Expert Advice: Maximise your expertise & skill to beat new competition!

Marie-Louise Coster shares her experience of reacting to competition in her beauty business and avoiding knee-jerk reactions!

Marie-Louise CosterIt is a fact that you won't be the only person offering beauty services in your town or village. Even if you are the only high street salon, there will be home-based salons and mobile therapists working in your area, and most probably lots of them. But is that a bad thing?

The pandemic saw a huge increase of people readdressing their work/life balance and their priorities in life, and we all know that, as therapists, we earn more working for ourselves (in less hours I might add) than we do working for someone else. 

Having worked in lots of sectors of our industry, from within salons, in business development and training for skincare companies, teaching in colleges, owning a high street salon, working mobile, and now being home based (which I have been for 11 years), I have seen this industry from every possible angle. 

When I had my high street salon I was in a small village and I was the only beauty salon. Within a year another salon opened up around the corner offering hair and beauty; the owner of the hairdressers next door to me was raging but I didn't care. Of course I was a little wobbled by it, as within any area there will only be a certain number of people who are likely to want and pay for your services and I no longer had the monopoly. Those potential clients now had a choice and it stood to reason that some people were going to try them out.  

When I had my high street salon, I was the only beauty salon in the village. Within a year another salon opened up… I was a little wobbled by it.
I have seen this situation happen to other people since, each of them have reacted to it differently, but each one has reacted. Most have panicked and started offering promotions and discounted treatments, in some cases absolutely slashing prices. It is a knee jerk reaction, and I understand it.

I didn't do any of that. I did nothing. I suppose I could have lost half of my client base, if not all of it, but that didn't concern or faze me. Do you want to know why?

Because they could have offered every single treatment I did, they could have offered each of those treatments at half of the price that I was offering them for, but none of that concerned me because ultimately they weren't me. 

That may sound a bit big headed, a bit cocky even, but it is a simple truth. Your clients come as much for you as they do the treatment you are providing. They come for your knowledge, your experience, your skill, your advice, your expertise, your conversation, your personality and so much more than just the treatment itself. 

And you know that because we have all had those clients who have come in for their first treatment and it has been their last, because there was just something about them and you that didn't gel, and that's ok. You attract clients who are like you. 

I have lost count of how many salons are around me, how many people work mobile or at home, how many people did a course online during lockdown and now do ‘a bit of nails on the side' often charging less than half of what I am charging. Good luck to them, they aren't earning a living and I am not wasting my time doing my make-up for it. I am the most expensive therapist in my area, but I am also the most experienced and knowledgeable and I am worth every penny of it. 

Your clients come as much for you as they do the treatment you are providing. They come for your knowledge, experience, skill, advice, expertise, conversation, personality and so much more than just the treatment itself.
My treatment room, my high-end products and services, my customer approach and experience, my knowledge and the results that the client achieves are worth the price tag. 

I have clients who have never even met me who wait 8-12 weeks to get an appointment, even though they could get the treatment cheaper the very next day. Why do they wait? Because they have seen/heard that I am an expert in my field and that is worth waiting and paying for. Those who don't want to pay my prices don't have to, they can go elsewhere, and that is absolutely fine. I am not going to ever concern myself with the clients I don't have, only the clients I do. 

You have to be confident in yourself, believe in yourself, believe in your abilities, your skill set, your knowledge, your experience, the products you use, the brands you offer…these are your superpowers. Yes, the new salon down the road might stock the same skincare as you, but so what? The service and knowledge won't be the same, their understanding of the skin won't be the same, the overall client experience won't be the same…and the client will notice that. Irrelevant of how much cheaper the salon down the road may be, no discount will make up for what is missing. 

So the best way to deal with competition? Make sure your business is always well presented, clean, tidy, inviting, cosy, fresh, professional. Make sure you are always looking professional and that you are always on your game. Constantly demonstrate your knowledge and your skill in everything you do, conversations you have, social media posts, treatments you offer, the client experience, advice you give and so on. 

Believe me, just by staying in your lane and doing your thing will be enough to deal with the competition, no deals, no offers, no promotions - they only devalue you. Keep being you and the rest will fall in to place. 

Marie-Louise Coster is a Beauty Therapist, Session Nail Tech, Trainer and Business Consultant, with 25 years' experience in the industry. All About Mi Training Academy is ABT-accredited.