Dear Dermapure Community Members,

Following the launch of our Social Media Community Page, I feel it’s time to talk about YOUR clinics! Not that I’ve seen them all, but I believe I can provide an insight into what your customers may see…

How do your customers come to a conclusion about?..

  • The level of treatments you offer
  • The cleanliness of your premises
  • The professionalism and friendliness of your staff
  • The quality of your marketing

Let’s start with your shop front…

Are you a clinic who invests in shop front exposure and curb-side appeal to ensure the customer crosses the threshold to explore YOUR business?

We all pay rent and rates, which are a costly part of our overheads, especially the first 20sq ft of your Clinic / Medispa / Salon. If you look at brands like Costa, Ted Baker, White Company, Mint Velvet and other key high street retailers, the shop front is used as an alluring enticement. Their branding, signage, window displays, point of sale, store décor and design, style of checkouts/queuing areas AND their staff are all designed to SELL!

Why am I stressing the point above?

Because, in so many cases I see window displays with too many posters (some of which are tatty), a multitude of products, opening times, brand confliction and/or dirty windows inside and outside! In these instances, the ‘sales’ message is diluted, confusing and in some cases misleading.

Getting it right…

In our sector, more than most, your premises need to be clean, inspiring and results driven. Your shop window should be simple, educational, engaging and eye-catching but sell one thing at a time and do it well.  Have product displays focused around ONE message. The message should be followed through along the client’s journey, prompting talking points at as many opportunities as possible. Most importantly, when it comes to your social media and website pages remember this rule – ‘Sell it once and it’s forgotten, sell it 5 to 7 times and people think they’ve missed out on something great.’

These sales and marketing principles apply to every message we deliver. We cannot rely on our staff to ‘tell and sell’ to every customer, so support them in their mission and ensure YOU deliver maximum awareness of what YOU are selling. Do not allow your front window to be a point of muddled confusion or something that has become dated and tired. Allow new customers to ‘see in’ and visualise the experience you have to offer.

You need to be seen…

We are heading into the dark, cold winter months and I believe the best time of year to sell. If you have your window lit up, make sure yours is the brightest and the best. Never allow your displays to get stale and stagnant – every window has an expiry date. Be seasonal but be creative and original too. If your window display is left in the dark, how will customers read or see what you are selling? The same goes for dirty and cluttered displays even in broad daylight. Stand back – can you read what you are offering in the winter months? Is it bright enough? If not – invest in lights!!!

Make sure your message is clear! You are trying to capture the attention of ‘passers-by’. They may not choose to stand close-up and read what is written – you need to ensure they can’t resist taking a peek! Your window display is as important as the homepage on your website. The two should be aligned, showing a strong and clear brand, both warranting equal effort and investment.

No matter how cold it is outside, always have your front door open and a heater inside! An open door means you are welcoming your clients inside. A closed door can look like your clinic is closed and can put off customers walking through the door.

Now the customer is through the door – what about YOUR front of house?…

Are your Reception staff, which I call my front of house warriors, treated as a vital part of your sales team? Are they selling retail products, booking appointments from walk-ins or on the phone, upselling after appointments and ensuring they rebook following treatments?  They are THE most important salesperson you have. Make sure they know that and train them accordingly!

Many people assume ‘Receptionists’ are admin staff who require good customer service skills. WRONG! DO NOT employ Receptionists who lack the ability to SELL and engage with the customer. If you do, your clinic will miss out on THE most important feature – selling what you offer through passion and engagement, and therefore organically creating a loyal customer base who provide consistent, repeat business.

Being ‘sold to’ makes us feel important, but it needs to be done well. Your customers do not want or expect the second-hand car or double-glazing sales approach (sorry to those who do this well, but you get the picture). Your Receptionist needs to know how to take care of people and understand who’s in control. Most importantly they need to love what they do – a ‘natural’ salesperson effortlessly provides an exceptional service to your clients, whilst achieving results.

I’ve seen this quote recently from Fitness Space: “Don’t just stare through the window, come on in to learn about Fitness Space”.  This is easily adaptable for your business. If you choose to proactively invite a customer in, your meet and greet needs to be spot on each and every time! No grumpy receptionist, no gossiping staff loitering in the lobby, no mess on show, no muddy carpets…. Be bright, be welcoming – follow through with all your marketing efforts and deliver a WOW welcome to potential customers.

