Revisiting the Retail Debate

This morning I was chatting pleasantly with one of my regular clients about her experience with a local esthetician. My client had been to this esthetician before and liked her service, but did not like the woman's hard sell approach at the end of the service to purchase products. So my client doesn't plan on going back to this esthie again.


Which is how we got into a discussion about retail in salons, and I thought I'd pass along the insight I got from my client's perspective. I thought it was particularly useful seeing as how this was not a conversation that I started on the subject, so my client's view was pretty much offered up untainted by any desire to provide me with "the right answer."


It would seem that, as many of us might expect, clients pretty much do expect to visit a salon for a service. And although they don't mind being given a recommendation for products, they also really appreciate it when you can accept a polite "no thank you" in return. They don't want to hear about how something is "on special" and especially don't like the whole, "Are you sure? Because this is on special today only" routine — it would seem the consumer is onto that spiel. And whatever you do, don't try the whole "on special today only" routine every time on every person, because they've got you figured out already.


I suspect that clients think about retail items in a service environment as, "It's nice to know where I can get the products they used on me during the service" or "Oh, that's so cute, I should get that while I'm here because I've never seen anything like that anywhere else." I mean, that's what I think about retail items when I go to a place for a service that happens to offer retail items as well.


I personally fall on pretty middle ground on the retail subject. It's one of those "Yeah, ideally we should..." arguments, but I totally understand why most of us don't. But I thought it might come in handy for those of us who do and those of us who plan to to have a little insight from a customer's perspective: If you make customers feel uncomfortable in your attempts to sell to them, you risk losing their business altogether. So by all means, let them know what's available, but be willing to accept a polite "no thank you" with a smile and a gentle "well you know where to get it when you're ready."

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