Brigitte Benge explains how to convert ‘gift voucher clients’ into long term skincare clients.

How can you optimise clients who receive a gift voucher for special occasions such as Christmas, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day or even a birthday present, but have never been to your salon? During seasonal or special event times, most of the gift vouchers sold in salons are for some sort of ‘relaxation’ treatment or package. And as a ‘selling’ strategy on special occasions this is good, because gift-givers are hardly looking to purchase a microdermabrasion or laser treatments as a treat for their loved ones.

However…when the voucher is redeemed, the ‘relaxing’ part of the treatment leaves very little opportunity to up-sell, rebook and retail to clients. In fact, so many therapists dislike doing gift voucher clients for that very reason and often feel uninspired by these appointments.

When someone receives a treatment or treatment package in the form of a gift voucher, are you strict that the person can only redeem what has been purchased?

I hope the answer to that is ‘no’, and I would suggest no matter what the voucher is written out for, the redeemer is free to have any treatment TO THE VALUE of the voucher. Of course this only applies to gift vouchers that have been purchased and paid for. I’m not referring to free promotional vouchers; that has its own objective. I would even go as far as training your team to use something like the following script every time they sell a gift voucher.

“Anna, even though the voucher is for the Rudolf Luxury Package, please let the person you purchased it for, know that if he/she would prefer something different, that won’t be a problem. We’ll honor any treatment they choose to the value of the voucher.”

This is a really strong strategy. People want to know the person for whom they are buying a voucher is going to be completely happy, so if you are flexible (and there’s really no reason for you not to be flexible) then let the purchaser know.

Let’s talk about the objective of gift voucher clients. Your team absolutely must understand this, and therefore you need to have a clear conversation with them and reiterate periodically that the objective with a gift voucher recipient is converting them to a long-term salon client. Preferably, long-term salon skin clients. They need to think of gift vouchers not as a free treatment but in a much more positive, productive and long-term light, like these clients are ‘qualified’ new clients.

Think about it. You spend so much time and money developing promotions to bring in new clients; here is an opportunity for you and your team whereby a new client comes to your salon, but they’re even better than if they came through a promotion. These came through an existing client who obviously feels your salon offers services and products good or great enough to be recommended ‒ that’s a QUALIFIED client! With a qualified client, the therapist already has a higher chance of conversion as ‘someone’ recommended them to you. It is much easier to gain their trust and sell to them than to an unqualified client.

Salons must learn to see gift voucher clients as BIG OPPORTUNITIES that must be taken advantage of (the opportunity that is, not the client!). Too often I’ve heard therapists say something like “Oh well, she’s just a gift voucher client…”NO! I want “Oh, she’s a gift voucher client!” and a therapist excited by the prospect of converting this new client to being a long- term client for the business.

Just as for any new client, when the gift voucher client calls for a booking’ the receptionist must do two things:

(1) Ask the client to come in 10 minutes earlier to fill in the New Client Consultation Form. You want as much information as possible to be able to convert them to skin clients. The more information the therapist has the higher chance she has of conversion. Why? Because everything she says will be relevant to the client and won’t be something that sounds pushy and coming out of nowhere.

(2) If the voucher includes ANY kind of facial treatment, then the client needs to be offered a skin consultation prior to the treatment. Here’s a good script the receptionist can use:

“Wonderful Anna, you’re going to love the Rudolf Luxury Package.

“As it includes a facial treatment, your therapist will take you through a full professional consultation using a Woods lamp prior to your treatment so she has a good understanding of your skin’s condition. A Woods lamp is a safe ultraviolet light that helps detect skin conditions not visible to the naked eye. This consultation is normally $50, however I would like to offer it as complimentary with your treatment. It only takes about 20 minutes so we will allow for that in your appointment time.”

Now, the next suggestion needs to be used with care and discretion. If a gift voucher does NOT include a facial treatment, consider offering a complimentary skin consultation anyway. It all depends on who you’re talking to, ie, if you can hear in her voice that she may be open to your suggestion. Like I said, how you offer this needs to be very considered. AFTER you have the time secured, you can say something like:

“Wonderful Anna; you’re going to love the Santa Delight Package. We actually have some time before your treatment and I would love to offer you a complimentary professional skin consultation. Normally we charge $50 however I would like to offer it to you as OUR gift. This thorough consultation is performed by a professional skin therapist. She’ll take a good look at your skin using a Woods lamp, a safe ultraviolet light that helps detect beneath the skin conditions that are not visible to the naked eye. It only takes about 20 minutes so we will allow for that in your appointment time.”

Finally, I would like to suggest that during the appointment, the therapist look carefully through the client’s New Client Consultation Form for any opportunities where she is able to suggest to the client an alternative to the “relaxation package” that was originally purchased for her, such as a more appropriate treatment, based on what is written on the New Client Consultation Form… For example, if a client wrote on her New Client Consultation Form that she was concerned with skin ageing, the therapist could suggest a different, more active facial treatment that will address skin ageing concerns. Here’s a script suggestion:

“Anna, I noticed you wrote that you were concerned with skin ageing and dehydration. Would you prefer we address that? Our signature treatment is the ABC facial which includes a microdermabrasion, peel and hydrating mask. This is definitely our most popular treatment and the difference and radiance in how your skin looks and feels will be absolutely sensational. You would still have $20 left on your voucher if you decide to take this up.”

If the recommendation the therapist makes cost more than the value of the gift voucher, you would instead say, “You would only need to pay an extra $15”

For more conversion support, the therapist could go into what the treatment actually entails. In other words, explain what the ABC Signature treatment is all about; what a microdermabrasion will do for her skin, what the peel will also do for the skin that supports the microdermabrasion and, of course, the qualities of the hydration mask. And, if available, should show some before and afters of clients who have had these treatments. Your therapists should pull out all stops and use all the tools and success strategies that will help them convert the client.

Also, the consultation would come with treatment and retail recommendations, and at least one retail product should be attempted to get over the counter as well as a rebook. And it goes without say that the client should also be followed up within two to three days!

As you can now see, it’s all about converting the new gift voucher client to a long-term, skin treatment client.

You and your team need to understand there should be an OBJECTIVE to everything you do. Once you know why and what you need to do, doing it is much easier. Your therapist are not just manicurists or quick beauty treatment providers; they are skin professionals and therefore should provide a total service that will be of benefit to the client, will be of benefit to the business and in turn be of benefit to them, especially if you run your business on an incentive programme based on productivity.

Brigitte Benge is head coach at Cream Solutons. Contact – bbenge@creamsolutions.co