Friday, July 4, 2014

How to Set and Achieve Goals

Weekends are great to take a breather and think about your goals. Reflect and think about your week, your year, your life so far, what you like about it, what you don't, what changes you can make and set some goals.

If you want to get somewhere in your life, first you need to know where you want to go, before you think about how you will get there. 

Get a nice journal and start writing your thoughts down. Even if you are not sure, start jotting down your ideas, your wish list, or your frustrations.

A good tip I once received when I said "but I don't know WHAT I want", I was told to write down what I DONT WANT. It was a great start, most of us know what we don't want. So write all the things you don't want on one side of the page, then next to each point on the other side of the page turn it into what you DO want. For example "I don't want to run out of breath and struggle like that when I climb that damn hill." will turn to "I want to be able to climb that hill easily and without losing my breath".

Once you have determined what you do want (your first goal, yey!) think about how you will get there. In the case of this challenging hill climb, I know in order to climb it successfully I will need to get fitter. It may mean I will attempt to climb it only part way up, then come back down. I know I'll have to attempt this frequently and try to go a little further each time.

So I make some plans to take action. Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings I will climb that hill as far as I can go, and keep doing it, pushing myself that little bit further each time until I achieve my goal.

Sometimes you will write a goal down but have no idea how to get there, or perhaps think it's just not possible in your situation. Don't worry about it, leave it for now. Ask your mind to find a solution, and when ready come back to you. 

Your mind is very much like a computer, it can work on problems in the background. Trust yourself that you will come up with the right answer when you are ready and move on to your next set of goals.

So in summary, this is what you need to do:

1. Reflect and evaluate on your past experiences and jot down your thoughts in a journal.

2. Write down what works what doesn't, what you like and what you don't like about your life, your health, your career, your relationships etc. Write down what you want and don't want.

3. Turn things you don't like into what you would like. Things you don't want into what you DO want. These will be your first set of goals.

4. Think about each goal and what it would take to achieve it. Break it down to what actions you can take, and approximately how long it will take for you to achieve it. Set a date you would like to achieve this goal by. 

5. Most importantly, after you wrote down the plan in your diary, you need to take action. Diarise the activities in your diary and go out and DO IT!
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Jana x

Thursday, June 12, 2014

So, I purchased one of those online spa deals...

While I was researching for my article on how to deal with busainess competition who sell ridiculously cheap beauty services, I attempted to put myself into the shoes of the businesses owners who actually do this.

Common sense tells me that offering a dramatically discounted service will affect the business negatively somewhere along the line. It just makes no sence how a business that is practically giving away treatments survives in the long-term. I thought, surely they must be cutting corners somewhere. So when I booked for a 90 minute spa package for $35, I wasn't expecting the quality to be fantastic, I was prepared for the average treatment, hoping even to be pleasantly surprised, but I certainly wasn't expecting this!

The advertising displayed fake photoshop images of a beautiful model relaxing, while being massaged in a beautiful spa environment, candles, flowers, we've all seen these ads. Unfortunately the reality was a huge disappointment.

Looking for the address, I walked by it several times before I found it. It ended up being at the back of a dingy, sad looking old arcade and I was a little nervous going in. When I found it, the small salon looked very tired and cheaply set up. It was nothing like the photos on the advertisement. Ordinarily, I would have turned around and cancelled my appointment and demanded a refund. But, I wanted to see for myself how these businesses work, as I've never bought a cheap deal before.

The therapist was polite enough, but certainly not warm and welcoming. My package consisted of a 1/2 hour massage, 1 hour facial and an eye treatment. As she took me to the cubicle, and I saw the state of it, I decided I did not want the massage and told her that as I didn't have the time, I'll just have the facial and eye treatment.

The rooms were separated by curtains hung on rods. They were fraying and dirty and looked very old. On the bed, there was a towel at the head that used to be white once upon a time. Now it was a dirty, greying colour with many stains. It looked like it was never washed. It was really disgusting. On the wall were hung 3 dirty, stained gowns, and my therapist asked me to put one on.

The facial was just awful. This person was clearly not qualified, or if she was, she was very poorly trained. There was no consultation whatsoever. She just went straight into it. The products she used were clearly cheap cosmetics you typically see at the bargain shops. Everything smelled of synthetic rose fragrance, like the cheap hand wash. Everything she put on my face stung and burned.

When she cleansed my face, she was rough and messy, I had stuff get in my eyes, mouth and ears. It really was not pleasant at all. After cleansing she put on a cream and informed me that 'it will clear out the pores, and needs to stay on for 10 minutes'. I assume it was some kind of enzyme exfoliant as I don't tolerate enzyme peels well. It was burning uncomfortably and when I had enough I asked her to remove it. She told me to just bear with it for a few more minutes, that it will be 'good for your skin'.

She then put the steam on for 10 minutes, and before I knew what was happening she started extracting on my nose with one of those metal tools. There was no communication, nothing. The steam was turned off, then I felt this incredible pain on my nose. I practically jumped off the bed and told her to stop. She said 'are you sure? You really have a lot of blackheads and I can clean them out' I said no, it's too painful, I had tears running down my face and asked for a tissue.

