Don't Do These 5 Things Right Before A Facial

Many of us know that there are certain things that we should not do right after a facial such as sweating it out at the gym and applying heavy make-up.  But do you know about the the things that are dangerous to do right before a facial?  Here is my expertly curated list of things to avoid at all costs, right before you check yourself in to your favorite spa or medical spa.

1.  UV exposure before a facial is a big no-no:  

Arriving to your facial appointment just after a day on a blanket in the park, swimming in the pool or (gasp) going into a UV tanning bed is extremely risky.  Remember: most facials aim to remove dead skin cells which can be slightly irritating and stimulating for many clients.  So even if you aren't showing signs of a tan or burn, recent UV exposure mixed with a facial can mean redness, irritation, blistering, swelling or unwanted skin pigmentation.  Wearing SPF daily and avoiding the sun before facials are key tips for getting the most out of your treatment.  Be sure to always where SPF protection en route to your facial as well because driving or walking to the spa without sunscreen is a no-no as well.

2.  Hair Removal before a facial is risky:

Whether you've just had an upper lip or brow wax, laser hair removal or a Nair session at home, getting a facial right after is very risky.  Many hair removal methods can exfoliate and temporarily inflame the skin so going into the spa for a peel, microdermabrasion or enzyme treatment can cause damage to the skin in a big way.  Be sure to wait about five days after any hair removal treatments before going in for a facial service.  Trust me, your esthetician won't mind if you have some strays - it's better than the possible side effects of over-exfoliation and inflammation.

3.  Recent injectables need time to settle in before a facial:

Getting an injectable treatment to smooth lines or plump the cheeks are everyday treatments, these days.  However, make sure that your injectables have had at least two full weeks, in most cases, to settle in before you go in for any kind of facial.  Your qualified injector should let you know how long after your treatment you are eligible for facials.  Typically, if facials are performed too soon after an injectable treatment, you run the risk of disrupting the injectable treatment by either moving it or spreading it to an unintended area of the face (think eyelid droop!).  Remember: facials involve a lot of muscle and skin massage and manipulation and injectables shouldn't be moved around when they are still settling in.

4.  Do Not Pop Pimples or Pick at Your Face Before a Facial:

I know, some people can't help themselves.  Even many estheticians are guilty of squeezing a pimple on their own faces, now and again.   But it's really best to leave your white and blackheads for the pros.  An esthetician will oftentimes have to turn you away and reschedule your facial treatment if you come in with scabs, scars and infected lesions on your face.  It is very risky to exfoliate, massage and (generally) manipulate skin that is riddled with wounds and scabs.  You are at a higher risk for infection and other unwanted side effects if you show up for your facial with broken, scabbed skin.

5.  Do Not Use Retinol 72 Hours Before A Facial:

Retinol is a buzzword in the skin care industry and a lot of people are using it to treat acne and signs of aging because it is so effective.  Prescription strength retinol is even available OTC, of late.  However, keep in mind that retinol (especially the prescription strength versions like Retin-A, Renova and Tretinoin can thin the skin and make the skin more susceptible to inflammation from exfoliation treatments and the sun.  Be sure that you are off your retinol containing products at least three days before any type of facial, microdermabrasion or peel so that you don't suffer any scary side effects like redness, irritation or even burns and blisters.   

Follow these guidelines and make sure your visage is in tip-top shape before your facial to avoid any scary outcomes.  

Which SPF is Right For You?

Thankfully, these days, it's not a question of should I wear SPF but which SPF should I wear?  Knowing which type of SPF to wear and when to wear it will keep the guesswork out of protecting your skin from painful burns, and UV damage like age spots, wrinkles and skin laxity.  

