Retail Strategies for Resort Spas

Here is my prescription for awesome resort spa retail sales:

? Start off on the right foot! Emphasize the importance of spa home care sales during job interviews and look for candidates with retail experience, or those who like to shop. (We often ask, "Tell me what I'd find in your bathroom drawer." Serious shoppers are usually the best salespeople, too.) Beware of people with anti-sales beliefs or slavish devotion to one product line, as well as therapists who think that spa therapy requires an anonymous and silent treatment experience.

? Create a retail performance standard. This is extremely important if you want to get more than lip service from your employees' participation in product sales. As they say, "you get what you inspect not what you expect." Know what you want in advance of hiring and then never let that expectation become an option! Your program won't be right for everyone, so hire only those who are right for it.

? Develop role models. Classroom training is essential, but learning from their peers is often more effective. Use your most successful salespeople, or "positive deviants", to model their successful sales techniques and scripting for their coworkers. The "trainee" shadows the "trainer" during their workday, providing special "upgraded" spa services to give them a premise to be in the treatment room. For example, the "trainee" provides a complimentary foot treatment while observing the esthetician's techniques for communicating with and selling to clients during a facial.

? Provide recommendation tools. Most resort spas don't even provide guests with home care suggestions in written form. This is the fastest and simplest way to boost sales. Your recommendation tool should be attractive, like your spa brochure, and provide real value in the form of education. You can publish a souvenir-quality spa "self care guide", with home care tips and techniques, and easily referenced, tabbed pages for the therapists to write in their recommendations.

? Build the "close" into your process. If you are utilizing your spa boutique for sales, install a process for getting the guest from the service area to the sales area for a proper closing. To ensure that a departing guest visits your sales associate in the boutique, let them know that when they take their recommendation sheet to the boutique, they'll receive a gift. Build the cost of the gift into your services.  Another approach is to set up a small recommendation and sales area, complete with product "dispensary" within the service areas, with a dedicated staff member who can ensure that home care recommendations are offered, sales are closed, and the products are processed for checkout. You have a unique advantage in the resort spa. Unlike a day spa, guests can simply charge items to their room. This encourages more liberal spending on spa services, and the same effect is felt on retail sales—provided someone asks for the sale!

? Train, train, and train again! Your team craves education, needs encouragement, and requires frequent coaching. A solid training program should include some customer psychology, product knowledge, product recommendation built into a pre-service consultation (yes, even at the resort spa!), and personal/team sales goals. Employees come and go, diluting the overall strength of your retail potential. Under-trained employees will quickly fall below standard, and allowing them to do so will tell coworkers that it's okay to slip in the numbers—and they quickly will. Once you've lost the momentum it's very difficult to regain it, especially in a close team. You'll appear insincere, weak, and inconsistent. Leadership cannot ever be left to chance—it must remain a constant to be effective and believable. So expose everyone to sales training at least 3-4 times per year. The payoff is really worth the investment!

? Provide motivating retail sales compensation. Sales commission is often an afterthought in the compensation plan. Make sure retail commissions are always prominently featured in conversations about compensation. Products should have commissions that reflect their gross profit. A higher-profit product can carry a higher commission. Give bonuses for exemplary sales performance and conduct contests to stimulate and renew interest in your products. Create prizes for individual and team performance. Team prizes can be very effective with spa personnel, who sometimes feel uncomfortable about competing with their co-workers.

? Monitor the retail performance. "Inspect what you expect to get respect for the rules." You've just got to do this if you want your program to work. Stop slips, slumps, and stubbornness before they lead to conflict and lost revenue. A quick feedback loop is key: everyone must be able to know their total day's sales at the end of their shift. Post everyone's sales numbers no less than once a week, and respond to deficiencies as soon as undesirable trends appear. Strangely enough, commission is not enough to keep your salespeople motivated! Offer help, additional training, and some time to get performance back on track. But never accept substandard performance for long—it's all you'll get until you replace the uncooperative or less-than-competent employee.

? Set Goals. Management must have retail goals and an employee-by-employee plan for achieving them. Standards should include the amount of sales expected for each position, each shift within that position, and each ticket within that shift. A retail sales budget is meaningless until it is broken down into your expectations for each transaction. Telling your staff to "sell more" without being able to say exactly how much more is not sales management. Teaching your team to watch their (and your) "critical numbers" ensures that those numbers will improve. The average ticket is a good critical number to track, and easy for everyone to understand.

? Recognize and reward the jobs well done! Personal recognition is very high on a spa employee's list of career workplace expectations and yet management often withholds this as tightly as keys to the safe. More than anything else, building the self-esteem of your team will reward you with loyalty, enthusiasm, and cooperation. This is the least expensive and most productive thing a spa manager can do for the business they run.

About Preston, Inc.

Preston Private Label offers over 100 outstanding, results-oriented skin and body care products for both retail and professional use. We offer an excellent—-and free—-regional technical and career-building education program, affordable minimums, and fully custom labels, pre-applied. Choose from two packaging options and get the look that best suits your branding strategy. Generous margins that allow for markup from 150-700%  mean you gain maximum benefit from retailing.  From cleansers and toners to cosmeceutical serums, pro enzyme, glycolic and lactic peels to body contouring wraps, gift kits to aromatherapy oil blends and more, we have everything you need to create a highy effective, full range product line. Visit our website at for more information!