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8 Methods to Increase Retail Sales

by Lisa Jenks, MD

Retail sales are a critical portion of any aesthetic business. The first, and most important, reason is that getting your clients to use good products will improve the overall results they get from the services you are providing. A large contributing factor to the health of a person’s skin is what they put on it twice daily at home. So, the appearance and health of their skin depend greatly on you getting them on high quality products. The second reason is that we are all in this business to make money and retail is a proven way to do just that.

1. Educating vs. Selling

The easiest way to increase product sales is to not act as or regard yourself as a "salesperson." Your clients should instead think of you as an educator and problem solver. You are the expert on skin conditions and what can best improve them. When you truly believe this, it comes across to your customers and they don’t feel pressured to buy. Instead, they feel as though you are offering a solution to a problem they have.

Consider having all new clients complete a cosmetic questionnaire. All existing clients should then update the form yearly. The questionnaire lists all the skin conditions that you can improve such as acne, dark spots, wrinkles, dry skin, oily skin, etc. Clients check the box next to anything that they are concerned about. This questionnaire provides a simple way to approach clients about buying products. For example, if a client has checked that they are concerned about the oiliness of their skin, the provider can comfortably talk to them about getting started on a retinol. They appreciate that their esthetician is paying attention to what they have expressed, and don’t feel as though the provider is just "trying to sell them something."

2. Timely Follow Ups

Following up with your clients after they have purchased a product is important. If a person has problems after starting a new product, they will often abandon it. If you have the chance to identify the problem and resolve it, this will increase the likelihood that they end up liking the product and purchasing it again. For example, if you sold a cleanser containing alpha-hydroxy acids to a client and they are using it twice daily, but then decide they don’t like it because it’s drying their skin out, they are likely to stop using it. However, if you follow-up (either with a phone call soon after the purchase or at their next visit) and explain that they may only be able to use that cleanser several times a week, you may turn this product into one of their new favorites.

3. Product Promotion

It can be fun to have some events designed to promote your products. A "lunch and learn" that either features a new product or focuses upon a class of products (i.e. anti-aging) can be a fun event. You can provide box lunches and have an information session, during which clients can sample the products you are highlighting. Offering free samples as well as discounts that are available only that day to anyone who attends, can be an incentive for people to be there, as well as to purchase that day.

Another event idea is hosting a "peel party," during which clients move between four to five stations. Various stations offer a deep cleansing, a mild lactic peel, a chance to sample the featured products and a makeup application. You can charge a fee to attend the party and that money can be used towards any purchases. Serving snacks and beverages ensures that the clients who attend have fun, feel pampered, and hopefully, leave with purchases.

It can be a good idea to add a "free" product to any service packages that you sell. When you do this, two things are accomplished. First, if you choose an appropriate product for the service, your clients will likely get better overall results. Second, it introduces them to good quality products, which ideally, they will then continue to buy from you.

4. Tactful Testing

Having a product testing area is important because clients (especially women) like to feel and smell a product before they buy. This does not have to be a large area, but should be a place where you can take a customer and apply small amounts of products to their skin. Consider offering free product consultations in which clients can sit down with an esthetician for 20-30 minutes and come up with a complete skin care regimen. They may not choose or be able to buy all the products that are recommended that day, but they will have a plan and will be less likely to grab a product off the grocery store shelf.

Consider creating product "prescription pads" on which providers can write their suggestions for a client’s regimen. If done in duplicate, the client can keep one copy and one copy can be placed in their chart. Again, this allows them to feel as though you are giving them solutions to problems and coming up with a customized plan to improve their skin.

5. Purposeful Displays

Interesting and well-lit product displays are important. Don’t forget to switch up the displays at least once a quarter. If the shelves look the same month after month, customers tend to stop paying attention. However, if a client walks in and the shelves are different than when they visited last time, their brain will take notice and they will be more inclined to stop and look. Consider putting "talkers," or small cards with one to two sentences explaining who the product works for, on the shelves. Be sure that you offer enough products to appeal to different skin types, age groups and budgets.

6. Market on Social

Clients like to know what their providers are using. Your social media posts should sometimes feature your staff sharing their favorite products. One employee who loves outdoor activities can post about the tinted sunscreen that doesn’t come off easily. Another staff member can post about the moisturizer that helps get them through dry winters. Clients identify with these issues and feel "safer" about purchasing products that they know their providers use.

You should blog about the products you sell. In the blog, explain what the product is and why it works. Blogs can be longer than Facebook or Instagram posts, so you can go into more detail for those clients that like to know a bit more about the products.

 7. Creative Sales

When you have sales on products, consider not discounting, but doing a "gift with purchase." If you do these correctly, you won’t lose as much money as when you give a straight discount. In addition, you will be introducing the client to another product. For example, if I discount a $150 product 15%, I will sell it for $127.50. If that product cost me $75, my profit will be $52.50. However, if I don’t discount it, but instead offer a "gift with purchase" that costs me $25 (value to client of $50), then my profit on the combination is $75 and I’ve hopefully gotten the client hooked on another product that they will purchase in the future.

8. Proper Training

Regular training sessions for all your staff are important for increasing product sales. Considering closing for an hour once a month and having a product training meeting. It’s important for all staff to be involved in this because all staff should be able to answer client’s questions about products and recommend products for clients. During this hour each month, choose four to five products and refresh all staff about them. Having product sales goals can also be a fun way to encourage your team to increase sales, and the prizes don’t have to be big. The fun of working together as a team and tracking your goals can be very satisfying and fun. Utilize your product reps. They can help with training and will sometimes provide free products for staff if goals are achieved.

Bottom Line

Product sales are important, both for your business’ bottom line and for your clients’ results. Maximizing your sales will benefit everyone, and with some planning and organization, you can make it happen for your business.

 Lisa S. Jenks, M.D. began her medical career as an emergency room physician. In 2007, she opened Genesis MedSpa, a medical spa in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Recently, Jenks started Genesis Consulting to help spa owners and other physicians open successful medical spas. Reach her at or 719-579-6890.



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