When embarking on a career in the professional beauty industry, sales and marketing strategies are likely to be the least interesting aspects for up and coming therapists.
Instead, a focus on new treatments, customer service and how to provide optimum care and obtain the best results for clients is at the forefront of training, planning and thinking.
However, boring as it may seem, sales and marketing expertise is what is needed to take a salon from just ticking along to making a decent profit for owners and providing the means to staff salaries. One of the easiest ways to maximise profits is to build a steady trade in take home products. According to some reports, beauty therapy product sales can account for up to 40 percent of a busy salon’s income and for that reason alone it makes sense to place time and effort into learning how to sell to clients and maximise revenue.
In many cases this is easier said than done. For those therapists who are focused on well-being, making a sales pitch will go against the grain. Clients on the other hand generally visit a salon for maintenance treatments or for a bit of tender loving care. They like to relax and unwind during beauty therapy and being given the hard sell is not generally something they anticipate or look forward to.
So can upselling take home products be a win win situation for all? The answer is a resounding yes. While sales boost profits for salon owners, buying take home products should provide wonderful results for clients in between treatments.
When it comes to selecting product lines for a salon, the clients’ needs and wants should always be at the forefront of any retail decision. Ask yourself about your client’s. Who are they? What are the most popular treatments you are performing and what are they looking for most when it comes to their beauty therapy needs?
One of the simplest ways to gauge a client’s needs and wants is to ask for regular feedback via surveys and also to ensure that new clients fill in a questionnaire upon arrival.
Find out if they already have a range of skin care they are using at home, which products they use the most often, if they are happy with the results, improvements they would like to make and if they might be interested in trying a new range.
Once the data has been analysed and the trends identified, think about whether or not you have products that line up with them. For example, if you find that most of your clients’ are concerned with anti-ageing, invest in product lines that address that successfully. Remember too that manufacturers spend millions of dollars researching their market so use this research to your benefit. For instance some brands are youth oriented and if you have a younger clientele they will be more interested in purchasing something that fits with their demographic as well as their skin type. Older clients will have their own preferences. A salon that offers products to both will sell more retail than a salon which only offers one. Price point is also a factor. If you are an all-purpose salon ensure you have products at entry, mid and high price points so that clients have options and that they buy their product from you rather than online or from a department store or pharmacy.
Brand alignment is crucial. Think about what your salon stands for and what your mission statement is. Consider whether your focus is on providing high end luxury, environmentally friendly or cost effective treatments and services or a combination of all three.
A high-end luxury salon or spa that only retails lower-priced professional products simply does not make sense as clients who frequent luxury salons are looking for luxury products to buy. Likewise, if your spa focuses on offering holistic treatments using organic products then it would be logical to offer these same products or similarly formulated ones for use at home. Another factor to take into consideration is market share. Research all of your closest competitors to find out which products they are selling and think about products that may have been overlooked. If every salon in town is selling a particular product line then it will be very difficult to compete on price. However, if you able to offer a product line that is unique and also fits in with all of your other criteria such as brand alignment, price point, education and training support and effectiveness, then add it to a short list of products you will want to explore further.
Once you have narrowed it down, take your short list out for a test drive. Working directly with products is a sure fire way to know if they will be a good fit for your salon. Contact distributors to ask about demonstrations and samples and ask them about the training and support they offer.
The best will make sure that salon and spa owners will have the tools they need to be experts in their products and will offer promotional or advertising opportunities to draw attention to both the product and the salon. They may also be able to provide in-salon marketing materials and displays which will make their products stand out.
Once you have selected a range of products the next most important step is to get your staff on board. This means ensuring they well trained in how best to use the products and their applications while also educating them about how to sell to clients.
The best way for staff to become familiar with products and their benefits is to encourage them to use them. Supply staff with samples they can use at home so that they can honestly recommend useful products and ones that work for them. Your clients will better relate to your staff and be more willing to buy certain products from your salon this way.
