Recognize who is actually paying your salary—your clients. A good spa acknowledges the people keeping them in business, says Galvez. “Always remember that every penny a client spends with you is discretionary. It’s not because they have to, it’s because they want to.” Don’t take that for granted, as Galvez warns it’s critical that every spa manager train their employees to realize that clients can spend their money anywhere, and it’s a privilege that they spend it with you. When answering a phone or greeting a client, learn to say, “Thank you for choosing my spa,” and do it with sincerity. That lets clients know that you realize they have a choice, and you appreciate their business.
Use client referrals to build business. Galvez, who once added 17,000 client names to Face Works Day Spa’s database in just 18 months, says this is her favorite business booster. “Say to a loyal client, ‘You’re a good client and I appreciate your business. I’d love you to bring me two more clients just like you.’ When they do, thank them with a complimentary lipstick or $10 off the next treatment. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. Clients just like to feel appreciated. And if they like you, they’ll always want to help you. They’ll go looking to find clients for you.”
Bribe ’em if you have to. Maybe your clients need more than just appreciation. That’s okay: Just follow the lead of Dolce Salon and Spa in Chandler, Arizona, which allows their spa providers to hand out a “5 Referral Card” to current clients, with five $25 new-client gift cards and five business cards. When the five new-client gift cards are redeemed, the current client is rewarded with a $50 gift certificate. With this program, “Our staff and company is thriving,” says spa Vice President Melissa Viedt, who says results have been at least equal to their pricey print advertising campaign, at a far lower cost.
See your spa through your customer’s eyes. Owners get busy and they tend to have a one-track mind, points out Galvez. So stop and walk around your entire spa as if you were seeing it for the first time. “Ask yourself, ‘What would a new client experience? Is there trash on your sidewalk? Are the intake forms blurry and poorly photocopied? Are there fingerprints on the windows? Dust bunnies under the couch?’” Don’t kid yourself: “Clients today are concerned about sanitation, so they’re looking for these things more than ever, and they notice everything.”
Invest in clients who are most likely to invest in your spa. Inspired by the SALON TODAY 200 competition for salon owners, Jim Farrell, co-owner of Panache Salon & Spa in Erie, Pennsylvania, came up with the “Top 200 Spa Giveaway” to promote his spa services. “We gave away 200 spa services, mostly facials, to the salon clients we felt we could convert to spa clients,” says Farrell, adding these selected clients were both long time and brand-new clients. To make it work, Panache took their esthetician off commission for five months and put her on an hourly salary while she performed free spa services on 200 clients. (Panache typically charges $65 for a European facial.) “Out of those 200, at least 120 have booked at least three more spa services,” says Farrell, who has converted the esthetician back to commission-based pay. “She has a whole crop of new clients now, so her commissions are higher. Both she and the spa are seeing a huge return.”
marketing and promotions
Market your free time. Time is money, and no spa ever made a dime off an empty afternoon massage slot ... unless you’re talking about Shear Dimensions Salon and Day Spa in Waynesboro, Virginia. Owner Alecia Brooks credits her booming spa business to her technicians making valuable use of their downtime. For example, when a massage therapist knows she’ll have a free hour, she’ll place pop-up cards on each styling station in the salon area that say, “Free complimentary chair massage available. Ask for details.” When a hair client gets to test-drive a free spa service, she’s more likely to book a post-cut appointment, says Brooks. Even if your spa doesn’t have a salon component, you can try another trick that Brooks and her staff say fills the books quickly: Advertise last-minute service special “sales” on signs in front of your spa. “People see the signs, then call from their cars to say they’ll be right in!”
Do not discount your retail products. Though this may be controversial, Face Works’ Galvez insists that once you discount the regular price of an item, you’ll never get a client to pay full price. However, she says, you can have sales on these products. What’s the difference? Sales are limited-time only events without prior notice, and they occur infrequently. Explains Galvez, “When they are rare, clients will act quickly to take advantage of them. And when they’re held at random times, you avoid training clients to delay purchases to ‘wait out’ the next sale.”
Build an emotional bond with potential clients. One unique way to do it, explains Blair of Sunshrine Day Spa and Salon: “All of our service providers, including our receptionist, pitch their own radio ads. We buy the time and let each staffer record their own 30-second clip.” The results? Fabulous, declares Blair. “Their voices really make a connection with listeners in a way that print never can. There’s something emotional about hearing someone talk personally, and this is an emotional business.” Each radio spot closes out with the spa’s theme music, which helps identify each featured service provider as part of the spa brand. Not only has it helped bring in new clients, but “current clients are over the moon when they hear their stylist talking on the radio!”
Forge corporate connections for new clients and bigger sales. A brand-new client base is sitting right under your nose—or rather, 200 feet away, at the nearby office park. Think strategically, says Katie Field, marketing director of Domani Salon & Spa in Watertown, Wisconsin, who developed a “corporate club” to take advantage of the local labor force. “Our corporate club is a partnership with existing businesses in the area that allows us to send e-mail messages to their staff at selected times throughout the year—such as prior to the holidays to promote gift certificate sales,” she says. “In return, the business receives a portion of the sales generated by its employees, for allowing us to use their e-mail database.” Better yet, the businesses receive their reward in the form of a Domani Salon & Spa gift card, which they often use as employee incentives or for client gifts, bringing in even more clients to the spa.
Let your confirmation calls do double-duty. “As long as you have the client on the phone” is the thinking at Spa Bleu in West Dundee, Illinois. And it’s been paying off. According to Heather Hazlett, director of operations, “When we make the confirmation call, we confirm the original appointment and then offer a second spa service at a slightly discounted rate.” In just a few short months of the double-duty calls, Spa Bleu has been seeing an increase of $50-$200 per day in additional services.”
Act locally. Billboards and newspaper ads may look good, but of the thousands of people seeing the ad, only a handful might be the your target customer. That’s why Mary Swank, owner of Simply Swank Salon and Spa in Hudson, Ohio, thought small when she wanted to reach out to the local residents in her small town who might not be aware of her salon. “We partnered with a local realtors’ group to advertise our spa in their monthly newsletter,” she says. “We supply them with 2,000 double-sided color flyers promoting a special service and our Aveda retail products. The newsletter packet is then mailed to new and current residents within our surrounding community.” For a cost of just $100, Swank says the return on her investment is huge. “We average 72 clients from this monthly. Some are new clients and some are existing clients that have never used our spa. It’s been great.”