Seven Steps To Abundant Sales And Stellar Customer Service

Spa Employees From Hell!

We posted this short, funny, customer service video on YouTube, showing common sales and service “horrors” that happen in spas and salons everywhere, ruining chances of retaining guests, rescheduling, and retailing. Each vignette illustrates a fatal flaw–some obvious, some more subtle–and all of them re-enactments of real spa employee behavior I’ve personally experienced. It’s a great clip to show at a spa staff meeting, and certain to get people talking.

When you’re ready for the horror to end, you’ll find each of these scenes, along with vignettes showing the proper way to “replay” each, available on DVD and mp4 format, titled Selvice: Seven Steps to Abundant Sales and Stellar Customer Service.

Please email us to receive a copy.

Thanks to BoomCycle Online Marketing for their stellar video editing on “Tales from the Spa.”

Mastering The Reservations Call

Front Desk Training Webinar: Mastering the Spa Reservations Call

Registration for this webinar has closed and below are the topics which were discussed. This training is available online as Part 2 of The Spa Concierge Finishing School. Please check the Events and Learning Academy pages for this and other trainings.

The first in our “Moments of Truth” series for your front desk team, this one hour session is perfect for honing skills, building sales awareness and enhancing the service mindset.

Guests who are calling you for reservations are not just looking for appointments, they’re seeking a “preview of coming attractions.” Does your team handle your reservations calls like ho-hum, routine transactions, or do they strive to create a positive and memorable experience for every guest? This training session for front desk and reservations employees and their supervisors is an eye-opening journey into what it takes to provide five star reservations service while growing sales.

Agenda:
• Are you “filling an order” or “creating an experience” for your guests?
• Moments of Truth and why they’re so important to guest satisfaction
• The Three Elements of every great service experience
• Getting the Greeting right
• Finding your voice: what your guest wants to hear
• Creating rapport with callers who have different “social styles”
• Making the best possible first impression
• Essentials of telephone etiquette
• The do’s and don’ts of the “hold”
• Using the guest’s name effectively
• How to answer those tough or tricky questions (like “who’s your best massage therapist?”)
• Shortcuts for creating rapport quickly
• Active listening techniques
• What your returning guests need from the reservations call
• What they’re really saying when they ask, “How much are your facials?”
• Spreading the love around: how to make sure all your guests get great care
• Offering alternatives when their selection isn’t available
• Upgrading gracefully
• The best way to discuss “gender preference” for massage appointments
• How to communicate your cancellation policy without ruining the mood
• Helping ensure a smooth first visit: pre-arrival orientation
• The Fond Farewell

 

spa client reception

Front Desk Training Webinar: Checkout that Maximizes Rescheduling and Retail

Registration for this webinar has closed.  Below are the topics which were discussed.  Please check the Events and Learning Academy pages for our offered trainings.

Your biggest moment of truth in a spa or salon takes place, not in a treatment room or at an employee’s station, but when a client is checking out. This is the moment you must ascertain whether a guest is satisfied, when your guest is invited to reschedule, and when they are invited to make home care purchases. Your challenge? To do all this while checking out guests as quickly and as accurately as possible.

Because your reschedule/retention rate is the most critical metric in business success, this “moment” must consistently ensure the best possible outcome. Being friendly and efficient is important, but it’s only the beginning.

Join us for this webinar, the third in our series for front desk employees and their managers. Presenters Lisa M. Starr and Peggy Wynne Borgman of Wynne business, veteran spa consultants and educators, pack the hour of instruction full of use-it-tomorrow, down to earth content. Jessica Zike of Coyle Hospitality Group, the premier mystery shopping company for the hospitality industry, will kick off the session by providing eye opening real-world performance data from their Mystery Shoppers, as well as anecdotes about front-desk experiences that missed the mark.

Participants will learn:

– The importance of the front desk team in building the business
– The hidden opportunities of checkout
– Who is supposed to do what? Understanding roles and responsibilities in this transitional zone
– Recognizing the guest at checkout; what to do when you don’t know their name
– Creating a smooth “handoff” from a service provider to the front desk
– Creating a smooth transition from the locker room to the front desk
– How to effectively gauge guest satisfaction at checkout
– The most inspiring home care recommendation strategies
– What to do when you’re asked a question you can’t answer!
– How to respond to “objections” such as “I already have something like this at home”
– Building the sale with “bumps”
– The recipe for persuasive invitations to return
– What to say when the guest says, “I need to check my calendar”
– The most neglected step in the checkout process

 

Online Spa Management Training

The Spa Director’s Management Intensive: summer session August 22-25, 2010

Registration for this training has closed and below are the topics which were discussed.  Please check the Events and Learning Academy pages for our offered trainings.  Interested in trainings in your area? Please email us.

