TIPS FROM CURE DE REPOS OWNER CHRISSY DRESS
MY FIRST LIVE, WHICH WAS THE LAST WEEK OF MARCH, I DID MY HAIR, GOT DRESSED UP, AND EVEN WORE HEELS. MY HUSBAND WAS LIKE, ‘WHAT THE HECK, WHERE ARE YOU GOING?’ I MARCHED MY CUTE LITTLE SELF UPSTAIRS TO MY MAKESHIFT SPA AND SOLD OVER $1,200 IN AN HOUR!
When Chrissy Dress, owner of award-winning Philadelphia-based day spa CURE de Repos, first heard about the stay-at-home order in her area, she had already begun to figure out her spa’s response to the local situation. Dress had closed the spa early the prior day after a client emailed her that someone at the local cricket club had contracted the virus. “I immediately decided to finish our day and close,” explains Dress. “A lot of our clients are part of that club and at that point I was worried for my team. I didn’t think too much about my business at first. It was more about safety and protecting not only our team, but our clients.”
The spa features a curated selection of niche retail products and at the time Dress had been working on an online store for about a year without much movement. “We would have very minimal activity to the point where my husband said to me, ‘I always thought that when you spent time working on your website, it was a waste.’” However, Dress kept vigilant and believed that online sales would be another great stream of revenue eventually.
“I just had to keep at it, boost my SEO, link all social media to it, and more. We have all heard of Tony Robbins and how he speaks about multiple sources of income and creating passive income streams. I read one of his books a while back: Money: Master the Game.” Dress jokes that post COVID-19, she will be an IT and coding specialist, along with being a lead aesthetician.
To keep her spa visible, Dress decided to host an Instagram Live video where she sold over $1,200 worth of retail in an hour. She has since hosted successful live videos with more retail sales. We chatted with Dress to learn more about how spas can transform their business to a virtual model for success during the pandemic and beyond.
What were the first steps you took to moving your business virtually?
The first step I took to moving my business virtually was doing several runs between the spa and my home, each time loading and unloading all my retail products from the spa into my home office. It’s now a home virtual spa full of all my retail on shelves, with several of my machines for virtual demonstrations and consultations. Pre-COVID-19, I was on social media as if it were my second job. I leveraged Instagram and Facebook to create new relationships that would turn into sales, and if they were hyper-local then services. I worked with local beauty bloggers and continue to spend money on Google ads.
I was recently on a Zoom call with a nationally recognized marketing specialist this past week. All small businesses were on this call and a lot of them were in the beauty industry. He had made a point that in 2008 (however different than today) when the economy crashed, the businesses that marketed eventually came out on top. I took his advice and aligned with a local magazine, Philly Mag, but paid for an Instagram post on their page which is also linked to their bio. I came out with fewer likes then I wanted, but that’s okay. (I’m not an Instagram model—I keep the models pretty!)
However, I did walk away with 30+ hyper local followers which I know will turn into clients, either purchasing online or coming into the spa once we re-open our doors. It also gives relevancy to the fact that my small business and team are still here for you. The message was straight-forward that we are still selling products online, offering virtual skin analysis (I’m surprised I’ve done a ton), as well as announced that we’re hosting live events.
What are some of the things that have worked the most for you when it comes to running a virtual business?
Some of the things that have worked best for an online virtual business are to set a schedule and stick with it. Just like with skin care, consistency is key. I have this schedule for the month listed on our webpage under “specials.” I’ll also send an email blast to clients at the beginning of each week that covers what to expect from our lives, with who, and which platform to tune into. (Usually Instagram.)
What tips can you share with other spa and salon owners about how to do it?
Going live is pretty easy and anyone can do it, but first make sure your background is presentable and clean. If you have the products on hand that you’re talking about, have them easily accessible to show to the viewers. I actually get dressed up when I go live. It keeps people’s interest and shows that you’re the professional, not just tuning into someone’s account in sweats talking about the latest Sephora craze. It creates an ambiance and shows that you actually care and take your business seriously.
For my first live, which was during the last week of March, I did my hair, got dressed up and even wore heels. My husband was like, “What the heck, where are you going?” I marched my cute little self upstairs to my makeshift spa and sold over $1,200 in an hour! My last live was just this past week and I did a little over $1,000 in an hour in product sales.
Also, reference gift cards. I talk about them when I am live. My hyper-local clients will buy them in denominations of $50- $500 at a time. They can use these for future use at the spa for services and/or product purchases.
What was your experience with Instagram marketing ads and do you have any recommendations for using them?
I don’t do Instagram marketing ads as they have a certain algorithm. I have tried several times before and cut my campaign short because I was just getting likes and comments from people who were not my demographic and it felt more like Tinder than a business ad. I think Instagram ads can be useful, but I think you need an Instagram pro on your side to help navigate through to your target focus client.
Was there anything you did in your virtual business that you would not do again?
I offered gift cards at a discount for two weeks. I’m happy that I did, but that is not something I will be offering again at this time. I feel that avoiding over-discounting is important and undervaluing yourself or business. I know that fear can have us making decisions that we would not otherwise, but if your clients can’t see the value in purchasing a gift card of a product at full price, then do we want that type of client?
Don’t get me wrong, when I go live I offer a discount to those who tune in, along with free shipping and little goodies with their purchase. It’s just about finding a good balance where you’re not being taken advantage of and making a profit at the end of the day—not a loss. What I’m trying to say is, don’t undervalue all your training and hard work that has gotten you to where you are today!
What has surprised the most about this experience?
What has surprised me the most out of this whole experience is that my website actually works! I should say that surprised my husband the most! Just today I have sent packages to Chicago, Massachusetts, New York and Illinois. All of my hard work is finally paying off. They say you don’t get fruit the day you plant the tree! Also not surprising, I experienced an outpour of love from our community. They really want us to thrive and keep our doors open (when the time is appropriate).
Any other tips or personal touches that you can share?
When shipping products out, I always wrap each product carefully with tissue paper that has our logo on it. I also include one of our CURE bags, which is reusable and environmentally green. I also make sure to include a sample or two of another product they may like reflective of their order. Lastly, I make sure to include our business card with a handwritten note (with our logo on it and business info on the back) thanking them for their purchase and supporting a woman-owned and operated small business. It’s a nice personal touch that I hope will have them think about purchasing from us again in the future.
After the stay-at-home orders are over, what newfound marketing from this experience will you continue to use?
After the stay-at-home order is lifted, the marketing technique that we will keep will be weekly/bi-weekly lives. It is a lot of work; however, if you work closely with your reps, I’m sure they will be happy to help you sell, incentivize and create packages as they always do. In this instance, it’ll just be virtual. Isn’t that their number one job: to sell and increase profit margins? They will be happy to assist you!
Doing lives has driven a ton more traffic to my website, which has my conversions higher than ever before. As I have mentioned prior, some of these clients are not located in Philly, so after this is all said and done, we don’t want to forget about them! They’ve supported a woman-founded/operated small business during this crisis and they will continue to support it in the future.
[Images courtesy of Chrissy Dress]
Lizzy Sherman is an award-winning digital content writer/editor. She has been a featured guest speaker at Cal State University Northridge, Digital LA and The National Association of Audience Marketing Professionals. When she's not writing, Lizzy enjoys yoga and playing guitar. Follow her on Instagram: @zillizy