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Business has traditionally been based upon hierarchy, and hierarchy relies upon sharply defined boundaries. These boundaries, in turn, lend themselves to an aura of secrecy. In many conventional businesses, from manufacturing to health care to finances and banking, this general approach manifests in a highly stratified, need-to-know culture in which information is shared sparingly, both inside and outside of the organization. The corporate rationale most often offered in regard to a secretive culture, especially when dealing with the public, is usually along the lines of, “You may love the sausage at the end of your fork—but trust us, you don’t want to watch how it’s made.”
Although that particular example may, in fact, bring out the dormant vegan in many, times have changed. Today’s consumers do want to know what goes on in the businesses to which they give their financial support. This means that business may need to clean up its act, because current and potential clients expect access to the process and culture as the basis of their shopping and brand selection.
What this means to successful skin care professionals today is that the door is being forever closed on Middle Earth and the back-room mystique. Admit it: Some skin care professionals of decades past may have had a bit of a Hobbit nature to them. Extra points if you add crystals, candles, dream-catchers, smudging, wind chimes and singing whales. By choice, many often worked in small, dark treatment rooms located at the back of the store, far from the glare of bright lights and the blare of the pop playlist on the sound system. Also, far from hordes of people. Skin care professionals are often introverted and may be spooked by crowds. Of course, skin care treatments do require tranquility and privacy, but the future of the skin care industry is all about shining a bright light everywhere, starting with the expertise of the skin care professional, and redefining her role as educator and leader. Think of the skin care space these days as a theater: It’s always showtime, and the skin care professional is center stage.
The buzz words today are “transparency” and “immersion.” Transparency relates back to the previous sausage metaphor. For example, you feel confident dining in a restaurant that offers a view of the working, open kitchen. This gives a secure feeling about the operation, that there are no dirty little secrets lurking in the prep of the dinner plate. Making the end-recipient part of the creative or production process helps banish doubt and build brand loyalty, although few professionals are willing to perform their duties in plain sight.
Immersion is the invitation from your business to the client to step over the threshold into your world. This requires a radical rethinking of your space—both your head space and your floor space. Think of the successful skin care facility as being a fully integrated hybrid of education, events and retailing. Each element informs and supports the others. Retailing really hits a nerve with skin care professionals; many have been trained to believe that they don’t like selling.