Last week we received quite a bit of response from our Blab “How Cosmetic Outlets Slay Spas”. Everyone wasn’t happy and they let us know so. Many felt as though dirty spa laundry shouldn’t be aired in public.
We never saw it coming. I must admit that it gave us pause.
But then we received an e-mail from the co-owner of one of the largest membership spa clubs in the U.S. who wanted to know more. Read More
As a spa retail trainer I recognize that at some point in our lives, most of us have to sell something. Maybe it’s selling your friends on taking that well earned girls trip to Miami or Bangkok. Read More
Most people don’t like change. Almost no one changes just for change sake. There has to be a strong motivation behind it. The fact is, many luxury groups have such a steady stream of new customers that they aren’t yet feeling the impact of their reluctance to change. Read More
I’ve had my ear to the ground of the massage industry lately. Retail product selling is generating a lot of conversation…
According to David Kent LMT, NCTMB, every day we have a limited amount of time, physical strength and mental energy to earn a living. When we are at work, we are basically trading time for money. The amount we earn is influenced, to a certain degree, by our education, experience, skill level, track record, etc.
When we trade out time for money, we are only able to earn as much money as we are willing to trade our time. So, how else can we earn more money without working more hours? The answer is to retail, which is the sale of goods to the public.
(Yes, I know that you don’t want to “sell”. But you’re really not. Keep reading.)
People want to know why they hurt, how you can help and what they can do for themselves. Like other healthcare providers, we must educate the public and present solutions.
When we explain the benefits of receiving regular massage therapy sessions, we are, on a certain level, “selling” or “retailing.” When we offer a discounted price for a group of sessions, it might be labeled a “Special,” “Package” or “Membership.” Ultimately, we provide the benefits and the consumer makes an educated decision.
So, what products do massage therapists frequently integrate into their sessions that would benefit clients and could be offered for sale? The list includes topical analgesics, aromatherapy, pillows, music, scrubs, hot and cold packs, to name a few.
(I’d love it if my therapist recommended these to me. Wouldn’t you?)
Be creative and let your clients know you are proudly offering quality items for their personal use. During a regular session, let clients experience the benefits of new products at no additional charge. Ask clients to share samples with friends, family and coworkers. Topical analgesics and aromatherapy are great gift ideas for those living with pain and stress.
You know the treatment techniques and products that will help your clients the most. Education is the fundamental principle that must be applied to your therapy and the other products you sell. It is easy to earn additional income without working more hours by promoting the products you are already using and the repeat business continually adds to the bottom line.
(I would begin by checking out what’s on the shelves at your spa. I’d bet there are at least three products that you can tie in to your massage services. Speak with your manager about your sales commission rates and set daily or weekly goals for yourself as incentive. Good luck.)
I think that for most of us, (especially introverts) it takes a moment for any type of spa training to sink in. We need to mull it over and process it. Any questions that we have may not even formulate until we apply the process; do some hands on. But by then the trainer or consultant is long gone. Read More
For the past several years there has been an ongoing conversation about the difficulty of getting spa therapists to sell retail products. Most spa experts agree its important.. I gathered feedback from three industry insiders who shared their thoughts in recent publications.
Why does the word “selling” get such a negative response?
Nina Curtis, Founder and President of the Nile Institute weighed in this way. “Mainly because no one really wants to talk about it in the spa world where we believe it is only our position to make people feel good, well at least when it comes from the therapist’s mouth.”
Ouch. I totally agree and I’ve been saying similar things. It’s really critical. Remember when I said I taught myself to sell on the job? Seems Nina had the same experience. She says..
“I had this thought at one time as a therapist but only because during my basic cosmetology training no one presented sales as a part of my soon to be career. The same was true of my massage training. Nowhere during my training did any of my instructors present the importance of product selling in one of their lessons.”
Who’s responsible for driving retail sales in your spa?
Everyone in the company has a role to play in successful retailing and increasing revenue.
