The Beauty Pro's Guide To Retail
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Most beauty professionals have a love-hate relationship with retail. Some see selling retail as being a pushy “salesperson” whereas retail is really rooted in educating clients. This guide challenges your presumptions about retail and details how it benefits your clients and your business.
It is an all too common occurrence in the beauty and wellness industry to hear professionals say they don’t want to be “salesy” or “pushy”. While being aggressive is a turnoff, recommending products that benefit your client’s appearance is far from pushy; it’s great customer service.
Why Retail Is Part Of Customer Service
Your perception is critical when it comes to your comfort level around retailing. If you’ve had a bad sales experience, the last thing you want to do is be a pushy salesperson. Let’s be clear: making recommendations is not being pushy; it’s being a professional in your field and sharing your knowledge with your clients. Isn’t that why they come to you? It’s simply your job to recommend something you believe in, offer options, and let your clients choose.
When talking about products with clients, it’s best to explain what products you are going to use during the consultation, then throughout the service, describe the benefits of using these particular products and the results they can expect when used at home. Use your explanation as a teaching moment while you create and enhance the finished look. Let them know up front your commitment to serving them. After that it’s up to them to make their choice. That’s it! Nothing deceptive, tricky, or pushy here at all.
At the end of the day, we are selling three things to our clients: a commodity, the experience along with it, and our expertise. It begins and ends with your approach. Notice it, shift it if you need to, and stand behind what you sell and the impact it has on the people you serve.
How Retailing Affects Your Bottom Line
Many service providers and owners have yet to realize the dramatic impact increased retail sales have on their bottom line. Here are three important results service providers and owners can achieve by recommending products to every client.
- Revenue Increase: One of the most obvious benefits is a direct revenue increase. Retail sales added on to every service performed increases the average ticket without using more of your valuable time. It may take you an hour of time to complete a service valued at $75. The five minutes it takes to recommend retail to a client can easily result in an additional $30-$50 added to the ticket.
- Retention: According to a study from a national trade magazine, if a client purchases one product, there is a 30% chance the client will come back to the business. If the client purchases two products, there is a 60% chance they will be back to the business. If the client purchases 3 products, there is a 90% chance they will be back to the business. So, you see, the importance of retail has little to do with selling and everything to do with client retention!
- Employee/Job Retention: A retail sales system can automatically give any commission-based employee a hefty raise and seal their loyalty to your business and improves their job satisfaction.
Why People Buy
There are two main reasons why a person buys anything: they see everyone else doing it or they really believe the person who sold them. What if you went from selling to your client to selling for your client?
It's always a good idea for you to understand the demographics of your client base and it's an even better idea to figure out how to individualize each experience. For a better analogy, think of "The Men's Warehouse," a custom tailoring brand that offers generally two things: a suit you can buy off the rack or a suit you can have custom tailored to fit "you" (the person) just right. It's amazing how they take all the measurements you need, a little pin here, a little pin there and wow, you look like a million bucks! There are no sales or marketing secrets; you just need to custom tailor your products and services to fit your customer's needs.
Here is how you do that:
Understand your client
Learn about each person who sits in your chair or lays on your table. Of course, you want to learn all about their daily grooming needs, but what else do they like that inspires you to incorporate a new technique, product, etc.? What party, celebration, or goal are your clients working towards that you could help better prepare them for?
Learn what to say
You will only know what to say by practicing what to say. By practicing your services and product knowledge over and over, you build the confidence to know and express your recommendations. As the saying goes, "practice makes perfect" so put in the practice.
Once you understand you are not “selling to” but “selling for” your clients, you will have a better chance of not only retailing, but upselling as the final result. This means you will begin to naturally learn and execute the correct terminologies, techniques, and goals for each one of your clients. Put it into practice; your clients and bank account will thank you.
What Actually Sells Retail
There are so many factors that go into selling retail but at the end of the day, it is the service provider, the product hype, and the promotion that really gets the job done. That’s not to say some strategies can't outweigh others, but for you to have a consistent retail business, all three must come into play.