As mentioned above, very few people decide to become beauty industry professionals because of the sales opportunities and a lot of people feel very uncomfortable about the practise of selling products. Many find it difficult because they don’t want to be pushy with their clients. They might also believe their clients are not in a financial position to afford professional products and they don’t want to jeopardise their relationships and be rejected when told no. However, the secret to making it easier for staff is to reinforce the notion they are helping their clients to achieve their beauty goals and they are educating them about the best products they can use to get there. Essentially, they are opening up a dialogue that will benefit everybody. Therapists also need to understand that selling is a part of their job – and it should be in their job description. Not only will they feel a sense of achievement when they sell something, they will also be helping their employers out and performing to the best of their ability.
When dealing with new clients, the most important element to focus on is building trust. Rather than pushing them to buy many different products, begin with the basics or just one that will enhance the treatment they have just had with a therapist. Encourage your therapists to ask a lot of questions and to focus on the customer’s needs so that any product or service suggestion is in the customer’s best interests.
Listen to clients. Clients who are time poor, who have busy jobs and families and just want to crawl into bed at the end of a long day are not going to be interested in buying a whole slew of products to conduct a nightly beauty routine. They will want a fast solution to help fix their skin care problems and will most likely be interested in staple products only. However, by talking to them about how a serum will boost the effectiveness of their staple products while also being very quick to use they might become interested in purchasing one. Conversely, if they do find leisure time they could be encouraged to purchase a treatment mask to use for a bit of personal pampering. If you know that a customer is going on away on a holiday or if they travel regularly for business, talk to them about travel sized products, they may thank you for making life easier for them.
Encourage staff to maintain good eye contact with clients and to have welcoming body language and a friendly attitude as this will help to make the client feel as if he or she is the most important client in the world. Remembering the client the next time they come to the salon will work wonders by making them feel comfortable and valued.
Role-play with your therapists to allow them to practice the sale. Going through the steps with them will give them a sense of comfort when they are dealing with a client and they will be better prepared to answer tough or out-of-the-ordinary questions. To supplement this, create an at the counter manual or card that will help remind staff to ask clients about products and services. In a busy salon environment it can be easy to forget to ask a client if they need to replenish their at home supplies and a simple card placed on the till is an easy reminder.
With that said, staff need do to ask directly for the sale. If they don’t ask they won’t get it. Even if they have spent ten minutes explaining the benefits of a product and testing it on a client’s skin they will still need to ask them if they would be interested in purchasing it.
Set goals and provide rewards for staff when they do sell well. Providing an incentive for them to sell products, especially a tangible incentive like a bonus or free products for themselves, will only encourage them to become more proactive when selling. If you have an employee who finds it a real struggle to sell products, team them up with one of the more successful therapists so they can learn the ropes or seek out support from your distributors to see if they will offer sales training.
More often than not, clients will buy with their eyes first. When thinking about how to display product make sure it is in an easily accessible spot with good lighting and that stocks are plentiful. Earmark some bottles as testers so that clients can try products on their skin and always ask distributors for samples that clients can take home. Ensure you have plenty of brochures and pamphlets in the waiting area so clients get the opportunity to read up on products. Another idea is to invest in some laminated stands so that when a product you stock gets a really good review in a magazine your clients are able read it. Of upmost importance is cleanliness. Make sure the display area is kept free of dust and make it more attractive by adding fresh flowers or a candle. If you are offering a promotion, ensure this is well advertised by placing signs near the counter and in the waiting area.
Offering more than three different product lines will make your retail area look cluttered. Being fully stocked with just one or two will always look better than having dozens of bottles from all sorts of brands which will give the impression of a pharmacy rather than a salon.
Promotions will almost certainly entice a client to purchase product. Everyone likes the idea of getting a good deal so when offering a promotion to clients make sure that it provides them with exactly that. Clients will easily see through a promotion that has been over valued and this will instantly turn them off, and worse still alienate them from your salon.