Industry veteran Lisa Starr knows this better than most. According to her, “Spas know that retailing is an important component of revenue generation, and yet many still struggle to reach hoped-for results. Who’s responsible for driving retail sales in your spa? Management? Therapists? Support Staff? Product Companies? It’s actually all of the above.
Role of Management
As with many initiatives, effective retailing starts at the top. The most impactful action management can take is to be purposeful in hiring and training staff who can create rapport with guests, and in creating compensation and advancement plans for therapists which include retailing benchmarks as part of the career path.
What Therapists Can Do
Without a doubt, therapists play the biggest role in retailing to spa guests. As the uniformed experts, their artfully presented home care suggestions, in tandem with their one-on-one interaction with the guest, will be the biggest driver of sales activity. Making home care recommendations MUST be part of every treatment on the spa menu.” Lisa Starr– Spa Consultant, Management Educator, and Journalist
Estheticians who post 35-45% of their total revenue in retail are Rock Stars! And YES, they EXIST!
In Designed to Sell: Integrating Retail into Your New Spa Peggy Wynn Borgman talks about the importance of adding home care presentations to client workflow. She writes, “Our consultancy conducted a survey of spa shoppers that showed 93% of the spa client’s decision to buy home care was based on the recommendation of their spa technician or therapist.”
In the absence of recommendation, guests will buy familiar brands, sometimes refilling a product they’ve purchased in the past. This has led many spas to conclude that brands, not employees, are the most powerful source of sales. This simply isn’t true.
Massage therapists who post 10% of their total revenue in retail are top performers. Nail technicians and hair stylists who attain 15% retail ratio are stars. For estheticians, this number rises to 35-40% in the Stay Spa setting. But none of these employees have a chance to attain such numbers if they can’t easily make home care presentations to their clients as part of normal workflow. Most Stay Spas unwittingly make retail sales a challenge for even the most motivated employee.”
As you can see retail selling is spa has broad impact. But I feel it’s time for more spas to move beyond conversation and begin implementing. There is a culture shift that needs to happen. And if you’re not aware that this change is underway your spa is out of touch.
In my own experience, therapists who make on-point product recommendations raise the level of customer experience dramatically. This is why I focus on introverts and helping them use their natural listening skills. It shows that they are listening closely. It proves that they care enough about their guest to try and improve their well-being. This will keep your customers coming back.
In bench-marking studies from the past year, the average retail revenues at Five-Star hotel spas ranged from 3% to 10%. It’s a shame because with retail profit margins higher than services, they have the potential to represent 20-35% of the overall revenue earnings.
Some exceptional examples in the industry like The Spa at Hershey and Gianni Versace’s spa actually have signature retail lines which provide a whopping 45% of their profit.
But both have a system of selling that is consistent and effectively in place.
At too many spas, there is inattention to the impact of everyday processes. Employees perform with comfortable repetition without examining the effects or implications of their actions to the larger picture.
Here are three of the most common mistakes resulting in millions of dollars in loss of potential revenue for international hotel brands.
1. Non-existent Retail Process
In various parts of the world, spa intake forms that customers painstakingly fill out are required only for government compliance.
Shockingly, they are not used to initiate guest conversation because the therapists are unable to speak the customer’s language. So the form is simply ignored.
And in its stead, no process is put in place to ensure smooth communication between the therapist and guest. No mechanism or liaison is provided which guarantees that the appropriate treatment and product recommendations are given.
Guests are allowed to leave the spa without closure aside from paying their bill. Discussions about follow up treatments or home care never take place. This often results in feelings of disappointment. Of having paid a premium price for an experience that was nothing special and therefore unnecessary to repeat.
2. Non-selling Massage Staff
How many of your massage therapists sell retail products? With the exception of cruise ships, many upscale spas give massage therapists a pass on product recommendations. In many cases products that are perfect accompaniments and home care solutions to massage treatments are sitting in plain view on the shelves but they’re never mentioned.
