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Survive and Thrive

By Laura Root and James Mason
Posted: September 25, 2009, from the October 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

No doubt about it, times are tough. Many spas’ clients are scaling back—waiting longer between services, buying fewer home care products, choosing not to buy a treatment series—and incidentally, sales are soft in virtually every sector of the industry. Nevertheless, there are things you can do to maintain profitability, increase sales and ensure your revenue stream does not slow to a trickle, or worse, dry up completely.

Reward more

Performance rewards for employees are essential. Rewards have more power to impact employee performance than almost any other technique. The problem is that most managers and owners tend to outsource the rewards process to companies whose interest is more focused on accumulating dollars than creating rewards that appeal to the employees.

The solution seems obvious, but it is missed by many businesses: If you want to reward employee performance, increase sales and revenue, and improve motivation, the best place to start is by asking your team members what rewards they would like. For some, it might be more flexible scheduling. Others might like shopping cards, gift certificates or even a rewards book that offers a variety of merchandise. Still others might want travel, fine dining or other preference-driven items. The key is to ask first to find the right rewards for each individual person. With a bit of effort, you can find out exactly what each of your employees prefers, and from there, customize your rewards program to fit your needs.

Another consideration has to do with how rewards programs are administered. Employees resent it when you pull the yardstick away from them just as they are closing in on the prize. If you set a specific parameter of performance, it must be doable and reasonable. So when developing benchmarks, use the SMART protocol. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable and Timely. This acronym has become a gold standard for goal-setting because it is fair, easy to remember and incorporates all the necessary elements. Be fair, set the goals in a way that is within reach—though it is okay to set a super-goal, or a reach goal, with an even better reward—and give a specific time frame. This way, your rewards program will easily fit into your overall incentive, support and retention program.

Another way to benefit from a rewards program is to develop one for your clients. By incorporating classic rewards program logistics with advanced technology, your client rewards program can help dramatically increase revenue flow from your current base. It just makes sense to reward those who most contribute to your bottom line, and it can be as simple as a coupon or gift certificate that gives additional products or services to your best clients. Escalate the reward by offering even more if your client brings a friend with her on her next visit. There are a myriad of ways you can reward your clients—too many to list here—but rewarding them usually means you and your business are earning the best rewards of all.

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