1.  Powder SPF  

Powdered SPF in the form of pressed and loose mineral powders, or loose powders packed into a handle of a retractable brush are great for on-the-go SPF touch-ups and re-applications on small areas of the body (think face, neck, chest and hands).  Typically, the powders are comprised of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide which are physical UV blockers that create a shield that reflect UV rays- it's the safest way to go when it comes to sunscreen protection. Powders are fast, instant and clean. Especially great for oily and acne prone skin types, powdered SPF formulations will help to mattefy the skin and will typically not clog the pores.  I recommend powdered formulations when clients wear makeup and do not want to disturb it with cream or lotion sunscreens.  Simply dusting on mineral SPF will take away any T-zone shine and refresh your UV protection all in one step.  The other bonus is that powdered SPF formulations are applied with a brush so you don't have to worry about dirty hands touching skin.

2.  SPF Sprays  

Spray-on SPF formulations are very popular because they are widely available in the drugstores and grocery stores.  They boast extremely high SPF ratings like 50, 70 and beyond and can be easily applied to large areas of the body with the touch of an aerosol nozzle.  Similar to powder SPF formulations, spray-ons are clean and fast but the downside is that after application you may need to manually rub them into the skin with your hands to ensure ample coverage.  The other downside is that the spray-on varieties are typically composed of chemical based sunscreen ingredients like avobenzone, oxybenzone, octisalate, homosalate and octinozate which help prevent burns but do not prevent tans.  Chemical sunscreen ingredients are designed to make the skin absorb the UV rays and transform them into heat.  So clients who are prone to freckles, age-spots or melasma will tend to see these conditions darken while using chemical sunscreens alone because heat can activate all of these conditions.  The other things to keep in mind about the spray-on formulations is that they need about 20 minutes to cure on the skin before UV exposure and must be reapplied about every two hours or more if you sweat or your skin gets wet.

3.  SPF Lotions  

SPF lotions have been on the market for many years.  They can be in the form of moisturizing creams, lightweight lotions and spray lotions.  They can have a wide range of SPF ratings and usually contain chemical SPF ingredients (see above)  and sometimes a physical ingredient (titanium dioxide or zinc oxide) as well.  SPF lotions need to be applied to clean, dry skin before makeup or any other type of product.  You must have clean hands to apply lotions to your skin and if you are acne or breakout prone then it is imperative to ensure that the formulation says that it is "non comedogenic" on the label so that you do not suffer breakouts post use.  Lotions need time to work on the skin so be sure to apply them about 20 minutes before UV exposure (and always follow the instructions on the back of the packaging).  Lotions can provide hydration and moisture so if your skin tends to be dehydrated, tight or dry, lotions may be the best way to go.  Oftentimes, I recommend applying a SPF lotion to the skin of the face then applying mineral makeup or SPF powders over it, for the rest of the day - it's the best of both worlds.  

4.  SPF Clothing  

SPF clothing has become one of the easiest and safest ways to protect skin from harmful UV rays. SPF clothing includes swim shirts, shorts, long sleeve shirts and hats, etc that have an actual SPF rating on the fabric.  This SPF rating will mean that you are protected from the sun for as long as you are wearing the clothes - no need to reapply!  SPF clothing is a great option for children and adults who are extremely active and want to play all day without constantly reapplying SPF to large portions of the body.  Obviously, the fabric should not interact with the skin in a negative way so skin conditions do not need to be taken into account when it comes to using this option.  Keep in mind, however, that SPF clothing does not cover every inch of the body so it is important to apply and reapply another SPF option on the exposed areas of the body.

Sunscreen concerns seem to be more prevalent in the spring and summer months when we are outside or away on vacation, but year round SPF is really the name of the game for skin cancer prevention and anti-aging. Think about choosing your SPF formulation based on your preferences for applying it.  Each style and formulation has its pros and cons, so find the kind that works best for your lifestyle and skin care concerns.

 

Reclaim Your Retail Sales

Professional skin care product sales aka retail sales are a pillar of a spa's revenue potential.  Recommending and retailing professional skin care products improves client relationships, prolongs treatment results and creates beautiful, long-lasting changes in clients' skin: so why do most spas fall short in this area?  It's time for spas, medical spas and solo estheticians to reclaim their retail sales and increase their revenue…here are my five tips to do just that.

