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Getting Carded

Elizabeth Myron May 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

Recently, my niece from Australia came to visit me, and she wanted to experience some spa services during her holiday. She enjoyed a half-day of blissful treatments and, after her luxurious encounter, I asked her if the spa had completed a client consultation or attempted to sell her any retail products. Much to my disappointment, her answer was no.

As a spa owner or esthetician, you may read this and think that because my niece is from overseas, there would be a slim chance of her revisiting the establishment, and therefore there would have been no need for the spa to obtain her client details. In fact, much to my surprise, after surveying service providers in the spa industry, I found that many are lax about getting client information because they believe that it is too time-consuming. Some said that they occasionally complete a consultation card if the service potentially could result in litigation, or in order to satisfy their insurance requirements. Yet, a client consultation can be so much more, once a full understanding of its use has been established. This article addresses how you, the skin care professional, can utilize this extremely successful, inexpensive marketing tool to maximize your profit potential.

Good business practice

When completing a consultation, you can determine your client’s needs by asking all the right questions, listening carefully and thoroughly documenting their responses. This will lead to repeat business, not to mention multiple retail sales. Remember that the client is coming to you, the expert, for answers—so consult and provide them. Think about when you are ill and need to visit a medical professional. When checking in, you complete all the necessary paperwork and update your personal information. This is reviewed by the physician before you are examined. Then an assessment is performed, and treatment or medications are recommended. This is good business practice and one that the spa industry should adopt—but you must know how to create a client consultation card.

Make sure that your consultation card is double-sided. The front should list the necessary questions related to the treatment that the client is experiencing. Include a disclaimer or a release at the bottom of the front side for the client to sign and date. The back should contain comments and notations made by the technician providing the service and should include retail product suggestions. (See Waxing Consultation Card.)

Pertinent information

Following, you will find an array of topics that will assist you in identifying the most pertinent pieces of information you must obtain in order to create and customize your own client consultation cards.

Client name, and e-mail and mailing addresses. This information is imperative in order to establish a client database. It can be used as a future marketing tool to complete direct mailings and e-mail blasts to inform clients about discounts and special promotions, or to invite them to preview nights that feature new treatments or products.

Age, sex and place of employment. Being aware of this information is an advantage when analyzing skin problems. If your client is 16 years old and works at a fast-food restaurant, these details definitely will assist you in understanding and treating their acne condition.

Telephone numbers: home, work and cell. Direct mailings are great marketing tools, but there is nothing like making a person-to-person telephone call every now and then to demonstrate your interest in and loyalty to your clients. A call inquiring about how they enjoyed their last treatment, confirming an appointment or advising about a new product is worth its weight in gold. Client calls create business growth potential and establish a high level of professionalism, as well as increase sales. They also give you an opportunity to talk with your clients to find out if you and your team are offering the level of service expected.

Birthday. This information provides a great opportunity to send a birthday card that includes a coupon or an invitation for a complimentary minimakeover or spa service. If the client comes in for a treatment in or around the time of their birthday, have a small gift waiting for them in the treatment room, or add on a complimentary paraffin dip.

Who referred them or how they heard about your spa. If they were referred, these details will enable you to send a thank-you card, along with a complimentary service coupon, to the person who recommended your facility. If they heard about you in some other manner, such as through advertising, this will reveal which marketing initiatives are working.

Have you had this treatment before? This question probably is the most important piece of information, especially from a first-time client. As you know, clients like to hop from technician to technician, as well as from spa to spa. This only seems to take place when something has gone wrong during or after their previous treatment experience. In asking this question, the technician can determine if allergic reactions, such as redness or irritation, previously occurred; if, during waxing, skin lifting or scabbing resulted; and if they saw results and were happy with their previous treatment. Just knowing that the client has had this treatment before will highlight the fact that they have a greater understanding of the procedures and what to expect, both pre- and post-treatment. Simply repeating the treatment without prior knowledge could result in similar problems occurring that were experienced in the past, and you will end up with an unhappy client who will continue to switch spas. Consulting the client and getting the right information will create customer loyalty, and a satisfied customer always will bring you business.

The purpose for and expectations of the visit. These are two really good questions to ask your client before all spa services are completed. It will enable you to match their concerns with the appropriate treatment, as well as introduce procedures that will deliver the desired results. By determining their issues and expectations, you can target future service and home-care needs.

Customized consultation cards

You more than likely are beginning to get an idea of how beneficial this tool can be. Keep in mind, however, that one consultation card my not be suitable for every treatment you offer. Create facial, waxing, body, manicure/pedicure and hair client consultation cards to ensure that the questions you ask are related to, or appropriate for, each service provided. Following are some standard questions that your waxing consultation card should contain.

Do you take or use any products that contain isotretinoin, tetracycline, retinoic acid, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), glycolic acid or hydroquinone? In some cases, clients using these products can experience slight skin removal or scabbing after having a depilatory waxing service. Along with these questions, make sure to discuss recent microdermabrasion, chemical peels, glycolic peels, sun exposure or tanning treatments.

Are you on any medications, including birth control or blood thinners? Knowing your clients’ medications and medical conditions will assist you in determining if they are suitable candidates for a particular treatment, and may prevent treatment or product reactions. For example, in recent waxing procedures, clients who use blood thinners have been known to bruise easily.

How would you rate your sensitivity to pain—moderate, medium or high? This is a great question to ask your clients, especially if it is their first time experiencing a waxing treatment.

If your spa performs body treatments, following are a few good questions to have on your body consultation card.

Are you claustrophobic? Clients who are claustrophobic may not enjoy any type of body wrap. However, leaving the arms and feet exposed does help.

Do you smoke? Smokers are great candidates for herbal wraps. Knowing this information can assist you in steering them toward a detoxifying treatment.

Do you have any known herbal allergies? When it comes to allergies, disclosing the ingredients of the products you use is extremely beneficial. For example, if you are working with a depilatory wax that contains beeswax, make sure that your clients aren’t allergic to bees.

Are you pregnant or diabetic? Pregnant and nursing mothers should refrain from any type of body treatment. Diabetics may suffer from neuropathy, where they lose feeling or experience numbness—commonly in the hands and feet. This definitely is a question that should appear on any consultation card—especially for manicure and pedicure procedures.

Record keeping

In order to be successful in any business, record keeping is imperative. Create a client-profile spreadsheet utilizing your consultation cards to determine how much revenue each brings in through treatments and retail sales. This also will help you to establish the most lucrative seasonal treatments. From these details, re-create your service menu, and consider offering a winter menu, as well as a summer menu. Make sure that you store all client records in a secure place to maintain confidentiality.

Go the extra mile

It is unprofessional and unsafe to perform any spa service without first obtaining a signed consultation card. Go the extra mile, and provide exceptional customer service. After all, your goal should be to keep your clients coming back.