Driving Spa Retail

Lisa Starr


Spas know that retailing is an important component of revenue generation, and yet many still struggle to reach the ratios that we target as an industry. Who’s responsible for driving retail sales in your spa? Management? Technicians? Support Staff? Product Companies? It’s actually all of the above.

While spas may consider retailing to be a side business, it’s a major industry in and of itself. The National Retail Federation estimates that the U.S. has almost 3.8 million retail establishments, employing 42 million people and creating $2.6T in GDP impact. Retailers have their own trade shows, trade associations, magazines, and best practices.

While spas earn their primary revenue as a service business, they should not ignore the power of retail sales. The common thought in the spa industry is often that “We don’t rely on foot traffic like a retailer, so we don’t have to put as much energy into retail.” Spas open their doors in the morning with books full of appointments, and knowing you’ll have those clients passing through certainly takes the pressure off the immediate need to create additional sales. And yet, the benefits to doing so are numerous, including:

  • Provides an additional revenue stream
  • Decreases sole dependency upon client appointments
  • Enhances and extends the value of the spa treatments guests have received
  • Presents a range of margin opportunities for the business
  • Grows average ticket for both technicians and spa
  • Builds client retention

Achieving a healthy retail to service sales ratio is the result of focused efforts by all of the stakeholders, working together to create a compelling retail environment.


As with many initiatives, effective retailing starts at the top. One of the most important management responsibilities is careful selection of the appropriate retail partners. Successful spa retailers carry a selection of products that are in keeping with the vision and mission of the spa brand, and that are priced in the sweet spot for their target customer. Looking beyond the typical beauty brands for retail items that are fun and interesting can drive sales as well as margin; offering a pair of earrings that wholesales for $7.50 and retails for $22 allows the spa to pay higher commission rates and still make a profit. But the most impactful action management can take is in the ability to create rapport and “sell” from every staff member on your team . It should be discussed during interviews, modeled in practicals, and reinforced in orientation and policy guidelines. For lasting impact, management must create compensation and advancement plans for technicians that include retailing benchmarks as part of the career path.


Without a doubt, technicians play the biggest role in retailing to spa guests. As the licensed, uniformed experts, their artfully presented home care suggestions, in concert with their one-on-one experience with the guest, will be the biggest driver of sales activity. Technicians who are well-trained on the spa’s products and their ingredients, and the best way to use them, can weave those suggestions into their service routine in a seamless way, which does not feel as “salesy” to the guest as a rushed effort at the service conclusion, or a list of products pushed into the clients hands without any explanation at all. Making home care recommendations MUST be part of every treatment on the spa menu. We cannot expect that the results of the services that the client receives will last beyond 24 hours without ensuring that their home care routine is supporting their treatment investment.

Support Staff

While the technician’s personal touch is key to introducing home care to the client, in a busy and/or large spa it can be difficult for technicians to complete the sale. Clients may be heading on to another treatment, or spending time using spa amenities, and it can be a long time until they show up at the front desk to check out. This is where support staff can play a crucial role in closing the sale. Whether it is lining up home care prescriptions, gathering products, or answering questions on usage, this is often where the magic happens. Simply asking, “Which of the amazing products that you experienced today would you like to take home with you?” can have very effective results.

Retail Partners

The role that vendors and resource partners play in the retail chain cannot be overlooked. Effective brands will provide plenty of tools and training for all of the spa staff, on a regular basis. Supporting activities including inventory planning, shelf-talkers, sampling, marketing collaterals and co-op advertising programs will certainly help the spa to be more successful. Spa management should be asking any potential partners for details on the terms of available support, rather than hoping or assuming it will be provided.

Globally, personal care product sales are estimated at $250 billion dollars annually. Billion. No reason your spa shouldn’t be getting your fair share of those sales.

About the Author

Lisa Starr

Lisa Starr brings over 30 years of industry-specific experience as a consultant, educator and writer to Booker through GOtalk. Lisa also works for Wynne Business, a leading spa consulting and education company. Among other things, Lisa’s expertise lies in business operations and finances, sales and marketing, inventory management, human resource development, and business process improvement. She is a well-known speaker within the trade show circuit and is a frequent contributor to industry

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