8 Steps to Making Smart Equipment-purchasing Decisions
If you are a spa owner, you no doubt often find yourself on the lookout for new equipment investments. There is a continuous influx of new products being introduced on the market, so how do you sift through the avalanche of options to choose what is best for your spa? You’ll want to be sure that whatever equipment you invest in not only gets used, but grows your bottom line.
Juggling the desire to offer new or trending treatments and your clients’ preferences, all while not breaking the bank can be overwhelming.
The following article by Lisa Jenks, MD, owner of Genesis MedSpa & Consulting in Colorado offers 8 steps to help you make smart decisions when it comes to purchasing new equipment.
Step 1. Decide on Your Next New Service
The first step in the process is usually becoming aware of a service that you think would be good to offer.
For example, if you offer laser hair removal and IPL, you might want to consider adding tattoo removal. You’ll want to contact two or three reps from trusted laser companies and ask them to show you what they offer.
Make sure training for all staff whom will be using the equipment is provided.
In addition to learning about each technology, be sure to ask the cost of the equipment, the cost of consumables, what type of warranty is included, the recommended price to the patient and the number of treatments needed. Make sure training for all staff whom will be using the equipment is provided. You may also want to ask if their company will give any marketing support and/or launch support.
Step 2. Get Input on Client Interest
Next, try to get a feeling for what the interest is in the new service (in this case, tattoo removal).
Start by coming up with a questionnaire that briefly explains the procedure and expected cost to the client, and then give the questionnaire to 50-100 of your clients. Ask clients to check one of three boxes:
Absolutely no interest
Might be interested
Absolutely would be interested.
While such a survey needs to be taken with a grain of salt, it can serve as an indicator of the interest among your current clients. Bringing in new clients is always a goal; however, we all know that current clients are “the low-hanging fruit.” Converting them to a new service is more cost-efficient than recruiting new patients.
In addition, you can research how many Google searches were done in your area during the last six months for “tattoo removal.” This allows you to gauge the interest within your community.
Step 3. Find Out User Experience
If you decide to move forward, call 5-6 people who own the equipment you are thinking about purchasing. Reps should share with you the names of some of their customers who are willing to talk about their experiences with the technology. Useful information for you to get is the price they charge, how many treatments they do in a typical week and how quickly the procedure launched and became successful.
Also, talk to people whom the reps haven’t shared with you, just so you know you are getting an honest opinion. To do so, search the name of the technology and a random area of the country (although try to pick cities about the size of where you are located) and then get some of those people on the phone. Most are willing to share their ups and downs with the equipment. The reps are obviously only going to give you the names of customers they know have had good success!
Step 4. Do the Math
After you’ve decided there is an interest and those other owners like the technology, do the math. Always remember that you cannot trust the ROIs that reps give you! Figure out how many treatments you are going to need to do in order to break even. Don’t forget to add in consumables and marketing costs.
In addition, you will usually discount the first 10-20 procedures, and you need to factor that in. If you offer military and/or membership discounts, take those into account. Assume that you will have about one-third the number of treatments the reps show you in the ROI, especially in the beginning. Using those numbers, if the equipment should easily pay for itself in two years or less, that is potentially a good investment.
Step 5. Ask, ‘Will This Break the Bank?’
A final question to ask yourself is, “If not one person chooses to get this procedure, would the number of dollars I have to pay each month on the loan break my business?” All of us, during the course of our careers are going to follow all the guidelines above and yet still buy at least one piece of equipment that bombs. Never purchase anything if it means you would go out of business if the decision turns out to be the wrong one.
A final question to ask yourself is, “If not one person chooses to get this procedure, would the number of dollars I have to pay each month on the loan break my business?”
Once you have determined that you want this equipment and can afford it, see what kind of a deal you can make. Usually, at the end of each quarter, reps are eager to increase their sales and are more likely to negotiate. They will often give a reduced price, a longer than normal warranty and/or throw in free consumables.
Push them to give you all of those! Equipment companies usually offer financing, but you may want to compare rates, because your bank may have better terms. On the other hand, the company’s finance department may require less paperwork and process the loan more quickly.
Step 6. Plan the Launch
Begin working with your marketing team on a launch. Choose a date several weeks after the equipment will be delivered in the order that your staff can have time to be trained and get some practice in. Line up friends and family as “models” for practicing.
In the weeks leading up to the launch, be sure that your staff is talking about the “new, exciting procedure we’re going to begin offering.” Be sure they agree, in return for free or greatly reduced pricing, to let you post their before-and-after pictures and (very importantly) that they will go to your Facebook or Instagram accounts and post a positive review about the procedure.
Step 7. Spread the Word
When you do launch it, consider having either a “lunch and learn” or an evening event during which clients learn about the procedure, see before-and-after pictures, view a demonstration and get greatly reduced pricing for signing up.
Ask your rep about supporting the launch event with his/her presence and food or wine. Many companies will also give money to help support initial marketing for their products. Make sure you take advantage of any support they will give you.
In addition, you may want to make this procedure your special for an entire month to get the buzz going about it. Send out e-blasts, make personal phone calls and use your networking to generate business.
As the procedure is getting launched, think about other businesses you could reach out to. For example, tattoo parlors see clients who want to lighten or get rid of tattoos. Offer free treatments on one of their staff in return for referrals. If you are launching a body contouring device, pair up with personal trainers.
Step 8. Ramp Up Your SEO
Lastly, be sure that your SEO is geared up for the launch. You will likely want to spend some money initially on inorganic searches but do everything you can to maximize your organic presence. Have something on your homepage about your “newest technology” and have a well-written page specifically on the procedure.
Blog about it, post before and after pictures on Facebook and Instagram and include positive patient testimonials. Clients love contests. Think about a Facebook contest in which whoever posts a picture of the ugliest tattoo wins free tattoo removal.
Using these decision processes, your equipment purchases are much more likely to fulfill a need of your current clients, to bring you new clients and to make you money.