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Management Practices

Super Sellers

Melissa Hill | July 10, 2011 | 12:32 PM

It’s often more difficult than owners think to open a spa in an existing salon. Despite the number of customers coming in and out of the salon side, how do you convert the hair color devotees to facial fanatics?

“Although we have the word ‘spa’ in our name, our logo, in our menus and painted on our front window, it is amazing that we still have long-time clients sitting in our salon that say ‘I didn’t know you did spa services’,” says Boni LaVelle, owner of à la Mode salonspa in Hudson, Wisconsin. “We are constantly coming up with new ideas to get the word out.”

We rounded up some of the best ideas for letting customers get to know you and your spa, and pump up your bottom line in the process.

1. Make a Deal

Technique: Offer a new spa service for an initial discounted price to entice regular customers.

Opportunity: At their annual Sunday-after-Thanksgiving open house,  Jim and Janelle Goking, owners of Entourage Salon and Spa in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, wanted to introduce customers to the Element Nature Facial for Radiant Skin, a natural alternative to microdermabrasion. To draw attention to the new service, they decided to offer guests the chance to buy a gift certificate for the new facial for the price of a basic facial, a $46 savings. Customers could also learn more about the new facial from estheticians set up at a table talking about the products, benefits and results, and could even watch the treatment being done in one of the rooms. During the three-hour party, the salon and spa did $3,000 worth of sales between the gift cards and retail.

Pitfall: In previous years, the Gokings offered clients the chance to book any spa service during the open house. If clients did, they would receive 10 percent off the service, but Janelle says that wasn’t nearly as successful as this year when they offered the gift certificates. “During the first couple of years of the open house, it was nearly all existing clients and we didn’t make a lot of money,” says Janelle, who has now held the event for 10 years. “We had to really think about what we could give people that will make them want to get the treatment.”

2. Before they Walk in the Door…

Technique: Upsell services over the phone during appointment confirmation.

Opportunity: The front desk staff at Noelyne, Ltd. in Fayetteville, North Carolina, have been using this technique for the last couple of years, since the salon and spa went computerized, to much success. Not only have they cut the no-show rate to almost nil, but they consistently upsell spa services several times a week. The key, says owner Noelyne Langston, is communication between therapists and the front desk. The front desk has to be aware of which therapists have time available on their schedule and therapists need to think about potential upsells when they are looking over their schedule of clients. For instance, if a regular is coming in for a basic pedicure, the therapist should tell the front desk staff to make sure to ask the client if they’d like to come in for extra heel exfoliation and if so, upgrade the pedicure.

Pitfall: Be careful to focus the upselling conversation on the benefits of the additional service and why you think they need it, rather than the cost, says Langston.

3. It’s on the House

Technique: Offer complimentary mini-treatments to bring in new clients.

Opportunity: Over the past three years, the staff at Accolades Salon Spa in St. Paul, Minnesota, has sent out more than 100,000 gift certificates for one of three free mini-treatments.

“We have a lot of competition in our area and we need to bring clients in the door anyway we can,” says co-owner Brad Schlaeger. “We are willing to do a small service for free to expose the client to us for the chance to get them to return. It’s a win/win situation.”

The goal for the salon is two-fold: first, retain the client, then upgrade them. Since they started doing this, the salon and spa have done more than six figures in upgrades with these clients. “The national salon average for a client ticket is $22. Our average dollar amount on these free gift certificates over three years is $28,” he says.

Pitfall: Make sure your staff—front desk, stylists and therapists—are all prepared to offer upgrades to these clients. At Accolades, the upselling starts with the front desk when the client calls to make an appointment, and continues with the technician who follows up with more specific suggestions when the client comes into the salon or spa.

4. A More Perfect Union

Technique: Bring the spa into the salon.

Opportunity: “This is the best way I have seen for selling and upselling spa services,” says LaVelle, owner of à laMode salonspa. “If spa team members can take the initiative to introduce themselves to a guest who is having his or her hair done and offer a heated chair massage, a hand massage or a make-up touch-up as a complimentary service, they have the best opportunity to introduce that client to the variety of services they have to offer.” This also extends to spa members working within the spa, says LaVelle. If a guest books an eyebrow wax, the esthetician has the best results introducing that guest to facials, microdermabrasion or massage.

Anet Bennett, owner of Kisma Hair Co. & Spa in Austin, Texas, agrees. “It never fails,” she says, of sending spa staff into the salon. “One of those clients always books an appointment—someone always needs an eyebrow wax.”

Pitfall: Persuading staff to believe that this will work is one of LaVelle’s biggest challenges. “Ultimately, I have to remind them that by suggesting additional services, they’re not only keeping themselves busy and the spa busy, but that it is part of giving full service to our guests,” she says. “Most people feel guilty for suggesting that they need to pamper themselves, but they want to. By opening our mouths and inviting them into our spas, we are giving them permission to do it!”

5. The Hard Sell

Technique: Keep your staff on target and motivated to upsell with incentives.

Opportunity: At Kisma Hair Co. & Spa, Bennett encourages her 10-person staff with punch cards for spa services they recommend to clients. After four punches from four clients booking services, the staff member receives a spa treatment themselves.

“I have a few that love this and fill up card after card,” says Bennett. “The saying ‘Drill in your own backyard’ seems to work for me.” LaVelle has also dreamt up several contests to keep staff aware and interested in upselling. Two of the best have been a scratch off board with prizes underneath, ranging from $1 to $500 to a day off with pay and gift certificates to local restaurants, and a grab bag with similar awards. Every time a team member got a current client to book a spa service or upsold a spa service, they got to scratch a square or grab a prize.

“The best part are clients who have never tried a spa service will try one just because the team member who is talking to her about it is excited and talking it up. The enthusiasm is contagious,” says LaVelle.

Pitfall: Keeping your incentives fresh is work. As the owner, it’s your job to come up with creative new incentive programs and track your staff’s progress. A small price to pay for a big boost in profits!

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