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Recruiting and Retaining Clients

By: Melinda Taschetta-Millane
Posted: February 28, 2011, from the March 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

What is your spa’s consumer strategy? We know that a key challenge as the economy slowly makes its comeback is finding new clients to bring through your door and, once they are there, retaining them.

In January’s Vocal Point online survey, we asked our audience: “Is it worth it to get involved with online group buying deals, such as Groupon? Why or why not?” The majority of our respondents saw potential in using online group buying deals, when carefully executed. Although many of you also cautioned about appealing only to bargain-hunters looking for a deal, I think it’s important to share some of the feedback from your peers about how, from this experience, they successfully increased retail profits, gained new clients and helped educate consumers about the importance of spa.

Of course, using caution is key. “It is worth it if you use it correctly,” emphasizes Jennifer Durand, owner of The Nurture Nook Day Spa in Houston, TN, and winner of the Face & Body® Midwest 2011 Conference Package. “Package an offer that won’t cost you more than you are receiving, even once you’ve discounted it. Only book as many Groupons in a day or week that keep other spots open for your cash flow. The advance money you receive for the Groupons also helps with your cash flow, but keep the money back until they cash them in. There is always a percentage that will never use their certificates, and that will enhance the overall money and service received. Make sure you have follow-up offers, as always, for your new Groupon clients. Give them a reason to come back. Even though the spa industry has been sluggish, this is a good time to offer incentives to encourage people to put spa into their lives. If you treat clients right and give them more value, they will think it is worth paying more for. I have witnessed this firsthand, and our business has grown because of it.”

Branding and marketing are everything in a slow economy. “By getting involved in group deals, you are opening your business up for more visibility and potential foot traffic,” says Anthony Silvestri of Sella Skincare in Batavia, IL. “The key to being successful with these promotions is to be prepared and staffed. Poor service and turning new customers away will flop your campaign.”

And no doubt about it, advertising costs money. “Having someone else spread the word about your business is worth doing your service—one time—for a discounted price,” says Shelley Hancock of Real Transformation Center in Foster City, CA. “Use the opportunity to wine and dine these people, and then you’ve created that potential long-term client.”