What to Do Right Now: Essential Business Strategy & Tactics During Challenging Times

Posted By Mike Meyer, Tuesday, March 24, 2020

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By Bryan Durocher, Founder & President, Durocher Enterprises

Hearing about the slowing economy and uncertainty is topic #1 in recent days. Focus on what you have control over at this volatile time. As a leader, model being calm and transparent, and avoid emotional knee-jerk reactions. Here are some strategies that provide you a baseline of information for how you can stay in action when and if it is appropriate for you:

  • Look at your finances—determine your cash flow and prioritize what you have to and can skip paying.
  • Negotiate with vendors to extend your terms and get you through. We are all in this together.
  • For your team, offer transparency and training, and be a good source of information and a leader during a crisis.
  • Keep in contact with your patients using telemedicine and video conferencing. These systems allow you to see patients for consults, preoperative visits and postoperative visits.
  • Train on technical, recommendation and selling skills during your possible closure.
  • Put together a virtual special sales event to create cash flow now.
  • Offer advanced gift card sales and package incentives online.
  • Consider a concierge travel service.

Cash Flow

Cash flow is always a critical factor in keeping your business healthy. Right now, here's what needs to be done. Determine what bills for goods and expenses are due each month. Of that dollar total, payroll will usually be right on top. Negotiate terms with all your vendors to either skip payments for, say, 60-90 days or reduce your monthly payment amounts. Don't be afraid to ask—your vendors want you to succeed and stay in business. Get on top of this right away and don't delay.

Regarding payroll, this is a tough area. Look at what you can realistically do. Be transparent and up-front with your staff. Emphasize you are all in it together. Perhaps your staff can use their PTO during a shutdown. Some of your staff could take a voluntary leave and be rehired once you reopen. Use your financial advisor as a resource for information regarding unemployment insurance filing, find out if your state has programs for rent abatement and/or mortgage relief—find out anything and everything that can help your team. They could be afraid, and it is your time to have empathy and listen with the intent to reassure them of what is possible.

Whatever changes you make, document everything. The Society for Human Resource Management is a resource that can help you through the necessary steps; click here to visit their website.

Communicating with Your Patients/Clients

Keep communication with your clients open. Be a calm presence, stay relevant and be a wellness leader. Keep the flow of information open with your website, Google business listing and social media channels.

Put an announcement banner on your home page that stands out. Have it link to a landing page with information about the up-to-date status of your business. Don't alter your home page, as it could affect your long-term SEO.

People will be looking. Adjust the hours on your Google business page and create a post on the status of your business.

Be a calm presence on social media. Offer wellness advice that is appropriate to your business. Stay relevant to the pulse of what is happening now. This is a great time for you and your team to post content. Video your service treatments with step-by-step explanations of their benefits. You could create a private Facebook group for VIP information and learning. Put up a how-to Instagram video. Facebook and YouTube allow up to four hours of recording, while Instagram will allow for 60 minutes. You call also use Zoom or WebEx as a tool to convey non-HIPAA-compliant information.

The services you offer your clients are a part of their wellness experience. Get them thinking that your services not only help them look and feel better, but also help them to reduce stress and be able to give more to their work and the important people in their lives. On average, during a downturn in the economy, the first things to be excluded from an individual's budget are "perceived" luxury services and products such as massages and aesthetic treatments. We want most clients to consider our services a necessity—not a luxury. However, you must realize that clients are pushing appointments out further than normal, attempting to maximize their dollar. Instead of visiting every four to five weeks, we are seeing clients return every six to eight weeks, which translates to one fewer visit per year per client. When we do the math, this can add up to a considerable drop in profitability at the end of the year, not only for the overall business, but also for the practitioners and technicians. You can counteract this with the right type of training.

Everyone is affected by the economic slowdown, so it is everyone's responsibility to come up with solutions. Do not fall into the trap of your staff chanting, "You need to do more." The truth is that everyone needs to do more. Everyone needs to market more. Everyone needs to network more. It needs to be a collaborative effort working toward the common goal of procuring more business for everyone. There is no magic bus of clients that will drive into your parking lot for services.

Train While You're Closed

The uncertainty will end. Don't lose an opportunity to teach your staff. With virtual learning, opportunities abound everywhere. We can lead virtual trainings with programs such as Zoom or WebEx. If your business is closed, use this time to enhance your staff's skills sets. Whether it's technical training, working on their service skill sets, or practicing their dialogues on how to recommend series, pre-booking or ask for referrals, it is a good time to keep focused on something productive. Most medical spas completely underutilize their retail sales capabilities. Training for recommending retail is more important than ever.

Suggestive Selling: Train Staff on Selling Techniques

There is a huge difference between, "Do you need any retail today?" and, "These are the products I recommend, which of them would you like to take with you today?" Suggestive selling is one aspect of merchandising that is often overlooked, yet it can make a tremendous difference in the total retail sales of a medical spa. It is proven that close to 40% of clients will say yes when asked by staff members if they wish to upgrade in size or quantity. There is a fine line between being perceived as pushy and merely suggestive, though.

The creation of simple scripts is a good way to assist your staff with suggestive selling. Choose two to three products that you wish to feature. Write out key features and unique selling points of each of the products and ask your staff to get comfortable with the language you have chosen. If you find this step challenging, your product representative is a great resource to turn to for help with descriptions and sales techniques for the featured products. Require staff members to be sure that each client receives at least one mention per visit. When clients are scheduling their next appointment and paying for their service, it is a wonderful opportunity for your staff to suggest gift cards and your packages. The "every client gets one mention" technique is a great way to boost sales of gift cards. Offer prospects $25 in retail products for every $300 they spend with you. (Don't discount services in your packages, as it takes away profits. Use retail, which has no labor cost, as the incentive.)