If you own, manage, or plan to invest in a spa, this program is a must!

Co-taught by Peggy Wynne Borgman and Lisa M. Starr of Wynne Business Spa Consulting

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Inspiration For Spa Leadership Challenges

Free webinar, July 28th: Productivity Secrets of Busy Spa Directors

Registration for this webinar has closed and below are the topics which were discussed.  Please check the Events and Learning Academy pages for our offered trainings.

You only have so many hours in a day. And in a busy spa operation, you lose lots of those to crisis management. How can you cross more items off your “to do” list while not losing sight of the bigger strategic picture, and ensuring that your team gets the “care and feeding” they need? In this era of downsizing, with many spa directors spending more time on the operations floor, can you really increase your effectiveness?
 

 

This fast, free webinar will help you get much more out of your next day at the spa, and every day to come. The session is just 35 minutes, with a 10 minute live Q & A.
 
Joining me will be guest panelist Tatia Davenport of DeluxeSalonSupply.com. Tatia is an amazing businesswoman who operates two successful California spas, is Business Development Executive for DeluxeSalonSupply.com, and a former executive at e*trade.Her insights into productivity, gleaned from real-world experience operating spas and from corporate America, will help you take control of your time. This is a great webinar to share with your supervisors, too.
AGENDA
  • How your “to-do” list is sabotaging you–and what to do about it
  • The common task that starts most people’s work day–and why it should never start yours
  • The biggest source of “rework” and how to improve it
  • Process improvement made simple
  • Are you constantly interrupted, or constantly interruptable? Managing communication with others to protect productive time
  • Avoiding phone tag/e mail tag with a few simple techniques
  • “They can’t do anything without me!” Avoiding the trap of being the Answer (wo)Man
  • Delegation: the three-step process you must use so that items you delegate don’t end up back in your lap
  • “Inspect what you expect”
  • Block and Tackle: “batching” tasks
  • Good e mail “hygiene”
  • Simplify the Buy: why the way you source may be all wrong
  • The magic of Five Minute Meetings
  • Time-saving (and easy to master) technology tools
  • Understanding the “highest and best use” of your time and energy
Spa Leadership Planning

First time in China: Advanced Spa Management Techniques with Lisa Starr

Registration has closed and below are the topics which were discussed. 
Please check the Events and Learning Academy pages for our offered trainings.
A one day class with Lisa M. Starr of Wynne Business Spa Consulting
Sponsored in part by The Banyan Tree, Hainan
 
Competition is increasing! Are you ready?
 
The rapid growth of the spa industry in China requires managers to be at the top of their game. Attention to detail in every aspect of the spa operation is essential to its success. A beautifully designed spa is just the beginning. Making sure that your spa can attract customers, make a profit, and operate smoothly is the truly challenging part.
If you are a spa director, manager or owner, you can’t afford to miss this outstanding program, which emphasizes practical and proven methods for improving spa performance. International spa consultant Lisa Starr, a former GM of a group of spas herself, will share advanced techniques for mastering the four pillars of spa growth and success:
  • Advanced financial management skills
  • Spa Marketing Strategies and Tactics
  • Selecting, training and retaining the top employees
  • Building an efficient operating infrastructure
This outstanding professional education will be presented at the luxurious Banyan Tree Resort. Admission includes lunch and tea breaks as well as your course text. Attendees will also receive a certificate of completion.
Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the class begins at 9:30 a.m., ending at 5 p.m.
Tuition discounts are available for attendees of the SpaChina Summit, and members of the China Spa Association.
Questions?  Contact us at seminars@wynnebusiness.com
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
Wynne Business Senior Consultant Lisa M. Starr has almost 30 years of experience in the spa industry. An accomplished instructor, Lisa leads Wynne Business educational seminars for spa owners and managers. Her consulting clients throughout the U.S. and in Asia include day spa start-ups and turnarounds, medi-spas and hotel spas, hospitals, fitness clubs, and salons offering spa services. She is a popular speaker at industry events, including IECSC, ISPA, Spa & Resort Expo, and the Spa Asia Wellness Summit. Lisa is a regular columnist at American Spa Magazine and is Director of Community for SpaTrade.com, a top spa business portal.
Mastering Complaint Resolution And Service Recovery

Rescuing the relationship with the customer.

