Expert Advice: Increase your profits by working smarter and not harder

Salon owner, trainer and industry expert Marie-Louise Coster considers how not to become a ‘busy fool’!

Marie-Louise CosterI am at a time in my life where I just don't want to work myself in to the ground anymore. My years of being everything, for everyone, at any time are long gone.

It is costing me more and more money to open the doors of my business with the increase in energy prices, product costs, fuel etc etc. I don't want to be a busy fool. I am not turning on the heating, the lighting, the wax pots just for an eyebrow shape or a half a leg wax for a new client or someone I hope will become a regular client that is, in effect, not making me a huge profit. 

Don't get me wrong, I understand why people do that. Let's be honest, times are tough, the cost of living has risen, we are a luxury service and we are all grateful for whatever bookings and clients we can get to fill our columns and put money in the till. But where is the point in filling those columns with treatments that aren't earning you a huge profit and not giving you the opportunity to upsell?  

It's much easier to sell to clients you already have

In more recent years my focus has been on working smarter, not harder, and if you aren't doing this already, I suggest you jump on board. 

You see, the thing is, it is much easier to sell to clients you already have. You already have a relationship, they trust you and they obviously enjoy coming to your salon and receiving the treatments in the environment you provide. So, upselling to them is much easier than trying to gain new clients.

So how can you upsell and encourage your client to spend more money? 

The simplest thing to do is look at the treatments clients are having and see if you can upgrade them. If your client is coming in for a gel manicure, could you turn it into a luxury version and add on heated mitts or exfoliation and massage, for example, and charge more? Or perhaps add a strengthening and repairing treatment to it like IBX. Either of these would add at least €10-15 to your service but the extra time required will be quite minimal. Suddenly your €35 service has become a €50 service. If you do this with everyone, when you get to the end of the day you will have earned an extra €100+ without working any extra hours, making the time you are working more profitable.

If your client is coming in for a gel manicure, could you turn it into a luxury version and add on heated mitts, for example, and charge more?
Now this last example is on a very low-priced service, which is sometimes easier to sell both from the financial point of view of the client, and the confidence of the therapist (who may be rather nervous about upselling). All that said, it will still have an impact on your takings. But imagine the increase you could experience if you were to take a high price service, like a facial. With a facial you would earn extra money without really using any extra time and there is potential to get the client to spend even more if you retail home care products. 

Most facials take around an hour, so look at the facial clients you have and what facials they are having; is there a more advanced, more expensive version that would suit them just as well, if not better? 

Communication is essential to provide your clients' solutions

A lot of therapists, and clients alike, get stuck in a routine of just booking in the same facial month in and month out, not always considering if this is still the best facial for them and if it is still meeting their needs. Perhaps the facial they are having has worked but has only taken them so far and now they need something more advanced for their concerns.

This is where your regular consultations and updates come in very handy. Keep talking to your client and keep finding out what their concerns are, what are their expectations and what they want from the treatment. What was troubling the client five years ago, when they first started coming to see you may not be an issue anymore, maybe they are concerned with something else. Communication is essential so as you can provide your client with a solution. 
Upgrading a their facial is a great way of giving your client optimum results and increasing your day's taking without taking any extra time.
Don't think of it as selling, think of it this way - your client has a puzzle, something that is bothering them, something they can't quite beat, you provide the solution, the answers and the result they are looking for. I had a client recently who told me that my treatment had literally changed her life. Not only had she had a great result but that had led to an increase in confidence and feeling good about herself. Never underestimate the power you have.

Upgrading their facial is a great way of giving the client optimum results and increasing your day's taking without taking any extra time. For example, if the client has been having an €85 facial but the €100 (or more) facial is better for her, and let's say you have a day of eight facials (eight hours), you have earned yourself an extra €120 at the end of the day without working any longer or any harder. 

Don't do your clients a disservice

Better still, there are great retailing opportunities after a treatment like a facial as there are lots of products that can be sold. Ultimately, at the very least, all of your facial clients should be using the products at home, it is the only way they will get the best results. I actually think you are doing your clients a disservice if you aren't advising and selling them what they need to increase and maintain the results of their facial between treatments. 

And let's be honest, they will be using something! Someone who books in for a facial every month is not going home and doing nothing to their skin; they will be cleansing with something, moisturising with something, perhaps even using an eye cream, an exfoliant, a mask. There are lots of retail opportunities that someone else is benefiting from, yet you are doing the ground work, the hard work, for them.

It is also worth reminding clients of all of the other treatments that you offer. Often clients go to different people for different things. You may be her nail lady, her waxing lady may be someone else, her massage lady may be someone else again. Every client who comes in to you has a face, has feet, has fingers, has legs etc. Just because they come to you for a manicure doesn't mean that they may not need, or be interested in, a facial, a pedicure, a massage, some waxing or something else. It also doesn't mean that just because they have a leg wax they may not want a new facial moisturiser or serum.  

Talk to your clients constantly, listen to what they are saying to you and pick up on things that may just be a passing comment but could relate to something you can offer them and create an opportunity to book them in for further services. 

Take the opportunity in every moment, both in your business and in life itself.

Marie-Louise Coster is a Beauty Therapist, Session Nail Tech, Trainer and Business Consultant, with 25 years' experience in the industry. All About Mi Training School is AIT-accredited.