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Get your clients excited with revved-up retail

How can spa operators perk up their client loyalty through retail programs? We asked five experts.

Paula Veenema
Paula Veenema has 20 years of experience in the beauty industry, including as a former Board Member and current President of PureStemBeauty Inc., the distributor for Endota Canada. Veenema is committed to bringing excellence and consciousness to the beauty industry through her role as a distributor of conscious beauty brands, and continues to offer her support as a mentor with the Women’s Enterprise Centre assisting female entrepreneurs.

Retail sales are essential for spa businesses to thrive. The revenue from treatments alone is simply not enough to balance the books. The retail area provides the first impression upon entering the spa. Impeccable merchandising, fully stocked clean shelves, and attention to detail convey a critical message to your customers: that not only the products you sell, but the rest of your spa facility is serious about high standards in all areas. Try offering a customized approach to your retail loyalty program. Make it about getting free products, rather than discounts on future purchases, since the only cost to your business is the wholesale price of the product, but the perceived value is twice as much.

Show clients you’re paying attention to what they buy. Determine a purchasing threshold for clients that warrants a giveaway. Once met, offer a favourite item they’ve repeatedly bought, as a gift. Or gift them a product that complements their current regimen to help them boost their results. A loyalty program is about nurturing an emotional connection with your business, and customers will continue to come to you when they feel welcomed and genuinely cared for by both front-end and service staff, and are recognized for their ongoing support of your business.

Lisa Starr
Lisa Starr is a Mindbody Certified Business Consultant and the Principal of Wynne Business Consulting & Education, which specializes in spa, wellness, and salon businesses and brands. She has over 35 years of experience in the beauty and wellness industry, spending the last 22 as a consultant and educator helping wellness businesses optimize their operations while providing exceptional experiences for their guests.

Spas and wellness businesses provide services and experiences that can have a tremendous impact on a client in the hour or two they spend there. But what happens in the rest of the hours per month that the client is not in the spa? Ensuring the client departs with at least a couple of products that can help them to continue on their wellness journey outside of the spa will support their personal care routine as well as serve as a stepping stone to better results with each visit. Plus, you must consider, when the client uses your product every day, that provides a subtle and pleasant reminder of their connection with your business.

Consumers are purchasing personal care products with regularity; in America alone, over $93 billion was spent in 2020, according to market research firm Statista. If they’re procuring those products on a visit to your spa, that’s one less stop or online purchase they need to make, which, in turn, is less opportunity for another retailer or supplier to lure them away with the discovery of new and different products. If they’re forced to go elsewhere to find the products they need, you also risk losing their service business to the new entity.

When you’re identifying potential retail resource partners, finding vendors whose products are not already offered at numerous locations that compete with yours should be a part of the equation. As a consumer, you probably purchase milk from wherever it’s convenient, rather than trekking to the same place every time; this illustrates that availability plays a factor in bringing the clients back to a bricks-and-mortar location. To make it even more convenient for your clients, you can provide shipping or delivery options, or even create a subscription program, where desired products just seamlessly arrive at their doorstep at an agreed-upon interval.

If your business offers a loyalty program for tracking behaviours and purchases, retail should certainly be incorporated into the program. By awarding an array of points for different behaviours, you can drive sales to a particular product, category, or vendor, and provide encouragement to the consumer to consolidate their purchases within one business: yours.

Pat Perdue
As Founder and CEO of Pat Perdue Strategy, Branding, and Influence, Pat Perdue has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, FCB Advertising, FashionTV, and Bravo Television. Perdue is a Sponsor and Advisor to the Board of Directors of Leading Spas of Canada, and also works with a variety of spas and spa industry thought leaders globally. His podcast, “Pat Perdue’s Customer Experience Podcast,” is among the top most respected podcasts on customer experience.

There are many factors that contribute to client loyalty. Some are easily predicted, such as trust in a specific attendant, and others are less well understood. As a branding consultant with a focus on client experience, understanding what impacts loyalty is a key part of my business.

