Power-Up your Makeup Sales

Power-Up your Makeup Sales
Douglas Preston
makeup retail sales
In 1983 I landed my first real job as a career esthetician at a famous Union Square skincare salon in San Francisco, CA. High on enthusiasm but lacking experience and clients I found myself positioned on the bottom rung of 8 staff professionals that all received new customers ahead of me, leaving this new recruit with many an empty hour on his schedule.

To help fill my time and, hopefully, earn a decent paycheck I proposed to the salon owner that we offer a complimentary makeup application to anyone following a facial treatment. I would do the work without compensation other than a commission on any product I sold. He thought I was crazy. “We don’t give our services away”, he flatly told me. “Our clients pay for them!” Well, yes, except that with makeup services clients hadn’t been paying because they hadn’t been buying them. Our so-called in-house makeup artist was perpetually on call and almost never in the salon. The makeup testers were in bad shape due to neglect and disuse. Foundations had separated and open lipsticks had grown a beard of dust and lint. Pencil waxes had hardened into graphite and heaven only knew the last time those brushes had been sanitized. Yuck!

Realizing that a salon owner who didn’t know his makeup business was terrible would probably not be aware of a sudden improvement in it, I embarked on a career as a guerilla makeup designer. First, I cleaned up the department, refreshing old testers and arranging simple-to-sell items within easy reach. Next, I drew facial clients into the makeup chair using hot new lip colors and a super lengthening mascara as lures. I figured, who wouldn’t prefer to leave the salon with fuller lips or well-defined eyes? It was the rare woman that turned down a free few minutes of personal enhancement and some professional tips on brow shaping, or a help selecting a correct blush color. And more rare yet was the woman that didn’t buy at least one item I used on her, with three or more items a normal post-service result. After all, here’s a man that gave them a better approach to routine makeup wear, free of charge! If you’ve done a good job of making the session fun and fast, your customer will find it hard to resist owning the products you used. It was nothing to turn 15-minutes of breezy brush and stroke into a $100.00 retail sale. Of course our manager didn’t notice the sales increases, just that my checks were growing faster than my scheduled treatments! When the day came to open my own small skincare salon those complimentary makeup sessions became a standard post-treatment feature for the next 20+ years of business growth. That was well over a million dollars in makeup sales ago.

During these sessions I would ask customers to show me any of the products they were carrying. Out would come a motley collection gathered from major cosmetic lines but without a discernable preference for any one in particular. From home party brands to those sold in the most glamorous department stores, all were represented (and mixed together) in the purses of makeup wearing women. A Chanel lipstick circled by a Wet ‘n Wild liner; Mary Kay foundation supporting a swath of Clinique cheek color; Maybelline mascara defining the lashes fluttering above MAC painted eyelids. All of these products had been fiercely marketed against one another and yet there they were all together in a mismatched heap created by the target customer. What a magic revelation that is! No matter how hard they try and how much money is spent on achieving customer brand loyalty I never saw it achieved with the countless makeup shoppers I worked with. Over many years of cosmetics retailing one fact was crystal clear: makeup sales had far more to do with in-the-moment inspiration than actual product need. And the one key advantage I had over all those multi-million dollar makeup lines was that for a moment at least I had the customer’s full attention on what I was doing, saying and selling. Here in this setting I could out-promote and win business from the world’s largest and best-established brands. You may be doing battle with a mega-company, but one-on-one you’ve got fair fight and even odds!

Ready, set, sell! Here are just a few things you can do with even minimal artistic skills to grow your makeup business among your many eager and willing customers. You’ve allowed them to be served by the big girls long enough. Take back your rightful place as a true beauty professional!

Foundation color check: Did she buy her product under the greenish fluorescent lights of amakeup counter that was located far away from natural light? If she did, offer to check its color for skin tone correctness in the full spectrum of daylight.Don’t be surprised to find that product leaning heavilytoward pink or coral, well outside the proper shade for your client’s face. She’ll have your choice in her shopping bag in seconds!

