Hello, my name is Dija Ayodele, a London based aesthetician at my own clinic West Room Aesthetics where we specialise in treating skin of colour, and I am the founder of the award winning Black Skin Directory – an online platform connecting skin of colour clients to skincare professionals and brands as well running advanced skin of colour training for professionals.
As a BABTAC Expert Panellist, I am taking part in the BABTAC Beauty Broadcasts because I want to help other professionals make some sense of the current environment. It’s a tough time for clinics and practitioners and its only by working together and sharing best practice we can come out of this stronger.
I will be talking about how to build a loyal and supportive community, focusing especially in a time of crisis like now.
The survival of any business depends on its clients – the ability to attract new clients and importantly the ability to keep hold of current clients.
I’d go one further step and expand that to say that to keep hold of your clients, they need to feel a mutual sense of belonging to a community that you create. If you provide a vital essential business service, then you can keep hold of clients as they need your service repeatedly e.g a supermarket. However, when you’re in a service business that has many choices and options, the ability to foster community spirit amongst your clients and between your team and your clients is even more important.
It’s important, period, but I’ve found that in times of strife, like now during this COVID 19 period, it’s even more important. It’s crucial to how you weather this storm and how your business goes on to perform in the months and years to come.
Apart from beauty, this business angle is something very close to my heart, so a big thank you to BABTAC for asking me to speak on it.
So, how have I gone about reinforcing, building and maintaining my client community? I’ve broken it down into several points, but some of these points are things I did already, but I guess now they’ve really proven their worth.
- Become a story teller – everyone has a story to tell and we all relate to genuine and authentic tales, so use your voice to tell your story – funny or sad. I’ve always said my clinic has a ‘mi casa su casa’ vibe.
- Communicate and during this period I’ve found over communication to be important – make it easier for your clients to know what you are up to – use your mailing list to keep them informed, if you have a CRM system you may have access to text messaging so use that too. Social media is also an excellent tool. I use my social media to communicate and to tell the story of what’s happening in the business.
- Park Perfection – strive for the best but know that no-one achieves perfection, we’re all on a journey and clients appreciate that – coming across as perfect alienates and intimidates. When you make a mistake own it, accept, rectify. There was a time I said on a global podcast that people should use 2 tablespoons of sunscreen on their face and I only realised my error when the podcast was published. I was mortified. I was holding a spoon in my hand at the time and I was obviously distracted. It’s funny now, but on the day I was so livid with myself for not giving out the perfect advise.
- Lean into your vulnerability – this is a scary time. No doubt. A lot of us have everything on the line, so personally for me I don’t have a stiff upper lip about it. It’s hard to be brutally honest and face facts, but I did let my clients know how I was truly feeling and how I’ll fight tooth and nail to ensure we open up again. In turn they supported me – I had clients asking – what can I do? Can I buy a cleanser or pay ahead or even saying don’t worry, I’ll keep my direct debit going. Those clients will always have a special place in my heart.
- Ask for help so you can concentrate on what’s important. In order for me to see and understand the core of the business, I asked my accountant to support me with extra reports. I was drowning and wasting time trying to understand figures on my own and that was taking me away from the people most important – clients.
- Involve clients - I asked my clients for input into various ideas I had – be it Instagram videos or whether I should implement Klarna. I needed help to make those decisions and by drawing in my clients it makes them feel involved and invested in our community.
- Make yourself available. I’ve used social media to give people a bit more access than they would normally have – so I’ve filmed videos on popular skin health topics, done a bit more Q&A. With the extra time on my hands, I’ve allocated some of that to ‘professional play’. And that has been really useful for attracting new clients and gaining some valuable insights into their needs and wants. Instagram gives you so many tools to be able to get a snapshot of what your current clients and funnel clients think – with their questions and polls tools.
- Give something back to your audience and client community – be it educational content, 15 minutes free phone calls to do a product MOT or video calls, samples with orders. For me, I’ve loved doing But First your Skin Health videos answering client questions, I put together an ebook which if the client works through they can book a call in with me at the end. I have a very good BDM that’s looked after me with samples to pass on to my clients to get them trying new things, so that’s made things easier.
- Be intuitive – listen to what’s going on – I noticed brides were panicking so I quickly instigated the bridal chat and also the skin fix kit – people wanted something to do at home so I put something together. Stay agile to whats happening. Klarna is new to us but,I knew that some clients would need a helping hand with payments when we reopen, so we’re putting in Klarna to help out and be supportive.
If you have any questions or need any further support, you can also find me over on my personal Instagram Dija_Ayodele which has all the links to West Room Aesthetics and Black Skin Directory.