TRU Esthetics has a vibe that's West Coast design (think white furniture and a desert color scheme) and Southern hospitality, which makes sense—owner Tracy Martin is originally from Arizona, and the spa is in Charlotte, North Carolina. But that motif isn't visible to most customers right now, since TRU Esthetics closed in March to comply with North Carolina's COVID-19 guidelines.
In the days leading up to the closure, Martin did everything she could to protect her spa and its staff—she did all of the last-minute appointments the day before the closing to keep her team safe and reduce the exposure within the spa itself.
Even after TRU's forced closure, Martin kept herself informed about both the pandemic and the beauty industry. When she noticed a trend towards virtual beauty consultations, she realized that she could do that, too.
At first, the thought was just to meet with her clients and give them advice about what to do while the spa was closed. But then the idea grew as she saw restaurants offering curbside pick-up.
"We took that and said we could do curbside product pick-up," Martin said. "I can deliver it to your home, or if you live out of the area, I can mail it."
But Martin didn't stop there—she started promoting the virtual consultations heavily on social media and making sure people knew that they didn't have to be a current customer at TRU or even in Charlotte to do a consultation.
"We have so many customers that came to TRU, and then the moved away," Martin said. "We know they still follow us."
Martin's enjoyed doing the virtual consultations—so much so that she's adding them into her recovery business plan even after the spa opens again.
"I think the virtual consultations are something that can continue after all of this," Martin said. "I want to move into that sector where we're accessible to everybody, no matter where you are. You don't have to be in our town or our city."
Martin says the most significant benefit of offering virtual appointments is the ability to stay connected with customers while they're isolated at home. Before providing the virtual meetings, she was getting questions from customers about how to deal with acne and what to do about brows as they've grown in. The virtual consultations help the customers get the information they need in a way that brings revenue into the spa: a win-win.
TRU's found success with offering virtual consultations, and Martin is sure that other beauty businesses around the world will, too.
"I feel like in any business, but especially in this industry, you have to keep your customers engaged," Martin said. "It's not a skill I had. I just started, and eventually, over time, you'll get more comfortable."