1.  Start with a Mindset Shift.  

It's time to remind our staff that retail sales belong to the spa and esthetician, without question!  Put simply, we are the trained experts analyzing, advising, touching, massaging, extracting and treating our clients' skin.  Let's own the fact that estheticians are educated experts and will be the most qualified individuals to offer the best advice on at-home product suggestions to clients.  TV ads, sales personnel at the beauty counters, and celebrity-endorsed beauty brands can often mislead clients, in terms of how they appropriately select skin care for themselves.  So stand a little taller, take a deep breath and feel confident about your expert role as a skin care advisor.  Be a trusted resource and beacon of knowledge on which your clients can rely.

2.  Talk Retail Sales in Your Initial Consultation.

Your initial consultation will typically include going over client intake paperwork, discussing goals and concerns, analyzing the skin and discussing treatment options.  However, many estheticians forget to mention that clients need to be advised in their initial consult about the importance of professional skin care products for home use, to ensure positive outcomes.  Be sure to say that compliance with professional skin care products at home is part of your process and make sure they are onboard from the get-go.  A non-negotiable attitude when it comes to retail sales is one that makes the client feel confident in your skills, knowledge and imparts a feeling of care and commitment.  It's not to say that you require a massive purchase right off the bat, but that in terms of creating successful outcomes - customized, at-home professional skin care is a must.

3.  Explain Products Throughout the Service.

Yes, oftentimes, facials are quiet and tranquil services for our clients.  However, with proper timing and style of speaking, you can introduce, explain and recommend retail products throughout the entire session flawlessly.  It's as simple as softly telling the client the name of the product you're using and the benefits of it, throughout the service.  Clients want to know what you are putting on their skin, more often than not, so be sure to share that information.  Of course, there are times when it is not appropriate to speak during the facial and allow the client their quiet time.  However, it is crucial to know when to explain product choices and benefits so that clients can be informed about their treatments and educated on product ingredients.  Moreover, if you are waiting until the end of the service to initiate a dialog about home care products: it's too late!  Clients are off to their next appointment or going back to work and an esthetician may have their next client waiting for them in the lobby! It's better to use your session time to prime your client for retail sales instead of relying on the few minutes available after the treatment.

4.  Pull Products Off Shelves for Clients to Hold.

After the service, it is crucial that you follow through and show clients the actual bottles of product that you recommend for them.  Let clients look, touch, smell, and hold packaging and testers - this will create a connection with them.  Many estheticians make the mistake of signaling to product shelves or pointing to products barely visible through dusty, glass cabinet doors - it just doesn't work!  Help clients feel comfortable and familiar with the professional skin care offerings at your spa by pulling the products off the shelf and creating a customized regimen for them that they can see and hold.  Just like therapeutic touch is a cornerstone of spa services, touching and experiencing retail products will make the client feel more comfortable and apt to purchase them.

5.  Write it All Down.

Just like a physician hands a patient a written prescription for a medication with instructions on how and when to use it, estheticians needs to write down and explain retail product instructions.  It is crucial for a client to see a written prescription style pad of all of the products you recommend for them morning and night with details of how and when to use them.  Be sure to date and photocopy this list so that you can give one to the client and keep the other for your records.  That way, if your client has questions or only purchases a portion of those items on the list, you will have everything organized for future reference. This process will show commitment and professionalism on the part of the esthetician and make the client feel well taken care of and valued. 

Follow these five, easy tips to reclaim your retail sales at your spa or medical spa, today!  Enjoy increased client retention and satisfaction along with increased revenue and profits.

 

 

 

6 Tips To Love Your Skin Like The Pros Do

Have you ever wondered how the pros in the beauty and skin care industries take care of their own skin?  Learn the skin-loving tips that beauty experts live-by for gorgeous, year-round glowing skin.

1.  Wash Your Face Like You Mean It

Youth and beauty starts with a clean slate, morning and night.  You've gotta put some elbow grease into your cleansing routine to really get the oil, dead skin and makeup off consistently.  Beauty pros don't count on just wipes or micellar water either!  You need to find a creamy, foaming or gel cleanser that works best for your skin conditions and rinse it off really well with several splashes of warm water.  Pros also utilize sonic cleansing tools along with finishing the job with toner to complete the cleansing process and stabilize the pH of the skin.  Incomplete or improper cleansing leaves oil, makeup and debris in the pores and creates the perfect breeding ground for clogged skin and breakouts.

