HOMING INSTINCTS: Create an at Home Skin Program for Your Clients to Build a Robust Business

by Annet King (as seen in Dermascope Magazine)

Enormous changes have rocked the worlds of the skin care center, salon and spa since 2008. While we take hope in the news that the economy may be sparking back into life, it is fair to say that professional service bookings are still not what they were. As skin care professionals, we need to view this not as defeat, but as a call to action, to step up our game!

Mixed Bag, Mixed Results

It is a curious fact that your skin care client will come to you for your expertise and treatment, but often is perfectly content to shop for her cleanser, toner, moisturizer, serum and sun protection online, on a home shopping TV channel, in a drugstore or department store. This can lead to cherry-picking, and an inconsistent regimen at home not to mention a negative impact on your earnings when you consider that 40-50% of our income needs to come from product sales.

Prescribing at home products and designing a program for our client at home is very much part of our role today and is part of the service. If client is using products that you haven't recommended, they may not only be inappropriate to her actual skin condition, contain less than skin "healthy" ingredients and lack the necessary active or cosmeceutical ingredients that actually get results. Therefore her skin won't be at its greatest. If she's got a problem or a condition, it will not be solved. And, in fact the hit-and-miss approach may trigger new issues, including inflammation and sensitization.

Guess who she'll blame? You. Because she will conclude that her monthly treatments with you must not be working and therefore are not worth the investment. And this will impact your business, possibly your reputation as a professional. With this in mind, it is imperative that you approach your client's total skin well-being, realizing that she may be booking appointments with you less frequently during economic hard times but remember: most of your client's skin care practice goes on at home, not in your treatment room!

Improvement Requires Consistency

Just like working out with a personal trainer and following their recommendations on diet to reach your goal weight, it's a partnership and commitment. Getting results when treating conditions like oily congested skin, acne, or hyperpigmentation requires the same partnership scenario. The monthly skin treatment without the right products being used at home, further sabotaged by a few antagonistic lifestyle habits (stress, not enough sleep, processed foods, exposure to cigarette smoke, etc.) means that the client's skin-health goals will not be met. You need to set this parameter at the start, and this requires self-confidence, confidence in your skin knowledge, technique in the room and in the product line that you are using. If you don't know your product back to front and upside down, you'll never confidently prescribe a lip balm!

However, the truth is we may not be seeing our clients as regularly as in the past for that 1 hour skin treatment, so you need to offer alternative, more cost-effective options like shorter, express treatments and complimentary skin checks. Encourage clients to come in monthly for a complimentary skin analysis or for a personal skin lesson; to learn about their skin, fine-tune their routine and gain tips and skills on double cleansing, exfoliation or treating the delicate eye area. Perfect before a night out or special occasion.

To expand your client base, encourage your client to bring a friend along in exchange for two free gifts one for each of them or a free add on treatment when they book a service (a great way to build clientele). Serve them up the appropriate products for their concerns after mapping their skin and comparing their skin condition to their last visit on their client record card.

Use this time to answer questions, talk with her about her primary concerns. If you observe new areas of hyperpigmentation, for instance, of course it's your responsibility to mention them-but her primary worry may be creases forming around her mouth or new lines around her eyes. Share your observations with her, but definitely give her own concerns top priority, especially when prescribing product.

TMI and Plenty of Confusion!

Most consumers today suffer from what branding experts call "the paradox of choice". Too many products on the shelf, too many claims all equates to TMI-and lots of misinformation and hype scrambled in with the actual information. Your task is not only to analyze, service and treat the skin but to help your client sift through the barrage of marketing messages about skin health.

One way to start is to ask the client to bring in whatever skin care products she's currently using at home. Consider this like a skin care "audit"! This will reveal many things, including your client's level of sophistication, interest and commitment to her skin care. If she includes a bar soap in her bag of tricks, that tells you she's old-school, and possibly very time-pressured. If she's got a jar of the world's most expensive designer cream, you'll know she's status-conscious, and possibly more concerned with the image of the brands she uses than the performance of the ingredients. If she produces a treasure-trove of trendy names, showy packages and heavily fragranced products, you know that she is purchasing based on sensory and emotional impulses rather than scientific results (in this latter case, switch her over to non-fragranced products, but gift her with a luscious scented candle to pleasure her perfume-cravings).

Of course, don't critique her current routine. Use this revelation as the basis for conversation and education. If she stubbornly insists on keeping one or two old favorites, take the gradual replacement approach. And if she's simply using whatever she's using as the result of random internet browsing, supply her with a detailed face map, skin analysis and an array of samples targeted to her specific conditions.

Only by taking responsibility for how the client treats her skin at home can you as a skin therapist truly take command of her overall results. And more consistent results mean happier clients, and a more robust bottom line for your business.

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home skin program business building
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HOMING INSTINCTS: Create an at Home Skin Program for Your Clients to Build a Robust Business