March 2011

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp


Rewards = Retention

We might as well admit it. We all like presents. It does not matter who we are or what our position is, this seems to be an innate human psychological factor.

We love to be thought of, remembered. Unexpected presents are the nicest of all. Presents make us feel cared about, appreciated. Taking this basic belief one step further, a rewarded person, be they client or staff, is seldom less loyal than an unrewarded one.

In the beauty business, there are two ways to expand our financial base. We can either bring in more clients or we can increase the amount existing clients spend.

While we may always be in the market for more clients, offering more services to existing clients is the more cost effective choice. In order to do this we must retain them as clients. There are several ways to do this but they all relate back to our topic — rewards.

A letter of thanks to a new client is always a good way to spark retention. It is something many of us do when we start our business, but then we get busy – too busy to take the time. The result is less rewards for our clients and a more fragile client base.

We can offer clients a package of services. The package price is apt to be somewhat discounted compared to the same number of individual services. That is a reward.

Gift cards, like gift certificates, are for a specified amount rather than for a specific item. The client can purchase a card that then gives them a credit with our business. This credit can be used for any service or combination of services or products up to the value of the card.

We might have a special gift item that would be free with the purchase of a gift card over a certain dollar amount. Again, we create a reward, and it does not have to be expensive.

Another reward might be a birthday card remembering the client during their birthday month. You could offer a free brow wax or discount a service that does not have a high cost factor. What if we offered the client 15 percent off all services and purchases during their birthday month? Wow, now that is a reward. While it might appear expensive, if we had just five clients that spend an extra $200 in services and products, we would generate an extra $1000 in sales. The volume of increase would easily offset the cost factors.

Clients referring clients is the highest form of a compliment to our service skills, and it is certainly a compliment we want to reward. You could show your appreciation with a thank you note enclosing a bonus gift or service, or possibly a discount for the next time they see you. At the very least, record it in their file and offer a verbal thank you the next time they visit.

One salon has a bonus card for all new clients to reward them for choosing the salon by introducing them to a diverse group of services at a one-time discount. While they may come in for one service, they end up with the opportunity to sample them all. Does it work? It got me to try a new service with them.

We can apply these same principles to rewarding and retaining employees and staff. Find them doing something right and praise them. Praise is a simple reward but it makes everybody feel good about being where they are. Praise them in front of their clients. It makes both the client and the staff member feel rewarded.

When my students or staff seems to be having a stressful afternoon, I break out the bag of chocolates and distribute them around. It gets giggles, smiles and happy words, to say nothing of the positive impact of those chocolate pheromones. It makes everyone take a relaxing breath and the stress level drops immediately. Freebies received in the mail go into a special drawer, and are distributed later as bonus incentives.

Of course, there is nothing like a financial reward to make a staff member happier and more loyal. It could be a raise, a free educational class or other financial bonus. We want to be aware of what the going market is for remuneration and make sure our staff members are properly compensated. If there is a large staff, discounted health insurance or other benefits are another feasible reward.

Other rewards might include flexible scheduling, or the ability to take time off without penalty. Annual staff gatherings are another traditional reward and a way to express appreciation to each team member.

Rewards do not have to be big or expensive to have a positive impact on both clients and staff. They can be as simple as having a great place to visit or work, with a positive nurturing environment that makes people feel good to be there.

In a nutshell, rewards are the way we say thank you for what someone has done. The most simple of these should be the first and last interaction with every client or staff member — a smile. Start the visit with a genuine smile and end it the same way. The best part, the reward will come back in kind.

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