2.  Don't Ever Miss Your Serum Step

After cleansing and toning, the pros always apply some type of treatment serum to their skin.  This can be a fine, measured liquid dispensed with an eye-dropper, a gel, oil or silky lotion.  Serums are going to make the changes you are looking for because they are concentrated and powerful.  Cleansing and moisturizing alone will not transform your skin; you need to put your targeted treatments on and then seal them in with moisturizer.  Serums are going to brighten brown spots, unclog pores or soften lines more effectively than night creams and SPF day-time moisturizers ever will!  Look for antioxidant serums with vitamins A, C and E and lotions that contain an exfoliating agent like glycolic or lactic acid.

3.  Make UV Protection A Top Priority

Skin care pros always wear a high quality SPF everyday and reapply it.  A high quality SPF usually contains some type of physical UV blocking agent like titanium dioxide or zinc oxide and will be a bit on the thicker side.  The other thing you will see a sun-savvy skin care pro doing is reapplying said SPF multiple times per day. Even most medical-grade sunscreens are only blocking rays for around two to three hours, so application is never a one shot deal.  Hats, umbrellas and UV blocking clothing are also popular amongst the the pros.  The pros know that UV exposure thins your skin, can exacerbate rosacea, and stimulates your melanocytes creating unwanted hyperpigmentation - so the temporary tan is never worth it!

4.  Grin and Bear It

Pros are willing to put up with a little bit of bullet-biting to get great results!  Building up to aggressive treatments is something that most estheticians and beauty professionals will always be willing to do (and sometimes brag about).  Just like fitness enthusiasts will boast about their 15 pull-ups or 700 calories burned, estheticians will proudly tell you that they got an amazing medical-grade peel that made them shed skin for seven days!   In terms of skincare, some procedures can be slightly uncomfortable, however, new, beautiful skin will result - so the temporary sacrifice is worth it!  Mind you, these aggressive treatments are not to be performed on one's self at home.  Even estheticians and physicians insist on professional, in-office treatments under qualified supervision.

 

5.  Clean Eating And Above-Average Water Intake

Most skin care enthusiasts know the connection between clean eating, ample hydration and beautiful skin.  You will regularly find skin care pros who start their day with a green smoothie, eat lots of salads with lean protein and snack on fruit and nuts.  Avoiding processed foods, refined sugar, deep-fried foods and, for some, dairy products, can be the formula for skin care success.  Estheticians will regularly refer their clients to registered dietitians, holistic nutritionists and food allergy specialists to ensure that chronic, unwanted skin conditions are not simply a result of an adverse aspect of the diet.  Water intake, as always, is beyond important when it comes to glowing skin.  Even celebs like JLo have been quoted saying that water is their number one beauty treatment.  Well hydrated skin (from within) will look plump, dewey and youthful - so don't be shy when it comes to your daily H20.

6.  Read Product Labels

Just like many health-conscious people scrutinize food labels, skin care experts will always examine the ingredients in a product.  The pros know that the norm is for products to be comprised mostly of fillers, thickening agents, perfume, colorants, cheap emollients and/or water. Sifting through skin care brands from the drugstore to doctor's office is a task that few can master.  The most important tips to keep in mind: find out what the active ingredients are in the product, how much of it the product contains and is it in a form that the skin can accept.  Many brands make big claims but when you flip over to read the label and see nothing to back up those claims, you may be getting much less than what you're paying for.  A serum, for example, may claim that it clears blemishes and reduces pores but if you don't see ingredients like salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid or sulfur you will most likely see very little impact from using it.  

Take my advice, and follow what the pros are doing when it comes to having youthful, clear and glowing skin.  Partner with an esthetician who can properly analyze, treat and care for your skin.  If that particular esthetician has glowing skin then you can rest assured that their advice will be on point for you as well!