You can’t win an argument with a customer.

Holly Stiel, the great hospitality customer service guru, says it perfectly: “Being Right is the booby prize.”

Last week, an article in the Wall Street Journal described Proctor & Gamble’s burgeoning PR disaster involving a new disposable diaper that may be causing rashes. They’re printing the liquid-absorbing gel onto the surface of the diaper instead of putting it inside several layers. It makes the diapers thinner. P & G insists it was the most-tested new disposable diaper ever. Great! They avidly courted 50 influential Mommy Bloggers before the launch.  But after all that, 7,000 Facebook-wielding Mommy Bloggers (and counting) have stormed the barricades, demanding the return of the previous version.

But P & G is mad as hell and they’re not going to take it any more!  (I can just hear them hollering in the board room, “I thought you said we got ALL the Mommy Bloggers!”) The company that wrote the book on branding and brand management is not in the driver’s seat any more. It is a profound illustration of just how much business has changed in the last few years. You almost feel sorry for the poor saps, as they draw their line in the sand and stare down the jostling mob just across the moat.

So. How do you think this is going to play out? Do you think those Bommy Moggers are going to listen to the voice of P & G reason?

British Petroleum has been even more ham-fisted in its handling of the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. A company that makes billions in profit should be able to afford better PR coaching and crisis management.

But I have to admit, I feel exactly the way any embattled business leader does when I read a snarky Yelp review. (Thank goodness I don’t have to do that live, on a web cam.) The urge to prove that you’re right (or at least, not wrong) is overpowering. This is when we count to three hundred and try to remember Habit #5 of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

I remember Steven Covey describing this behavior as “being willing to have your mind changed.” Instead of promoting your point of view, or waiting your turn to speak, you actually listen. And those of us who have customers know, you apologize. In this litigious world, it’s hard for businesspeople to forget about liability and the potential legal consequences of saying, “You know what? You’re absolutely right. We screwed up. And we’re sorry.” But you have to.

The simple fact is, if the customer thinks you screwed up, you did. Perception is reality. The question becomes not how you’re going to convince them otherwise, but how you’re going to rescue the relationship. Doing the Right Thing when you’re pretty sure you didn’t do anything Wrong is hard. Customers are wrong all the time; however, the social contract we entered into when we opened the doors to our spa clearly states that they’re Always Right.

(Admit it, when you’re the customer, you’re always right. Aren’t you?)

The customer who complains is the canary in your coal mine–only 10% of customers actually do. So the next time a mishap tempts you to even explain (explaining is an insidious form of not-agreeing, i.e. arguing) listen to what the customer is saying. Chances are very good you’ll learn something valuable.

Strategic Vision Sessions Planning

“The Brave New World of Spa PR,” a webinar with Kim Marshall, Principal of the Marshall Plan Public Relations, and David Victor of Boomcycle Online Marketing

Registration for this webinar has closed and below are the topics which were discussed.  Please check the Events and Learning Academy pages for our offered trainings.

A great public relations program is more important than ever, and there are more outlets for public relations than ever before–including online review sites, Facebook and Twitter! But which modalities are working best for spas in the era of social media?  Which are a waste of time? Are you in control of your brand’s reputation, or is it careening out of control? Kim Marshall, a veteran public relations professional who specializes in spa, hospitality and wellness businesses, takes you on a journey through this fast-changing, sometimes hair-raising, and highly competitive landscape.

This fun, fast-paced webinar, designed to help you separate urban myth from reality, will help you to focus on the marketing tools that “move the needle” and to avoid wasteful experiments. Find out what editors really want–including the topics that travel and beauty editors are interested (and not interested) in right now. Kim has the ear of a diverse array of media professionals, and will share with us exactly what they’re telling her! Gain a valuable understanding of the key components of a compelling public relations campaign–and an insider’s perspective on how public relations actually works–from one of the pioneers of the spa industry.

Moderated by Peggy Wynne Borgman

The Transforming Power Of Hospitality In Business

World Class? Not so fast.

