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Sell, Grow and Profit: Benchmarks for Sustaining Your Business

By Frederic Holzberger
Posted: August 15, 2007, from the August 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

If a business is not growing, it could be dying. There are many steps you can, and should, take to check on the health of your spa. Although you may worry about the competition around the corner as well as the unstable economy, these concerns can prevent you from taking a closer look inside your own facility’s doors. Creating and sustaining growth becomes even more important under the burden of conditions that are beyond your control. There are three benchmarks that every business must meet in order to sustain itself: service and sales, growth and, most important, profitability.

At your service
      The first goal toward growing and staying profitable is to keep your service rooms fully booked. Think like the airlines: They only make money when they fly full planes. Advertise your open appointments in creative ways, such as sending text messages about open appointments to your clients, or advertising them visually on-site. Create a sandwich board with materials that can be easily edited so that you can add and delete appointment times and services that are available. The board should be positioned at the front door or in the reception area so that clients can see which treatments are available for same-day service. Some spas refer to their clients at “guests,” and this can help spa team members treat them as such. The important thing, however, is not what you call them, but how you treat them and make them feel during their spa visit.

Sell away
      Because many estheticians feel as if they are technicians and not salespeople, they may not realize the importance of retailing. Explain to them that the best form of advertising for your facility is word-of-mouth. Clients with beautiful, glowing skin are your walking business cards, and their referrals could maintain your spa forever and ever—but not if they can’t maintain the treatment results after they leave the spa. Even if they make appointments regularly, without administering the products the esthetician used and recommended during the days in-between, then their work is really for nothing.
      Product recommendations. Every business needs to think about the percentage of clients who are purchasing retail and, of that percentage, how much retail are they buying. Remember, more than 60% of purchases made in the spa are based on recommendations from the esthetician and use of the product during the client’s treatment. Consider creating easy product recommendation and selling systems for everyone in the spa to follow. Providing team members with prescription pads and face charts will allow them to better serve your clients so that they can recreate their experience at home.

      Retail environment. If you are going to sell retail in order to sustain yourself, it is crucial to study how other professionals have mastered product positioning, lighting and storyboarding. On retail shelves, testers that are partnered with signage explaining a product’s features and benefits should be positioned 5 feet 4 inches from the ground—the eye level of the average female consumer. The lighting should make the shelves inviting. Master retailers will tell you that no one wants to buy the last item on a display. Because of this, shelves should be kept fully stocked on an ongoing basis.  Positioning the retail environment in a location within your spa that has the most traffic also will help support retailing. Don’t keep products behind the counter where clients can’t touch them and have to request your assistance. Consider designing your retail area for value-added services in order to introduce clients to products through hands-on treatments, such as hand and arm massages, quick makeup touch ups and complimentary hand facials.

      Gift cards. Gift cards that don’t expire are the wave of the future; clients can spend them any way they prefer. Every company loves gift cards because they are cash infusions that help keep business afloat. They should be promoted throughout the year for an all–occasion purchases, as well as during every holiday season, including Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, and for graduations, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and days of recognition, such as professional administrative assistant’s day. Gift cards must have good visibility on your spa’s Web site and, ideally, could be purchased online.