Makeup audit: This is one of my favorite professional services! I ask my clients to bring in all of their makeup for a color evaluation by me. You’ll discover a trove of odd and ancient product, many bought on impulse or received as gift-with-purchase from the majors. Does she really want to wear that brown lip gloss? Is she hooked on that hot pink blush a la Valley Girl 1984? Glittery eye shadow at 60? This woman needs your gentle guiding hand and will appreciate the professional advice. You can bet she’ll replace every tossed-out item with a better choice from your inventory. Repeat at least once a year, preferably at the beginning of spring or fall when fashions evolve and sales pick up.

Mascara miracle: I’ve watched legions of women struggle to find a clean way to build up layers of lash thickening mascara only to comb out chunks and wipe it from their lids. Take a mascara brush and load it with a reasonable amount of product. Then scrape the brush over the mouth of the tube, trying to reduce and evenly spread the product you’ve collected. Now, begin to apply the mascara to the lashes. Slowly and evenly it will begin to build up and produce dense but well separated lashes that require no combing of wiping up after. Repeat the process if needed. This is an excellent way to win a sale and open the door to more suggestions.

Lipstick refresher: I almost never permitted a woman to leave my spa without full, colorful lips. There’s something just so radiant about a rich and well-shaped mouth, and for many women lipstick will be the only product they’ll still use in later life. See a client about to depart with dull lip color? Stop her! She’ll love the consideration and buy the product if the shade is a good suit. Lip color is a very low-commitment product and an extremely common impulse purchase.

Shall we match the nail color, too? An obvious idea often overlooked by many a makeup designer. Keeps those nail colors close by the lipstick display and catch that easy add-on sale every time!

Now you have the tools you need to attract new business and diminish the allure of your mightiest retail competitors. Remember, most makeup companies offer skincare products, too, and they want those sales just as much as you do. They’ll be all-too-happy to serve your clients where you fail to so don’t make that easy for them!

Good luck to you!

Tag-Team Retail Sales for your Salon Spa

Tag-Team Retail Sales for your Salon Spa
Christopher Brazy
how to improve salon spa retail sales
Most spas leave cash on the table …lots of it. They do so for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest is caregivers are nervous about being seen as pushy. It’s almost ironic that the client came to see us for advice, yet we often feel it’s being pushy to give it to them. With the help of the receptionist, retail can not only increase your bottom line by 50%, but can develop a more loyal following as well.

People buy products for many reasons. Some want a souvenir, to act as a daily reminder of their experience with you. For some it’s an impulse, being caught up in the moment and not wanting their experience to end. Some visit the spa not only to relax, but are looking for guidance but are too shy to come out and ask. Believe it or not, ALL will respect your and your staffs’ professional recommendation on what will help them. The trick is getting your staff to put their clients needs before their personal beliefs of appearing pushy.

Clients WANT to know how to take care of themselves, but are often shy to mention they don’t know how or that they fell for the latest infomercial or proactive ad. They need to be led. Take them by the hand and explain the options they have to obtain THEIR goals (which should be found out during the consultation). Professional skin and body care advice is, after all, why they came to see us. Not providing it is a disservice to the client and their needs.

To meet your staffs’ needs and the clients, meet your staff halfway. Make them comfortable in their recommendations (or SpaScriptions) by training them how to best care for the clients needs. Have them consult with the client in advance of the service to determine the clients goals. This takes some bonding, some digging and probing and is explained in detail on our “consultations that sell” DVD. Next, provide the service, then have your staff write up a “spascription” and have product ready for when they walk the client up front. Product should be waiting on the check out counter for them, next to the receptionist who will be checking them out, so they don’t have to try to find it on the shelves. Take a quick minute to say “this is the product that will help you meet your goals, you’ll LOVE it!” It is LITERALLY as simple as that. Now the caregiver mention when they should reschedule and then WALK AWAY.