In an increasingly virtual world, the “high touch” spas are one place consumers go for good old fashioned, live, hands on (literally) customer care. When our clients finally tear themselves away from their keyboards, PDAs and iPads, they’re ready to have their socks knocked off–by your employees.

Are they up to the challenge?

As we all know by now, the new generation of spa goer is the quintessential “tough room.” Millenials currently have a hair-trigger sensitivity about perceptions of slight and a penchant for ignoring their (grandmother’s) admonition, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all.” Actually, they don’t say it. They go online.

Of course, all these dark thoughts used to stay trapped in a “thinks” bubble over the heads of your clients. Now their concerns, quirks and criticisms are out there, for all the world to see. And as you’ve heard me argue before, that’s good. We can learn from our mistakes faster, albeit in a public forum.

Embarrassing, yes? Efficient? You betcha. (Did you ever do the dumb thing again after the teacher called you to the front of the room?)

So, Ms. Spa Director, you’ve made some lofty promises about your team. And you’ve done some training. (“We had that training,” is one of my favorite phrases. Alas, training doesn’t work like a measles vaccine.)

Here’s one of the first challenges…have your staff members ever patronized a spa like yours (or better yet, yours)? How can you expect an employee who hasn’t actually been a guest of a five star resort to know what they’re supposed to be creating? How can a receptionist in a renowned medical spa know what your patients are expecting? Would you trust a pastry chef to bake a fabulous chocolate torte if they’d never tasted chocolate? Begin your training program for any employee by having them start as a guest. (The prospective employees that research your spa by visiting as a guest first move to the front of the selection process!)

One of the core values of world class service is empathy, a trait common to people attracted to the spa industry. Individuals who are highly endowed with this trait will have an enormous leg up in creating a great service experience for your guests. Yet the road to lousy service is paved with good intentions. World class service requires, not just a good heart, but a lot of structure. A good head.

The best kind of structure is like training wheels: initially, you ask that a new employee follow protocols to a T. You ask that they get a manager’s approval for anything remotely “out of the box.” Then, as you watch them in action, observe their instincts, their judgement, you can gradually give them more latitude. Some people flunk out at this point. If an employee lacks horse sense, all the niceness in the world will not compensate.

Five star, world class service is not nearly as regimented as you might think. Several years ago, Ritz Carlton hit a ceiling of service with their heavy reliance on scripting. The evolving “world class service consumer” doesn’t want a rigid formula. They want an artistic service experience. The CEO of Auberge Resorts believes that “at the five star level, guests don’t want scripting.”

At a certain point, after your employees have reproduced excellent service standards with consistency, it’s time to let them improvise. At that level, service truly becomes art.

The recipe for world class service is simple, but it’s not easy (thanks to Holly Stiel for that distinction.)

1. Hire people with outstanding core values, including empathy, mutual respect, personal integrity and healthy self esteem
2. Train them: formally, informally, by example, repeatedly, and by having them train others
3. Give them the opportunity to express their individuality and elevate their performance to art

Let’s look at #2: Training. We all agree it’s important. But in the “tyranny of the immediate” that rules busy spa operations, there’s often more lip service than action. Pulling everyone together for a group training (still the most effective way to train) can be next to impossible. But letting a staff member attend a webinar during “downtime” is something any spa can pull off, and sooner rather than later.

Ambitious initiatives can be expensive and have a short half-life. This leads to the very wrong conclusion that training doesn’t deliver adequate ROI. “World class” status can actually be achieved more easily by taking consistent, small and common-sense training steps. The key is measuring. “What gets measured, gets done,” as the saying goes. If you know that a front line employee needs to complete three specific training sessions before he or she completes the New Employee Period, that’s simple. Enabling them to determine when and where those sessions take place, within a time period, makes it more likely that they’ll succeed.

The spa industry, following the lead of retail stores, is bifurcating into luxury and economy sectors. The middle has already begun to atrophy. Neither path is easy; one is a red ocean of endless discounting, the other a challenging world of ever-higher expectations. World class service, to paraphrase, is not a destination, but a journey.

How To Explain To Customers Why You Dont Do Deal Sites

Circling the Discount Drain

Is social media now just about bargain-hunting–sharing discounts, steals and deals with your friends? We know from past studies that discounts do not lead to loyalty. They lead to the expectation of more discounts. Which means, that shiny new customer will linger only if you can undersell your competition. Where’s the so-called wisdom of crowds? It appears to be circling the discount drain.

