July 2011

Lisa Kind - Editor

Esthetic Endeavors | by Judith Culp

The Client in the Mirror

Each of us deal with many clients, many of whom brighten our day with their friendship and delight with our work.

Other clients we come to dread because we know that, even though they keep coming back to us, they will spend the entire time complaining. Some are always looking for a deal, others are more concerned with results than the price. What is the difference between these diverse clients?

Here are the answers when a group of advanced esthetic students were presented with the three key questions:

1) What makes a perfect client?

2) How to attract and keep the perfect client?

3) When do you let a client go?

They all had very definite ideas, which I found to be representative from what I have heard from professionals over the years.

What makes a perfect client?

The ideal client should be punctual and respect you. They should be looking for solutions to their concerns, and not spend the treatment visit time complaining. A perfect client should leave happy and reschedule. An ideal client will recommend you to their friends. While some of these may seem a little too optimistic, they are attributes we all desire.

There are also some keys hidden here that can help us obtain this perfect client. In order to find the perfect client, we need to know who we are looking for. One technician's perfect client is not a perfect match for another. If our business focus is waxing or hair removal, specializing in Brazilians, then the older "boomers" may not be that perfect client. They will not leave as happy because we may not offer or specialize in the services that meet their concerns. They are experiencing diminishing hair growth and do not need this type of service. Therefore, it will never be a perfect match.

The same could be said for that person who wants to eliminate the signs of age. Consider the scenario of Mrs. Jones. She is 50, a former sun worshiper, tanning bed user and smoker with advanced photoaging. She is getting ready for a class reunion and wants to look young again. Specifically she would like the lines, wrinkles and brown spots gone in the next two months.

That is a tall order and unless the esthetician is working in a medical type spa, where both esthetic and medical services are offered, we may not be able to meet her goals. She will be frustrated and leave unhappy. It is critical to evaluate the client's goals and determine whether they are within our scope of practice and skill specialties before taking them on, if we want to have the perfect client relationship.

How to attract and keep this perfect client?

When asked how to find and keep this perfect client, one student astutely said, "We have to be their perfect esthetician." This fits the above scenario and more. I asked her to elaborate. She said we have to be knowledgeable and keep taking continuing education so that we are up on the latest treatments and products.

We need to specialize or customize our services to meet the client's goals instead of doing the same treatment on everyone. We have to have an upbeat, professional, positive attitude showing the enthusiasm we would like to attract in clients. We need to be prompt and prepared. In essence, we need to possess all of the attributes we would like to have in our clients. There is an old adage: like attracts like and it holds very true. Whatever attributes we possess invariably attracts clients that possess them also. Therefore, to attract and keep our perfect clients we have to first look in the mirror and evaluate ourselves.

We will need to look for ways we can be that perfect esthetician with the attitude, professionalism and skill sets that attract our perfect client. This might start with a simple personal makeover. Do we look the part? Is our hair, skin and nails healthy and professional in appearance? Long nails may be okay for nail technicians, but are not considered professional for estheticians who do massage and extraction. Is our attire clean, professional and uncluttered? I know it is the trend in many salon settings to wear street clothes. However, if you want your clients to give you professional respect, it is critical to look the part. Once we have a professional image, we need to make sure the attitude and the skill sets are equal to the task.

Attitude is probably the hardest. Daily inspirations, quiet thought time and exercise can clear the negative energy out of our bodies and allow us to relax – a key factor in that positive attitude. Enhancing skill sets is the easiest – take continuing education. Product knowledge is always good but also take classes that will give you tools to evaluate products, equipment or treatment therapies. Product classes give you a treatment for today, theory and sciences give you tools that will last a career.

When do you let a client go?

This may be one of the most challenging aspects of our job. We may be attached to the revenues a client brings in but we have to consider personal stress. Challenging clients that may need evaluation include the client who is chronically late or does not show up for appointments. Establish a policy regarding no-shows and for tardiness and follow it. Many spas have a 24-hour cancellation policy. Be sure to put your policy on your brochure or website. This does not mean you cannot make exceptions. If your client comes down with the flu or has a valid consideration, we should certainly help them reschedule.

We may have to let a client go when they have unrealistic expectations. The best way to do this is to refer them to someone who may be better equipped to meet their needs. This will enhance their respect of us and keep that positive relationship. It is another case of looking in the mirror and asking ourselves: how would we like to be treated in this situation? If we can resolve it with a smile at the person in the mirror, then we are well on our way to being the perfect esthetician that will attract and retain those perfect clients.

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.