June 2008

Judith Culp

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp


Remodeling the Esthetics Clinic

Making changes in the esthetics clinic can be rewarding, exciting and traumatic.

It requires careful planning and attention to detail to gain your desired results while controlling cost and business disruption.

Giving your business a new look or preparing to move into a new facility is very exciting. You get the vision in your head, you know just what it will look like, how it will feel, even how it will smell. It is like having a baby, giving birth to your dream. You anticipate the compliments from clients and colleagues. You imagine the happy feeling among your staff members. These things make it all worth the effort.

But there is significant effort involved along the way. Like having a baby, there is some pain involved, both physical and financial. The physical pain comes from the stress of keeping up with deadlines, keeping up with your existing business and staying on top of creating the new one. Then there is the financial pain – one that is always more than you expected – accompanied by other challenges you never envisioned.

So how do you cope?

The first step is evaluation. What is your goal? What do you need, want and desire? Does the clinic just need a facelift or is it time to get more drastic? Is it time to make that long awaited move? Is it time to shift from renting a building to becoming your own landlord?

Talk with your accountant or financial advisor to come up with what you can reasonably afford. Find out what expenses you will be able to write off your taxes this year and what you will have to spread out over a period of years. If you don’t have adequate funds, determine how you will you finance the project and how will you repay your expenses.

The next step is to ask friends or others for referrals to find a reliable contractor. Make sure they are licensed, bonded and insured in order to protect your investment. They should be knowledgeable about your city building codes and requirements for permits. This can help avoid interruptions, as you won’t have to play catch up with city hall.

Another important consideration is noise control. Will you be remodeling the place where your business is currently located? How will you be able to remodel and still stay open? Would you be able to do some of it on a part-time basis? For example, could you open on weekends to accommodate work you’re doing during the week, to keep the decibel level comfortable for clients?

Certain aspects of remodeling will require you to close temporarily, such as phases where excessive dust, dirt and noise are generated. However long your contractor estimates this will take, double it. There are always weird things that no one can anticipate, such as sick workers, or their family members having a medical emergency or supplies that did not arrive as scheduled.

Before you sit down with the contractor, research your plan. Then go back to your reference books and draw it out in detail. This will give you a visual reference, and will help you make sure you and your contractor are both talking about the same things when the time comes.

Consider your needs. How will the work flow? Then there are special issues like plumbing and electrical. While some estheticians dream of having sinks in every room, if you have a concrete floor with the plumbing lines in it, moving or adding to plumbing can be very expensive. Sometimes you can save thousands of dollars just by creatively rethinking where you will place rooms and halls. Prioritize your needs so that, when you see subcontractors’ bids, you are ready to do some compromising to stay within your budget.

Multiple visits by specialists create hidden expenses so bids are important. If the plumber can’t get everything done in a single visit, and he probably won’t be able to, there will be multiple charges. We might not think about things like the fact the plumber needs to pull the toilets before you install new flooring, and afterward he will need to reset them. Workers will have to cut holes in walls before plumbers can put in pipes and electricians can run wiring. Then the walls will need repaired and the plumbers will have to return to finish their work. It can be very layered and you will be dependent on the coordination skills of your contractor to keep it running smoothly. By obtaining bids from all the subcontractors, your general contractor can help you plan for expenses and stay within your total anticipated budget. Even so, expect the unexpected.

In addition to remodeling expenses, you may find it necessary to purchase new fixtures or equipment. Comparison shopping online and locally can really help you know you are getting a good price. And remember to figure in any shipping costs. If you are purchasing a new facial lounge, for instance, you might inadvertently overlook such things as shipping surcharges if you’re not careful. Shipping can run an additional $700 to $900 to have a power driven facial lounge shipped across the country. Be sure to factor this in when comparing prices. Also, check what the delivery includes. It is common for the delivery folk to do curbside delivery rather than inside delivery. Now your 200-pound facial lounge is sitting in a crate on the sidewalk while you are trying to figure out how to get it inside before it rains.

Finding “like new” equipment or fixtures at places such as eBay is an alternative to buying from a specialty vendor. Again, make certain to factor in shipping charges. Since it’s used, be sure to check its condition, making sure the previous owners have taken care of it well. It is unlikely to have a warranty available. Check with the manufacturer to see if you can purchase a service package. It might be worth visiting a retail outlet that carries the item so you can see if it is really what you are looking for. Does the equipment come ready to go or are there supplies or parts you’ll need to purchase? Where to you have to go, or send the unit, for replacement parts or repairs? How expensive are they? All of these are important considerations.

Unless you’re rich, you’ll probably do some renovation with your own hands. Rolling up your sleeves and putting on some of the special touches will bring its own set of sore muscles, but also a sense of personal reward. Decorative painting techniques can do a lot to create a mood on a budget. While expensive to have done, with a little team spirit and hard work you can do these bits yourself. Give parties, everyone loves them. A painting party, packing party, unpacking party and welcoming the clients back party can do a lot to make the transition smoother.

Careful planning, creative thinking, making realistic compromises, coordinating efforts, generating your team’s enthusiasm for the project and involving them so they can embrace it as theirs, rolling up your sleeves and getting into the midst of it, making it fun and expecting the unexpected are all part of the remodeling experience. Plan for it, expect it, go for it. You will love the result.

Judith Culp, a CIDESCO Diplomat has been in the esthetics industry since 1980. A CPCP permanent makeup technician for over 18 years she served a 4-year term as a Director for the Society of Permanent Cosmetic Professionals, two years as their president. She is president of Culp Enterprises Inc. and CEO of NW Institute of Esthetics. Judy Culp is available for consulting. For more information visit www.estheticsnw.com.