YouR 2017 Skin Care Resolutions

1.  Stop the Negative Self-talk About Your Skin

Try to be aware of the language that you use when you describe your appearance and your complexion.  We all do it, but try to curtail phrases like, "my pores are disgusting," and "I look so old and tired." Words and thoughts are powerful and can deeply influence skin care outcomes when you are working with an esthetician on achieving your skin care goals.  Try to adopt a positive and hopeful attitude about your skin and realize that being negative will not help you in anyway.  Just like a personal trainer doesn't want to hear your complaining about your "rolls" or how much you "hate your thighs," your esthetician doesn't want to hear you go on and on about how much you hate your skin.  Keep in mind that as estheticians we got into this field to help you and usually we have also struggled with our own issues - so we get it - trust us and the process!

 

2.  Stop Expecting Miracles from Drugstore Products

I am not saying that there aren't any drugstore-gems out there, but keep in mind that if you have serious concerns for your skin you need serious, professional skin care.  Professional, spa-grade and prescription-strength products are usually the fastest route to positive outcomes.  Consulting a licensed esthetician at a spa or medspa is your first step to success.  Professional grade products guarantee higher concentrations of active ingredients that create the changes you're looking for. Professional grade products also have advanced formulations in terms of efficacy and quality accompanied by a skin care expert to walk you through the entire process - and what's better than that?

 

3.  Stop Eating Junk and Make Water Intake a Priority

Many people operate under the misconception that skin health and diet are unrelated.  The truth is, junk food (aka processed food), sugar, excessive caffeine, and a lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet will negatively impact your skin and/or slow the progress of your topical regimen.  Our skin is the largest organ of our body and is connected to the body as a whole unit.  What we put in our mouths with certainly affect what happens with our skin.  Many dermatologists have actually written books about nutrition because they know that it seriously impacts the skin.  Furthermore, most people are dehydrated.  Water intake can play a major role in fixing common skin care concerns.  Think about it this way: whenever the skin is inflamed (i.e. red, hot, flaky, tight and just angry in general) water may be needed.  Topical hydration in the form of serums and masks are a must but internal hydration is also key.  Remember: when there is a fire, we use water to put it out!

 

4.  Put in the Time

Most likely your acne and wrinkles did not appear overnight so do not expect them to go away in a flash either.  A professional esthetician will be able to analyze your skin and come up with a proper treatment plan which includes a regular treatment schedule for facials about once every month and a home care regimen for morning and night.  Commit to six months to a year to get glowing, healthy skin.  That may initially seem like a lot of time to achieve your skin care goals but the time will go quickly and before you know it you will have the complexion you always wanted - just be patient and trust in the process.  A typical skin cycle occurs once every thirty days (and old habits die hard) so give it a substantial amount of time and the pay-off will be worth the wait.

 

5.  Clean Up Your Act

It's the little things that count, when it comes to keeping your skin blemish free and clear.  Some things that your esthetician wishes you would stop doing (in no particular order) are falling asleep without washing your face, picking at your skin and making it bleed (and generally touching your face with unclean hands) sleeping on unclean pillowcases and drying off with musty towels.  Be careful of your mobile device or office phone coming in contact with your skin and be sure to clean your makeup brushes as often as you can.  These little tips can make a huge impact when you are trying to achieve an angelic glow in 2017.

 

Unsavory Gym Habits to Avoid for Clear Skin

As a NY State/Internationally licensed esthetician and consultant, gym related breakouts are a huge complaint I hear from my clients! Sweat spiked with hair care product residues along with bacteria, oil and cross-contamination from gym equipment all play a part - but it can be prevented:

1. Wear a headband

Wear a headband to keep sweat from coming down onto the face past the hairline. Hair conditioners, sprays, gels and dry shampoos are unsuitable for the face and can alter the pH of the skin and clog pores leading to breakouts.

2. Don't wipe your skin with just any old gym towel

Gym towels can be rough because they are washed and bleached so often. Do not aggressively wipe your face, neck or chest with them because they can increase redness, irritation and even create micro-tears on the skin! Opt for a soft microfiber cloth just for your face. This is especially important for people with sensitive skin and rosacea.

