August 2009

Charlene Abretske

Beauty Business Buzz | Charlene Abretske


Are Your Clients Reaching for Retail?

Living in this super fast-paced world where new innovations are introduced daily and technology travels at the speed of light, we can easily get trapped into thinking the new and hottest items in the beauty industry are going to magically fly off shelves and into all of our clients’ hands with ease.

Many of you have probably purchased products you were told would do just that, but ended up gathering cobwebs, eventually to be sold at a deep discount just to get your retail space back for products you know are old favorites.

You do need to keep up with the latest trends and products within your product lines, but make sure you are asking yourself, “How is this product relevant to my clients and why aren’t they reaching for it?”

You may have been surprised at what items you have offered in the past that actually became best-sellers among your clients. Here are a few simple guidelines when choosing products.


Think about what products have not saturated your general proximity and look for items people need and want.

I once had a client who lived in a very small rural community in the Midwest, who had a small one chair salon. She knew there must be a way to capitalize on the nearest big box store being 90 minutes away and the nearest drug store being 30 minutes away. She had always had decent hair product sales, based on proximity and educating her clients. When she actually added hair accessories her clients were clamoring for more and she knew proximity could play a huge role for other retail items she could offer.

After the popularity of the hair accessories the clients asked specifically for other items like earrings, bracelets, scarves and sunglasses. Her retail sales eclipsed her service sales and her one chair salon became the fashion hub for several towns nearby.


Scarcity immediately increases value of a desired item. This is a tricky one. Just because you are the exclusive salon or spa to carry a certain item does not mean it will immediately be a hit. Choose items your clients would like to have. You may hear from salespeople this is an item everyone wants and needs, a little homework in this category will go a long way.

When you are approached by salespeople you have not worked with in the past, or are at a trade show and hear how you must choose right at that moment whether or not to purchase a large amount of product and you will be missing out on the best opportunity of the millennium – pause and say, “May I have several samples to try out on my clients to see if this product is relevant for them?”

When you slow down the “speeding train” of the sale, you will save tremendous time, money and heartache. We all want that magic bullet product our clients refuse to do without and they can only get from us, but in reality we all know there has to be some homework done in order to make a proper choice.

Regularly survey your clients who are in the salon to find out what they want and ask the manufacturer or distributor what kind of support you will have to educate your staff and clients on the particular item – then and only then say “yes or no.”


Think about the individuals who make up your client base. What does their lifestyle say about them and how they relate to your business? One company who mastered this is Starbucks; they offered the ability to create a cult-like following over coffee with two simple rules.

1. Allow people to feel special by allowing them to have their own special delicious concoction and writing their name on it.

2. Create a culture around coffee that appeals to their patrons including mugs, accessories and music.

I am not advocating that you begin serving coffee, selling mugs, or creating a music label, but knowing their clients lifestyle allowed Starbucks to increase revenue not only in what they offered on their menu but also by what was on their shelves.

Look at lifestyle patterns among your clients. Many transcend age, income and regional differences. A good example of this is “comfort and pampering” items. Who doesn’t love exquisitely soft socks in the winter time or a tropical scented candle on a summer night?

Another example is the “green movement;” you can appeal to the masses while providing clients with luxurious lotions with the best ingredients or adorable handmade handbags made from recycled materials. Look for items with “broad lifestyle appeal”. Consumers like it when you provide them with products that give a positive feeling about who they are.

When you follow the simple rules before you give away your hard earned cash you will be setting yourself up for success and providing your clients with the products that will allow them to reach out and buy something relevant to what they want, need and simply can’t do without.

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 call (866)364-4926 or email