Product recommendation is an important component to personalizing a guest’s experience. It’s a powerful and effective way to differentiate your brand from the competition. It has also been proven to stimulate return visits and customer loyalty.
By allowing your massage team to by-pass this step, your spa is sending a message that your level of service is inconsistent according to the treatment selected, and that sub-standard service is OK.
3. Annual Therapist Training
Does your spa team receive product training once a year that substitutes for “customer training”? Are you satisfied with it because its “free”? Guess what; it really isn’t free. It’s costing you a lot.
Product knowledge can now be accessed by almost anyone if they have access to the internet. Your customers often come to the spa equipped with far more product knowledge than your therapists.
To be competitive in today’s spa market, therapists must bring a different more relevant set of customer information skill sets. This requires regular training, feedback and refreshers.
If you’re not showing them how to deliver the best customer experience through active listening, engagement, treatment and product personalization your organization is behind the times and losing ground on revenue and repeat business.
Have you made any changes to the way you’re doing business in 2016?
A prospective client, the manager at an iconic Five-Star hotel spa in the Maldives told me that she lives on pins and needles every year because her staff is extremely weak at selling retail products.
When I asked how she explains her revenue numbers to senior management, she said “I only do an end of year reporting. We have a very rich client who flies in on his plane from the UAE each December. He brings his entire family and they purchase everything on our shelves.”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Yet how many of us go to work each day with fingers crossed hoping for sales? When I first started out 19 years ago, that’s exactly what I was doing.
Well, there’s no need to be on pins and needles any longer.
I’ve partnered with Spa Standard to bring you a package that is highly affordable, convenient and language friendly. Most importantly, it will turn your team’s retail sales around quickly. Check it out here>> http://bit.ly/1U1JBWh
Social media can be very powerful. A well positioned customer review can make or break a business. It can also elicit feelings of relating to the writer’s experience.
This week my friend Mark A. McKenney, a media consultant, posted the link to an article highlighting a woman’s birthday spa experience. It was published in Luxury Daily a leading trade publication.
Here is an excerpt:
“I am a mum of two young children and I am also client services director for an agency specializing in beauty, luxury and healthcare brands. So the time I spend in a day spa is at an absolute premium, carefully chosen based on trusted recommendations.
My expectations are high, but spas are everything that luxury should represent: immersion in a sensorial and physical environment that is a total escape for mind, body and soul.
However, my recent birthday visit to one of London’s hottest five-star day spas was distinctly lukewarm. Yes, there was beautiful interior design and excellent products. But all the little things that add up to make this an exceptional day out were absolutely wrong.
When luxury brand experiences rely 100 percent on attention to detail to elevate things to the extraordinary, this spa was not worth the five-star price tag.
Suffice it to say I did not leave as a brand ambassador. Things went awry from the moment I arrived and was greeted with the wrong customer’s booking details.
Then there was the couple next to me incessantly swiping smartphones in a no-mobile phone environment, the staff sounding like a training brochure recitation, and I was asked for payment as I was leaving even though the bill had already been settled.
It could have all been so different.
Let us start with the personnel. Throughout my stay, hospitality staff and therapists seemed to lack the empowerment necessary to deliver a great, personalized luxury brand experience.
My companion explicitly mentioned it was my birthday upon arrival, but it was never once acknowledged. A glass of bubbly or a gift of nicely wrapped samples has a minimal cost outlay, but could have paid huge dividends in terms of my brand loyalty and advocacy.
Staff members that are allowed to flex treatments and service rather than follow a set script are the difference between a competent and excellent customer experience.
There are thousands of beautifully designed spas and beauty products globally. Delivering an exquisite, personalized experience over and above a beautiful setting with some nice smells will be the only way to survive.”
By not revealing the name of the spa, Sara Jones, graciously gifted our industry with a teachable moment. As a hospitality professional what did you learn and how will you put it to use in 2016?