What's Your Recipe for Being a Successful Skin Care Professional?

by Aaron Sonnenschein (as seen in Dermascope Magazine)

I often wonder why one skin care professional can be so successful in developing their business and clientele while others complain that they cannot get their establishment off the ground, earn enough money, and eventually drop out of the industry. Why are some skin care professionals able to become financially successful while others are constantly unable to pay their bills? It is always interesting to hear a professional blame their location for the lack of success. Most of the time, you can locate another skin care professional in the same market whose business is booming. Other skin care professionals will say that many of their clients simply cannot afford a trip to the spa. Many factors can determine the success or failure of a particular business. Is it luck, fate or fortune that brings certain skin care professionals success?

The answer to being a successful skin care professional is a combination of determination, sound business practices, a passion for continuing education, and the technical skills that enable the professional to deliver a great treatment. Adding this to this the ability to professionally recommend products, rebook clients, and continually build a loyal client base while spending little to no money, and the recipe for success has been written.

So, what type of skin care professional are you? Do you network with other successful business owners to find out what is working successfully for them? Does your skin care brand of choice provide support to develop your business? Do you constantly attend classes to refresh yourself on product knowledge, ingredients and new product innovations? Do you get treatments from other professionals, watch podcasts and webinars, and/or attend classes to learn new techniques? Do you professionally recommend products to clients for home care or do you think retail sales are unnecessary? Do you check on clients who have not returned for another service to find out the reason why or do you think that would be a waste of time? Do you think cutting service prices is the only way to bring new clients in the door or are there alternative methods of building a loyal client base? The answers to these questions define the type of skin care professional you are and they could also provide insight into the reasons behind your business’ success or hardship.

The answers to many of these questions came to me after having a discussion with a woman named Cindy that I met, by chance, on a cruise with my lovely wife. During the second night of our cruise, we were discussing careers when I mentioned that I was a district manager of an international skin care company. Cindy replied that, a few days before her wedding, she visited a spa for only her second skin treatment and, after her experience, she would never return for another treatment again. I was intrigued by the negative comment about our industry so I proceeded over the next few days to gather as much information as possible about the experience that had such a disturbing impact on Cindy.

As it happened, this particular skin care professional had rented a space and advertised a special offer through Groupon to build her client base. The offer was for a package of three skin treatments for $100. Cindy went to the first session and loved the way her skin felt after she left. The only problem was the professional never prescribed product for her to take home so she had no way of maintaining her skin. Even after Cindy mentioned that her major skin concern was aging and the fine lines around her eyes, the professional never told her what to use. She noticed that the skin care professional had a lot of products locked up behind glass in a showcase. Unfortunately, there was no product prescription suggested to treat her skin concerns. Later that week, Cindy purchased a moisturizer and an eye cream from a woman at a local department store who may not have been licensed or qualified to make product recommendations. In this particular instance, the skin care professional, without even knowing it, pushed this client away from her business to seek alternative treatments and recommendations elsewhere. A month before her wedding, Cindy called to book the second treatment and mentioned that she was getting married. The professional suggested that she use the third treatment of the series as a gift for her fiancé Tom. A few days before the wedding, they went to experience what they thought would be an enjoyable event, telling the professional how important it was to look good for their wedding. Sadly, the skin care professional chose to not listen to their concerns and decided to focus on extractions instead. Tom and Cindy left the session with sore and blotchy skin and no suggestions on how to maintain their skin for the wedding. Both vowed never to receive another face treatment again.

The skin care professional never made any attempt to follow up with Cindy or Tom to see if they would return for another treatment. Moreover, the professional ultimately placed several obstacles in the path of her own success and now there is a potential regular client out there who thinks our industry is a waste of time. How many friends is she going to tell about her bad experience with a professional skin treatment?

Once you offer a discount on service, it is extremely difficult to get that client to return for a treatment at full price. When three treatments are sold for $100 or $33.33 each, nearly 50 percent of the cost is attributed to the deal-of-the-day service being used to promote the treatments. Ultimately, this discount results in the skin care professional working at a rate of $16.78 per hour. In essence, it ends up costing the professional $100 to gain one client, a price that would have been too high. Unfortunately, not only did she lose the client, but she also created negative word of mouth marketing for her business.

In this particular situation, the professional should work on her communication skills and business etiquette. Simple things like, asking the right questions, listening to the wants and needs of the client, following up with a handwritten note or a call - were all left undone. Did she listen when Cindy told her that the wedding was happening in a few days? What she should have done during the very first visit is recommend monthly treatments, such as microdermabrasion or fruit acid peels, starting a few months before the big date. Then she could have up-sold more treatments so that this bride would have amazing skin for her big day. If Cindy had been really happy with her results, perhaps she would have recommended that the entire bridal party visit her skin care professional. Gorgeous, glowing skin the day of the big event could have garnered several referrals for the professional.

After reading this actual true to life story, take the opportunity to think about various ways that you can change to help grow your business. Are there any skills or techniques that you feel you need to improve on? Do you feel confident in your ability to recommend product to your clients so they can maintain their skin at home? Are you familiar with the brand you are currently using so you can answer any questions posed to you? Do you re-book clients for their next appointment before they leave the spa? With returning clients, do you re-analyze their skin to see if there are any changes and/or improvements?

Fundamentally, being a successful skin care professional is all up to each individual - the trick is to know it and to own it. Everything counts all the time - start looking at each touch-point as the beginning of your future.

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What's Your Recipe for Being a Successful Skin Care Professional?