The Service Provider
Ted Gibson is an extremely successful hairdresser that has built a solid brand for himself. There is no doubt when a client sits in Ted’s chair and he recommends his product…they buy. Why? Because Ted IS the product, he IS the experience and HIS recommendation bears significance. You may be thinking, well, I’m NOT Ted Gibson, and though that is true, you are the expert to your client, and they are hungry for your expertise. Don’t underestimate the value of your recommendations.
Most products have been hyped with claims that they are superior, usually with science to back it up. Companies promote why their product is different and why it is better than their competition. This is good information to have and to pull from when your client wants to know more information. In the age of information junkies, many of your clients may already have this information and want to dialogue about the products you recommend for them.
You can look at many product lines out there. Some are extremely well-known and have over the years, not only had effective promotions in the marketplace, but have established a standard for education. Their reps are instrumental in how their product is promoted within the salon, spa, or shop environment, from custom shelving, tent cards, and plan-o-grams, to essential experiences and added value services. You may never have realized it before, but it is the product promotion in the salon, spa or shop that is ultimately making the sale.
So, what does all this mean for you, the service provider or owner? It means if you want to improve your retail sales then you must make the most of all available opportunities to educate your clients, hype the benefits and promote the product.
Merchandising Mistakes To Avoid
Think of a time when you walked into a retail store and it felt uninviting, almost awful. It was a feeling that something was off…something just didn’t feel right. Slowly you meandered through the store, casually flipping through racks and gazing at displays, but for some reason you just didn’t like how you felt. So, what did you do? You probably did what most of us do: you walked out.
What you just experienced was a huge merchandising mistake. The last thing you want in your salon, spa, or shop is for a client to come into your business and feel awful, or worse, uninterested in what you have to offer. When clients enter your salon, spa, or shop they should immediately feel invited and enticed, as if you are catering to their personal needs. Fail to solve their challenges and make them feel good and you fail to retain their business. Don’t let that happen to you! Here are some common merchandising mistakes to avoid.
Selling To Everyone Instead Of Someone
You must know your client demographic. Trying to be everything to everyone is a poor business strategy. Why? Because it spreads your retail budget too thin. Unless you are a mass retailer with massive amounts of cash, you cannot adequately stock multiple lines in an effort to sell to every customer type. Knowing who your client is will have you selecting and merchandising products that suit their needs and your budget.
Choosing Products You Like vs. What Your Customers Need
Don’t make business decisions based solely on what you and your team want. Yes, you must take into consideration the products they trust and value, but you must also consider the needs of your market and what your brand communicates. If you are a trendy salon that caters to a university crowd, who have limited resources, selecting a high-end retail line because the top stylist likes it, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right for your clientele.
Lack Of Sales Training
Your merchandising can only do so much; you need the backup of a personal recommendation to seal the deal. The more educated you and your team are, the more likely you will effortlessly retail.
Track Your Progress
Use a spreadsheet that teaches you how to work with your money (like our Retail Tracking Form) to see how you can grow and how much you can keep. While it may not feel like a big number each month, it adds up over time. Set your retail money aside and put it in savings and once per quarter pay off a bill or just watch it grow. The feeling you will have from this simple step is empowering and well worth your effort.
To get started, track your retail sales each month, the total number of client visits per month, your retail commission percentage and the total hours you work each month. (The latter is tracked in the event you work based on an hourly wage and your income is calculated this way.)
By tracking this information, you can see what your average retail ticket is with each client, what your retail profit is for the month and you can also calculate how much more you can bring in monthly or even hourly.
Think of retailing as an extension of your service. It allows your clients to maintain their hair, skin, and scalp in between appointments. Once you begin, you are going to wonder why you have not been retailing all along. The road to future prosperity and financial freedom comes from taking chances and stepping outside your comfort zone. Think about where you want to be long term and let retailing powerfully be one of many stepping stones that drives you in the right direction.