The difference in earning ability from one esthetician to the next comes in her commitment to selling retail. WWD reported an increase of 0.4% in salon retail sales in the first quarter of 2010, but here’s the tricky part: How do you get your clients to buy retail? Get creative! The spa atmosphere isn’t a Wall Street suit-and-tie office; you have the liberty of getting creative with your strategies for increasing sales and profits. Retailers at all levels, including Starbucks, J. Crew and Duane Reade, are renovating their bricks-and-mortar to create an experience.
The spa industry is already offering a truly professional experience, but it is having a difficult time in translating that experience to retail areas. So often, retail areas are like afterthoughts—dusty shelves, lack of product and no dedicated retail specialist. If spas want to compete in today’s market, they need to get retail savvy.
Show and tell, and you will sell! This is my absolute mantra. Spas must offer service samples, or “snacks” and “appetizers,” to clients. Spas have a high-touch platform to sample services and products in their retail area, yet they are not doing so. Offer fast, results-oriented facial bar treatments. Let clients feel, touch and experience your services, then recommend an at-home care program and rebook for a full service. It is the ideal way to introduce your clients to all the treatments and services you offer in a nonintimidating way. Continue to distinguish your spa from the neighborhood drug store by hiring knowledgeable staff members and providing ongoing education.
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Retail-tainment. If there are dull displays, no salespeople in sight and your clients are lulling around in an uninteresting room off to the side of the spa area, it is unlikely that they will feel compelled to purchase product. If your clients are not delighted or enticed by the retail atmosphere, you are missing a major opportunity.
Use this time to inform and entertain clients—to give them an experience. During the service is not the only time to pamper your clients with knowledge and attention. According to research by Leon Alexander, PhD, president of Eurisko, a spa consulting resource, the experience the consumers get is the single most reason why they return. Have you evaluated what type of experience you are giving clients? This experience shouldn’t end once they leave the treatment room. What would improve the overall retail experience? The retail area is your stage, your products are your props, and knowing your clients and product lines creates the perfect dialogue.
Turn your spa into a social space. Host events to inform clients of new product lines and services; again—get creative. Create a theme, a signature drink or invite an industry expert—education is not only for spa pros, but rather, educate your clients. Knowledge will translate into an educated purchase.
Consultation, diagnosis, recommendation. This is the biggest point of differentiation between seeking advice from the beauty counter salesperson and the esthetician. Use your specialized knowledge of skin care to listen to your clients’ concerns, to do a thorough skin analysis and to recommend an at-home care program. If you are doing this correctly, and not, say, suggesting the newest, most expensive treatment that addresses sun spots when the concern was fine lines and wrinkles, you are guaranteed to up-sell services and retail. After all, you are the professional, and clients are looking for your advice.
Today, consumers do not need to leave their couches to purchase beauty products, clothing or even groceries. In fact, according to Karen Young, CEO of The Young Group, a global marketing company, 85% of people who use the Internet have made a purchase online, and by 2013, $189 billion will have been spent on e-commerce. Online sales are growing by 10% annually. Give your clients a reason to seek your advice and make an informed purchase. By creating a dynamic retail experience, offering quick express services and relying on your professional knowledge to advise and recommend at-home care, you will increase your retail business. Get out, get busy, provide an experience and reward your clients.
Lydia Sarfati, president and founder of Repêchage, is an internationally recognized skin care expert quoted in Vogue, InStyle, Glamour and the New York Times, and she has been featured on CNN, CBS and Fox. Sarfati has more than 30 years of experience as an esthetician, spa owner, manufacturer and consultant, and is the author of Success at Your Fingertips: How to Succeed in the Skin Care Business (Allured Books, 2005).