“You want to super-size that?” Let’s face it: The word “upsell” doesn’t necessarily have the best connotations. We’ve all experienced a salesperson pushing us to spend more than we intended or buy items we didn’t need. Such negative experiences may cause spa pros to shy away from suggesting add-ons, fearing that it might turn clients off. But when done thoughtfully, upselling can deepen the customer experience, make guests feel closer to your spa and provide a healthy boost to your profits. “There’s no need to feel awkward about upselling— we’re here to help clients feel better and relax,” says Teresa Solokow, regional director of operations for milk + honey spa in Austin, Texas. “Adjusting your perception of what an add-on is allows them to see the benefit of it.”
Indeed, the milk + honey team refers to add-ons as “enhancements,” since the ultimate goal is to make the service even better. But there’s no denying the financial boon to the spa—it pulls in an average of $4,000 a month from enhancements alone. How can you perfect the art of the upsell? Heed the following suggestions from spa pros in the know.
Identify the Need
One of the keys to a successful upsell is helping the client see its genuine benefits. That means making suggestions primarily based on what the individual actually needs, rather than on a product or service you’re simply trying to push. To help inform what those needs might be, The Spa at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore in Santa Barbara, California, has guests fill out an intake questionnaire asking about their health and well-being. The staff member then reviews the questionnaire and makes an add-on recommendation based on the information provided. “The therapist might say, ‘I see you have lower back pain—I’d recommend adding a Yoga Balm to your massage,’” notes spa director Jaana Roth. “Or, in winter when the weather is especially dry, we may suggest a shea butter enhancement—it’s more of an expert recommendation than a car salesman approach.”
Likewise, Lila Castellanos, owner and esthetician at Doll Face Skincare Studio in Los Angeles, always assesses the client’s skin prior to determining which extras might be helpful. “I want them to feel that they’re spending their dollars in the wisest way, and that I’m being honest about what they really need,” she explains. “You don’t want your clients to feel like you’re trying to break open their banks.”
Pick Your Moment
Timing is everything, particularly when it comes to upselling. After all, clients won’t appreciate a therapist talking about money just as they’re getting into relaxation mode, says Castellanos, who notes that the consultation is the best time to suggest an enhancement. Meanwhile, at milk + honey, customers are given at least three opportunities to upgrade: at the time of scheduling, during the intake, and then at the start of the consultation. The recommendations are offered verbally during the scheduling and consultation, and in writing during the intake via a printed menu, which allows guests a moment to consider their choices without staff input. “We want our clients to understand all of their options, and make a decision that is best for their experience,” says Solokow.
Checkout can present another key opportunity— not for adding more services, but for offering retail upsells, especially items used during the treatment. Solokow says that at milk + honey, therapists are trained to educate clients about products as they’re performing the service, and to leave homecare recommendations at the front desk. The concierge then follows up with the product offerings at checkout and closes the sale.
Add-ons may run the gamut from incorporating foot scrubs into a massage to offering lymphatic treatments with a facial. When making a recommendation, think about things that not only complement the original service, but that don’t extend the length of the client’s visit by too much. For example, The Biltmore therapists may advise guests to try antiaging collagen mitts during a manicure, a face mask during a massage, or light therapy with just about any service. “These enhancements are easy and there’s no extra time needed,” enthuses Roth. “It’s multitasking!”
What about suggesting something a guest might not have considered? Castellanos advises only going that route if you have a solid relationship with them. “Regular clients love to try something new after they’ve established trust with you,” she explains. Solokow agrees, noting that this is especially true if you’re recommending more intense enhancements: “Clients who’ve had their last six facials with a gentle fruit acid exfoliation may be ready to see further benefits, so there’s a good opportunity to discuss something stronger, like an advanced peel.”
Price it Right
Offering add-ons at several price points will make it easier for clients to embrace them. For example, The Biltmore offers five to six enhancements between $20 and $75. “It gives guests a nice range, so they can choose what they can afford,” says Roth. The charge will generally factor in the cost of products used, intensity of labor and amount of time the treatment takes.
Of course, you must be up front about the cost of any add-ons you recommend. At milk + honey, enhancement prices are listed on the spa’s printed menu, and employees are trained to be fully transparent about charges as well, so guests won’t be unpleasantly surprised at checkout. “We take the time to help staff with proper verbiage and even role-play, saying something as simple as, ‘You’re going to love the Foot Polish Enhancement, great choice. The cost is $15. Which scent would you prefer today?’” notes Solokow. “It only takes a second or two, and it doesn’t need to detract from the experience.” Indeed, if the add-on is something simple that the guest actually wants, it’s offered when they want it and the price is right, you really can’t go wrong.
–by Barbara Diggs
This story first appeared in the February issue of Dayspa magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.