Creating the perfect Menu

By Judith Culp


Creating a successful menu for our esthetics practice is more complicated than making a list Mini-Facial, Cleansing Facial and waxing services, etc. For it to really work its best it must be tailored to our target market segment, our locale and our individuality. If we ignore these factors the results we can expect would be marginal at best. 

The first step is to analyze your target market. This is an important step to consider before even opening our practice. If it hasn’t been done, take time to review it. Is your practice geared to spa type relaxation treatments, holistic treatments, acne treatments, anti-aging therapies, teens or boomers? This is probably something you thought about before locating your business. You probably wouldn’t put a teen acne oriented clinic in a medi-spa geared to anti-aging injectables. If you already have a space, then take a careful look at the demographics and needs of the clients coming in. Their age, genetic background, level of disposable income, and even local regional preferences should be considered to create that truly effective menu. 

If they are a younger crowd they may be more interested in hair removal, treatments to deal with problem breakouts and techniques to prevent the signs of aging. If you carry makeup, these people are probably into more trendy looks and fun colors. If your client base is more baby boomers, then you will definitely want to focus on anti-aging treatments and have the home care products designed to assist with this. While there are some exceptions, as women get older they tend to go for softer makeup looks and the color choices that compliment this. Since as we age we suffer more hair loss from say eyebrows then this is a good market to offer permanent cosmetic services to. If the client base is dominantly working people or these with stressful lives, then offering stress-reduction treatments is a sure winner. 

Genetic background plays an important role in menu development. If you have a client base dominated by those with Fitzpatrick IV, V or VI skin tones, they need treatments and products to fight hyperpigmentation. They may also be looking for someone skilled in hair removal techniques and that knows how to deal with hair that is resistive. Microdermabrasion services might be better to offer than say chemical exfoliation such as AHA treatments as these would be more appropriate for these skin tones. 

The level of disposable income is critical to know. Are they looking for skin care on a budget? You will want effective services that don’t have a high product or equipment cost so you can offer services that will be within their financial reach. Manual microdermabrasion, AHA treatments or some of the new inexpensive high tech devices may be just what is called for. It is exciting to see some great new tools for estheticians that are in the under $500 range. This puts them in the budget of new technicians and clients. 

Your regional location and preferences must be taken into account. Northeasterners have different tastes and live different lifestyles than say those in the deep southeast. The salon menu must consider this. We also want to capitalize on our region. A spa in Key West, might consider offering the new hot shell treatments, where those in a Rocky Mountain state might stick with hot stones. It just seems to “fit” more. Spas are a good example of facilities that take these regional flavors into consideration. At the Hershey Spa in Hershey, PA they specialize in chocolate treatments. In the Napa Valley, one finds treatments on the menu that use grape by-products, champagne or other “winery” related specialties. The northwest is now growing more wine grapes and spas in the region are making use of the related oils and juices. Oregon is also becoming a lavender growing area and numerous lavender products and services are emerging. Every area has its own specialties, capitalize on yours. 

The final consideration is personal strengths. If you love makeup, find a way to focus your business on this. If you are a waxing diva, focus, your clients will find you. Sometimes we try so hard to please when we would be better off doing the things that please us. Certainly our practice will have its share of compromises but why not create a career that pleases us instead of just doing what we perceive the client wants. Somehow that never works out as well. 

Once we have determined all the factors we need to consider before we create the menu, then we need to express our offerings in words and phrases that are understandable and attractive to the client. Sometimes we can be so scientific we burden them with information they really don’t want. We need to remember the WIFM concept. The client really wants to know What’s In it For ME. They want to know how the treatment will benefit them. This is what the menu should tell them. A menu that gives the tantalizing basics can be backed up with a price list and with a sheet or brochure that gives them all the inviting details. If we call it a Raspberry Rejuvenation Delight, then in the brochure we can create word pictures that will lure them right into the treatment room. Sometimes in trying to keep our menu simple so it will meet specific space requirements, we tend to cut the words that can be what the client needs to read. Give services descriptive names that clue the client to “this is for me.” There can be three marketing pieces to support a menu. First a brochure that gives a general spa/clinic overview. This might include our mission statement and a business overview so the client sees how we mesh with their needs and goals. The second might be a multi-page piece that gives descriptions of each treatment with enough information so a client could view it online and know it is something they are wanting. The last might be an insert that lists current prices. 

Menus are not static items. They need to be reviewed routinely to evaluate best selling services and client requests. Once you have an established client base they will be loyal and stay with you for years. However, this means you will need to change your services as your client base ages to keep up with their changing needs. Just like our careers our menus are evolving and changing. Giving them the attention they need is one of the best marketing strategies we can pursue.