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Moving Beyond the Role of Service Provider

Victoria L. Rayner August 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

“I am still an esthetic professional, but I am better respected now,” says Lori Tanner, an information specialist from Chicago. Tanner started out as many skin care specialists do: as strictly a service provider. But because she wanted to make a significant difference in the spa where she worked, Tanner went on to become a self-educated, business-minded esthetic knowledge worker.

Information specialists are professionals on whom others gradually come to rely as experts. Most are self-educated and fully capable of introducing multiple high profit-producing concepts to win the favor of spa managers and owners.

Lay the groundwork

Today, many skin care service workers are considering this diverse career approach. “The job is the same, but my approach to it is not,” Tanner explains. “The possibilities for professional development and for increasing my earning potential are greater for me now. Best of all, I am in control of my career, and I am running it like a business. For me, becoming an information specialist brought about a whole new feeling of professionalism and has elevated my self-esteem.”

Because esthetic knowledge workers often are paid 20–40% more than conventional service providers who perform only standard esthetic procedures, Tanner decided to reconstruct her professional image. “I came to the realization that most employers place a higher premium on educated workers and will pay higher salaries to those who have the extra know-how to increase the profitability of their facilities. It just seemed logical to me to find out what I needed to know in order to enhance my value in the eyes of my employer.”

If you ever have wondered how top wage earners got where they are, you owe it to yourself to take this opportunity to learn how you can distinguish yourself from all the others on your spa’s payroll. When you have finished reading this article, you will understand what you can contribute that will set you apart from the daily task worker. It will reveal critical steps you can take to transform your role and become more recognized as a knowledgeable authority to your clients, co-workers and, most importantly, to your supervisor. In doing so, you will gain greater professional visibility.

Don’t obsess about pay

Financial demands can feel enormous, and, for most of us, managing them is an ongoing struggle. I am amazed by how many people I come across in the industry who do nothing more than what is expected but who complain bitterly to their peers about how poorly compensated they are for their halfhearted efforts. Instead, they should look for ways to become more productive workers who add to the overall profitability of their enterprises. One of the biggest mistakes that spa employees make is focusing only on the job at hand. Instead, it is important to realize that many opportunities for further career growth are available.

Begin by learning

When setting out to transform yourself into an information specialist, begin by tracking the latest industry trends. Learn all you can about any new esthetic procedures, and research technological advances and new formulations on the market—including medical-grade products. Collect information from trade journals, take notes at industry conferences, study reference books and perform in-depth searches on the Internet. You will be inspired by the insights you gain. Write a short, concise summary about what you discover, and present it to your spa’s owner and the rest of the team. Whenever possible, include background materials with your reports. Make it a point to submit these well-structured updates on a regular basis, and watch how much your efforts will be valued.

Aside from providing research reports, take a close look at your personal interests for areas of expertise that can expand your role. Devoting some time to self-instruction in order to gain additional knowledge will, over time, yield a high return when you implement your new skills in the workplace. Reliable and functional knowledge that is relevant to profitability is immensely rewarding, especially if you track the number of sales and services that are impacted by your input.

Remain constant and visible

Take a moment to consider the multiple demands placed on those in charge of running a spa. It is easy to see that there is never enough time for the owner or manager to finish everything that must be accomplished in the course of a week, let alone within the span of a day. There is always some task left undone that frustrates those burdened with the major responsibilities. Pay attention to these frustrations, and ask yourself what additional know-how you need that would enable you to assist in the completion of these unfinished tasks. Given the importance of what it could mean in terms of your professional advancement, take a calculated risk to obtain this information. Any effort you make to alleviate the burden of those who support your livelihood is sure to be noticed and appreciated.

Once you have a clear idea of what you can contribute, propose a plan to lend your support. When you have developed yourself into someone who possesses significant specialized knowledge, your job will be infinitely more secure. Although service providers continue to provide little more than service, knowledge workers communicate a clear message that they are valuable assets to any employer.

Become an information specialist

The greatest career-building asset you possess is your dependability. Put it to work for you by extending it to your employer. If you really want to make an impact, show that you have special awareness of the needs of the spa, and offer your assistance. Recognize troublesome problems, and present suitable solutions for these dilemmas. Commit to helping on as many levels as you are capable. View yourself as an indispensable troubleshooter.

Volunteer to do things around the spa that require very little effort or time, but that can make a big difference to the rest of the team. For example, maintain the client database with constant vigilance. A database is the lifeblood of any beauty business, and it always needs updating. Anything pertaining to communications could be an area that would benefit from your help—including fielding telephone calls, learning new computer systems, answering e-mails or researching on the Internet. You could offer to be a mentor for a new team member or conduct orientation sessions for new hires. There are times when you can intervene if someone is having difficulty doing a task that is a breeze for you to accomplish.

Get more involved

Promotional activities can be another dilemma for spa owners. Although promotions are new-business generators, they are always somewhat neglected because of narrow time constraints. Why not offer to visit some local health and beauty enterprises in the area in order to strengthen alliances? Your presence might inspire future referrals and even may pave the way for mutual marketing activities. Research cross-marketing strategies, and suggest to your employer how to combine spa services and products with those of other nearby commercial enterprises.

There are many other vital contributions you can make if you’re open to asserting yourself. If you’re qualified to do so, why not propose heading up a community service project? Perhaps you could stage an event or raise money for a heartfelt cause that your team holds dear. Be sure to think it through, and draft a carefully devised plan beforehand, as you will need permission first. The project possibly could evolve into a team effort that will bring everyone in the workplace closer together. The event also may draw the attention of the media, and, if the marketing is well executed, add to the visibility of the spa.

Demonstrate a long-term focus

Efforts such as these, as well as other creative attempts to increase the profitability of your spa, will enable you to move well beyond the status of service provider. Offering valuable and irreplaceable expertise not only will place you in high esteem by your employer, it will help pave your path toward future career success.

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