The massage, if you call it that, was awful. She wasn't finished torturing me. There was no technique, no grace, no relaxing movements. Some cleansing movements repeated several times on the face, then she started knuckling right over my clavicle bones. It was excruciating! My legs started to tap on the bed from the pain, but she was totally oblivious to it.

She then started knuckling on the back of my shoulders, and I don't know how, but she managed to find my shoulder bones and knuckled right over them, and really put her elbows in this time. By this time I was squirming on the bed, trying to lift my shoulders to ease her pressure, and as I grunted from the pain she said 'hmm you are very hard on the back, you must be very stressed.' Of course it was hard you imbecile, you are knuckling on my bones! I thought. I was about to tell her to stop, but thankfully she perhaps thought that was enough. It was barely a 5 minute massage, but I felt the pain on my bones the next day. For those that know me, I have quite a bit of padding on, but she managed to find my bones anyway.

I was thinking with relief that it's almost over, just the mask to go. So she applied the mask, and an eye mask (which consisted of the entire eye treatment) and some eye pads. She then went out to do a service on another client.

As I'm lying there, my phone buzzed, so I took my eye pads off to have a look who called. As I am about to put the pads back on, I took one look at them and though I would vomit. This is what I had on my eyes. See photo below. The cotton pads were paper thin, stained an ugly brown and looked like they had something furry growing on the edge. This clearly are cotton pads that she has been re-using for only she knows how long. I have never seen anything like it, and not for the first time questioned my wisdom in going ahead with this treatment when I first saw the dirty towels. 

I did not put the pads back on, a waited for her to return to take the mask off  with a towel that was so thin, I felt the holes. I imagined how many people had this towel on their face over the years and if it was ever washed. I really could not wait to get home and jump in the shower and scrub myself clean.

She finished with a cream / sunscreen that burned my face, and this advice: ' for the next 48 hours do not put any chemicals on your face, water only. You can of course use a moisturiser and sunscreens but no chemicals, let your skin breathe.' That was it. My professional skin care advice.

What can I say? It was a shocking experience, and I hope that this was not the norm, that I was just unlucky enough to get the worst of the worst. But then again, people lie there with their eyes closed, so they don't get to see things, and the average consumer perhaps do not know what to expect.

You really do get what you pay for. 

If you have had a similar experience, please let me know by leaving a comment below.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

RIDICULOUSLY discounted services, how are you meant to compete with THAT?!?

In this article, I will share with you  tips and experience valued at thousands of dollars. TIPS THAT WILL MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE TO YOUR INCOME, if you choose to implement them. 

There is nothing more alarming than seeing your competitor offer a similar service for next to nothing. I have seen some crazy pricing out there, and wonder in amazement how on earth do they plan to survive when they are practically giving away the services? And, in most cases, loosing a great deal of money as well?

What is happening to our industry? 

Today, more then ever, the competition in the beauty services industry is fierce. I have been in this industry since 1991 and I have never seen as many beauty salons as there are today. The traditional beauty salon is being affected from many angles, not only by other beauty salons (there used to be on average one or two salon in a suburb, now there is double that). In addition to more beauty salons per area, there are now nail bars offering nail and waxing services, brow bars, laser clinics, skin rejuvenation clinics, hairdressers introducing beauty services, massage practices, home salons, small single operator boutiques, and not directly related to, but certainly impacting on, pharmacies and department stores giving away free treatments with product purchases. Sadly, most small beauty service businesses are run by people with very little experience or formal training in business. Inevitably, the only way they know to attract clients is through discounting. Often they are advised by friends, family or sales people from discount websites with no experience in running a business. 

Heavily discounted promotions don't work!

Offering a cheap service in the hope of gaining new clients rarely works. Bargain hunters are loyal to only one thing. A bargain. They rarely spend more than what is advertised. I have seen many businesses extremely disappointed when they put a lot of hard work and effort into a cheap service offer only to find these clients do not re-book, because they are always looking for a bargain price. They rarely upgrade to other services and almost never purchase professional products. Most of these promotions cost more than the service, so the salon is giving away these services for free, and when you do the sums, it's actually costing them money to do these treatments.  In the hope of attracting new clients with a cheap service promotion, salons end up loosing a great deal of money and I have personally seen businesses go broke as they cannot ever recover. It is really heartbreaking. 

Businesses that offer cheap services, will always be seen as cheap. Once they go down this road, it's very difficult to recover from this. 

Just crunch the numbers, it's business suicide! 

This weekend I've had a look at some discount sites offering treatments. There was one selling a 3 hour spa package  (body massage, facial, mani and pedi) for $89. After the salon is charged 50% commission on the sale of this service by the website they only get $44.50 for 3 hours of work!!! Let's say if they use very cheap, basic products and it costs them $15 in total. That leaves $30, and that's $10 per hour gross. Tax has to be paid, wages, insurance, rent, repurchase of products and materials etc etc. and they sold over 100 of these!!!  

