By ASCP Staff
When you first started your skin care business, you probably created a business plan that included the goals you set for your business and how you’d meet those goals. If it’s been over a year since you’ve visited that plan, it’s time to take a fresh look to make sure you’re set up for business success . Let’s look at both the internal and external business functions that are keys to a successful business.
Branding for a Successful Business
To set yourself apart from other estheticians, you must create a unique brand. Everything you do should be aimed at continuing to build that brand. How do you brand yourself as an esthetician to your potential and current clients? I know you might not want to hear this, but having a strong and consistent online presence isn’t just important—in today’s digital world, it’s mandatory. Consumer research indicates that as many as 85 percent of customers research a business online before they visit in person. If you don’t have an online presence, you are missing out on reaching potential clients. Your online presence includes your website, your social media channels, review sites, and online listings. All the information you provide online about your skin care business becomes part of a public profile. You can use free tools that can give you an in-depth view of your online presence, such as Google Analytics and Website Grader.
Keep Your Esthetician Business Website Current.
The first place your clients are likely to look for more information about you and your spa/skin care business is your website. It can be a very powerful marketing tool as well, especially when you post before-and-after pictures of clients who have seen remarkable improvements in their skin due to your services. Because it can bring prospective clients in your door, you must take the time to keep the content, your before-and-after pics, and your service menu up to date. Clients won’t return to a stagnant website. Keep content fresh and enhance Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by posting a blog about skin health, services you offer, your educational background, etc., 2–3 times a week. We also highly recommend that your website provides online booking. Clients love this convenience for booking last-minute appointments, no matter what time of day it is. If they have to wait until your spa is open to call for an appointment, they may find another esthetician.
Do you know which social media sites your clients use the most often? If you don’t know, it’s time to ask! The most popular are Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube. Since the skin care business is all about seeing results and is highly visual, your top three might be Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. However, well-educated women with high incomes are attracted to Pinterest, so you might include a strong presence there as well. The goal is to be active on the platforms your loyal clients use and target postings to reach potential clients. Find the right mix for you.
Building Client Relationships
You only have a few seconds to make or break a relationship with a new client or impact the retention of loyal clients with that first impression of your business. Grab an honest friend and ask them to walk through your business as a guest would, beginning with the parking area. Are there plenty of places to park? Is it well-lit? Is your business sign clearly visible? Is it trash-free?
Consider Your Reception Area.
Now ask your friend about her experience once she’s in the door. Let her walk through your physical space and note any improvements she sees that should be made. There may be chipped paint on a wall, dusty shelves, faded furnishings, or well-worn areas in your reception area. Ask her to pay special attention to guest bathrooms and the treatment room(s). Is your treatment room inviting with appropriate lighting and relaxing music? Is the temperature comfortable? Ask her to lie on your bed to make it’s comfortable (and that there are no cobwebs on the ceiling!). It’s easy to overlook weak areas when you see them every day. The improvements can be simple. Perhaps a fresh coat of paint, new or recovered furniture, or a good cleaning will do the trick.
When was the last time you updated your retail display? You should aim for a fresh look every month to entice regular clients to check it out every time they visit and use seasonal decorations to give the area a festive look. Remember, dust doesn’t sell, so make sure the area looks clean and inviting, and that prices are clearly marked. Also look at items you may need to retire if they have been on the shelf for a long time without selling. Use that valuable space for items that have a better chance at increasing your retail profit.
Business Financial Health
Some estheticians dread the bookkeeping aspect of their business. But how else will you know if your business is in good financial health? The goal is to make sure you are on track and making a profit. If this is a weak area of your business, it may be time to recruit a professional bookkeeper, accountant, and/or a CPA.
If you employ the services of a professional bookkeeper or accountant, they can make sure you have a chart of accounts set up and have all the financial tools in place to process your data daily and make sure they are correctly coded in your bookkeeping program. They can also review your business’s profit-and-loss statements and other key numbers.
You may also want to consider using the service of a CPA, who has a different role. A CPA can prepare your annual state and federal income taxes and advise you whether your business should be set up as a corporation, a partnership, LLC, etc. They can set up any depreciation schedules necessary and advise you on tax issues.
If you own a spa and you have employees, you can’t know everything that happens inside your business with each client. Having an objective appraisal from the client’s perspective can help you set benchmarks for service standards.
One way to evaluate the total experience your spa and employees provide is to hire a professional mystery shopper. You can also recruit a friend, a colleague from another business, or someone your employees do not know. Ask them to evaluate the check-in process, the wait time, the service itself, whether home-care recommendations were made, etc., and compensate them with a gift certificate for a complimentary facial. It would be helpful for them to take notes and pictures, then meet with them shortly afterward to review their findings.
Keep Your Business in Tip-Top Shape
Keeping your business in tip-top shape isn’t a “one and done” deal. Revisit these keys yo a successful business regularly to make sure you're checking all the boxes. Stay focused and consistent in evaluating these areas on a regular basis, and you’ll have a lean, mean, skin care machine!