THE FRONT DESK PERSON simply points toward the product sitting on the counter and asks “will you be taking this with you today?”


Here’s a recap:
Adjust your staffs’ attitude about sales, it’s about giving the client what they came here for.
Uncover the problem during the consultation.
Perform the service.
Have product to fix the problem waiting up front.
Tell them how much it’ll help (with a POSITIVE and UPBEAT attitude).
Walk away.
Have receptionist ask if they’d like it.
It’s as simple as that. Don’t go into a long speech about ingredients, or how to use it, or how much it’ll help, or how cheap it really is compared to something else, just make your recommendation and walk away. They’ll buy it. Don’t believe me? TRY IT.

The Best Day Spa Skincare Line

The Best Day Spa Skincare Line
Christopher Brazy
best day spa skincare line
Skincare and body products are everywhere. Everyone has their own personal idea on what’s “best.” What’s really important? That’s what everyone ignores. If you want your retail sales to soar, pay attention to these qualities.

Ask 100 different people on what the best skin care is and you’ll get 100 different answers (really, see our forum post). “This line sells the best” …”that product line has the best ingredients.” It goes on and on and on. What we’re dealing with here is ego. A personal testimonial …advice. People love to give it. It’s all based on who they know, much like everyone’s favorite sports team is always their home state’s team. Who from Indiana likes the Denver Broncos? No one. Or WORSE yet, it’s based on image. We’ve all been “Brand-washed.” The medspa industry is the WORST at this. Call 10 doctors and see what they carry. I’ll tell you, Skinceuticals or Obagi.

Let’s look past the emotional attachment we have to what our top esty likes (only because she used it in school) and find out what you should REALLY be looking for in a spa product line.

We carried Dermalogica way back when. We were 1 of 2 in town. Within two years we were 1 of 20. Look at Aveda, there are now Aveda retail STORES (not salons/spas) selling product only. Why would anyone come to you to pick up something they can get elsewhere? People want their own little secret place to get those exclusive items you can’t find elsewhere.

Internet presence
Tying in with the above, if it can be had online at just over your cost, why would they buy it from you? A friend of mine told me about her lunch with a first time spa-goer. She asked how he liked his facial. He LOVED it! She asked if he bought product, he said of course. Where did he buy it? Not from the spa that recommended it, but from online for 40% off from some super skincare store.

Branding (not)
The public does NOT know about skincare lines. We do. After all look at their advertising. Do you see them in “O” or “Cosmopolitan?” No, you see their ads in spa professional magazines. Why is that? It’s because they advertise to us, so we do all of the word of mouth advertising for them. We put it up in our ads, on our websites …why spend time building someone else’s brand? If you ever do see a national skincare line advertising in women’s magazines that means they’re ready to go public with it.

I almost named this “quality” but switched. Really it’s two fold here since clients don’t really care about ingredients. Sure, if it’s au’ natural, not tested on animals and the such those are benefits, but no one walks up and asks. Even organic, who has actually ASKED for it? Or is it US hyping it up? “Our line is organic!” Actually, organic product is VERY expensive and goes BAD very quickly. So what do our clients care about? Did you guess results? Good guess! Clients would like to see results, something more than what they could buy over the counter. So look for effective ingredients (which will more likely than not mean leaning away from the “all organic” lines). Botanicals are a great mix between “earth friendly” and “result oriented.” But I’d have to say the smell is probably one of the top deciding factors in buying, so that means essential oils (not perfumes).

We don’t try stuff out before buying (sampling is the quickest way to lose a sale), we look at it! Do the labels look like return address envelope labels? Cheap. We feel it. Does it have some weight to it, is it substantial. We smell it. Is it YUMMY? Our first impression with a product (along with personal recommendations, below) has considerable impact.

