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Maximize Your Spa's Retail Sales

By: Lydia Sarfati
Posted: January 5, 2011, from the January 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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.

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.