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A Successful Retail Philosophy

By Jennifer Korfiatis
Posted: March 3, 2008, from the March 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

The evolution of Sarty Mountain’s retail philosophy has been 10 years in the making. Valda Sarty, CEO of Sarty Mountain, Inc.
(SMI), began building her Wenatchee, Washington-based family of wellness and beauty companies in 1997, and it’s grown from a two-person operation to include two spa and salon enterprises, as well as a skin care and cosmetology school. All roads in the path to success for Sarty and her company have led to a profitable and award-winning retail philosophy.

Rooted in core values
     A retail philosophy can best be summarized as one part art form, one part trial and error, and one part business savvy. However, it is nothing if not rooted firmly in your company’s core values. It is important to develop a list of values that are held at the center of all operations; for Sarty Mountain, these included respect, a commitment to personal and professional development, a focus on environmentally friendly practices and an unwavering commitment to quality as top priorities.
     From these core values, a retail philosophy begins to emerge. It is important to encourage each type of spa professional in your business to continue mastering areas of expertise through mandatory postgraduate education. The outcome of this effort is an educated, knowledgeable and excited team, which can translate into direct sales.

Team-endorsed product line
     Business savvy and art meet in the selection of the product lines carried. “When it is time to consider a product line, make the process a team-based endeavor and consider all opinions very carefully. If your team won’t stand behind the retail products you feature, your retail philosophy will fall short. Featuring a product line in your spa is a direct endorsement,” says Sarty.
     Reference your spa’s values in order to narrow the field of possible retail lines. When you align your business model, philosophy and core competencies, many product lines will be identified as a mismatch for your company. Knowing what you don’t want to carry can prove to be just as valuable as knowing what you do want to offer.
     “If your spa team believes in the products it is selling and using, then sales becomes a natural part of the process. If the product line does not align with the spa’s values, then the sales process becomes difficult, and results are hard to realize,” explains Sarty. This has proven to be a critical distinction.
     True to form, Sarty was not satisfied with simply stocking her locations with products that she and her team could eagerly endorse. In late 2006, Sarty launched its Web site with a two-pronged approach that included the need to showcase products to customers outside of the company’s geographic location, as well as to provide a quality, easy-to-use Web product for other spa owners.

Develop goals
     The process for developing goals is crucial to realizing them—professionally, financially and personally. According to Sarty, “Setting monthly and overall goals for technicians and administrative teams, as well as the company as a whole, can provide the benchmarks needed to gauge your efforts. It tells you if you are being successful, and, if not, it offers insight about what you need to change.”
     Simply setting goals is not enough, however. “They should be reviewed at least monthly. Take them and break them down into weekly, and sometimes daily, goals. This is helpful because, if something is off, you can be aware of it immediately and adjust accordingly. This can contribute significantly to your retail success.” If retailing online, it is important to utilize tracking tools in order to measure goals, as well.

Marketing e-commerce
     Significant online growth can occur if you employ cohesive cross-promotional marketing efforts. Add your Web site address to all current marketing efforts and allow them to serve as vehicles for your online message.
     Make sure that you diligently collect client e-mail addresses to communicate the launch of your Web site, as well as any attributes of an e-commerce site associated with your spa. This is minimal investment with a significant return.
     As Sarty Mountain’s e-commerce Web site celebrates its one-year anniversary, the future looks bright. According to Sarty, “We have definitely learned some important lessons along the way. First, it is crucial to always promote your site in all of your other promotional tools. If potential clients don’t know about you, how will they ever find your site? Second, establish your core values and goals, and hold true to them—let them guide your business decisions. And finally, assess your success on a very consistent basis.” 

Editor’s Note: Sarty Mountain, Inc.,was the winner of Skin Inc. magazine’s 2007 Best of the Best Award for Best Retail Philosophy. In this article, Jennifer Korfiatis, the company’s public relations representative, shares the company’s formula for success.