Spa RETAIL: Handy Retailing Guide for the Holidays

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Make Service Providers Star Salespeople

Without a well-trained and educated team driving product sales, any retailing plan quickly loses steam—along with a spa owner’s bottom line. Beverage retail giant Starbucks, in fact, takes sales training so seriously that it requires no less than 100 hours of training before a staff member is allowed to so much as turn on a coffeepot! While the spa industry’s approach to retail training may be less intense than that of other markets, this doesn’t make the business segment any less important to a spa owner’s operation.

“Retail is a non-negotiable in our industry,” says Great Face & Body’s Keith West-Harrison. “Forty percent of a spa’s revenue should come from retail.” The industry veteran says investing in staff sales training is just as—if not more—vital to business health as are marketing and advertising. And it works: West-Harrison has seen sales triple in the months following his training sessions.

In his customized program, which includes written materials and one-on-one training with spa management, West-Harrison introduces a script that can be applied to each customer interaction—or, as he likes to call it, “the dating process.” Like dating, selling to customers can cause some anxiety. Typically, training spa technicians to overcome their initial fear of rejection is the first hurdle, says West-Harrison, stating, “Employees need to understand that clients aren’t turning you down personally just because they didn’t buy a product from you.”

Another vital component to training: explaining the importance of not rushing through client treatments. “The key to selling products is allowing enough time to do it,” West-Harrison says. “Give your staff enough time to do an intake interview with clients—that means tacking on an extra 15 minutes before the treatment and 10 minutes after to discuss the products that were used.” But avoid the “skin analysis” approach that is so common with spa technicians. “We tend to tell clients everything that we think is wrong with their skin but neglect to ask them what their issues are,” West-Harrison explains, adding that sales must be tailored to a client’s specific areas of concern.

Wynne Business’ Lisa Starr advises spa owners to create a compensation system containing specific bench marks to drive behaviors, which helps to ensure employees are utilizing the training and making sales a priority—along with the quality of their services. As employees improve their sales, they gradually elevate their compensation level; in turn, employees are penalized should they not meet the required expectations.

“Refresher courses” incorporated into weekly staff meetings is another great way to keep staff focused on sales. “Training needs to be ongoing to be effective,” notes Starr. To drive home the point, she helped develop “Selvice: Seven Essential Steps that Increase Sales and Guarantee Stellar Customer Service,” a DVD training tool, that includes clips of successful—and unsuccessful—client and technician interactions.

Showing these examples and allowing employees to role-play sales scenarios serve as easy learning tools—and they’re not time-consuming. “Technicians are very tactful,” Starr explains. “They learn by doing.”

Ensuring your staff is educated on your spa’s products and brands is also vital to a successful retail strategy, says Oasis Day Spa owner Bruce Schoenberg, who employs a retail manager in each of his three spas to ensure employees are being continually trained on sales techniques. “Whenever a new product comes in we give each employee a product knowledge ‘cheat sheet,’” he says. To put their education in practice, Schoenberg’s spa technicians must fill out an education/prescription treatment card for each client who receives a service. For this spa owner, the retail system isn’t so much about monitoring employee sales as it is about ensuring that the right efforts are being made and that the spa is staffed with passionate people.

“In this business, you have to enjoy dealing with the public,” he says. “We seek people who genuinely care about the complete guest experience.”
—Angela Melero