Can you believe in it?
Whatever line you carry, it has to be YOUR choice. If you leave it up to staff you’ll be getting in a new line for every new hire. Let your staff know this is the line we’re using and be it’s number one cheerleader. Get staff psyched up about your skincare. Talk about how wonderful the ingredients are [our own line uses the 2 most stable types of vitamin-C out there, bonded together to further stabilize it and add to its effectiveness]. Talk about how wonderful it works and see how nice the clients’ faces glow afterwards. Your personal recommendation will have the MOST impact on sales, to your staff and your clients.

…and we saved the most important for last.

We assume a regular branded line has a decent markup. It costs $10, we sell it for $20 (100% markup, that’s called a “keystone”). A keystone used to cut it, but not anymore. You’ve got 50% in cost. 5% shipping cost. Up to 5% merchant fees for using the credit card. 10-20% commission. Then there’s the time of the receptionist to ring it up (that’s not free) and MORE importantly the LEASED SPACE that it occupies. A 500 square foot retail/reception area probably is costing you at least $1,000/month. If you’re selling $10,000 worth of product/month that’s another 10% there. So what’s left for you? 10-20% …Is that worth it?

The answer? Find a line with MORE than just a single keystone markup.

When we found a manufacturer to develop our line “Alexandra” we didn’t go with our personal favorite for everything. We went with what worked best, what smelled the best and was the best for business-sense. We didn’t have to put our “personal favorite stamp” onto every product. I personally HATE lavender. But it’s the #1 most popular scent. So guess what, we have a lavender cleanser.

To recap, find a fairly exclusive line with limited presence (especially internet discount stores). Preferable a website that would refer back to you. Make sure it looks worth it’s price, has an incredible markup %-wise with quality ingredients and stand behind it with your staff.

Flotation Therapy

Flotation Therapy
Sarene Kloren
sensory deprivation flotation tanks for day spas
Sensory deprivation tanks, Isolation tanks, Womb Room, Rest tanks (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique) — all of these names have been used to describe what we know as the Floatation tank.

With most floatation tanks there is no feeling of being confined or claustrophobic as the tanks are generally spacious and have an internal light. The door of the tank works on a hydraulic system and can be left ajar or open, to ensure that the client is always at ease.

Floating can be described as a way of achieving the deepest state of relaxation that we can ever experience. It can be compared to a deep state of meditation. Lying suspended in a 25cm deep, warm, dense solution of Epsom salt ensures that the body can float effortlessly.

When floating, we lie with our face above the water. As the the ears are submerged, earplugs are used, resulting in surrounding noise being completely reduced. The arms float to the side, and as the air and water are the same temperature as the skin the feeling of a body boundary fades. The sense of smell is also reduced, especially if the water has not been treated with chlorine. The water is purified by using an ozone filter after each session.

The feeling of floating effortlessly eliminates the effects of gravity on the body. Gravity, which is estimated to occupy 90 percent of all central nervous system activity, is probably the single largest factor in human health problems — backache, aching feet, painful joints, and muscular tension that result from our unnatural upright posture. In the gravity free environment the body balances and heals internally as all the senses are rested. By freeing our brain and skeletal system from gravity, floating liberates vast amounts of energies and large areas of the brain to deal with matter of mind, spirit, and enhanced awareness of internal states.

One hour of floating has the restorative effects of 4 hours of sleep. During a float, the brain produces slower brain-wave patterns, known as theta waves. These are normally only experienced during deep meditation or just before falling asleep and are usually accompanied by vivid imagery, very clear, creative thoughts, sudden insights and inspirations or feelings of profound peace and joy, induced by the release of endorphins, the body’s natural up-lifters. Because of these effects, float tanks are used effectively in the treatment of depression and addictions, including smoking and alcohol.

The release of endorphins also plays an important role in the pain management process. By reducing both muscle tension and pain in a relatively short time and without effort on the part of the patient, relief is immediate and, if used on a regular basis, can change the pattern of the cycle of pain.

