Aesthetics Industry Expert Debora Masten Discusses The Importance Of Advanced Training For Spa Profitability

Can you give an example of how you helped a client overcome an obstacle?

One Medi Spa with new employees was unable to use some of their device’s handpieces because they weren’t trained.   Clients were asking for this treatment but because no one was trained on the pixel handpiece, no services were being performed and they were losing business. I was able to go in and train the entire staff at one time, We lined up clients that could be used as models, went over potential safety issues and protocols that were associated with using this handpiece and how to get the best results. I also covered some of the best ways to sell this treatment on their menu. The owner was then able to add this into their service menu because the aestheticians were trained, confident and ready.   It’s about quality assurance standards and making sure that they’re doing everything properly. Sometimes this can be accomplished very quickly depending on the experience levels of the staff. 

What inspired you to get into this industry?

I kind of fell into aesthetics by accident. I was working for a physician at the time doing marketing and consultations for his sclerotherapy business and he wanted to buy a laser for hair removal. I was trained and soon I was running two of his clinics doing laser hair removal and some other procedures. It was at the beginning of the aesthetics boom in 1998. Lasers for hair removal were cutting edge at the time and I found that I just loved it. I then went to school and I got my aesthetics license while I was working in the medical office. I have worked at Oregon Health Sciences University, worked in laser sales and education for skincare companies as well as running my clinic. I have served as the Chairman of Oregon State Board of Cosmetology for two terms and on the Nation Interstate Council skincare liaison committee. I am also a subject matter expert for the State of Oregon Cosmetology board for Laser and Advanced modalities.      

Can you share any lessons that you learned early on that still impacts how you operate today? 

The biggest thing for me is that I’m very hands-on. I have adult children and my son always says mom, you could’ve been franchised. I was one of the first in our area operating a laser hair removal clinic. I’m not a good people manager and I know that about myself. I’m the type that when I’m cooking, instead of having somebody come help me, I just do it myself. I’m very much that kind of a person. I feel like I know how to do it and I do it better. And that’s a bad thing. You must trust your employees. If you want to grow, you must hire good people. I’ve had to learn I can’t be everywhere.  You must get good people and trust them. That’s a hard thing for me and I had to adjust along the way. I take personal pride in my work and I feel that way in my consulting business as well. If I don’t have the answer, I will find out for you or point you in the right direction. One experience of a bad hire was early on in my business 

I hired a woman to come in and work for me. She seemed great and very qualified. She was going to be doing some tattooing and permanent makeup in my office on a part-time basis.  

She came in and she looked professional. We had a great interview and the first day on the job she showed up in overalls and had a toy toilet with her. This toilet was almost a foot tall that had the word “tip’s written on the front of the bowl. She put it on the counter in the front lobby in the receptionist area. This toilet made a flushing sound when you threw money into the bowl. I didn’t know how to handle that at first because it’s just not acceptable and was so weird. I remember my receptionist’s face as the toilet was right at her eye level. We locked eyes both of us in shock. Long story short, my new employee and I parted ways. This was a very memorable and unique situation dealing with an employee. That’s a pretty strange example but it really happened, and I can laugh about it now. I am now a firm believer in an employee expectation handbook. 

What should Spa owners consider when they’re evaluating further education and consulting options?

It Depends on the state you live in. It’s important to know if you can legally perform non-ablative cosmetic procedures. Is it in your scope of practice? Are you working under a physician as a medical assistant? What can basic licensed aestheticians do? What can advance aestheticians do? What can you do under a physician if you’re an employee? There’s no sense in getting training for something if you’re not going to be able to use it in your state. I primarily work in the Northwest but there have been instances where I’ve traveled to different places like New Orleans and New York. Know your scope of practice and what that training needs to be to qualify you to add a service or treatment. Another consideration is how much practical hands-on time is required, or Do you just need theory? You should know what’s the return on that investment.  Sometimes aestheticians will take little pieces of training. They’ll want to come in for say, micro-needling and have a class. If you need continuing education credits, then you need to seek out the ones that are going to, fit your needs but also fit your pocketbook. If you’re just out of basic facial technology school, then I would suggest making sure that you do some reinforcing of your skills. Be proficient and the profits will come. If you’re a spa owner and offering education and training to your staff remember, people are very mobile these days and if you invest too much you may not get a return. Think about servicing, staffing, equipment training, compliance, files and forms, practice guidelines and safety officers; things like that. It’s important to look deep and evaluate what exactly you’re wanting to accomplish and if it’s going to fit your needs.   

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Jeremy Baker

Jeremy Baker has a passion for helping his clients get recognition as the expert in their field. His approach to interviewing helps his clients tell their stories and talk about their unique set of experiences and background.