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How to Fix Professional Salon/Spa Retailing


The opportunity for a salon/spa to generate a quarter of its total revenue in retail is real.

It’s always been real.

But there’s something out of sync with the passion for using professional products vs. the actually “selling” of those products to salon/spa clients.

For the selling of professional products, it is the ultimate love/hate relationship.

When it comes to salon/spa professionals actually recommending the products they use and love, there are almost as many excuses for not selling, as there are products.

The excuses sound like:

  • I’m not a salesperson

  • I don’t have time to sell

  • The product we sell is widely diverted — so why bother

  • Clients can buy it cheaper at Ulta

  • My clients take a photo of the product and buy it on Amazon

  • I don’t want to be pushy

Excuses for not selling retail are just that — excuses.

In a recent interview on the retailing of professional products, I was asked seven questions. Here are my No-Compromise Leadership answers:

1) What is the number one reason many stylists, estheticians and other service providers are held back from retailing to clients?

There are actually two reasons that service providers hold back from retailing that are tied for number one. The first number one reason is the “fear of rejection.” The second number one reason is “the perception of being PUSHY.”

Combined, these two reasons create a level of discomfort to the point where service providers just avoid delivering a professional recommendation. Yes, they love their professional products … but that love grinds to a halt when it’s time to sell those very same products.

2) How can service providers overcome the barrier of awkwardness, which often makes them hesitant to sell to their clients?

The only way to overcome any kind of awkwardness is to step out of one’s comfort zone and master new skills through practice and repetition. The process of learning how to cut and style hair until it’s mastered and occurs naturally, is the same for learning how to retail.

The reality is that, for most, retailing doesn’t share the same creative passion as cutting and styling hair. Therefore, the only way to overcome awkwardness is to be trained in a thorough retail recommendation system, practice that system until it becomes natural … and oversee the execution of that recommendation system with leadership, standards of performance and accountability.

Owners and salon/spa leaders will never see impressive retail sales performance by telling employees, “You need to get your retail number up.”

FACT: Retail success is a company and team process.

3) Why is getting salon/spa clients onboard with a specific type of product so key for service providers?

The true name of the game in the salon/spa business is to build your “BRAND.” Creating a powerful and unique salon/spa brand requires far more effort and discipline than “doing great services.”

It’s about delivering a consistently well-executed service experience that rivals the competition. That includes the salon/spa’s selection of professional products to use and sell.

If the salon/spa is truly committed to creating and maintaining a unique brand, then the use and selling of its chosen professional product(s) or product line are integral to its brand and cannot be compromised.

4) How can service providers begin the conversation during the appointment to help approach selling product?

Every client service should begin with an overview of what’s going to happen during that visit. This overview must inform the client that products selected and used during the service are essential for home care and will be recommended at the conclusion of the service.

It’s educating the client on what’s going to happen and then make it happen. It’s setting up the retail recommendation that will occur at the conclusion of the service — before the client leaves the styling chair.

5) Is there a strategy for selling to clients that works best?

At Strategies, we’ve been coaching and teaching owners and stylists a system we call “Happiness.” At the end of the service — before the client leaves the stylist chair — the Happiness System is initiated.

  • Step One is to recap what was done on this visit.

  • Step Two is to explain the maintenance cycle, when that service needs to be done again and set the Pre-Book date.

  • Step Three is the professional recommendation of at least three products.

    • Non-Negotiable: The Pre-Book date and product recommendations MUST BE verbal and written.

  • Step Four is delivery of the Pre-Book date and product recommendations to the front desk for check out.

  • Step Five … guest services at the front desk complete the Happiness System by Pre-Booking the next visit and closing the retail sale. It’s not rocket science. It’s a system that requires training, teamwork and execution.

  • Learn more about the Happiness System here.

6) What is the percentage of revenue that salons, spas or barbershops can be missing out on by not selling to clients?

Consider the disturbing number of clients in salons, spas and barbershops that go to checkout without a professional recommendation for a Pre-Book date and what products to buy and use. The number is massive and scary. In business terms … it’s squandering opportunities.

NOW … imagine what Pre-Book Rates and retail sales would like if EVERY client received “Happiness” in the form of a Pre-Book date and retail recommendations.

Sales and retailing is a numbers game. The more clients that receive professional recommendations — the more you sell. Again, this requires leadership, teamwork and execution.

7) Any additional comments or thoughts on this topic?

There is more energy given to excuses why retail sales aren’t happening than energy and focus on MAKING retail sales happen.

Today, it’s the “they’re buying online” excuse. Geezzzz … the client is in the salon. The product is just feet away on the shelf. The client can leave with the product NOW. If a few clients would rather buy on Amazon … so be it. But stop giving excuses and start working the Happiness System and create some Happiness on your Profit and Loss Statement.

Here’s my challenge to you: If your salon/spa is still stuck in the less than +/-10% retail to total revenues, it’s time to rethink why you’re even stocking retail products.

The secret to retail success is the number of times a year you turn over your retail inventory.

Anything less than four turns is unacceptable. Six turns is decent. Eight or more inventory turns is rock star performance.

Example: Buy $10,000 in retail. Sell it all for $20,000. Replenish with another $10,000 and sell it for $20,000. Do this six or more times in a year and your initial $10,000 will generate $60,000 in gross profit.

Professional product retailing is a team sport. Service providers recommend. Front desk/guest services closes. Anything less is a compromise.


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