Floating is an excellent way of relaxing during pregnancy as it is a safe and gently way of eliminating water retention and backache. Mothers to be can float right up until birth.

To experience the full benefits of floating, some people may need to float a few times before they are able to relax completely, both physically and mentally. Floating may provide an hour of total physical relaxation — or a profound healing experience – emotionally and spiritually. It can be a wonderful aid to opening doors into the inner world, gradually allowing access to those deeper levels at which real changes take place.

6 Retail “Must-Do’s” for your Salon Spa

6 Retail Area Must-Do’s
Christopher Brazy

Do you have product sitting on your shelves collecting dust? Do your caregivers dread recommending product? These tips will help you create a stellar retail area.

Where is your retail at? It should be front and center. Preferably right next to your check out area. This way the caregiver can quickly find product for the client, set it on the counter and have it ready for them.

You also want a “spotlight” location. Something that shows it off. You don’t want it hidden somewhere. Find a spot where there’s the most traffic, easily viewable for browsing or window shoppers and near the front desk.

The retail area must also have a certain look to it. It should reflect your spas niche. So if you’re a trendy spa, make a trendy area. Luxurious? Medical? High-end? Affordable? Make it match.

It also needs balance. We put our “elite” items on the top, then the larger items on the bottom (since they’re easier to see) and the rest in the middle. The shelves are made of columns and glass to not only reflect the luxury of our spa, but to reaffirm the products worth.

Nothing will kill a sale (and loses a client) quicker than dirt. If the products look used, who would buy them? I wouldn’t at any cost. If the shelves are covered in dust (glass collects dust very quickly) it says to the client that “this stuff has been sitting here forever, no one must like it.” Even if the spa itself is dirty (read as double check your restrooms) it reflects on your operations and will affect your sales.

Many spa owners feel the need to carry many different lines (at least 2 or 3). I don’t. Having a backup supplier is a good idea, but I am NOT of the mindset that products sell themselves; actually I have discovered the opposite to be true.

Here’s what you do need. You need enough products on the shelves to show a thriving business. If you’ve only got a couple items of each on just a few shelves people will ask if you’re going out of business. I find that a single row of product that fit on my shelves will be 6 products deep. I place the newer product in the back to make sure we keep our stock rotating (if we always put new product in the front, and only sold from the front, the product in the back would get older and older until it’s shelf life expired). When we get down to three we reorder. Three will hold us until our next shipment arrives.

Excitement must come from your staff. There’s ways to help them with this though. By following the previous steps you’ll have a retail area that jumps out and showcases quality. If you follow up on that by printing special posters you can place at the register and in your spa highlighting a monthly special you’ll be adding to that. Even printing a little take home product catalogue adds to the prestige of your line.

Lead by example. Always stand behind your products (and services) and refer to them as the best available. With OTC and MLM products costing often much more than professional spa products do these days, there’s no excuse to allow the uncertainties of a caregiver (since the line may be new to them) bring it down. Talk it up, have print marketing to show it off, spotlight it in your retail area (i.e. lighting), even show ’em an ingredient list if need be, just do it. Retail is a HUGE hidden income stream that should be just as much a part of your spa as the services.

Easy to Buy
This is all the behind the scenes information. The more steps needed to complete a sale, the less likely it is it will happen. Let’s put it in checklist form.

• Products are organized and easy to find (say I wanted the oily skin cleanser instead of the sensitive).
• Product prices are clearly marked (or easily found).
• Products are waiting on the counter for the client upon checkout (either via the caregiver, a spa-scription or the receptionist).
• Answers to questions are readily available.
• You accept any and all payment types.
• Policies are in plain sight.
• The checkout process is quick and painless.

Now print this out, head to your retail area and make it happen. You may be already set up properly or you may have some work to do. Either way looking into your specific situation and evaluation it will always be for the better. Your sales will be your reward for doing so.