Robust Retail

Want to increase your staff's retail sales? Most spas today could double their bottom line with a serious retail sales management plan. In this day and age, spas need to adapt their ways of dealing with retail due to numerous retail giants crossing over into sacred spa waters. To survive in this economy, your spa needs to power up how it sells, stocks, and promotes its retail offerings. Here are 10 ways to boost your spa's retail sales.

Eccotique Spa (Vancouver) gives spa-goers plenty of options when it comes to retail shopping.
Eccotique Spa (Vancouver) gives spa-goers plenty of options when it comes to retail shopping.

1. Focus on results. Many spas today are so focused on putting spa-goers to sleep that there is little attention paid to getting results. In order to boost service sales, retail sales, and rebooking rates, your staff must focus on results. What are spa-goers looking to achieve during their spa experience? The answer can be uncovered with the initial consultation and intake form.

Typically, I hear, "What brought you into the spa today?" And the consumer responds with "I am here to relax." That response puts the brakes on any dialog between your service providers and guests. Staff members interpret this to mean that clients want to sleep, and for the next 50 minutes, you can hear a pin drop in the facial room. A better question to ask is, "What are your top three reasons for visiting the spa today?" Your staff may hear the "relax" word, but they will also open the door for guests to bring up other areas of concern.

A Good Investment
A Good Investment

2. Cultivate fabulous selling skills. Your spa customers have tons of products. The only way to tempt them to consider switching brands is to explain what your products can do for them. They will only switch when they hear what is different or better about your products. Now granted, some items on your shelves will sell themselves based on their intoxicating smells, such as candles. But the rest of those bottles and jars on display are virtual strangers to your clients. Some shoppers may have never even heard of the brands your spa carries.

Having fabulous selling skills means knowing how to talk features and benefits. The feature is what is in the product that makes it unique or different. The benefit is the ultimate reason shoppers would want or need your suggestions. And in between the two is the advantage—the description of how it works. Shoppers need to hear all three—feature, advantage, and benefit—before they take out their credit cards.

3. Pack displays with punch. Displays draw you in. They are the silent sirens of the retail shelves calling out to passersby to stop, look, and smell. Displays need to tell the story. In designing a display, 80 percent of it needs to be devoted to product, and the other 20 percent can be creative and fun. For extra punch, show the products in bulk. Unless your spa style is that of a Louis Vuitton or Cartier, where only one item is in a shadow box, put out six, 12, or 24 selections of a particular item, and watch sales soar.

4. Pay attention to product selection. Many spas will need at least three full brands (unless yours is a concept spa). Typically, I will select a cosmeceutical line, an aromatherapy or spa-savvy brand, and a boutique brand. Convey the brand story to your guests. Those of us in the spa industry know the branding philosophy behind each line, but do your guests? Is the product philosophy on the shelf clearly evident?

5. Offer a reason to buy today. Put yourself in your guests' slippers for a minute. What product or services do they need? What seasonal offerings are available of which they can take advantage? Offer an incentive to buy today. One of my favorites is the offer to purchase any three lipsticks today and receive a free lipstick organizer while supplies last.

6. Get ready, aim, and sell. If 25 percent of your total revenue should be from retail sales, do you focus 25 percent of your time on the retail side of things? A key component to a successful spa is its ongoing training and education. How much time do you allow daily, weekly, and monthly for boosting spa sales? Partner with your vendors to benefit from great hands-on technical and product-knowledge training. It's management's job to train therapists on developing people skills, such as being gracious, building rapport, and communicating effectively, as well as on non-product-specific selling skills. If you expect your staff to sell more, then add more ongoing sales classes to your educational calendar.

7. Remember, out of sight is out of mind. What do guests see when they walk into your spa? Are they faced with numerous shopping opportunities? The standard merchandising logic is to line some shelves to the far left and far right of the reception desk. A few locations where I have been called in to fix had the retail so far to the left and right, it was out of shoppers' peripheral vision.

8. Create a bundle of joy. When designing spa packages, add value by adding products to the offering. I rarely discount services, because there aren't the same margins on service. Instead, bundle products with services. For instance, if you are offering a body massage package, add a shower gel and body lotion. Also, offer a deluxe massage package, complete with candle, music CD, and essential oil to take home. Then train your staff to promote it when booking a standard massage.

9. Sell from start to finish. Therapists will tell you the sale starts at the end of the service. The reality is that the selling sequence starts the moment the guest walks through the front door. In fact, shoppers often decide within eight seconds of walking through the door if they are going to spend money or not.

One phrase I incorporated into Canyon Ranch's sales script was, "How do you plan on continuing your spa experience at home?" What was funny was that you could watch guests shake their heads from side to side, before getting the response, "I haven't thought about it. Tell me what I should be doing." Help them make the connection that it's not only great spa services but also great homecare products that prolong the experience.

10. Capitalize on impulse purchases. As much as I love selling facial care products, it's not always fun and exciting. Plus, it can take up to six months to use up some products. Place a small collection of inexpensive items at the cash and wrap station, such as travel-size products, combs, makeup brushes, hand and body lotions, perfumes, music CDs (think of posting a "Now Playing" sign), and inspirational books. Look for price points in the $5 to $25 range. Make shopping fun. It should be the goal of every spa owner and director to look at his or her retail area as a separate store. It should be a place where guests can not only receive exceptional service but also professional advice and products.

Carol Phillips is the founder and creative director of EncompassOne Marketing Group, an agency offering full-service branding, marketing, education, and turn-key spa development. Author of In the Bag: Selling in the Salon (Milady, 1994), Phillips has produced more than 12 audio and DVD training programs. Now through Nov. 15, American Spa readers can purchase her Complete Selling Library of eight DVDs and three audio CD programs, regularly priced at $745, for just $500. Use promo code AMSPA for an online discount at