Cosmetics companies always do a roaring trade when they offer a gift with purchase and this is something that salon and spa owners should look to emulate. Work with distributors to see if they have excess supply of a particular product line and offer this as the gift or make use of suppliers own deals when they offer two for one and pass this on to the client as a “gift.”
If you have clients coming in for a non skin related treatment like a wax or an eye lash tint offer them a complimentary skin analysis. This will give you the opportunity to discuss their skin care concerns with them and talk to them about skin health. While some people may say no to the offer, others may very well say yes and it could lead to product sales and treatment bookings – especially if you offer product samples for them to try. Make this a regular promotion in your business calendar, scheduling it in for perhaps one week every four months, and record product sales around this time to track results.
Seasonal changes present another good opportunity to offer promotions. Winter is a great time to promote hydration products and nourishing and moisturising masks and summer take home tanning products, body exfoliation lotions and sun protection – perhaps packaged together.
Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and birthdays are also occasions when salons can tempt customers to purchase more product if presented wisely. Having a range of small gift items available around Christmas time makes perfect sense as well as offering travel sized kits. A promotion could involve a buy one for you and get a gift at half price for someone else. Mothers Day and Fathers Day could be a time to introduce some new pampering and indulgent products into the salon to be sold in gift packs with perhaps a complimentary 15 minute shoulder massage. Likewise, birthdays can be made the most of too. Many different businesses offer their customers a freebie during the month of their birthday. Mostly this is a show of goodwill but it also entices clients to come into the store/salon when they might not be planning to and they could be encouraged to purchase a complimentary product or book a treatment at a special “birthday” rate. Plan well ahead of time to ensure you have enough stock on hand so that clients are not disappointed.
VIP evenings are another great way to bring together top spending and regular clients to network and also try new products or offer them the opportunity to purchase at a discount as a thank you for their loyalty. Getting clients in to try a new product range over the course of an evening in a more relaxed time frame may make them more amenable to purchasing product, especially if they do not feel like they are rushed to make a decision. Ask them to bring a friend along and as well as doubling sales you may have added a new client to your books. Give VIPS lots of pampering and document the evening on social media as this will spread the word and send the message that your salon really looks after their clients.
Cross promotion and selling can also add to a salon’s bottom line. This occurs when you try to get a customer to purchase additional products or services to go with what they’ve already bought. A good example of this in the salon environment would be linking a treatment offer to one or two high performance products, like an anti-ageing facial with a serum and eye cream. When marketing this type of promotion ensure the relevant products are displayed prominently inside the salon and on any marketing collateral (brochures, flyers, print ads and social media) and alongside the treatment offer and description and train staff up to present the benefits of the offer. Incentives could be offered to staff members who make the most sales throughout the promotion.
Loyalty programmes are a really useful way of encouraging clients to purchase product directly from a salon rather than looking online for cheaper options. A coffee card type system where you buy nine and get the tenth for free is definitely more cost effective for clients over time and they have the added bonus of being able to try products in store before they buy as well receiving expert advice from therapists. Points systems, where customers accumulate points when they book treatments (for example 50 points for a facial, 10 for a brow shape), work well and can be redeemed when purchasing products. If a customer has accumulated 500 points in the space of six months this could be converted into a $20 voucher to be spent on products. There are many different software packages on offer to salons that will harness all of this information for you. New customers can be offered redeemable vouchers for product when they return for their next visit and clients who introduce new clients to a salon can be rewarded too. The mark up on products is always going to be more than a mark up on a treatment service which is why offering discounted products makes less of an impact financially on a salon.
Finally, when it comes to selling product you must ensure you know what sells. Keep diligent records of what your top selling products are, what your least selling products are, which products give you the most profit and which provide hardly any profit at all. Look for products that will complement and support the function of your top selling treatments and products – boosting serums, eye creams and masks will go with basic moisturisers and skin care – and keep the communication lines open with suppliers and distributors to ensure you are getting the best deal. At the end of the day, if you get the sales formula right ,not only will your customers be happy but your salon will flourish and everyone will be better off.
Article written for BeautyNZ Magazine by Nicole Currin-Birch.