewards. For example, book five deep pore cleansing treatments and receive the sixth free! The more they buy, the more they get. The more appointments you have in your book, the more opportunities you have to up-sell them.
Another way to structure upgrade incentives is to implement a rewards program. My spa has a VIP Rewards Program that has two tiers, an annual membership which has a fee of $50 and an elite annual membership which has a fee of $99. With each membership, clients receive free upgrades and discounts on services. I like this concept! This is actual money upfront for your business and your clients will love it! This is a fantastic way to upgrade your clients, maintain client retention, and also attract new loyal customers.
Upgrades can also be a great tool to satisfy unhappy clients. Perhaps you are running a little bit behind; do not leave your client stewing in your waiting room. Apologize and offer them a complimentary treatment until you are able to see them. Think of when you go to a restaurant and your reservation is not ready; once the hostess brings you a glass of champagne while you wait, suddenly you do not feel as anxious. A little can go a long way. Offer quick sheet masks or a massage with hand cream. They might even want to add the service to their next appointment!
Upgrades and add-ons do not always have to be treatment related. You can use these concepts to help your retail business, as well. For example, perhaps you have a retail item that is not selling as quickly as you would like, but you know it is a great product. Offer it to VIP clients as a complimentary gift with their retail purchase, or you can offer it as an add-on by offering it at a special price with a retail purchase. You are getting the product into the hands of your client while making them feel special. It is a win-win.
You can also incorporate a point system for retail purchases. Each time your client purchases a retail product, keep a tally – then when they reach a certain mark, offer them a retail item of your choosing for free. Your receptionist can encourage them to purchase by informing them at each appointment how far away they are from receiving their gift. Main-7
No matter the size of your business, you should turn every inch of it into a profit center. From the moment your client arrives, they should be treated with five star customer services and offered five star services.
Unfortunately, many people in the industry refrain from up-selling clients. Why? Some are timid and some are afraid to be too pushy. But in the end, this is business and it is important for us to be successful so that we can continue to do what we love. It is imperative for owners or managers to retrain stylists and aestheticians in the way in which they view sales. Up-selling does not have to be pushy. Think of going to a fancy restaurant and at the end of dinner, the maître d’ displays desserts. Why do you think he does this? To up-sell the ticket while satisfying his customer’s wants. Spa professionals need to realize that by offering up-sells, you are catering to your client’s needs and enhancing their experience.
Offering upgrades and rewards to clients can make an experience memorable and have them coming back to the spa. Remember that without your clients you would not be successful, so always provide the best customer service and incentives when appropriate.


Lydia Sarfati, president and founder of Repêchage, is an internationally recognized skin care expert quoted in Vogue, In Style, Glamour, and New York Times as well as featured on CNN, CBS, and FOX. Sarfati is the creator of the world-renowned Four Layer Facial® and has over 30 years of experience as an aesthetician, spa owner, manufacturer, and consultant. She authored Success at Your Fingertips: How to Succeed in the Skin Care Business. She has recently been appointed honorary chair of EstheticsAmerica, CIDESCO USA and is Skin Care & Spa Council Director of Intercoiffure

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