In light of our upcoming Bootcamp, I thought I would share my experience of creating a Signature System from scratch.
Disclaimer - A Signature System, in a nutshell, is the unique approach you use to help your clients solve their problems.
So, although this post is about putting together a facial treatment; the thinking, process and steps I took are broadly applicable across most service-based businesses (and is, in my opinion, especially applicable to coaches, trainers, therapists, freelancers or consultant).
When I first qualified as a Beauty Therapist I knew I wanted to deliver a very special kind of treatment for my clients.
I'd experienced my fair share of facials in the past and I knew I didn't want to go down the route of buying into a specific brand and being trained to deliver their range of standard treatments (think Clarins, Elemis, Dermalogica).
There's absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, in fact it helps to ensure consistency and quality of service and is a good business model.
But it wasn't for me for a few reasons:
1) I rarely like every product in a specific range. Most ranges have their 'hero' products and these were the ones I was interested in. I didn't want to use products I didn't believe in just because I had signed up to a brand.
2) I wanted my facials to be the 'one and only' for my clients - not 'one of many.' I wanted to stand out in a very crowded market, not blend in. As Seth Godin said, I wanted to be a 'purple cow.'
3) I have had a lifelong love affair with skincare and I wanted to share what I'd learnt over the years - I had a set of values and beliefs that I wanted to be able to represent authentically and not have to follow a set routine or sales pitch.
I also had some very clear ideas about client experience:
- I developed my own in-depth Consultation Form so that I understood my clients concerns and what they hoped to achieve.
- I wanted the time that people were paying for to be 'treatment time' only - so I didn't include time spent getting changed, completing consultation forms etc. So for my 60 minutes treatment, clients received 60 minutes of actual hands-on time and for my 90 minutes treatment, clients received 90 minutes of actual hands-on time.
- I also wanted everything to feel luxurious and cosy. Attention to detail is very important to me, so I spent a lot of time making sure my treatment room and everything in it reflected my ethos and my approach.
- I hold the belief that all 'touch' therapies have the potential to be hugely beneficial in terms of supporting people's emotional wellbeing. Of course I wanted my treatments to be efficacious but I also wanted them to be emotionally therapeutic as well. So, although there are some amazing facial gadgets and gizmos out there, I knew that I wanted to find treatment methods that were nurturing and deeply relaxing as well as being beneficial to the skin.
So, I had a set of ideas that I wanted to reflect in my Signature Facial. This is how these ideas translated into practice:
1. I hand-picked a set of products - from different ranges - that I knew would work beautifully together and that complemented one another really well. They were selected from the independent, niche brands I use myself and I knew that anyone who was really interested in skincare would appreciate my edit. As no two skins are the same, I made sure there was something that would suit all skin types and concerns.
2. I researched specialist facial massage techniques and found an amazing methodology called 'Facial Rejuvenation.' This is a 45 minute routine based on Ayurvedic principles and is heavenly to experience and so satisfying to perform. I lose myself in the movements.
3. Because I wanted 'touch' to be a cornerstone of my facials, I made sure my hands never broke contact with my client unless absolutely essential. I wanted my clients to feel 'held' and looked after the whole time they were on my couch. When I had been for facials myself, I found the periods when my therapist would leave the couch side - usually when a mask had been applied - a wasted opportunity to extend the caring process. So, because I am also a trained reflexologist, I would offer my clients a foot massage whilst their mask was working.
4. The beginnings and endings of treatments are super important. Offering and receiving touch from another human being is intensely intimate and is a relationship that needs entering and leaving carefully and respectfully. I developed a Welcome and Gratitude ceremony that made starting and completing the treatment comfortable for both myself and my client.
5. The little things - wherever I could I included little extras that I knew would enhance the experience - hot towels for steam and luxury, heated foot mitts to soften and relax the feet, a proper duvet to offer warmth and comfort and an opportunity at the end of the treatment for clients to sit for a while and prepare for the return into their lives.
Now, none of these separate elements are unique - I certainly wasn't delivering anything ground-breaking or innovative.
Also, the actual process I followed in my facials is ubiquitous - double cleanse/exfoliate/massage/
And my facials would certainly not appeal to everyone. For people that wanted cutting edge, high-tech transformations - I definitely wouldn't be a good fit. But I would appeal to customers who wanted a more natural approach, using beautiful products with a focus on customer care and experience.
So, by being clear about the outcome I wanted for my client and my OWN approach to achieving that outcome - I crafted a facial treatment that was unique to me.
I put it together like a jigsaw - piece by piece - making sure it all fitted together and created a complete treatment that made sense and delivered a final picture (outcome) for my clients.
As a brand new Beauty Therapist opting to work independently, the time spent doing this ground work was well worth it.
From all the research I had done and my studies, I had pulled together a resource bank of information and supporting literature that was easily accessible on my pc.
I also sat down and documented my facial treatment - step by step - including the time spent on each element
It was all there - pulled together in one place for me to access. I had my own Protocol.
This level of detail also allowed me to work out how many treatments I could deliver and the costs involved. It also helped me make sure I had all the statutory stuff covered like Health & Safety.
I also practised a ton and asked for feedback.
This gave me great confidence in my approach. I had a rationale for the process I followed and I could easily reference the choices I had made.
I knew what I wanted to be 'known for' and 'seen as.'
I also had something that made me stand out - I had created a signature system.
Nobody else was delivering facials exactly the same.
I had something that I could Package and Market and that I could also charge a premium for.
I know it's tempting to dive straight into delivering services but you can throw away bags of potential and waste a lot of hard earned knowledge and experience if you aren't systematically codifying and documenting your evidence base, process and practices.
Our 'Create Your Signature System Bootcamp' in December will guide you through how to use this process to map out your own Signature System no matter what type of business you have.
Until next time,
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