3. Avoid cross-contamination

Whatever you do, do not drape your towel on an unclean cardio machine handle and wipe your skin with it throughout your workout - better to drape your towel around your neck or a belt. Keep un-sanitized hands and yoga mats away from your skin as well.

4. Do not go to the gym right after a facial or any type of at-home peel or exfoliating treatment.

Leave your skin resurfacing treatments for after the gym! Going to a communal workout environment like a gym after a facial exposes your skin to microbes and the possibility of infections. Most facials gently remove the outermost layer of the epidermis called the stratum corneum and this means the defense barrier of your skin is temporarily compromised.

5. Wash your hands before you wash your face.

Many of my clients opt to do a quick face wash at the gym sink before leaving the gym, if they don't shower altogether. However, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands with soap, before washing your face, to avoid getting gym germs on your visage.

So don't skip your workouts but do keep these tips in mind for healthy, glowing skin after the workout's over!

Five Tricks for Successfully Bringing New Menu Offerings Into Your Spa

Creating a new spa menu (or adding to an existing one) is a task that requires a solid strategy.  Here are my insider tips for bringing new menu offerings into your spa or medical spa.  

1.  Survey Your Clients

Instead of guessing and hoping that you will bring in a new machine or service that your clients will love - be sure that you will, by asking them first!  It seems almost too easy, but if you have questions then get answers you need right from the horse's mouth.  It's as simple as offering a 10% discount on their next product purchase or service in exchange for participating in a five to eight question survey.  A small incentive for your clients to throw in their two cents is worth it for you as a spa owner! Knowing exactly what your clients desire and delivering it will create long-lasting, loyal relationships.

2.  Inquire with Your Staff

Estheticians, massage therapists and most other practitioners will tell you that as soon as the treatment room door closes, clients tend to spill the beans about just about anything on their mind.  Don't be shy about asking your staff what clients are asking for in the privacy of the treatment room - all of the answers you seek may just be under your nose.  Staff members may not always feel comfortable or confident speaking-up at staff meetings or approaching management with their ideas and leads, so go to them and see what kind of feedback they have been getting from clients - you may be surprised!

On the other side of that coin, members of your staff may posses talents, skills and certifications that may be unknown and underutilized at your spa.  Don't be so quick to interview and hire new employees when you want to expand your spa offerings and treatment menu - look from within!  Many staff members stay quiet about the trainings and certifications that they obtain outside of your spa.  You may have an employee already certified in the newest peel technique or facial tool - so be sure to ask them what they are into and what is exciting to them in the industry now. 

3.  See who is offering compelling services around you - but don't be a copycat.  

As a spa owner, if you are hearing more and more about the interesting services that your competition is providing and want to do more yourself, then go for it - but put your own spin on it.  Bringing in the newest lasers or injectable treatments is key to keeping your clients happy.  The trick, however, is to figure out how to integrate new offerings into your treatment menu in a way that stays true to your brand.  Perhaps intertwine a clinical modality like LED, radio frequency or microcurrent with a classic european facial.  Or add holistic therapies like lymphatic drainage or aromatherapy into a clinical protocol.  Keep your clients guessing about how you will be innovating in the field - don't just copy what others are doing.

4.  Work with your Existing Vendors

If you already have solid, established relationships with your current product and equipment vendors then ask them about what's new in the industry.  Their companies may have something new coming to the market soon that you could get an exclusive on.  Vendors can also let you in on what spas in other regions or countries are doing, to give you a fresh, new perspective on the industry.  Furthermore, current reps and vendors may be willing to offer a discount to you because you have a rapport.  As always, be sure to ask your vendors for promotional materials, press and media coverage and to come support an event or launch party at your spa.  Product and equipment companies have budgets designed to support their accounts and can be one of your greatest resources when expanding your spa menu.