When it comes to saving money, the wisdom of crowds looks more like the mojo of mobs. To those of us who have enjoyed being “value add” artistes, creating differentiated experiences for discerning guests, the whole thing just looks like a hideous tag sale. High overhead businesses are being thrown onto the bus alongside their bargain basement counterparts, heading down the road to dusty, hardscrabble Camp Discount. The only activity at this camp is a pitiless game called “How Low Will You Go.”

Pitiless, because the companies who are inflicting this torment on us bricks-and-mortar fatties are internet marketing creatures. They have sweaty crushes on their “users” but throw spitballs at the very businesses that are providing the value that endears the users to them. They also have an unfortunate tendency to tell businesses what’s good for them, as if they actually know. And it’s a word I’ve heard a lot: “Exposure.” As I like to say, you can die of exposure.

“It’s your job to retain them,” discounters tell you. Gosh, your only challenge is to make them happy, and they’ll gratefully morph into a loyal, full-price client. Riiiiiight. And the next month, there’s your competitor on Groupon, with a deeply discounted offer. But, if we’ve done our job right, they’ll stick with us. Riiiiight.

The discountante lives for deals. She doesn’t want to bond with your business. She wants to flit from flower to flower, yelping the entire time. Remember, these are the kids who grew up with the concept of “friends with benefits.” Commitment isn’t in their DNA.

But consumers are not the only group out there with some clout. Small businesses scored a victory this week against a user-worshipping company that’s been easy to hate. That’s right, Yelp was squirming this morning as the hot breath of a lawsuit by businesses tickled its backside. They were accused of manipulating ratings based on whether a business advertised with them or not. Frankly, I don’t think Yelp was misbehaving, but I think it underestimated the venomous hatred they’ve inspired in legions of small business owners.

Yelp announced that we’ll be able to see those positive reviews they deem so un-Yelplike (the one-off rave that your client wrote, just for you, which in the past would disappear after about 90 days.) They’ll just be hidden away in a little basket labeled, more or less, “suspect.” Yelp has been trying to walk a very fine line, torn between appearing to pander to users while attempting to convince businesses to give them advertising revenue.

You’ve probably noticed, Yelp has made more and more of their business services free, a positive step that has helped many businesses make peace with them. If you’re not using these free tools, you’re really missing out. And whether you like them or not, Yelp is boosting your search rankings thanks to their their heavily trafficked site. (I know, I know, you almost picture yourself standing there while you’re being slapped across the face, mumbling, “Thank you sir, may I have another?”)

Fitting right in with the current mania for vampire chic, discounters like Groupon and their ilk are feeding off spas’ desperation to fill their schedules. They’re causing quite a stir, but in this case “stir” may just be another word for “churn.” I’d love to hear from spas who have been able to attract and retain guests using this type of program. Please contact me lstarr@wynnebusiness.com and share your stories.

Our experience with Spa Week at our own spa suggested that the folks who jumped on this promotion were, by and large, geographically unqualified to be regular spa guests. A year later, not one guest who came to us through this promotion was retained. And a couple of the little darlings left us unpleasant souvenirs in the form of snarky Yelp reviews. (Cheap and ungrateful–a winning combination.)

Compared to our normal retention rate of over 30%, this was a glaring example of the destructive nature of D-bombing. Aggressive promotions can create volume, but that volume may simply be churn: money-losing “volume” that saps your customer service resources and puts your regular guests in the back seat.

The jury is still out on Spa Finder Deal Days, until we see the 90 day retention statistics. Even Spa Finder feels compelled to embrace the discount mindset, but they promised a more retention-oriented promotion. I’m not sure how they engineered this, but time will tell if they hit the sweet spot. Participating in the heavily-discounted Deal Days while not accepting Spa Finder gift cards for the promotion, alas, created some pretty awkward moments with customers for many of us. We’re not sure how Spa Finder could rectify this in the future. We had much lower turnout than with Spa Week, but hopefully they were higher quality guests. Time will tell.

I haven’t written off Groupon yet, but I can tell you after two-plus decades in business, I’m dubious about their claims. They’ve graciously offered to put me in touch with some spas that have been happy with their results. I look forward to seeing the retention numbers and reporting back to you!