If you were to evaluate your Reception staff, do they stand, move or engage with the customer on arrival?  Do they smile and offer ‘touch’ when greeting people? More often than not, they stay seated, finishing a conversation with other staff or texting friends! Personally, I would walk out.

Many organisations have some great staff, but trust me, I’ve visited many clinics and at times it’s painful to experience the pitiful level of service given for such a simple job. One of YOUR jobs is to ensure your front of house staff look important, professional and different from your therapists and nurses. Front of house staff should look the same, wearing make-up that’s clean and simple with neat hair (tied-up or down) but all staff should replicate a similar look – think Virgin Cabin Crew – instantly recognisable, professional and approachable.

I was once asked ‘why does it matter about the make-up worn?’ If you sell make-up, then the staff should ONLY be wearing what you sell as this is the image of your business. If your image (and the image of your staff) appeals to your customers, they are more likely to want to purchase it for themselves.

Let’s talk shelves…

Are they empty? Why do I ask this?

Given the rent you pay, your front of house should be presented as a retail environment – a place people want to shop. Have clearly defined areas of anti-aging, acne, body, tanning, nails, hand and body creams, etc. This way your customers are invited to shop or browse, and you are already helping them. If you place items in clusters by brand, with no direction, they become just products. Keep your retail displays simple, clear and inviting. Not all customers want treatments…. some just want skincare products, hence the likes of Space NK and Body Shop who retail with style and skill without the need to offer treatments. Too often we forget that retail is your cheapest sale but your highest margin AND offers repeat purchase if managed correctly.

If your clinic is presented well it could attract 2 to 10 new customers a day, especially with the right advertising and displays. Keep your visuals continually updated and pristinely presented. Allow customers to touch and do NOT lock products away. (Theft sadly is inevitable, but you need to have customers walking in, touching, trying and then buying products). When have you ever walked into Selfridges or any luxury department store and not been inspired by their beauty hall, creative displays and lovely staff?  It’s like a candy store for adults. Trust me there are not too many clinics offering this experience. If you are in the right location and offer the right environment, sales will soar.

Take a seat…

Why are seating areas always after thoughts? I have experienced some wonderful clinics that still fail when it comes to seating areas. I ask myself, what would I expect whilst waiting for my treatment? I would hope to be served wonderful tea or coffee (not just any old instant coffee – we’re talking Nespresso). This creates an opportunity for your customers to spend their money in your clinic not in the coffee shop. Create a ‘coffee shop experience’ – fresh water in clean glasses (offer lemon or cucumber infused water), the latest magazines (not last year’s) and a comfortable, relaxing space. Chairs should not be in a line like a GP surgery or where there’s constantly a telephone ringing in customer’s ears. The customer should feel special and be able to take their drink to the treatment room.

Have some products ready for them to touch with tissues close by. This area should smell wonderful with relaxing, soft music in the background.  When greeted by the therapist a soft handshake is nice and always call the customer by their name – no one likes to feel anonymous. The customer should be led and not followed. If you’ve not already taken their coat, then you should offer to carry it for them. Remember every customer will need a comfort break, the facilities you provide should be amazing! Gorgeous soaps, smells, hand towels, mirrors and a shelf for the customers to place their bags and make-up. How many of you want to place your beautiful handbag on a dirty toilet floor? I have seen toilet facilities in coffee shops that should be closed down and I’ve seen the same in clinics too!

If you are taking care of the customer’s skin but your facilities are dirty, what will they think of the rest of the clinic and your treatment quality? Surveys in recent years have shown people judge the environment by the facilities they offer especially in restaurants, hospitals, dentists and coffee shops. This also justifies the prices you charge – remember you are offering a better service than your competition and a service that you are proud of. You are ‘adding value’ to their experience.

To summarise….

I have so much to share thanks to years of experience and I am passionate to work with my clients to improve their businesses. I want to share little gems to help YOU see YOUR business differently. We are all faced with online sales, cheaper treatments down the road or new clinics opening.  But YOU are the one thing that sets your business apart and ensures not only survival but being the market leader. Be inspirational and deliver a service level that exceeds your competition (by a mile), but more importantly exceeds your customer expectations! Whether you like it or not, your customers are all looking for the next best thing and price is only ever an issue if the experience they’re receiving is no better than down the road.

You really do get what you pay for in life – so if you’re expecting your customers to pay ‘top-dollar’ YOU need to make it worth their while!

Until next time….

Best wishes,

Gary Baulch