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Retail sales are the highest profit center for the practice, and spa and it is an essential part of your business development. In essence the goal should be for your service offerings to drive your product sales. Many clients will become loyal to the products they can purchase at your spa and will want to duplicate the service they received from you and extend their service experience.

Your spa is limited by time constraints on the amount of service that can be provided, whereas retail has unlimited opportunities. The key is breaking the big goals down into smaller steps, because small steps make the big goals happen.

Here are some retail questions that provide food for thought and can support your creating a strong foundation and profitable retail culture.

Promotions and Specials…it’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas

What promotions is the spa going to offer through the holidays? What service can you revamp or add-on to, creating a ‘new’ holiday treatment? Are you changing the aromatherapy offered to inspire a holiday-esque feeling? Ask your provider team to identify a few scents they would like to use. Perhaps a Peppermint Pedicure? Research what the healing properties behind the plant extract are. Wintergreen, peppermint, sage and cinnamon all have strong healing properties that can be high-lighted on a holiday menu of add-on services that will assist your practitioners with up-selling. Have you assigned a staff member to tastefully decorate the spa? Does the spa have enough gift cards, boxes, bags and ribbon? Private labeling these items with your logo, if you haven’t already done so, is a great way to attract attention, new clients and save people time by creating a ready to go, wrapped and beautiful present to give, when gift certificates are purchased. If you already do this…keep in mind, now is the time to order enough stock to get thru the entire season. Many of these companies will not be able to help you come mid-November if you are running out of stock. These are just a few of the questions you can easily be answering now and delegating out to your team. The holidays are a joyous and festive time of the year and by planning ahead, you will be able to kiss your profits under the mistletoe.

Merry Merchandising

Take time to look at your retail area. The holiday season is the perfect chance to breathe fresh life into the area. Have that “it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas” look and the cheer that goes with it! If you are creatively or time challenged, ask your staff for volunteers to help. Chances are you have a few incredibly artistic employees who would love the opportunity to help make over the retail space. Take advantage of cross-merchandising strategies and impulse sale opportunities. Think about small products that clients can purchase impulsively to add on to gift card sales. Pre-constructed spa gift boxes are a great way to create no fuss up-selling that can assist with the branding of your spa. Keep them at impulse buys of $25-$75 dollars. Use lighting techniques and creative displays to attract customers. Colorful ornaments in large glass bowls placed throughout the spa are a subtle and cost effective way to illicit holiday cheer. Poinsettias and other holiday plants at the entrance of your spa are also a great way to get into the holiday spirit and make great gifts to the staff when you are finished with them. Play videos for product education, services provided and any other up-sell or promotional tie-in. Many of the major product lines have promotional DVD’s they can provide to you at little or no cost. Focus on creating a space that is shopper friendly. Decide what additional merchandise the spa will be selling, ensuring that all new products are properly inventoried and that there is space for back stock. Plan the exit strategy for merchandise that doesn’t sell. Knowing what the profit margins are on individual seasonal products is an important piece to be aware of during the decision making process. If you can’t make a profit after the holidays when left over merchandise is placed on sale, you may want to rethink bringing that product in. One way to approach this conundrum is instead of bringing in time sensitive merchandise (Santa-driven products) consider going with a color theme. Red and silver packaged products that don’t sell can be stored and revamped for Valentine’s Day, ensuring that profit margins are met. Remember, the goal of successful merchandising is creating an environment that is sales driven, yet comfortable and accessible for clients so they enjoy the shopping experience.

How to handle the Scrooge

One of the biggest challenges during the holiday season is combating the stress our clients put themselves under. The Spa is a safe haven from the pressures of the world and Spa employees are expected in the short time a client is visiting, to make all the craziness melt away. As much as we do to prepare to pamper clients, there will always be a few who will not be happy. For the sanity of your front desk staff and ultimately, your own, invest a bit of time strategizing and scripting how difficult clients will be handled during the holidays. Most spas have policies in place already, however this is a great opportunity to review and reiterate before the holiday traffic begins. If your spa has a 24 hour cancellation policy, it would be wise to remind your clients during the months of October and November to minimize no-shows and unhappy guests. Script the language you wish your staff to use when challenges with clients arise. Commit to paper how you wish staff to address the issue and whom they are to turn to if the challenge needs to be addressed with higher management. This is especially imperative to review with seasonal staff members. The old adage “the customer is always right” is a great message in theory, however the practical aspect can be potentially devastating to a spa. If a spa were to give every customer everything they wanted, for the price they desire (usually free), the spa would be in trouble very quickly. So, take the time, script out different scenarios you have witnessed in the past, and give your staff direction on how you wish it to be handled.

