The Value of First Impressions


When was the last time you really took the time to see and experience what your clients do? Have you recently stood outside your spa to examine the exterior with fresh eyes or stood just inside your front door and thought about all the things your customers see, hear and smell when they first enter your salon?

The first five seconds is key to keeping and building clients. First impressions will determine whether they decide to enter your business and if they will return. How does your business measure up?

Exterior design

Be sure your business is clearly identified. Is there a logo at eye level for pedestrians and one higher up for drivers? Is your signage illuminated at night? Are your business hours, website and social media icons clearly visible?

How the storefront looks speaks volumes about your business. Is the façade well maintained? Is your spa’s personality and brand evident via color, graphics and decorative elements? If you have windows, do they offer display opportunities? Whether sophisticated or playful, giving clients a glimpse of who you are on the outside sets their expectations for what’s on the inside.

Interior design and lighting

The entrance is not only an area for greeting, but also helps the client get oriented. Key focal points should be illuminated with three times the light level of the space around them. Brightly lit displays will capture the eye and engage customers in retail.


Scents initially bypass the reasoning part of our brain and go directly to the limbic part of our brain—which triggers an immediate emotional response. Aromas that are subtle and relate to the ambiance are most effective, particularly scents that come from natural sources, such as essential oils.

Focal points

Is there an eye-catching display to capture someone’s attention within 15 feet of the entrance? If you have a lot of repeat clients, it’s important to change the focal point display frequently to keep the skin care facility looking fresh.


Simple signage can serve as a form of subliminal learning and retention. Are well-designed, informative signs visible to clients as they enter, describing services and policies? Is the logo visibly displayed behind the reception counter?

Overall image and brand

Your spa’s ambiance should be powerful enough that clients remember it, want to bring their friends to experience it and tell their neighbors about it. Does the salon convey a professional look with a strong, easily identifiable brand and coordinated color scheme?

Music and acoustics

What does your store sound like? If you have music piped in, does the genre of music appeal to the target market? Music type, tempo and volume are all critical to a client’s comfort. If it’s too noisy, consider acoustic absorbing materials or ceiling panels. However, a spa that is too quiet is also disconcerting—and has the potential to make the client feel too obvious in the space.


Are your retail shelves well stocked? Half empty shelves do not build confidence that you have a vibrant business. Consumers make split decisions based on whether they think they will find what they want. Overstocking, however, indicates that you over-bought or don’t know how to merchandise your products.

Customer service

Does a team member greet each client as she walks through the door? Whether it’s a quick “Hello, I’ll be right with you,” or a catchy “Welcome to XY Spa,” a friendly greeting makes each individual feel acknowledged and comfortable.

Your clients experience a lot in the first five seconds of entering your business. The good news is that by being intentional, you can use the five senses to create a memorable first impression that gets customers shopping and keeps them coming back for more.

Lyn+FalkLyn Falk is a registered interior designer, sustainable design advocate and president of Retailworks, Inc.



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