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Stand by Your Brand
By: Steven H. Dayan, MD and Terri Wojak
Posted: March 26, 2009, from the April 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Keeping a business profitable during a recession can be difficult, but it isn’t impossible. Spa professionals have to work hard to make their businesses successful, and during times of economic turmoil, it can be even more difficult. The country is currently experiencing the most significant economic decrease since the Great Depression, and it is projected to get worse before it gets better. Now is the time to set a plan in place if you haven’t done so already. Branding your business is one thing you can do to set your spa apart from the competition. A brand is simply a collection of perceptions or natural associations for consumers; thoughts and images that clients think of when they hear your name or place of business.
It is important to examine the message and brand you are sending to clients. Are they consistent with the product offered? Are they low-end or high-end? A business cannot be both; it must pick one and then project a message consistent with this defined brand. To create a successful brand, price point must first be identified, as well as the products being offered and the image being portrayed.
First you must decide if you would like to be a high-end provider or a more affordable option for clients. If the choice is a high-end provider, that message must be sent consistently. When business profits start to decline, many are quick to slash their prices. If the goal is to send the message that a business is high-end specializing in top-of-the-line service and quality, having a red tag sale will result in losing that brand. There are definitely ways to reduce prices without having a sale. Offer a gift to your clients, such as an add-on service or product with a treatment or send a “thank you for your business” gift card worth a dollar amount to make the client feel appreciated while still maintaining the idea that the business is not a discount spa. If portraying the spa as high-end, the necessary steps must be taken to make it worth the higher price, as well. Every part of the client’s experience needs to be upscale. Customer service is of the utmost importance, from the first phone call to checking out after a treatment. The products being used should be sophisticated and packaged as such, and the entire location should be aesthetically pleasing.
On the other hand, if you would like to bill your business as affordable, you will need to concentrate on a higher volume of services and products to make up for the price difference, although avoiding the client perks expected at a high-end spa will also help the business succeed financially. If you charge low prices, then efficiency has to be strict to tolerate thinner profit margins, which can be difficult in a down economy.
The products a spa sells can say a lot about the business itself. It is important to be consistent with the products offered and either stick with those that have withstood the test of time, or choose the latest and greatest in skin care. Tried and true products will attract those wanting options that have been around for awhile and have proven results. Some clients will visit spas that use a particular skin care line that has been around for a long time and offers facials specifically using the products in that line. Often, if a client uses one of these lines, they will frequent a business that uses the products because they are familiar and feel safe.