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10 Best Practices Self-Care Business Owners Can Apply Right Now by Summer Layton


By Summer Layton

Give your clients the gold standard and they’ll keep coming back for more

Greetings! I’m Summer Layton, founder of Habit medspa and facial bar in Richmond, VA. In 2017, I was tired of the typical spa experience and decided to open up my own business — with no prior self-care industry experience! To say that it’s been a learning experience would be an understatement, but six years after opening our doors, Habit is thriving. I’m here to share the key lessons I learned along the way, as well as how Boulevard helps me carry out my vision.

Take a long-term approach

In just about every facet of the self-care industry, you’ll see rising trends that are nothing more than temporary solutions. It’s important to take a holistic approach to your services and prioritize long-term health and wellness, not “miracle cures” that are anything but.

This was actually the driving force behind founding Habit. I wanted a place that eschewed the cosmetic fixes like fillers and neurotoxins we so often see at traditional beauty spas in favor of clinical-grade facial services — but as a consumer, I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so I had to create my own version. We really pride ourselves on offering treatments that impact long-term health and wellness, which is why all of our services and products are backed by science and chosen for their proven results (more on that below). By taking a holistic, regenerative approach and focusing on long-term results, you’ll help your clients feel better long after they leave your business.

Prioritize data-backed products

There are a million different products you could put on your shelves, but not all of them get the same results. Before choosing what lines to carry and potentially partnering with different brands, you need a thorough understanding of what each item actually does. If a brand claims that their serum reduces fine lines, is there clinical data to back that up? Does it use high-quality ingredients?

Some self-care businesses offer retail products that they would never use in their actual services. At Habit, we only offer science-backed products. Outside of professional-only items, everything you see on our shelves is the same as what we’ll use in the treatment room. Keep this in mind and don’t encourage clients to buy any products you wouldn’t use yourself.

Make strategic equipment purchases

Just like with products and services, you should be very thoughtful about the equipment you use in your business. Do your research about not just the equipment itself, but its manufacturer as well. Does that company embody your brand values? Again, is there data to support its claims? You also have to consider its long-term applications. Some self-care entrepreneurs go into debt chasing trendy devices and technology, only to have them lose value after a few months. Professional-grade equipment is very expensive, so don’t make any purchasing decisions lightly.

Invest in your team

Habit may have been my vision, but I didn’t bring it to life alone. Your success is a culmination of everyone who works for you, from providers to receptionists to the back office and beyond. That’s why we’re very dedicated to staff training and continuing education. If your team doesn’t have a strong knowledge base, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

On the other hand, investing in your employees ultimately strengthens the client experience. With the knowledge and experience to address clients’ specific problem areas and requests, providers build a foundation of trust while giving top-tier service. This is key to long-term client relationships. 

Create a welcoming environment

Before splashing your walls with bold, colorful paints and loud decor, take a step back. Environment is very important for a self-care business; your space has a psychological impact on your clients from the moment they walk in your door. At Habit, we’ve consciously chosen a more minimalistic approach. Our walls are white and the decor is sparse because we don’t want to add to the clutter taking up space in our clients’ heads — they’re there to get rid of that!

At the same time, don’t confuse minimalist with clinical. You still want to project comfort and luxury, not cold indifference. It’s a difficult balance to achieve, which is why you need to carefully weigh these decisions as you create an environment that embodies your brand values. Speaking of which…

Develop a clear brand identity

You can’t show off your brand values if you don’t have a brand identity! What makes your business different? What’s special about it? Why should clients choose you over the local competition? What are your values? What do you want to achieve? When you leverage your brand’s position to differentiate yourself, you can more easily capture the attention of your target audience. Above all, remember that your brand identity isn’t just your logo or the colors you use in marketing materials; it’s the experience you provide, too.

Make marketing inclusive

It’s no secret that self-care advertising has historically focused on a very narrow ideal of beauty. Thankfully, it’s a new era, and we want to make it clear that self-care is for everyone. That means all genders, all skin tones and types, and all ages — do you know how many women in their fifties and sixties have never thought about preventative skin care? By creating an inclusive marketing strategy, you’re telling potential clients that they’re welcome at your shop and appealing to a wide range of demographics.

Maintain a client-centric approach

At the end of the day, there’s no self-care business without clients. You have to keep the client experience in mind not just when planning a menu and buying products, but for all the other steps of the appointment as well. Make sure it’s easy to book appointments and check out (Boulevard has been instrumental for us in those aspects!). Listen to feedback and read reviews. Address any areas for improvement. This is one of the first things I tell aspiring entrepreneurs.

Know your numbers

Despite their calming nature, self-care businesses don’t run on vibes; their success or failure is the result of all the things on this list. And to tell if you’re doing those things right, you have to crunch the numbers. Your software should provide comprehensive reports that give you total visibility into the health of your business. If it doesn’t, it’s time to make a switch. We’ve found that after switching to Boulevard, it’s become much easier to track our progress. On top of that, our providers are more goal-oriented because the reports are so easy to understand.

Strive for the gold standard

Above all else, strive for excellence in everything you do. From the moment the client makes an appointment until they settle up afterward, everything has to be impeccable. That includes your website’s ease of use, the booking flow, the environment in your space, your providers, the payment process, and the quality of the products and services you offer. Medspas, salons, and other self-care businesses are built on repeat transactions, and we’re not happy until our clients are. No matter what your brand or your offering, this advice is paramount for all owners. It’s not easy to maintain that level of quality, but as Habit’s success shows, it’s worth it.

Summer Layton


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