5.  Partner with Other Businesses

So you want to offer something new at your spa and be certain it will be a success?  I suggest partnering with another business like a bridal boutique, gym or yoga studio to offer something that their clients need or want.  By partnering with a non-spa business, you are practically guaranteed to get daily referrals (or even in-house advertising and promotion) at their facility.  A bridal boutique may want a trusted partner to refer makeup, skincare and lash clients to.  A gym will send clients to you who may want help with cellulite, spray tans or massage.  The possibilities are really endless!  Think outside the box and see - not only what your clients would like to see on your menu - but what neighboring businesses' clients would like as well.

 

The inspiration for your spa menu is closer than you think. Expanding your spa menu offerings is easy, if you look to your own clients, staff and current business relationships for insight and support.  

Expert Red Flags: How Spas Lose Valuable Clients and Talented Staff

Owning a spa business is an exciting and wonderful career opportunity.  Clients are always coming to you to feel relaxed, beautiful and pampered and staff enjoy being on the cutting edge of the beauty industry.  Goodness knows, there is no perfect business model, but looking out for these red flags will guide you in the right direction.

 

1.  Long-term Discounted Promotions

The great thing about Groupon, Living Social and other discount, online promotional platforms is that they give great exposure to your spa business and offerings.  However, in exchange for promotion and targeted, local advertising, spa owners receive only half of half of what they would normally collect for their services.  The trick to using Groupon is to convert those heavily discounted client services as fast as possible to full-priced client services and build from there.  If you cannot convert those clients then you may run the risk of your clients only seeing you as a discounted establishment and never wanting to pay full price.  On the other hand, employees that are putting in the work to provide a quality service do not want to consistently take lower commissions and feel that they can only service clients looking for a discount - it can be very frustrating for them!  Coach and inspire your staff to see the full value of their skills and the services that they are offering so that clients will be busting down the door for an appointment.

 

2.  No Professional Written Protocols 

Professionally designed and implemented facial protocols are the foundation of a great spa.  Protocols are the recipes that create beautifully executed treatments much like a chef prepares a signature dish in a restaurant.  Protocols ensure that a spa owner can track metrics like how much backbar product is required for each treatment and how much inventory is needed on a monthly basis.  These protocols should be given to every employee to be memorized, practiced and tested before servicing clients.  Protocols ensure consistency and proper execution of your treatments.  Spas run into trouble when estheticians and technicians are allowed too much wiggle room when it comes to the timing, products used and techniques of the service.  Clients get upset when services vary depending on which esthetician they see for their service, so protocols must be designed and carried out congruently each time.  

 

3.  Lack of Effective Leadership

The most successful, high-end spas have this important attribute in common: a strong, professional and knowledgable spa manager.  In many cases, these leaders are estheticians or massage therapists themselves who have been promoted to a managerial role or they are a person who has studied spa management.  Just like having a fabulous chef in the kitchen and a cool and calm maitre d in the front of a restaurant, a spa manager embodies these two roles in the spa.  Spa managers should be able to thoroughly explain every service on the menu as if they perform it themselves as well as manage the financial, PR and HR duties of the spa.  Spa management is a big job and must not be confused with being the spa owner's personal assistant.  Spa staff look to their spa managers to set the tone and pace of the work day.  Spa managers should be a kind and compassionate source of support and inspiration to the staff as well as a trusted liaison between staff and owner.  

 

4.  Sub-par Dress Code and Sanitation Standards

As we all know, first impressions are crucial and we only have one shot at them.  A clean, pressed uniform (or a spa jacket, at the very least) is highly recommended to ensure your staff looks clean and professional.  When a dress code is not enforced, clients can have a hard time identifying a staff member thus creating frustration when they are looking for assistance.  Name tags are also a great idea especially if they include the title that the employee holds printed beneath the name.  A clean, bright, and dust-free facility that adheres to all state and federal laws is a must.  The cleanliness of your bathrooms and waiting room is just as crucial to maintain as they are a reflection of the cleanliness of the entire facility.  To ensure that your spa has top-notch sanitation, make sure that all staff members are assigned specific duties and a professional cleaning service is employed to deeply clean several times per week, if not every night.

 

5.  Uninspired Staff

When a receptionist's voice drops when she or he answers the phone and/or staff members do not bother to look up and greet clients that walk through the door, chances are you have an uninspired spa staff on your hands.  This is a crucial mistake to fix because it is very obvious to clients (especially new ones) while it may not be apparent to spa owners.  As a consultant, I act as that fresh pair of eyes that comes into a spa and interacts with staff members to get a feel for their level of competence and enthusiasm.    When I feel there is a certain level of staff apathy and a generalized "negative energy" I know it is time to intervene.  Keep in mind, clients will go to a spa for a good service but they will return because of exceptional customer service.  Clients remember how you made them feel when they visited your business.  Clients want to come to a place where they are greeted with a smile, acknowledged as soon as they walk through the door and treated as if no request is too small or too large.  When staff members lack a positive presence, do not smile, and generally have an attitude of not wanting to be bothered, then the spa industry may not be right for them.  

 

6.  Technology that is Behind the Times

Without a doubt, the most successful spas in the industry have professionally designed websites, efficient appointment booking software, a bullet-fast payment acceptance system and a well organized multi-line phone service.  But these are just the basics, social media participation is now the standard for the spa industry.  Do you have an updated blog?  Can clients book their appointments online? Do you have a self-check in option for clients to maximize flow of service? Furthermore, clients need to see an updated Facebook page, beautifully displayed Instagram photos along with videos linked to a company Youtube page.  Prospective clients look for and expect all of these mediums, in this day in age, to give them confidence that you are on the cutting edge.  You could have the most beautiful spa in the world - offering wonderful services, but if clients can't get a feel for that when they google you, then chances are they will go elsewhere.

 

7.  High Staff Turn-Over Rates

The first people affected by high staff turn-over rates are the clients.  Nothing screams instability to clients like seeing new faces every time they come for a spa service.  Clients depend on staff to be there for them and to take care of their needs.  Long-term staff members have a way of developing a special rapport with clients; making them feel like family.  If your spa business is constantly hiring new staff for reasons beyond business expansion, then it is time to assess why that is happening.   Staff typically leave a spa because they do not feel valued.  Whether that value is derived from their pay or their feelings of being appreciated and developed properly, it is important to find out what is going on.  Additionally, when I encounter a management hierarchy that seems to rule based on fear rather than trust, encouragement and responsibility, staff starts to dwindle.  Be sure to have a competent and compassionate spa manager in place, an employee handbook with clear rules and regulations, plenty of team building and incentivizing programs and engage in active listening.  The best way to keep staff around for years and years is to invest in them as people and professionals.  Staff want to feel like they have a career opportunity at your business not just a job where they punch in and punch out.  

 

8.  Outdated Spa Decor and Menu Offerings

Chances are, if your spa decor looks like a time capsule opened from 1992, then your clients will believe that your technology and methods are outdated as well.  Remember, the spa industry is under the larger umbrella of the beauty industry.  Clients come to you to look beautiful and more youthful so be aware that your decor is a reflection on the quality of your service offerings.  Dusty silk plants are out - opt for fresh flowers and live plants.  Stained carpets are a huge turn-off and should be replaced with wood floor or tile.  Heavy, dusty, window dressings are out - modern shades and flowing fabrics are in. Furnishings like couches and chairs should be clean, inviting and plush.  There should be no clutter, dust or expired products out on display.  Create a luxurious, private and chic place for clients to enter and relax.  Bring in a feng shui expert to enhance the energy flow of your space.  Invest in an interior decorator to maximize the beauty of your business and create an impactful esthetic. In these times, less is more.  Modern, clean spa spaces are what clients want to see to feel comfortable and confident that they are getting the most up-to-date services available.  On the other hand, be sure to stay on top of the trends in the industry.  Clients are extremely savvy and want the treatments that the celebrities are receiving.  Obviously, stay aligned with your spa vision and brand mission, but be aware that the beauty industry is evolving on a daily basis and that if you are not keeping up with the trends (or don't even know about them) your competitor will.  

 

Be cognizant of these red flags in your spa business.  Small changes can have a huge impact and bring great success and prosperity to your spa business.