Grading Your Salon/Spa Retail & Pre-book Efforts

May 9, 2016 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Salon/spa owners: Are you flunking “Happiness”?

If the pre-book and retail recommendation is the undisputed professional conclusion to a salon/spa service … why isn’t every client receiving this essential professional advice?

  • Why the persistent push-back and indifference from service providers?
  • Why the disconnect between service providers and guest services staff at checkout?

“Happiness” is a super-simple system that Strategies introduced a number of years ago. It’s a system that connects service providers to guest services at checkout. It consists of a scripted “here’s what we did today recap,” a pre-book/recommended maintenance cycle and the recommended products for home use.

Simple? Yes.

Consistently executed? Not even close.

Related: Get instant access to our Happiness training video and cheat sheet here.

Tracking Happiness

Salon/spa software applications can track and generate reports on damn near everything. Most software applications track pre-book. All systems track the retail sale. Few, if any, have the ability to track retail recommendations. Why track retail recommendations? Because the recommendation is the cornerstone of professional product retailing.

The professional recommendation IS the DRIVER. The retail sale is the outcome. Focus on the driver and the retail sales will come.

We suggest that you create a new product or service in your system and call it “Happiness.” It takes zero time to perform and the selling price is $0.00.

All clients coming to checkout should have a verbal, and preferably written, pre-book and retail recommendations.

Guest service staff use this information to pre-book future appointments and close the retail sale. Guest services cannot complete their portion of the Happiness system if the service providers do not complete their portion.

That’s why we call it a system.

When guest services staff has the pre-book and retail information … and it’s clear that the client also received the same information … they will add a “Happiness” to the client’s ticket. The client may or may not pre-book or purchase the recommended products, but the Happiness system significantly improves the odds. Yes … this portion of the Happiness system can be subjective. It’s not perfect but it works.

  • Note: If a client asks, “What’s this Happiness on my ticket?”, the response is a clever, “We don’t charge for Happiness.”

Happiness Report

At the end of each day, you can run a sales report on how many Happiness were sold that day. The ratio of the number of Happiness sold to the total number client checkouts is your Happiness score. Break the data down by service provider and you can see who is playing the role of professional or just “filling orders.” When a salon/spa isn’t proactive and engaged in pre-book and retail recommendations, client retention, visits per year and retail revenue opportunities are squandered.

Performing with honors, passing grade … or flunking

Although Happiness itself is a simple system, the real-time application in salons/spas shows that getting Happiness implemented is far from simple. With years of coaching clients using the Happiness system, we’ve noticed the following patterns:

Results reflect culture … culture reflects leadership: The Happiness system thrives or dies based on the culture of the salon/spa. If the owner, and therefore the business, have a track record of short-lived change initiatives … Happiness doesn’t stand a chance of gaining traction. Many salon/spa cultures are so stuck in their ways that change is impossible due to staff resistance and leadership compromise.

Happiness will always flunk in cultures that are incapable and unprepared to support it.

Kinda/sorta/maybe Happiness: Many owners are attracted to shiny new systems and approaches. With the best intentions, they hit the launch button and Happiness sputters out of the gate. In a service business like salons/spas, implementing a new system means changing thinking and behaviors – and that requires ten times the training, coaching, information flow, tracking and accountability than owners realize.

Happiness launches with half-baked fanfare, produces a blip of optimism, sputters … then settles down to kinda/sorta/maybe working. Some staff embrace it and see the benefits. The majority routinely whine, “I hate Happiness.” Leaders underestimate the work required to launch and get a system like Happiness to stick. This is the most common pattern we encounter. At best, Happiness earns a passing grade.

  • Flunking: If you tried implementing Happiness and your Happiness score is 95 percent of clients receiving Happiness, and your pre-book percent is 45 or less … your Happiness system is seriously misfiring and needs fixing.

Structured, disciplined and committed: This pattern describes the few salons/spas, not the many, that implement Happiness. The more structured and disciplined the business, the better any new system has of succeeding.


Because these businesses are constantly tweaking and fine-tuning their systems. Simply put, change is a constant and the culture easily adapts. Leaders are on task and committed to achieving the desired outcome.

What I’m describing here is rare in the salon/spa industry. For reasons I will never fully understand, hair stylists view structure and discipline in their technical skills as a non-negotiable and push back on it as a requirement for business success.

Great businesses, offering great career and income opportunities, are always structured and disciplined. Booth and suite rental is about everyone doing their own thing with limited opportunity or security.

  • Passing with honors: Happiness scores of 90+ percent, pre-book rates of 80+ percent and retail of total revenue at 18+ percent is what earning Happiness Honors is all about.

The bulk of salon/spas have been stuck in the +/-10 percent retail to total revenues forever.

Owners, manufacturers, distributors and software developers relentlessly focus on the retail sale outcome. They measure retail to service percent, units per client, retail per client ticket and number of clients purchasing retail – each and every one is an outcome.

They keep thinking that retail commission is the motivator.

It’s not.

The Holy Grail driver of salon/spa retail sales is … and always will be … the professional recommendation. Focus on the driver – master the driver – and salon/spa retail sales will hit new levels this industry has never seen.

It’s just a simple system Strategies calls Happiness.

Here’s my challenge for you: Watch the Happiness video and download the cheat sheet. Study it. Learn it. Plan it out. Relentlessly communicate it to your team. Commit to being structured and disciplined. Focus on Happiness pre-book and retail recommendations as the driver. The outcomes will take care of themselves. Accept nothing less than Happiness Honors.


Categories: Leadership , Monday Morning Wake-Up , No-Compromise Leadership , Productivity

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