Attracting a loyal and devoted following, Skin Deep Salon and Spa (New Providence, NJ) has grown and thrived over the years thanks to the passion of owner Susan Barbaglia, a licensed cosmetologist, esthetician, certified permanent makeup artist, and certified reflexologist. Committed to continuing education, she is also trained in color therapy, microscopic skin and hair analysis, and manual lymph drainage. Not surprisingly, she encourages her staff to adopt that same attitude toward continuing education in order to always exceed expectations. “When we first opened Skin Deep in 1994, our goal was to create a place that offered such a positive beauty experience that customers would think of us as their one and only destination for any beauty need,” says Barbaglia. “It was a pretty lofty goal when you consider that we started with just four hair stations, two pedicure units, two facial rooms, and two manicure stations—all squeezed into a 1,000-square-foot space.” Growing her spa’s customer base with her and her staff’s dedication to quality service, Barbaglia added another 1,000 square feet to the spa and a more comfortable setting for its facial rooms in 1996. Another expansion was needed in 2003, and again, in 2013.
Today, Skin Deep occupies 4,300 square feet and includes eight hair-cutting stations, eight hair-color stations, and six pedicure and five manicure stations. There is even a private pedicure room created especially for men who are uncomfortable having a pedicure performed in front of women. “Our spa takes up the other half of Skin Deep with seven treatment rooms for facials, massage, and waxing, including a room dedicated to halotherapy and salt therapy,” says Barbaglia.
Especially successful when it comes to retail, the spa has proven to be a standout in that regard, a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed. “Susan’s success is linked directly to her passion for spa and her commitment to offering her guests the very best products and the most effective, results-driven treatments available,” says Dany Brind’Amour, head of sales for Babor North America. CEO Brian Brazeau agrees. “Recognizing the value in building a strong retail business and a loyal clientele, Susan and her team excel at ensuring that all spa guests leave with an appropriate homecare regime to enhance and extend the results achieved during their spa treatments.” Here, Barbaglia shares her own take on how she has managed to keep Skin Deep Salon and Spa flourishing for the past 21 years.
To what do you attribute the spa’s success over the years?
A. Like a lot of businesses that have been around as long as we have, we’ve ridden the economic roller coaster—from 9/11 to the recent economic downturns. And we’ve learned to adjust and get creative with our marketing.
How do you attract new and repeat clients and encourage them to visit?
A. Client happiness is still the best marketing plan you can have. Most of our business was built from referrals, so we take it very seriously at Skin Deep. I’m not going to make a client unhappy by refusing to honor a promotion or gift card that expired. I don’t want to lose a possible $5,000 a year in revenue over a 20 percent discount.
Still, sometimes ensuring client happiness is as simple as doing something that just shows you care. For example, when one of our VIP clients lost her job and couldn’t afford our services anymore, we sent her a gift card to cover the cost of some of the services that she would regularly get here. She supported us; we thought it would be nice to show our support for her.
We also like to show our support for our community. We work with Christmas is for Children and support the fight against pediatric cancer. We participate in Diva for a Day by offering a complimentary facial, massage, manicure, pedicure, haircut, and makeup application every month. And we sponsor our Girls Night Out to support local fundraisers. Girls Night Out entitles a guest and three friends to a facial or massage followed by a wine and cheese party in our lounge. Over the years, we’ve raised more than $100,000 for local charities and helped raise awareness for bone marrow transplants.
How do you use digital marketing and social media to boost business?
A. Eblasts have been very effective for us. We send special service promotions to our client email list at least once a month. Because they can be done last minute, eblasts give us the flexibility to offer a promotion quickly if we see some gaps in our appointment book. Facebook is also popular with our clients, and we still do some local higher end print ads.
What have been the biggest challenges in expanding and growing the business?
A. One of the biggest concerns with growth is maintaining the same high skill level with every new employee you hire. I handpicked every one of our 45 employees, so I’m confident that they’re the best in the field. And since I think they’re the best, I want to make sure I keep them here. So I do special things for them like holding quarterly contests where they can win money, trips, or products or enroll them in educational and motivational seminars to enhance their skills and careers.
How do you make retail sales a priority among your staff?
A. We’re very selective about the types of products we use and offer to our customers. Our rule is to only carry products from companies that provide in-depth product education. I find it baffling when you’re handed a piece of literature and expected to sell the product to your customers. How can anyone be successful in a business without extensive education?
What ongoing challenges are you facing, and how are you overcoming them?
A. Today, the biggest challenge for us is the saturation of discount salons, spas, and chains and LivingSocial and other discount marketing sites. So, it’s important for us to keep coming up with new service ideas, stay up on current trends, and continue to offer a good product line with new and effective products. That’s why I believe education, seminars, and webinars are so critical to our success. A perfect example is my most recent trip to Aachen, Germany, with Babor. I left there with valuable knowledge and marketing ideas that I can use to continue being innovative at my spa and help us reach our 20 percent increase in sales per year goal.