That is 300 hours they have committed themselves to working for nothing. And it only gets worse. Once the promotion is sold, they will be inundated with calls to book in these clients, leaving no room to book in their regular and full paying clients. Now it's easy to see how people go broke doing these type of offers. So why would they do it?!?

To be frank, most I have seen do this from ignorance, not understanding the huge financial investment of this promotion, and mostly out of desperation. Sadly they just end up getting themselves into a deeper hole, unable to pay their utility and supplier bills, wages and rent, and end up suffering from a great deal of stress. 

So how will this affect your business?

At first, I can understand why I would be worried if I saw my competitor do crazy discount pricing on similar services. Will my clients see the advertisement (whether it is on a website, local paper or flyers handed out)? What will they think, and most importantly, will they be tempted to buy the discounted service from my competitor? 

If you are doing things right, you have nothing to worry about. Sure, there may be one or two that will be tempted, but it will never last. 

Just think about what I have discussed above, bargain hunters are loyal only to one thing. A bargain! These are not your clients, and these are not the clients you even want! They will just keep on salon hopping, chasing the latest sale. No matter how well you treat them, they will always expect a great service, for a bargain. 

Competition is great! 

Competition forces you to look at your businesses critically, to see what you are doing right and what you need to improve on. If you find your competitor is advertising a ridiculously cheap service, that's great! This is a terrific opportunity to reinforce to your customers what you have always done, and your superior standards of service and quality of treatments with your clients. And if you are not already doing this, it's time to make it so! 

Quality trumps discounts, always!!! 

Making your customers feel extra special, there is nothing like it. Products that deliver better results, but are delivered with contemptuous, arrogant or inferior service, guarantees your customers will shop elsewhere. Give them a fantastic treatment. 

So, Here are the tips, THAT WILL MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE TO YOUR INCOME, if you choose to implement them. 

Look at all aspect where you are superior (or wish to be) to your competition:

- All treatments are delivered by highly skilled, trained, and experienced therapists. Therapists are sent to all available training by suppliers. They are regularly updated by the latest in technology and invest their own time and money in ongoing professional development. Employ only staff that are willing to invest in their professional skills and knowledge. Support your claims of expertise by clearly displaying qualifications, licenses, and experience in the business and your marketing material to your clients. YOUR STAFF ARE YOUR BUSINESS. It's an old lesson I learned very early on.

- Use only the highest quality products and the latest in skin treatments technology. Back your business with strong supportive product brands. Brands that take training and business seriously. Brands that have the resources and human expertise to take your business to the next level, and beyond. Talk about these in your marketing material to educate your clients why you are using SUPERIOR quality products that deliver real results.

-  Make your business a beautiful, warm and inviting place to visit, make sure your decor is professional, up to date and modern, tidy and clean, everything is in good repair, and working well. De-clutter, and rotate your merchandising regularly. Make sure you are fully and well stocked, you can't sell it if it's not on the shelf! Empty shelves excite no one! Great merchandising stimulates impulse buys (that people will LOVE), you just need the know how! 

- Ensure everyone is thoroughly trained in superior customer service, interpersonal and communication skills. Ensure staff are IMMACULATE at all times. If they want to be taken seriously, they need to look like professionals.  

In college, I used to train my therapists to imagine they were going to be on TV. Cameras will be  filming them and later will broadcast them on TV. I told them to imagine, they were going to treat top celebrities, so how would they interact with them? How would they present themselves to them, what would they say, and how would they behave? It's a whole different mindset. 

- Add value to every treatment. This is a different concept to value added promotions, where you offer packages of treatment that complement each other and offer a value deal to your clients. These are great for promotions, but other than that, you should always add value to your treatments. What does this mean? 

Think about why your client would have a facial with you rather than someone else. How can you make your treatment more enjoyable and valuable to the client? How do you present the treatment that has that WOW factor? Think about the extra little touches you can do to make the experience exceed their expectations. Sometimes this means you need to reasses the environment, the atmosphere you create. Sometimes it's the way you interact with your client, other time is the post treatment service you offer. 

Each business will have their own personality and expertise, what is yours? 

Customers LOVE being treated as special. They love to be acknowledged, remembered, treated with curtesy, calmly and with elegance and style. This is why your business will be fine. This is why your long term clients will always prefer quality over a bargain, if you were in their shoes, wouldn't you too? 

In contrast, think about the other business that just sold 100 of the 3 hour packages for $44.50. Imagine how frazzled they will be when they have to turn down their regular clients, to make room for the bargain hunters (here is an opportunity for you to pick up some new clients). 

Imagine how exhausted they will be working day in and day out for nothing. Imagine the stress, the resentment they will feel being used like this. This is not very appealing to any customer, I'm sure. 

So take advantage of this opportunity to differentiate and elevate your business. Counteract their discount promotion with a value added promotion of your own that highlights expertise, quality and sophistication. We all agree, there is no better advertising than word of mouth. Work on your existing clients to gain new clients. People talk, after all. Clients that value quality over price are the clients you wish to attract and retain. These are the clients that will support your business in the long term. 

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Jana x

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