Building a clientele is one of the most difficult challenges that you face as an esthetic provider, and once this is accomplished, you must ensure that you retain your clients in order to have a successful career. It is six to seven times harder to gain a new client than to retain one, according to McGraw Hill Publishing; Business Review and Bain & Company . Especially during a sluggish economy, clients are more hesitant to spend money on cosmetic services. Your job is to make sure that you are providing what they need without overpowering them and upselling them for services that aren’t needed. Of course, being fairly compensated for your services is important, but it is equally as crucial to do it ethically. If clients feel taken advantage of or believe that you’re just trying to sell something, they will not return. It is important to remember that without clients, you would have no business.
Consider your CLIENT
Keep in mind the following simple steps in order to help build and maintain a strong client base. Try using this mnemonic aid to remember that it’s all about the CLIENT: Consult, Listen, Inform, Execute, Nurture and Thank.
Consult. Proper consulting is the first step to building a strong client base. This is where the client/esthetician relationship begins. At this point, a medical history form should already have been completed. This will protect you from any miscommunication that may occur during the discussion. An initial client consult should be scheduled for at least 30 minutes before the appointment. This is the make-it-or-break-it stage where you determine the client’s personality type, go over anything questionable on the client’s intake forms, and determine the client’s needs. Without a proper consultation, you cannot give an effective treatment. (Editor’s note: For more information about determining the client’s personality type, please see “Make It Happen: Reading Your Client,” in the October 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.)
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Listen. Listen closely to what your clients have to say. You need to fully understand their needs and concerns in order to give them the proper treatment that will make them happy. Ask as many questions as you can, and find out how they care for their skin at home, what treatments they have had in the past and their motivation for coming to see you. Do not tell them what you want for their skin; let them tell you what they want. For instance, a person may come in and complain of pigmentation on her skin when the deep lines on her face are much more obvious. If the pigment is the main concern, then treat the pigment. You can also suggest services that will soften the lines, but let the client know that everything you are doing will address the pigment.
Inform. All clients should know exactly what their options are concerning the care of their skin. As you know, most can benefit from a variety of treatments. Take the time to explain each service that you think would be beneficial to them. This will give clients the impression that they are making the final decision, and it shows that you are really taking the time to make sure they get what they want. Every step of each service should be explained thoroughly before and during the treatment. They need to know that, if you are doing a chemical peel, they will feel it, as opposed to just putting something on the face that may cause some irritation. Explain thoroughly what they should expect, and how to care for their skin at home. Be specific—clients appreciate detailed information about how treatments and products actually work on the skin.
Execute. Execute a plan to address your clients’ skin, depending on its condition, their budget and the time they have available. To keep clients coming back, let them know when to return and how often. You also need to develop a plan for them to care for their skin at home. Clients will get much better results if they are using the proper skin care to complement in-office treatments. Go through a schedule with them—if you don’t have a plan to treat their skin, they will go to a different spa that cares enough to develop a plan. Schedule the next couple of appointments before they leave the office because once appointments are set, there is a much higher chance that clients will return on a regular basis.
Nurture. Always make your clients feel important. Let each of them know that you really care about their needs, especially in the case of pre- and post-operative treatments. This can be a very traumatic time for some people, and part of your job as an esthetic provider is to care for those patients before and after surgery. Make sure they know that they can count on you if they have any questions or concerns. You are their advocate. Follow-up phone calls should be made within two days after all treatments. This will show them that you are there if needed.
Thank. Make sure your clients know you appreciate them. All new patients should receive a thank-you card saying that you appreciate their business. Offering a discount for their next treatment can also help ensure they will be back for another visit, and don’t forget to thank clients that have been loyal for a long time. You can have Client Appreciation Days on which you offer free treatments for them and a friend; this will also give you the opportunity to acquire more clients. Every so often, add a complimentary service, such as an eyebrow wax. There is very little cost involved and it doesn’t take a lot of time, but the clients will enjoy it and will more likely than not become regular waxing clients. You can also send a small gift, such as a CD of the music played during their treatments. It will be noted that you thought of them and will remind them of you every time they hear that music.
Care for your client
Remember, the key to success in the cosmetic industry lies within the CLIENT. If you care for your clients’ needs, it will pay off in the end.