Most spas, on average, don’t give retail the attention it deserves. According to the Day Spa Association’s 2015 Spa and Wellness Retail Survey, 76 percent of the 700 spas polled dedicate 10 percent or less of their total square footage to retail operations. Whether your spa has devoted more or less, chances are you can improve your spa’s sales performance. Retail expert Rick Segel, author of the best-selling Retail Business Kit for Dummies, 2nd Edition (Wiley, 2008) and co-author of The Retail Sales Bible: The GREAT Book of G.R.E.A.T. Selling! (Specific House, 2011), offers practical advice drawn from his years of retailing experience. Here, he shares how to boost your spa’s retail business, even when times are tough.
Stay in tune with your customers.
Make sure you’re giving them what they want. According to Segel, you shouldn’t waste time guessing. Instead, ask them. You can also hand out a customer survey or put a focus group together to elicit feedback. Ask them if there are any products or lines they’d like your spa boutique to supply that it doesn’t already and how you could improve customer service. “Actually hearing what your customers want is vital to running your business no matter the condition of the economy,” says Segel. “You’ll be surprised by how much peace of mind it gives you. You either discover that you’re right on track with your customers, or you find out exactly what you need to do to get on track.”
Perform an inventory overhaul.
This is where your spa’s software can come in handy by telling you what is and isn’t flying off the shelves. “You need to know what you have that isn’t selling, and you need to know if you’ve overbought a certain item,” says Segel. “Look at your inventory level in dollars as opposed to unit count, and then look at sales, what merchandise you have received, and what is on order. Make sure you have enough inventory to generate the sales you’re projecting.”
Ramp up your e-commerce
Segel recommends taking advantage of no- and low-cost marketing opportunities. For example, create an e-zine or an e-newsletter that goes out to your clients and informs them of what’s new in the spa and provides them with exclusive specials or price offerings. Also, re-evaluate your website, and if you have an online store, make sure it’s easy to use. If you want clients to buy from your spa, you need to make it as easy as possible.
Pump your vendors for information.
Because you probably don’t have as much time as you’d like to be keeping tabs on the competition or researching fun new products, let your vendors be your eyes and ears. Segel suggests asking them what spas like yours are ordering and if they’ve noticed any purchasing trends. “The information they have can help you get ahead and stay ahead of the competition,” says Segel.
Energize your sales with a units per transaction (UPT) contest.
UPT reveals the number of units or items sold per each sale. According to Segel, introducing a UPT contest in which your staff strives to boost their sales is an effective motivator as well as a great way to evaluate who your best salespeople are. “Encourage everyone to sell at least two items per transaction, and offer a prize to whoever sells the most items per transaction on average,” says Segel. “When the contest is over, evaluate whether you have some ineffective salespeople who are hurting your business.” If so, consider ways you can help them improve their sales.
People enjoy getting the most for their money. Offering them some sort of deal can leave them feeling positive about their purchase. “With this method, you combine two or three items together to sell at a discounted price,” says Segel. It also has the added advantage of unloading inventory that is taking up shelf space and introducing complementary products that they may not have considered purchasing before. “It’s truly a win-win,” says Segel. “You make money, and your customers leave thinking they’ll have to come back to see what else you might be offering in the future.”
Remember to always discount the wants over the needs.
“If you’re having a sale to bring more people into your store, don’t put any of your ‘need’ items on sale,” says Segel. For instance, certain cosmetic and skincare products, such as mascara and moisturizer, may be considered necessities to some. “You want people paying full price for anything they have to have,” says Segel. “Put your ‘want’ items on sale so that customers are tempted to purchase a couple of those when they are headed to your register with their ‘need’ item.”
Shop, shop, shop.
“You need to shop your own spa, your competitors’ spas, and websites so that you know where to start when you are looking to make changes,” says Segel. He also recommends you shop different types of retailers, not just other spa boutiques. “Notice how these stores display, what colors they use, the types of signs in view, the number of employees, and how they market and advertise,” says Segel. “Talk to the owners to see how their business is holding up and what marketing efforts they are having success with.”
Although selling may not come naturally to your staff, it is an area that can make a big difference to your spa’s bottom line. For that reason alone, it’s worth the extra effort to make sure your retail operation is functioning as effectively as possible. “Each day brings an opportunity for you to make or break your business,” says Segel. “That holds true whatever the state of the economy is. It’s up to you to make the right decisions and create the right opportunities for your spa.”