Have you ever visited a cosmetics counter or department and felt very intimidated or even overwhelmed? With the seemingly millions of products to choose from and varying price points, it can seem impossible for the average person to navigate. That is where a really good beauty advisor comes into play. Now, I worked at counter in the past for over 15 years, and have been a lifelong shopper of beauty products, so I know how the experience can vary from store to store and even from different employees within a store.
A good beauty advisor can be a valuable asset and give you the heads up on specials and samples. They can provide you with tips and tricks to make your routine easier, and even give you makeup applications for your special events. This relationship is a delicate balance of trust and loyalty, and can be so hard to come by. I swear that it can be easier to find a life mate than a good hairdresser or beauty advisor, and when you do find them you STICK with them! Here is a guide on how to find that special someone at the beauty counter:
1. Seek out someone with a look or application techniques you would like to see on yourself – The key here is to find someone who is relatable to you and who can provide you with the kind of look you are striving for. You can tell only half of the story by the way someone looks themselves, so if you are able to see their application techniques on a client that can help paint the whole picture for you. The idea here is to find someone that is able to meet YOUR needs and understands what you require.
2. Find someone who asks the right questions – I can’t tell you how many times I have been looking for a product (lipstick, mascara. whatever) and the salesperson jumps to the easy solution of “Here’s what I use!” This tells me only one thing – that they are placing their own needs and requirements higher than what I need, or that they are too inexperienced (or lazy) to know that they need to ask questions to identify what it is that I truly need. They should only share what they are using in two scenarios – if you ask them, or if they have already asked the right questions and are using something that would solve your beauty dilemma as well. This is advice that you can apply to any type of shopping you are doing. A good beauty advisory will follow-up your request with at least a few questions to uncover some more specific information from you to match you up with some good solutions. For example, if you are looking for a new lipstick, some good questions that they can ask are:
- Tell me about some brands that you have used before and liked using.
- Is this for a special occasion?
- Do you prefer any particular type of texture such as a gloss or something that is more matte?
- Do you have any preferences with brands?
3. Your beauty advisor should be current with product knowledge and trends – Beauty companies provide education opportunities several times a year to update beauty experts on new product launches, ingredients and makeup techniques. There are many training options online, and there is a world of knowledge on social media outlets like YouTube. I think this is so amazing and it allows people such easy access to knowledge about beauty. So, a good way to tell how on top of things he or she stays, is by asking them “What’s new?” or “Tell me about the new ingredient I have been hearing about to help with…” Expect them to be able to relate to what you are asking with some speaking points but not necessarily to know absolutely every single detail. If you are visiting a beauty counter where they only represent one brand they should know that one brand inside and out but also have some knowledge of other brands. If you are somewhere with an unbiased selling environment (Shoppers Drug Mart, Murale, Sephora, Ulta) then you can expect them to have a general working knowledge of most of the products that they carry, keeping in mind that some of those places carry several hundred brands.Generally though, a good advisor can speak to what is on trend at the moment (brows, contouring).
4. They keep track of what you buy – Please don’t think of this step as a nuisance, but rather as a valuable service. I can not tell you how many times I have gone in to a store to buy my favourite foundation but have forgotten the shade. If a store has it on file somewhere I can easily have it recalled and move on with my day. Same goes for any service performed on you – if you have a makeup application or skin care consultation, a file system can track everything that was used on you so you can reference it on a future visit if you decide to buy it.
5. They should make suggestions for you based on your purchases – This is often thought of as “upselling”, but what I am referring to here is a far more sophisticated customer service technique. So, rather than offering something just because you think they should go together (“Do you need a lip liner to go with your lipstick?”), a good sales person will educate you on the benefits. This can be a learning moment for the customer, and also viewed as a service. There are often times I have seen moments like this slip past the beauty advisor, and a product gets returned or the customer is dissatisfied because it really required a “lesson” on best application. For example:
“If you are looking for a way to prevent your lipstick from moving beyond your lip line, and for a way to define your lips, I would recommend that you use a lip liner like this one alongside your lipstick. Let me show you how…”
Now, this is a two way street and it is important for me to remind you that you play a part as well. To reach a beautiful and symbiotic relationship, here are some tips to get the best out of your advisor:
6. Shop at times when it is not crazy busy – As much as your advisor may love you and you love them, when it is busy you will not get the absolute best service. In most retailers there are demanding sales targets and minimized staffing, so the pressure is on for them to sell sell sell, and to do it at a reasonable pace. Shopping on a weekday afternoon (or whatever downtime there is) may not fit into your schedule, so talk to your advisor about times that they will be able to meet with you for a good consultation with minimal risk of interruption.
7. Share your preferences – Many retailers offer a clienteling service or at least email promotions. If you want to be “in the know” be sure to be willing to share at least your email address. If the retailer offers the choice, take it a step further and let them know what brands you would like to hear about, and the types of promotions you are interested in (gift with purchase, etc.).
8. Plan to purchase something if you are getting makeup done – As mentioned in the first point, there are often aggressive sales targets for people working in retail beauty environments, so if you are getting your makeup done (often a free service that takes up time), reward them with a small (or large) purchase if you are pleased with their work. I don’t like to admit it, but there is nothing worse to deal with than a customer who ALWAYS wants their makeup done (for free) and NEVER buys anything from you. In beauty sales there is often a commission involved so making a purchase helps out their bottom line too.
9. Be honest about things you have been happy with or unhappy with – This will allow your advisor to make recommendations based on what you have liked in the past, or possibly resolve an issue when you didn’t have the best experience with a product. For example, I remember a time someone what very unhappy with a particular face serum they purchased from someone else. I was able to trouble shoot and ask a few questions, and I determined that she did not know that it is best applied on a damp skin. Once she went home and tried this method, she was thrilled with it! I was willing to return it for her either way (as it was from my store), but was able to problem solve by asking the right questions. The customer was happy because there was no pressure to keep trying it as I had already promised to take it back if it still did not work out for her.
10. A nice gesture never hurts – Some of my best and most loyal customers over the years would surprise me with a latte at the counter, a handmade scarf, or a lovely candle. I have also received words of thanks, cards and compliments to my boss. These gestures are not necessary by any means, but when someone makes my day like that I pay it forward and ensure the next person to visit the counter gets some TLC as well 🙂
Well Foxes, I hope this little guide helps you to find someone you love to visit and guide you along on your beauty journey! Now, tell me where do you like to do your makeup shopping? And do you have a “go-to” beauty advisor?