Appeal to the Senses

A great retail space is designed around the senses. With retail products sold in this industry the senses primarily targeted will make use of touch, sound, smell and sight. It is proven that skin care products need to be accessible for the clients to touch, try on and experience. When effectively merchandising around the sense of touch and smell, consider these suggestions. Sample trays with multiple products grouped together appropriately are always effective. Groupings can be made of similar products such as a variety of masques or can feature an entire treatment regimen like a cleanser, toner, serum and crème. Be mindful of the scents each product has and group complimentary aromas together. Ancillary products such as candles and reed diffusers create an additional opportunity to fill your retail space with pleasant scents and additional products to sell. Placing the groupings in one featured area is effective on many levels. Clients will be more likely to try more than one, it will be easier for your staff to speak and demonstrate multiple products, supplies for testing to prevent cross-contamination such as spatulas and tissues can be more readily available and cleanup will be a breeze. Try to have a sample of as many products as possible, with care taken to not overwhelm or clutter the area. When deciding what sounds will fill the retail area, it is best to choose music that is set at a tempo to relax clients and slow their sense of time. Selecting music that is wordless is wise, for it allows clients to focus on browsing and making selections to purchase. Many top spas only play music in the retail area that they also sell. There are many music options available, from wonderfully eclectic multi-national music to CD’s that can be private labeled as signature sounds of your medical day spa. The element of sight is the final sense that ties all others together into a cohesive and effective merchandising area. Ensuring that the space appears appealing and organized may sometime be a challenge for people new to the game of merchandising. Choose an overall game plan for the space and stick to the plan. Select either a theme or a purpose to the plan. A safe direction to go when you first begin visual merchandising is to choose a mono-chromatic theme. Grouping different areas of the retail space by color of products can create a clean and uncluttered feel. Accent the groupings with architectural pleasing art pieces mixed in with shelf-talkers that give details about each product will create a space that is functional and attractive. Color is a common stimulus that sometimes is overlooked. Color can change a client’s attitude and has the ability to influence decisions seemingly unnoticed. It can be convey the festive feeling of holidays or the dramatic change of seasons. Color combinations can be very simple and it is always best to go with a high contrast. Choose a few colors that identify well with your target market of clients and add splashes of color from there. If you implement only a few of these tried and true ideas, you will most likely have a leg up on the competition.

Location, Location, Location

We all know the importance of location when choosing where a spa is going to be is absolutely essential to the success of business. Same theory applies when selecting where a product is going to be placed within the retail space. Proper location and placement of product can be the difference between high sales and product languishing on the shelf. An important concept for effective merchandising is to always have a major focal point for every display. The easiest way to produce a focal point is to start by placing the main product you are featuring directly in the line of vision, and then surround it with complementary products. The products on the periphery will not only frame the featured product but create a natural opportunity for an up-sell of the featured product. Be conscious of the height of the majority of your clients. If you are shorter or taller than the average client, be sure to create the focal point at the client’s average height, not yours. This may sound silly, but can make a dramatic difference in the total sales. Always keep in mind the goal of creating a balanced display. Asymmetrical displays can be stunning, as long as the balance and perspective is appropriate. The goal should always be to create an atmosphere of organization and harmony. “Many merchandising mavens draw a design plan before beginning to move products around,” Before beginning to shift everything around, think about whether you want to organize product from front to back, right to left, in a curved pattern or triangular shape.” Taking the time to map out a plan for product placement is a great time saver and will be easier for additional staff members to help with the process. When introducing a new product to your clients, prime placement within the space is always a great idea. By placing the new product with shelf talkers explaining what the unique selling point is and featuring an attractive price point display, sales can be maximized. Prime placement should not always go to the new featured product, though. It is equally important to keep the best sellers and heavy-hitters front and center in the ideal real estate of your medical day spa. Understanding which products are the top five drivers of the retail sales and keeping them near the number one location in the spa makes good merchandising sense. Point of Sale is another location that should not be overlooked. While it is important to keep the reception area free and clear of clutter, there are many ways to create opportunity for an “impulse” buy. Small products such as a lip plumper or a travel size crème can be a tempting add-on purchase. If you pay attention to the merchandising of the product and space, the little sales will add up to a big number by the end of the year. Remember, the placement of every single product should have a reason, and that reason is to increase the business’ profit.

