Panelists weigh in on the issues impacting the efforts of spas in their pursuit of top talent and the things they can do to retain their expertise
A solid relationship with the right distributor can mean less stress and more success
For the savvy spa owner, a healthy relationship with the right distributor can translate directly into increased sales, not to mention reduced stress. Find the right distributor to meet your spa’s needs and enjoy one-stop access to a variety of project lines, training and marketing support material to accentuate your clients’ experiences at the spa and dramatically increase your retail sales.
Distributors play the role of the middleman between manufacturers and spas and are vital to the functioning of a market economy. Spa personnel often choose to work through distributors for a multitude of reasons including an abundance of extra services, marketing materials and a much more cost-effective method to buy supplies. The conveniences of working through a distributor are many. The simplicity of buying all products from one main channel, the ease of checking on multiple orders through one contact, smaller shipping costs, and general aid in miscellaneous chores are all deciding factors for working with a distributor.
Unlike wholesalers, distributors take a much more active role in the business and can take much of the workload off a spa’s shoulders such as handling payments, educating resellers about new products, and even providing services such as contract negotiation and warranties. Ultimately, distributors can help a spa grow expediently in the industry.
Choosing a distributor
There are many things a spa should consider when looking for the right distributor. It is essential that the distributor and spa share the same vision for their business. When a distributor is educated about your needs, they understand what is important to help your business grow. Spa personnel should make it a priority to familiarize themselves with the distributor’s policies, availability, and how they communicate.
Partnering with distributors that are very involved in the industry is the smart choice. Look for distributors that are well established, belong to professional organizations, attend trade shows, and are always actively researching about new products and trends. Most importantly, always check that the distributor is authorized by the manufacturer to sell the product. This ensures you are receiving fresh, top-quality products and you can protect your investments by having full warranty in case of any defects.
One thing spas tend to hone in on is the marketing materials a distributor offers. “One of the biggest advantages of working with distributors is the marketing materials they can provide; posters, marketing on social media, handouts, and samples are always a great plus,” says Angela Bishop from Remedy Facial Bar and Spa, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. “When looking for a distributor, we usually go by the product line, however, we’d like to see more intensive training for products. Classes and hands-on training as opposed to pamphlets and DVDs are always great.”
Intercosmetics stays on top of business by contributing to the education process. “We work hard to keep ourselves ahead of new trends, new industry developments, and new knowledge that comes through with that development,” says Analia Ramirez. “We do a lot of research to make sure the products we represent are safe and we make sure to educate our customers how to properly use the products. We’re aware of Health Canada regulations and board regulations, and provide this knowledge to our customers.” Though most spas prioritize the product lines when choosing distributors, it is a good idea to see what else they offer and browse through their other product lines. Most people work through distributors for the convenience of a one-stop shop. Those who opt for the manufacturer also miss out on the backup training that comes with the products.
While manufacturers can only give you information about that one line they produce, distributors have a variety of lines so they can provide spas with a number of brands, price comparisons, and marketing strategies for the products. This is why it’s important to look for a distributor that will support your business by presenting new products, new product launches, events, and having a diverse range of products.
Sally Sue from Soluzione Spa Products believes product mix is key. “Product mix is very important because there are so many different products lines out there. There are pros and cons of every single product line and everyone in your market is looking for something different so it’s important to offer many different lines and keep introducing new ones as well.”
A win-win relationship
In the end, you want a distributor that is very involved with spa life and a company that you can see yourself having a lasting relationship with.
Kate Kaptur, manager at distributor Euro Essentials, says good communication makes close connections in business. “We are very much involved in the life of our customers, the spas and salons, so we continue meeting with them on a monthly or weekly basis, depending on what their needs are. We are aware of issues and problems and we try to help resolve them. We have a very close connection with our customers, the spas. We also try to conform to their schedules and be available 24/7 even after hours and on weekends, if that is when they’re free.”
A successful relationship requires consistent communication and spas will receive greater support from distributors who are always available. It eliminates issues such as back orders and not being able to reach customer service, both annoying hindrances that can be detrimental for business.
In the end, fostering a strong relationship with a distributor can become the foundation for your spa’s success.