In 2017 Nancy Griffin, president of Contento Marketing issued a brilliant report on retail. It was stated that “seventy-five percent of spa managers felt their low retail revenues were caused by staff resistance”.
I wonder if the managers ever thought to offer training that was structured for how introverts learn. Were they even aware that 95% of therapists are introverts?
When I consult with spa managers in the United States they often tell me that their number one problem is getting their staff to sell retail products. The past three years spent working in Asia has shown me that the same challenges exist.
Their solution has frequently been to increase product training, and to remind their staff more often how important selling is. This rarely fixes the problem because they are not addressing the root cause.
The spa industry has failed to recognize that most of its therapists are introverts by nature. They are quiet people who prefer the peaceful environment which so many spas offer. They work in subdued lighting. Customer interactions are mostly one on one. Because communication occurs largely through touch, the need to speak is kept to a minimum. This suits them just fine as introverts are not huge fans of small talk.
However, most therapists have nurturing spirits. They will bend over backwards to relieve someone’s pain. And as introverts they tend to be great listeners.
The good news is that listening well is at the heart of engagement. And engagement is the key to selling retail products.
For many therapists, customer engagement is initially very difficult. But once the stress and trepidation they experience from second guessing themselves is removed, they become the retail superstars that they are meant to be. And it happens rapidly.
Here are some tips that may help you position your team for more success in increasing your retail sales.
Tip # 1-Ask your therapists what gets in the way of their selling. Address their concerns and fears with empathy and honesty.
Tips # 2-. Divide your team into groups of three. Have them give a one minute presentation to their peers on something they love.
Tip # 3-Have the listeners repeat back what they heard the presenter say. This will help to build listening skills.
Tip # 4-In private provide positive feedback to the presenters on their presentation strengths. Guide them on improving their weaknesses.
Tip # 5-Using their strengths, repeat the presentation process using a retail product that they like. Roleplay presenting to a customer during down-time.
Join me at #ISPA2017 for Introverts: The Secret of Increasing Retail Sales.
Spa managers who achieve high retail sales know that a strong front desk team is worth their weight in gold. Conversely, show me a spa with low retail sales and chances are great that the receptionists are weak in product knowledge.
Recently I trained a city spa team with product sales that hovered around 6%. (25% and higher is ideal) Staff included three receptionists all of whom had worked there for over a year. A technique that I always use is to ask the front desk staff to tell me their complete skin care regimen based upon the products on the shelves. This does several things; it allows me to gauge their knowledge, comfort in explaining product use, enthusiasm for the brands and level of engagement.
None of the receptionists were well versed enough to inform me of an entire daily routine. Despite the fact that the spa carries only three brands, they have complete access to product samples and serve as treatment models during training, they were somewhat clueless.
I wonder what happens when guests come in to purchase products?
In contrast, high performing teams always have strong receptionists. They are more than just pretty. They’re highly engaging and product obsessed! If your guest has last minute doubts or questions about their purchase, a good receptionist calls upon their personal experience with the products. They can provide the reassurance necessary to close the sale.
For managers with a weak front desk staff, resolving knowledge gaps and apathy is not difficult to resolve. Take these five steps:
1. Ensure that down time is spent familiarizing themselves with your products.
2. Ask product related questions frequently.
3. Conduct role play sessions with them.
4. Include product knowledge expertise as part of their performance review.
5. Create a program to incentivize sales.
This is something that you can begin today.
Consider that your front desk is first and last contact for your guests. Make the experience excellent.
Day Spa Association cited an interesting statistic in their latest Snapshot Report;
Spas that generated 20% or higher in retail could potentially improved their sales by as much as 14%.
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As beauty outlets like Ulta continue their explosive sales in cosmetic and skin care products, how is the spa industry strategizing to capture its own share of the retail market?
Not all retail stores are under pressure. One new chain is expanding. Based on a successful formula, the chain plans to add 100 new 10,000-square-foot stores this year for a total of more than 970 units. The stores are called “Ulta Beauty” (Ulta, not Ultra, notice) and offer makeup, skin care, fragrances and hair products.
A recent article from The Wall Street Journal revealed Ulta’s strategy (1). The first building block of success is location. Ulta avoids the premium urban sites some retailers choose. Instead, Ulta picks less expensive secondary locations, with little or no competition, in outdoor strip malls instead of enclosed malls, where shoppers can easily park and walk directly inside.
The second building block is Ulta gets women to try, wear and, most important, play with beauty products. Mass brands like Cover Girl and Maybelline, normally available in drug and big-box stores, occupy one side while prestige brands like Lancôme and Clinique, usually found only in exclusive department stores, are on the other. Customers can test most products, even hair dryers. And Ulta is dynamic with promotions that bundle top sellers with new items, a technique that takes the focus away from straight discounting and instead encourages customers to discover new things.
This mix of brands offers a broad range of prices, from $2 lip liners to $200 hair dryers, and appeals to all ages. Mothers and daughters often shop together, with three in four customers spending 15 minutes or more in the store, and one in five spending 30 minutes or more. The stores have hair salons, and often facial stations and “brow bars” for eyebrow shaping.
“You hear and see and smell and feel beauty happening around you. It elevates the whole store, even if you are not using it,” Dave Kimbell, Ulta’s chief marketing and merchandising officer, told The Wall Street Journal.
Shoppers test shades of lipstick, sniff different fragrances or get a blowout. “You can’t Amazon that,” said Oliver Chen, head of retail and luxury goods at analyst Cowen & Co, calling Ulta one of a handful of “Un-Amazon-able” retailers in The Wall Street Journal.
Some consumers describe their experience as feeling like a kid in Disneyland. And while there is increasing competition from drug stores and more upscale beauty retailers like Sephora, Ulta differentiates itself by offering both mass and prestige brands together. This encourages what the company calls “mass migration,” where a shopper coming in to buy a cheaper lipstick will wander over to check out more expensive items.
To encourage prestige brands to market outside their usual exclusive upscale retail settings, Ulta sets the high-end brands apart with dedicated areas, special seating, signage and fixtures.
While salon services make up just a small percentage of sales, those customers must make an appointment that forces them to come into the store regularly. These shoppers spend 2.5 times more than non-salon customers and shop twice as often.
Natural products retailers have the ability to offer the same sort of elevated shopping experience by creating areas where customers can linger and learn, try product samples or demonstrate equipment, receive a chair massage or other health treatment. With a little creative thought, you can apply the lessons from Ulta to make your store “Un-Amazon-able,” too! WF
1. E. Holmes, “A Beauty Retailer That Knows What You Want,” The Wall Street Journal, June 21, 2016, www.wsj.com/articles/a-beauty-retailer-that-knows-what-you-want-1466536921, accessed June 29, 2016.
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