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Making Loyalty Programs Work for You

By: Elaine Sauer
Posted: November 1, 2013, from the November 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

According to a recent International Spa Association (ISPA) study, spa visits within the United States have increased to pre-recession numbers. The study also revealed there was an increase in new spa openings, which reinforces how important it is that skin care professionals continue to deliver outstanding customer service to their existing clients. Often, marketing is focused on reaching new clients, but it is valuable to create programs that engage already-loyal clients—and engage them in helping to build the business.

Loyalty programs are both a blessing and a curse. When executed with client ease in mind, they become a win-win for everyone. When creating your program, make it easy and memorable for your clients and your team members. Any hiccup in the process takes away from what should be a benefit for the client.

Membership has its privileges

Elizabeth Renard, general manager of Allyu Spa in Chicago, created a membership program that benefits her client base. With $100 to join and an annual fee, the client receives 5% off each service, and 10% off retail products. For their birthdays, they receive a gift and additional perks. In addition, a special concierge is dedicated to the members within their program to ease their check-in and check-out experience. The American Express tagline says it best: “Membership has its privileges.”

Olga Lorencin-Northrup, founder of Kinara products and the Red Carpet Facial at Kinara Skin Care Clinic & Spa in Los Angeles, creates a simple approach for her clients by encouraging them to pre-book appointments before they leave to receive a 10% discount. This changes the behavior of the client by rewarding them for pre-booking.

Rewards to change client behavior

The Star Program was created by Kate Leydon, the founder and owner of Ruby Room in Chicago. The program provides its loyal members with 10% off services and products by coming in once per month. The spa also offers bonus points when members try new services, pre-book, purchase retail and refer new clients. Reward clients to encourage them to take actions that will improve your skin care facility. Leydon also partners with her product vendors to create special giveaways and events exclusive for members within the program.

Communicating the program to your internal team is important, because this is an investment in their future business. Team members must know and support the program to achieve the best outcomes for the business and the client. Employees must make the introduction to the client and follow up in order for the program to become successful. According to Leydon, “Clients want simplicity and not a lot of rules, so it’s about finding that sweet spot.”

Know your VIPs

Lora Kassaros, the business manager of Dermatique Medical Spa in Geneva, Illinois, relies on knowing who the VIPs are and providing them with the best pricing, treatments, invitations, scheduling and services. There is no charge for this—the spa’s business motto is: “We want to keep our VIPs.”

“The cheapest way to grow your practice is to keep the customers you have,” says Kassaros. “And if there are customers who are drifting, we reach out and let them know they are missed.” Introducing clients to services they have not tried within your business is equally important; they experience more options within the skin care facility and have more reasons to return. By offering a complimentary brow wax as an incentive for referrals, Dermatique Medical Spa has enjoyed a 15% increase in new clients.

Implemented properly, loyalty programs can indeed foster true loyalty. Ultimately, the client’s affection for the spa will become more meaningful than the rewards.

Elaine+SauerElaine Sauer is a licensed esthetician and CIDESCO Diplomate, as well as an industry consultant with a specialty in multiunit management, training and sales. She works with businesses to improve their hiring, service standards, sales and staff development functions, and can be reached at esauer2011@gmail.com.