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10 Things About... Retail Reality: 10 Easy Ideas to Improve Your Results

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Aesthetics is a wonderful and rewarding career but, as many experienced professionals know, it is not one where growth and security is a sure thing. It takes much dedicated hard work and patience to finally see a busy schedule of reliable clients. In the meantime, and certainly after you are in regular demand, you will need to deepen and widen your customer relationships to avoid loss of interest and, ultimately, business. Skin care and makeup product sales are possibly the best and most profitable way for you to protect the trade you have earned.

And do not forget that every department store, independent beauty representative (Mary Kay, Arbonne, et cetera) and product website is eagerly trying to sell to your customer! If you are not providing those home skin care items, someone else gladly will – and just might lure them away from your skin care practice, too!
To help you sharpen your retail sales skills (or to earn even more from them) I offer you these valuable tips that I use in my own aesthetics practice with very positive effect. I hope you find a few of them right for your own way of communicating with clients.

  1. Purge the idea of “sales” from your mind. For many skin care professionals, the idea of selling involves coercing customers to do something they do not want to do, in this case the purchasing of home-use products. The truth is that you cannot force someone to buy anything they are not interested in. It is hard to imagine a facial client who is not curious about or a frequent user of even the most basic cleanser or moisturizer. To get past your own doubts, ask customers this question: Would you like for me to suggest the right way to care for your skin at home? Few will ever respond no, and that opens the door for post-treatment product sales.
  2. Organize your product recommendation plans. Have a short set of products you know well to suggest to customers of a certain skin type or condition. For example, for my teenage clients suffering with acne I recommend a cleanser, exfoliator and benzoyl product as a standard treatment for troubled skin. For my anti-aging customers, I will always suggest a glycolic/lactic resurfacing serum, hydrator with SPF, eye cream and evening moisturizer. I can get to cleansers and toners once I have won this important opening in my client retail relationship.
  3. Make a game of retailing! Challenge yourself to promote certain products each day or week. I will often pick an item that I have somehow been overlooking in my collection, such as a salicylic scrub for dry skin. I will then focus on that item and the ideal client for it with the goal of selling a specific number or all of them that week. It is amazing what focus can do for your sales!
  4. Suggest products instead of sampling them. Customers are far more likely to purchase skin care products recommended on the spot than after receiving a sample that they will try later. Samples get lost or forgotten and do not have the same inspirational motivation for making a sale as in-spa suggestions do. Sampling often means purchase delay or failure.
  5. Check your retail shelves before you recommend. You tell your customer about a great skin care product only to come out of the treatment room to find the item temporarily out of stock. Irritating, yes – but easily avoidable. Just make sure you know what you have on hand before you choose!
  6. Look for obvious “holes” in a client’s skin care regimen. Okay, so your client recently purchased a complete regimen of a line you do not carry. Just how “complete” is that regimen, anyway? Often clients think they have everything when either a toner or eye cream is not part of the home program. Not every beauty adviser agrees as to what constitutes a full home care plan, and if the client decided for herself she may have overlooked important items. Ask what the new regime consists of and see if something key is missing from it. This is what will truly complete the home care routine.
  7. Product trade-in promotion. I do this twice a year at my skin care center. Offer a $5 or $10 trade-in credit when a customer brings in a facial product and purchases one of your own. I offer $5 for cleansers and toners and $10 for creams and serums. It is amazing how effective this is for winning new product business! Only allow one trade-in credit per item purchased and do not include a trade-in of your own product for another.
  8. Create a service gift package that includes a couple of retail items. Promote a facial/massage combination that comes with a body wash and lotion, scented candle or room spray. Build the cost into the gift package. These sell well and enhance the recipient’s overall pleasure.
  9. Ask all new facial clients to bring in their current skin care products at the first visit. Now you can evaluate what they are presently using on their skin, judge the correctness of each item for client skin type, and make appropriate suggestions for improving the home care routine. Clients are very appreciative for the advice, direction and suggestions.
  10. Change up the home care routine as changing seasons require it. Let clients know that the products you recommend for one season may need adjustment for different weather conditions. This creates an expectation that you will likely suggest alternate items throughout the year to defend against more intense sun or cold, dry air exposure. After all, we are supposed to know what a client should do for the best skin protection and when, right?

You do not need to be a great “salesperson” in order to achieve impressive retail results, just the willingness to keep the client’s best interests in mind and help them decide what to do to keep looking her or his best. That is what skin care customers depend on from their aesthetic experts and is our responsibility to provide without being asked. Clients that buy from you are happier clients and certainly more valuable to your career. So let us make everyone happier as bags full of your skin care products head home after service appointments!

Douglas Preston is a business consultant and frequent lecturer in the day and medical spa industry, and has been featured in interviews on CNN and Fine Living channels. Preston’s business articles frequently appear in DERMASCOPE Magazine, Spa Management Journal, American Spa, MedicalSpa Magazine, Les Nouvelles Esthetiques and others. He also contributes as an editorial advisor to several respected spa trade publications. Preston is past-president of Aesthetics International Association (AIA), and served as committee chairman for The Day Spa Association (DSA). Preston was named The Day Spa Association’s “Spa Person of the Year” in January 2006. He received distinction as “Favorite Spa Consultant” in American Spa magazine’s 2006 readers’ poll. As consultant to both spa owners, physicians and practicing aestheticians Preston has taught and mentored thousands of skilled professionals worldwide and continues to today. Since 1996, Preston has owned and operated Preston Private Label Products, a provider of fine skincare for the spa/medical industry. He has maintained a California aesthetician’s license since 1982 and is also licensed in the state of New Mexico. Douglas Preston can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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