4 Rules to Help You Withstand the Recession

Rule #1: Be present to win.

"The less you're here, the less work you'll have--Out of sight, out of mind. Our concierges will hand the appointment to someone who's already here, if they can. The less you're here, the less they'll think of you, and the less you'll be here in the future."  There are a variety of things for unscheduled estheticians to do to make their own weather in our spa, including acting as homecare advisors and assisting walk-in and non-esthetics clients with purchases or performing complimentary makeup touchups and consultations. There is also a steady stream of clients visiting the spa for services other than facials. A massage or nailcare client can be engaged in a conversation as they are checking in or out.

Rule #2: If you don't ask, you don't get.

"Do you ask your clients to reschedule? Some staff are just not comfortable asking, despite having gone through our formal sales training in which we emphasize that you must extend the invitation to every guest, every time. The notion of clientele building is pretty abstract. "A solid clientele-building goal for a new esthetician is about 100 clients," I explained. "Think of it this way—if you retain just two clients every week you work, and those clients schedule with you every month, you'll be up to 100 in a year. But it will only happen if you ask."

Rule #3: Get over yourself.

Every weather-maker I know has something in common—pure, unselfconscious enthusiasm for what they do. To ensure that this comes across, every employee should have an elevator speech. This brief sound bite lets them easily express what makes them different and special. "Are you confident that you're a good esthetician?" I asked.

We can talk and talk about what our employees should do, but sometimes there's no substitute for a demonstration of the principles you're trying to get across. As well, there are nuances in everyone's approach we might not even think to mention in a conversation or a lecture, and I sensed that one of those little nuances might just be the key to help Cheryl defeat her shyness and inertia.

Rule #4: Stay congruent.

Scripting and choreography are very important in helping spa employees gain confidence. I find that many spa professionals don't know how to act in the spa's different settings. In the treatment room, they're confident. In the reception or retail area, they are not. Their incongruent behavior can transmit their discomfort to the client—not the sort of magic chemistry for which we're looking. For example, few massage therapists I've met are innately silver-tongued. Instead, they speak eloquently with their hands. Having the right words can make all the difference in the world for the kinesthetic communicator. Scripting—that is, having a few handy phrases that feel comfortable and natural—will boost their confidence.

Choreography is another neglected element of successful client building and sales. I recently did a practical review with James, one of our most talented massage therapists. I observed that, after we left the treatment room and moved to the checkout area, James stood stiffly with me, unsure what to do with his hands. "Put your hand on my shoulder when you talk to me about coming for another session," I suggested. Service providers will find that if they stay in the same energy they use in the treatment room, the client will feel more comfortable with them.

Your business is built one service provider, and one client, at a time. The geometric effect of client retention and referrals means the time you take today to coach one therapist toward excellence can pay off in the long run. A slow day on the schedule may look like rain, but it's really the perfect opportunity to teach your aspiring weather-makers to create some sunshine.

Peggy Wynne Borgman is president of Wynne Business Spa Consulting as well as Preston Wynne, a day-spa operator in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can contact her at [email protected] or visit www.wynnebusiness.com.