Suggestive Selling

Suggestive selling is one aspect of merchandising that is often overlooked, yet it can make a tremendous difference in the total retail sales of a medical day spa. It is a proven statistic that close to 40% of clients will say yes when asked by a staff member if they wish to upgrade in size or quantity. There is a fine line to being perceived as pushy or merely suggestive, though. A good way to assist your staff with suggestive selling is through the creation of simple scripts. Choose two to three products that you wish to feature during a period of time. Write out key features and unique selling points of each of the products and ask the staff to get comfortable with the language you have chosen. If you find this step challenging, your product representative is a great resource to turn to for help with descriptions and sales techniques for the featured products. Then require staff members to be sure that each client receives at least one mention per visit. When clients are scheduling their next appointment and paying for their service, this is a wonderful opportunity for your staff to suggest additional product. The “every client gets one mention” is a great way to boost sales of a new product, turn a seasonal item before it is too late or a product that you are looking to move off the shelves. Many times new products will be endorsed by celebrities. This is a great opportunity to create visual aids that can assist with sales in the form of photos of the said celebrity with their testimonial. It is common knowledge that much of beauty industry sales are driven by celebrity use. The credibility celebrity endorsements offer is staggering and many clients will be more likely to purchase a product used by their favorite musician, actor or performer. Ask your product representative for any and all press releases and endorsements the product line has. By keeping the celebrity endorsements stored and ready to go, you will have a quick way to do a mid-month merchandising touch-up if you feel the need to switch or change a display. Suggestive selling may also be accomplished simply by featuring a ‘product of the month’ in a high visible area. This technique is great for seasonal specials and time-sensitive products. Cross-merchandising is imperative for your staff members to learn and master. It is a technique that is used with tremendous success by top medical day spas. It is simply the art of matching products together that complement each other. Try using merchandise from different parts of the salon or spa, with the intent to introduce clients to ancillary services as well as products. Displays using this tactic present a wonderful opportunity to introduce clients to other services the spa offers than what they usually visit for. Just like it’s counterpart cross-marketing, cross-merchandising creates opportunities to increase sales while creating loyalty to your medical day spa. It is highly effective and is the suggestive selling technique that can offer a significant reward to your business when applied consistently.

Check your email list…check it twice

There has been a trend the past 5 years for retailers that spa owners need to be aware of. Don’t forget the internet. Christmas season is shorter this year! Four of the eight biggest retail email volume days of the year occurred in the weeks before Christmas last year. These days actually have names, “Cyber Monday” (December 1) with the following three Mondays being referred to as “Echo Mondays” (December 8, 15 and 22). Sending out emails to your data base around these dates makes good sense. Writing the emails now provides an opportunity to send out a well-planned and thought out campaign highlighting specials and promotions. You may also consider identifying your top clients from last year gift certificate purchases and contact them with a reminder or special offer. Many corporate managers are looking in October for the gifts they will give their staff at the end of the year. Spa gift cards are an easy and great gift for managers to give. Think in your sphere of influence, who do you know who may need to buy lots of presents for their staff? Ask your staff where their significant others work. Create a game designed for your staff to sell gift certificates. Remind them to use email. If your spa is not set up to sell gift certificates on line, be sure to clearly map out through your emails and website how easy ordering from your spa is. Set protocols in place to handle all phone inquiries as well as a system to mail out gift certificates. All spas will see a significant increase to their gift certificate sales by making it easy for the clients. If you are located on a heavily traveled road, you may want to consider setting up a gift card tent outside the spa. Send out emails letting your clients know your spa will be offering drive-up purchases for busy last minute shoppers. One of our clients tripled their gift card revenue this way while connecting with new clients. Sending out appointment confirmations via email this time of the year can drive additional revenues into the spa as well. 70% of clients receiving an email confirmation for an appointment they scheduled will open the message stated a recent poll. The spa has the opportunity to include a message, such as Give the gift of relaxation. “Spa Gift Cards Available.”

Filling the spa with merry clients while keeping the till jingling is the desire of every dedicated spa owner during the holiday season. Invest time planning and preparing and see how easy it is to make all your Christmas wishes come true.

Don’t forget that shipping is a factor: The prospect of a trip to the post office during the holidays is daunting. If your customer can’t get to your business during the middle of the workday, and they don’t want to be faced with long lines during peak traffic that can eat up a lot of their valuable time. Look for options that are kinder to your customer’s already hectic schedule. You can send gifts and packages for them without them even coming to see you, which will help cut back on both costs and time.

Durocher Enterprises offers specific planning and guidance in the creation and set up of retail planning and design. Do not underutilize your highest profit center’s potential. Call for a complimentary consultation today at (406) 863-9448!


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