July 2009

Charlene Abretske

Beauty Business Buzz | Charlene Abretske


Diversion — The Dirty Word of the Beauty Industry

At its worst, diversion is perceived as dirty dealing. At its best it can be seen as nothing more than a bait and switch tactic on the consumer.

As someone who works with salon and spa industry professionals, I hear many complaints about diversion from salons, distributors and manufacturers. Everyone has their own ideas on where it is coming from and why the practice exists –some say greed, others say corporate management, and still others feel it is a conspiracy set up to harm salons and spas.

Imagine if we actually stopped worrying about the source of diversion for a second and looked in the mirror at our role in the industry. What can we really do to affect change by changing the area we actually have control over? What area would that be? The area of our own behavior, of course.

I know it is easy to point the finger at large corporations along with huge big box and drug store chains, but when it comes down to it, the products are showing up there simply because we are not selling the necessary amount to support the industry.

It is our responsibility as beauty professionals to educate our clients. Every facet of this industry from manufacturers, schools, distributors, business educators and platform artists tell us how important it is to have an in-depth consultation and educate clients on what you are using on them, the reasons you selected it for them and how they can use each product at home.

Yet the issue still persists and we simply don’t consistently follow expert advice to achieve the results we would like. What can we do? We must change. Even if we switched to a product that was not currently diverted or to a private label our retail sales would not increase until the correct changes in our behavior were made. There are two factors that inhibit changing what we do, one is habit and the other is professionalism.

Habits are hard to break; we all know how difficult that can be. Our brains look for repetitive patterns, pick up on them and repeat them continually and voila, a new habit is formed. Getting the neurons to re-transmit to another pattern can be done and in all actuality is done by the brain millions of times every day.

Getting into the habit of having thorough consultation and educating your clients on retail takes little time to feel completely comfortable with, the first few days will be uncomfortable. Having an accountability structure to your clients around these areas is crucial to forming the desired new habit to keep you on a path to success. So what does that mean for you? You must create an accountability program based on your clients that states, “I will complete a comprehensive consultation with you and educate you on which products you should be using to maintain the look you enjoy….. Or today’s service is free.”

This statement should be posted where every client can see it; clients need to know what you are promising so they can have something to hold you accountable to. This may seem harsh, but it does reinforce the habit you are attempting to create and to have someone other than our own selves’ hold us accountable, really does help.

When it comes to the area of professionalism the beauty industry does not take itself seriously enough. Think of other professions. The medical profession is a good example. There are similarities between our professions which include many hours of education before we can see clients/patients; both professions are governed by a licensing board; we both take part in ongoing education in order to stay viable; we must be aware of new techniques and procedures; we must be trained on safety; we must comply with sanitation requirements; we must have great chair side/bedside manner and we both recommend follow-up care.

Why is it all of the other similarities are complied with and met on a daily basis with the exception of the very last one of recommending follow-up care?

Imagine if a doctor diagnosed you as a diabetic and then said he just didn’t feel like pushing his prescription on you. What would happen to that doctor? The doctor would have his license revoked and rightfully face prosecution. The patient has the choice to fill the prescription the doctor prescribed or not, but the doctor still must write it because it is his professional duty to provide follow-up care.

Imagine if it was your duty and honor as a beauty professional to educate clients every time on the products you selected for their needs and you actually prescribed them what they need – doing so would make a huge difference in your professionalism. Being an advocate to your clients is important.

Charlene Abretske is a business advisor with Your Beauty Network and supports salons and spas with growing their businesses through on demand back office tools designed for beauty professionals. For more information about how Your Beauty Network can help, call toll free (866)364-4926 or email info@iybn.com.