October 2008

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp


Creating the Perfect Menu for Your Esthetics Practice

There is more to creating a perfect salon menu than meets the eye.

Creating a menu for an esthetics practice is more complicated than just listing mini-facial, cleansing facial and waxing services, etc. For a successful esthetics menu, it’s important to tailor it to the exact target market segment, the locale and the individuality. If these factors were ignored, the results would be marginal at best.

The first step is to analyze your target market. This is an important step to consider before even opening your practice. If you haven’t done this, take time now to do so. Have you geared your practice to spa-type relaxation treatments, holistic treatments, acne treatments, anti-aging therapies, teens or boomers? This is probably something you must have thought about before locating your business. You probably wouldn’t put a teen acne oriented clinic in a medi-spa geared to anti-aging injectables.

If you already have a space, then take a careful look at the demographics and needs of the incoming clients. Consider their age, genetic background, level of disposable income and even regional preferences, and then you can create that truly effective menu.

If they are a younger crowd, they may be more interested in hair removal, treatments to deal with problem breakouts and techniques to prevent the signs of aging. If you carry makeup, these people are probably into more trendy looks and fun colors.

If your client base is more in the baby boomer age group, then you will definitely want to focus on anti-aging treatments and have home care products designed to assist with this. While there are some exceptions, as women get older they tend to go for softer makeup looks and the color choices that compliment this. As we age, we suffer more hair loss; therefore, this is a good market in which to offer permanent cosmetic services.

If the client base is dominantly working people or those with stressful lives, then offering stress-reduction treatments is a sure winner.

Genetic background plays an important role in menu development. If you have a client base dominated by those with Fitzpatrick IV, V or VI skin tones, they need treatments and products to fight hyperpigmentation. They may also be looking for someone skilled in hair removal techniques and know how to deal with resistive hair. Microdermabrasion services might be better to offer than chemical exfoliation for these skin tones.

The level of disposable income of your potential clients is critical for you to know. Are they looking for skin care on a budget? You will want effective services that don’t have a high product cost or equipment cost so you can offer services that will be within their financial reach. Manual microdermabrasion, alpha hydroxy acid treatments or some of the new inexpensive high tech devices may be just what is called for. It is exciting to see some great new tools for estheticians that are in the under $500 range. This puts them in the budget of new technicians and clients.

You must also take into account your regional location and preferences. Northeasterners have different tastes and live different lifestyles than those in the deep southeast. The salon menu should be designed with this in mind. Capitalize on the region you’re in. A spa in Key West, might consider offering the new hot shell treatments, where those in a Rocky Mountain state might stick with hot stones.

Spas are a good example of facilities that consider these regional flavors. At the Hershey Spa in Hershey, Pennsylvania, chocolate treatments are their specialty. In the Napa Valley, one finds treatments on the menu that use grape byproducts, champagne or other winery related specialties. The Northwest is now growing more wine grapes, and spas in the region are making use of the related oils and juices. Oregon is also becoming a lavender growing area and numerous lavender products and services are emerging. Every area has its own specialties, capitalize on yours.

The final consideration is personal strengths. If you love makeup, find a way to focus your business around this. If you are a waxing diva, focus on that and your clients will find you. Sometimes we try so hard to please others, when we would be better off doing the things that please ourselves. Certainly, our practice will have its share of compromises; but why not create a career that pleases us instead of just doing what we perceive the client wants?

Once we have determined all the factors to consider, then we need to express our offerings in words and phrases that are understandable and attractive to the client. Sometimes we can be so scientific we burden them with information they really don’t want.

A menu that gives the tantalizing basics can be backed up with a price list and with a sheet or brochure, that gives them all the inviting details. If we call it a “Raspberry Rejuvenation Delight,” then in the brochure we can create word pictures that will lure them right into the treatment room.

Menus are not static items. Review them routinely to evaluate your best selling services and client requests. Once you have an established client base they will be loyal and stay with you for years. However, this means you will need to change your services as your client base ages to keep up with their changing needs. Just like our careers, our menus are evolving and changing. Giving them the attention they need is one of the best marketing strategies we can pursue.

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.