Retailing in your clinic: can you afford not to?

By Alana Marie Chalmers / 01 Feb 2015

Business strategist Alana Marie Chalmers details how to successfully integrate a retail portfolio into your practice

Why retail?

Introducing retail into your aesthetic business creates opportunities to unlock vital revenue streams and enhance your customer journey, potentially generating incremental income without expansion. Most methods that a business will usually invest in and deploy in order to generate growth (advertising, SEO, new equipment and exhibitions), are though valid and impactful, cost time and money with no guaranteed return on investment (ROI). In contrast, if integrated effectively, retailing may become the most hardworking asset in your clinic. A correct approach to retailing can work to reinforce existing strategies for responsible and holistic patient care. It is an opportunity to strengthen your customer relationships, and gives your patients a reason to return and buy from you between treatments. Are you maximising floor space and practitioner time? Are your customers satisfied and supported in all areas of their wellbeing? Are you hitting expected profits? If not, then it’s important to consider retailing sooner rather than later.

What are your options?

Whilst your treatment portfolio should always remain at the heart of your business, retail has the capability to augment your clinic offering. A carefully selected range, complementing existing treatments, further supports your patients in achieving their desired results. Every aspect of your patient’s journey has the potential to be transformed into new and improved revenue streams with a carefully selected retail proposition. There are various categories from which you can define your retail portfolio;

  • Cosmeceuticals
  • At-home devices
  • Supplements and vitamins
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Cosmetics
  • Self-enrichment literature
  • Haircare and hair growth therapies
  • Homeopathic remedies

What are the benefits?

The benefits for your customers are improved satisfaction, loyalty and better patient care, while staff will benefit from greater staff morale, renumeration enhancement and the potential for career progression. The business will also experience an increased profit turnover and diversified portfolio.

What are the potential profits?

The turnover and profit garnered from retail efforts reflects the level of commitment and integration adopted, as well as the selected portfolio. 

FACT: You can create equal turnover from a quick sale of 30ml serum as an advanced facial treatment, which requires therapist’s time.

FACT: For every treatment, there is potential to generate an additional £30-£250 of sales by upselling your retail portfolio. The table below illustrates a modest calculation of the potential profit involved in retailing, measured against staff commitment levels and based on three possible retail lines. Though in reality each business and product varies, the table below demonstrates the feasibility of generating additional profit with only a small amount of effort from each team member.

It’s important to note that an extensive retail offering or multiple brands does not necessarily equate to higher profits. Based on experience, an integrated retail approach to cosmeceuticals alone can represent as much as 30% of monthly turnover. This can be achieved from simply offering one brand on an exclusive basis.

Table illustrating the Potential Profit from Retailing 

How do I make this happen?

Investing time to define a strategy and implementation plan to support the successful introduction of your retail portfolio is crucial. 

Strategy: Define the retail portfolio that fits your business. Evaluate every treatment for the pre/post-products that improve outcome and define a range that enthuses your staff and customers.

Sales and Marketing: Develop a communications and sales plan. Communicate with your customers regularly; how effective are your current protocols from a retail perspective? Can these be adapted to integrate retail, upsell, or develop new packages? Set realistic targets within specific time frames.

Staffing: Ensure the team is equipped, motivated and unified in implementing the plan. Staff members must embrace retail as a vital element of the customer relationship.

Getting it right first time

Start simple and small – increase your commitment level once initial targets have been hit.
Ensure the team understand how to sell – this is often overlooked in supplier training.

Make the suppliers work hard – get them to pitch and present the business opportunity, detailing exactly how they will help you roll out the products and grow your sales.

Avoid high minimum orders – order often and smaller whilst your confidence and cash flow grows.

Less is sometimes more – keep your messaging clear. Invest in one brand per area of your retail portfolio.

Build strong customer relationships – this will make selling and purchasing a more personal, fluid and mutually-beneficial process.

How do I know if it’s working?

Set targeted income goals – empower relevant team members to achieve them through individual and team targets and regular reviews.

Customer purchases – review weekly and monthly purchases against set targets.

Feedback – garnering feedback from staff  and your accountants is essential for assessing retailing success.

The final word

Retailing demands a change in strategy and mindset throughout your business. It does not automatically mean more investment in stock and shelves filled with numerous brands, leaving your staff  and customers overwhelmed. All retailing efforts should be clear, cohesive and well- communicated. Successful clinics are not necessarily those with an extensive offering or designated retail manager; they’re those that have an integrated approach to retailing and a marketing plan that influences the patient journey before, during and after their visit to the clinic. Done well it will enhance and pay dividends to every aspect of your business. 

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