Ask your product representative for all press releases and endorsements the product line has. Suggestive selling also may be accomplished simply by featuring a "product of the month" in a high visibility area. This technique is great for seasonal specials and time-sensitive products.

Cross-merchandising is imperative for your staff members to learn and master. It is a technique that is used with tremendous success by top medical spas. It is simply the art of matching products that complement each other together. Try using merchandise from different parts of the medical spa, with the intent to introduce clients to ancillary services as well as products. Displays using this tactic present a wonderful opportunity to introduce clients to services the practice offers other than those for which they usually visit. Just like its counterpart cross-marketing, cross-merchandising creates opportunities to increase sales while creating loyalty to your medical spa. It is highly effective, and is the suggestive selling technique that can offer a significant reward to your business when applied consistently.

Plan a Virtual Spring Semi-Annual Sale 2020 Online

Plan a sale or promotion online where your clients can purchase value now and use it later, when they are more comfortable. Much has changed in the last few days. We want to continue to reward our most loyal clients. Clients look forward to this sale twice a year, and we want to still make sure we can offer some sense of normalcy during these stressful times. We also know that people will want to take their minds off the stress, and self-care always helps.

Offer your 10-15 best treatments of 2020, making sure to not discount too deeply to prevent having short-term cash flow and losing money long-term. Clients will learn of the sale from your outgoing marketing efforts. Post the link for your online store so clients can browse from the comfort of anywhere. Clients can find the link on Facebook, Instagram, your website and email blasts.

Any clients who purchase either three of the same item or any other combination of three sale items will receive 10% of the purchase price in free retail. This can be any product that the provider recommends or that the client is interested in trying. Any client who qualifies for this benefit will be scheduled with a skin care consultation, preferably before the first booked service. During this visit, the client will have a skin scope and discuss their goals, and you will recommend a skin care regimen. Recommend the client two to five products, based on their needs. They will have a predetermined credit based on 10% of semi-annual sale purchases that will be on checkout tickets. You will recommend the products and remind them of their free credit they can use towards any of the products. Clients will purchase anything above their complimentary voucher.

Checkout and rules: Checkout skin care to a rep, if possible. If there is no rep for the product, discount the credit amount. Any remaining balance would be owed by the client. Vouchers must all be used at one time. No store credits will be issued for any balances.

Goals of retail:

  • Recommend skin prep kits first.
  • Fill in their missing skin care regimen, which will help maintain their goals.
  • Increase retail sales.
  • Create loyalty through the gift-with-purchase promotion.
  • Encourage future repeat sales of retail.

For a second promotion, encourage customers to purchase gift cards now for later visits and get 10% of their gift card purchase back in the form of a retail redemption towards product. As a third promotion, the client can buy any package series of treatments and receive 10% of their series purchase back in the form of a retail redemption towards product.

Series-sell Everything Possible in a Bundle

Identifying services sold in packages—such as luxury facials, body treatments, medical-grade peels and massage services—is a great way stock up the dollars in the business coffers. Selling a series has a client come in with frequency to maintain the service, and they are more likely to be loyal to a service provider or business because of the consistent service and results. You have collected the money up front, so they are committed to your business. In addition, they will tend to spend more on products and other services in subsequent visits, as they are not paying for the service after the initial payment. Do not discount series, as doing so takes away all service profits. Instead, use retail as the incentive for a series purchase. It keeps the client loyal, maintaining their service results, and again has no labor cost associated with it. For example, purchase a series package for $1,000 and receive a retail gift package worth $100 at the time of purchase. Also, purchase gift cards right now and receive 10% of their value back in complimentary retail products.

Virtual Consultations

We are sensitive that clients may not feel comfortable in public right now. Create an
appointment called a virtual consultation for all providers.

  • Online store: Clients have the option to purchase from the store or fill out a virtual consultation request.
  • Online purchases: Forward purchases to the concierge for input into the software. When you know what the client purchased, contact the client to schedule their visit. If the client qualifies for a free retail skin care consultation by purchasing three items from the sale, please book before service.
  • Virtual consultation request: If the client fills out a virtual consultation request, reply to the client and get them booked with the provider that best matches the list of their concerns. If they have multiple concerns, please specifically ask the client about concerns and match them with the correct service and provider. Verify phone numbers and tell the client they will receive a phone call from the provider at their appointment time.
  • Providers virtual consultation: Call the client during the appointment time on your schedule. Our goal is to review the client's concerns and recommend the best treatment plan to the client. To have the best outcomes for long term benefits, clients will receive free skin care with the purchase of any three sale items. There are options with companies like TouchMD or One Touch Telehealth for these services.

Virtual visits will help protect your staff and patients from the COVAD-19 virus and comply with rules for in-person contacts. Consider providing concierge treatments at the client's home; create an "at home on demand" list of services you can take on location when the time is right. It is a collective effort of every member of the team, especially during economically tough times. Act now to protect everyone from a smaller paycheck at the end of year. Ensure the downturn the country is facing does not affect your business negatively. Be proactive. Get creative with marketing programs, team coaching programs and special events.

Bryan Durocher is the author of Wake Up … Live the Life You Love … in Beauty, and is the founder of Essentials Spa Consulting and Durocher Enterprises. Durocher was named one of the "Top 20 People to Know in the Beauty Industry" by Global Cosmetic Industry magazine, and provides coaching, consulting, global industry trends and marketing solutions for medical spa, spa and industry professionals internationally.

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