Salon Spa Business

Bella Beauty – Winter 08

Bella Beauty – Winter 08

By Caroline Nelson

Creating a Professional Retail Salon

In the course of my daily work coaching salons and spas in Australia, New Zealand and beyond I find one of the most frequently asked questions is “how do I go about improving retail sales?”. And before I answer the question I ask a few questions myself regarding the business philosophy; image branding; and the products stocked. The reason I need to know this information is that it’s a sad fact that many salons have been developed with only treatment in mind and retail coming a poor second best.

Hence if retailing isn’t considered a vital ingredient of the business structure how then can you ever expect to make good sales? If the main purpose of a business is to maximize profits then if you want to increase retail sales it will need to become an inaugural part of the business and marketing plan. Therefore choosing the right product line could be the make or break of your business. In addition in branding your business image it is vital to stock the right product that will enhance:

  1. The Business Brand
  2. Offer the high results demanded by today’s savvy consumer
  3. Deliver a high mark-up – if you don’t stock a high mark-up brand how are you ever going to be able to afford to pay retail bonuses to your team that will in turn inspire more sales
  4. Be supported by the Product Companies consumer marketing; merchandising and promotions
  5. And above all it must be an Industry Only brand line so customers must buy from a professional – such as your qualified aestheticians and not be available from your competition in department stores; chemists or over the internet

Another thing to take into consideration is what consumers want. And if you look at how the multinational retail (non-salon) products are promoted you will know what the consumer wants. Because the multinationals employ any number of experts to know what the consumers wants. And what the advertising in all the fashion magazines is saying is they want high performance results. They want their lines and wrinkles refined; pigmentation spots reduced; capillaries treated; under-eye puffiness gone. All of which we the aesthetician can both treat prescribe and sell if we stock the right ranges. But the bigger question is do the customers know that we stock products to address all these needs. And the answer often is no.

The reason for this is many and varied. From the salon not presenting nor displaying their skin care effectively to not having sufficient stock on hand. To not insisting that all employees fill out a prescription form and take the time necessary to professionally advise the customer of the benefits of the recommendation and the how when and why of the product.

It’s my belief that to compete in an ever-expanding market salon owners need to define and redefine their business to mirror the desires of their clientele. And this may need some rethinking on the products stocked – are they satisfying the needs want’s and desires of the existing and potential customers.

Then we get to the product knowledge part of the equation because without a doubt the aestheticians knowledge and confidence in the products will directly relate to the number and quantity of sales. So if you don’t train constantly and effectively don’t expect sales. The reason that department store cosmetic sales assistants do such high retail apart from the fact that the department store so effectively channels customers past the cosmetic section is the on-going product knowledge training. Now while these sales assistants do not have the in-depth skin condition knowledge of the aesthetician what they do have is in-depth knowledge of the products they sell.

As long as every one of your employee’s have attended an initial product knowledge school and even if you can’t afford to send them to regular full day training at least get your product trainer to come into your salon every couple of months for a one hour refresher. You will be amazed how this will improve sales performances.

And don’t forget to keep your product posters and merchandising fresh, if posters are getting tatty and stale ask your suppliers for new. Remember to take a leaf out of the department stores promotional book and keep your salon look fresh and energise. And I guess the most important for both salon owner and their teams is to realize that regardless of whether it is a traditional salon or day spa the professional duty is to offer client’s skin care solutions. Therefore every client coming into your business should know undoubtedly the aesthetician utilizes and offers not only the best treatment and skin care available, but also that their knowledge far and away exceeds the chemist and department store assistants.

So to answer the question most often asked “how do I go about improving retail sales?” You must stock the products that meet your client’s needs wants and desires. The retail display must be inviting and well stocked and your aestheticians must be very knowledgeable and regarded by the customer as an expert in both treatment and skin care advice. And the aesthetician herself must be so educated in her treatment ability and skin care knowledge that her confidence is supreme. Happy skin care retailing!!

© Copyright Caroline Nelson 2008


Caroline Nelson is a beauty industry specific business coach and author of the Ignite Your Beauty Business For $uccess- Salon, Staff Policies Procedures & Systems manual.

To learn more about her step by-step program for salon spa success, and to sign up for her FREE e-Book "3 Top Salon Spa Money Making Secrets", visit: