I talk to salon owners and managers all across the U.S., and I am amazed at how many salons do not make lotion sales a priority. If you are one of those salons, ask yourself two simple questions:
- Do you want to increase your sales in 2009?
- How does a 5 to 30 percent increase in revenue sound?
If your responses to those two questions are “yes” and “great,” then the next thing you need to ask yourself is if your staff is educated about and trained to sell lotions to clients. To answer that question, just look back at 2008 and determine what percentage of your total sales was accounted for by product sales. Lotion sales in salons with trained sales associates can account for more than 40 percent of overall sales. Unfortunately, in salons that do not make lotion sales a priority with staff, product revenue may only account for 5 to 7 percent of total sales. And that means those salons are missing out—big time.
First and foremost, if you are not selling lotions to your clients, that means your clients are either not using lotion or they are buying it elsewhere. If clients are not using indoor-tanning lotion, they are not achieving the full potential of their tanning session because dry skin reflects UV light. Skin that is properly hydrated will see much better results. On the other hand, if your clients are using lotion that they purchased elsewhere, that is income lost for your salon (and could possibly lead to the complete loss of clients if they are purchasing from another salon).
That is why it is so important to cultivate a great sales staff—and that all starts with the interview process. Our salon employees are sales associates and we stress the fact during the interview process that all jobs are for sales positions to weed out non-sales candidates. Then, once a sales associate is hired, we implement a two-week (or 50-hour) training program to introduce the new employee to salon procedures and provide comprehensive lotion training, including sales role-playing. But training doesn’t stop there.
In our salons, we believe that not only is initial education important but also that ongoing training is the true key to success, especially as new products are introduced at our salon. So, when we decide to add new lotions, all sales associates are given information sheets that include a list of the benefits, details on pricing and suggested key words to use in sales pitches. We also provide samples of the new lotions to our staff members and have found that employees sell more as a result—it’s easier for someone to sell a lotion that he or she has tested, especially if it’s a lotion that he or she really liked. Another important factor of ongoing training is that it offers you the opportunity to cross-train staff members to sell items such as lip balm, facial lotions, tan extenders and other products, once they have become comfortable with selling lotions.
We also take advantage of any tools offered by distributors and lotion manufacturers, such as in-store or online training programs. Most of these training sessions are free, and they are a great educational opportunity for new and existing employees. In addition, we require every employee to be certified before allowing them to work a solo shift. (There are several tanning-certification programs available to educate employees in all areas of tanning; see the “Lotion Lessons” sidebar for more information.)
Ultimately, when you have happy clients, you can rest assured that they will be loyal to your salon and the products you carry—and that will not only increase your product sales but also produce a great referral base.
Kristin Barfknecht is the owner of Body & Sol Tanning Boutique, a chain of four salons located in Virginia. She opened in February 2003 with six tanning units and within 30 days added three more tanning units and a Mystic Tan booth. Her salons feature ETS and Mystic Tan equipment exclusively, and she recently added the Rejuvasun with Omnilux and Shine White teeth-whitening system to her menu of services. She is master Smart Tan certified and is an active member of the ITA.