The availability of retail products contributes heavily to client loyalty. Clients not only purchase products that were used on them during their treatments to “replicate” (as closely as possible) the experience they had at their spa, they also love to share that experience with friends and loved ones. Many spas have covert “brand ambassadors” they aren’t aware of. Gifting products purchased from a favourite spa empowers clients to share their spa experience as a self-appointed brand ambassador.

Good packaging, and impeccable messaging that clearly communicates the spa’s unique mission, further allows “secret” ambassadors to evangelize the spa’s larger purpose. By gifting retail products, spa ambassadors “spread” loyalty to future clients who’ve never even been to the spa. (For more of this phenomenon, read about “mavens” in The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell). Spas that understand who these ambassadors are, and reward them with further perks, are able to nurture an extensive in-field sales force.

Vivienne O’Keeffe
Vivienne O’Keeffe, CIBTAC, AAD, PEA, is President of Spa Profits Consulting Inc., and an expert in designing successful spa concepts. She is an international consultant in developing product lines, treatment plans, and training programs; a member of ISPA; and a recipient of the Spa Industry Association of Canada Outstanding Industry Service Award in 2001, 2005, and 2012. For more, go to

For products to increase the loyalty of your customers, you need to keep two factors in mind. First, consumers are looking for results. If your product line is effective and delivers results, this will build trust and your professional image in the consumer’s mind. Every time a consumer looks at a product they purchased from you, they’ll be reminded of their experience at your facility. Second, when you select a brand, make sure it’s a professional brand that’s loyal to the professional skincare market. This ensures consumers cannot buy directly from the manufacturer. Consumers will only be able to buy the brand product from professional facilities, where they will receive proper advice on its use, helping you to build repeat sales and loyalty.

As we saw in the past two pandemic years, a solid retail business is essential for survival. Making professional skincare recommendations during or post treatment, suggesting a product, and educating the customer on the best way to use it increases customer loyalty much further than an online connection. Follow up with your clients to ensure they’re using the product consistently and benefiting. Offering a program of seasonal skincare assessment—along with instructions for modifying product use at home; for example, during colder weather—is an invaluable tool. It allows you to authentically reconnect in a personal way—with a phone call, text, or email—to check on progress.

Holly Anderson
Holly Anderson is Managing Director of Elite Beauty Management Inc. the exclusive PRO distributor for Sorella Apothecary in Canada. Holly’s passion for the products she works with, coupled with her Diploma in Esthetician and Spa Management (Humber College, 2008), are the reasons why she has been so successful with creating brand awareness and a loyal clientele throughout her career. Holly is a mental health advocate, Mama, dog and coffee lover.

Retailing is one of the most important aspects of our industry. Your clients are coming to you for a reason: you are the expert.

Investigate and ask questions to find out your clients’ skin concerns. Whether they have made the investment and are seeing you for a treatment, series of treatments or have simply popped by to see what’s new; it’s important to remember that you are an educational resource who is there to listen and help guide them. Set expectations – there is tremendous value to investing in high-quality homecare products which are designed to maintain results and help them reach their skin goals.

When you believe in and are passionate about what you’re recommending to your clients it transcends to trust. With trust, comes loyalty. The relationship you have with your clients is what truly sets you and your business apart from the rest!

A few ideas to keep in mind when leveraging your retail

Brand ambassadors

Your clients are your best brand ambassadors. By giving products from a favourite spa as gifts to their friends and family, they spread the word of your business.

Emotional connections

Loyalty programs nurture an emotional connection with your business. Repeat visits come from clients who are made to feel welcomed, genuinely cared for, and recognized for their support of your spa.

Solid retail partnerships

When identifying potential retail resource partners, finding vendors whose products are not already offered at numerous locations that compete with yours should be a part of the equation.

Building trust

Ensure your product line is effective and delivers results, builds trust, and supports your professional image in the consumer’s mind.

Little things count

Follow up with your clients by phone or text to check in on their progress when they’ve taken a product home.

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