The number of group buying deals, frequent promotional campaigns and aggressive advertising all show to what extent the demand for intense pulsed light (IPL) is increasing. In fact, both the versatility and high performance speed of this technology give it a huge competitive edge over much more expensive LASER technology. Sales of IPL devices are expected to equal or even surpass those of LASER devices over the next five years.* If you are considering purchasing an IPL device, then you must read this article. Whether you run a small, medium or large salon, investing in such technology requires some careful thought. We suggest the following four steps to ensure you head in the right direction.
1. Choose the right product
Needless to say, choosing a high quality device is an essential first step to providing effective treatments. You will achieve better overall results, minimize any burn risk for your clients, and consequently, reduce the number of complaints, refund requests and negative word-of-mouth. Moreover, a low quality device can lead to losses in revenue, especially if repairs are required.
Here is a list of things to consider when choosing a new device:
Professional IPL devices, depending on their technical configuration, can be large and come on a stand with rolling wheels or be more compact and require a side table. The benefit of choosing a compact device is the ease of transporting it from one treatment room to another or even one salon to another (this can facilitate loaning the device).
As previously mentioned, versatility is one of the main attributes of IPL devices. In fact, not only do they reduce hair growth, more modern equipment can even minimize the effects of four different types of skin imperfections: wrinkles, dark spots, vascular lesions and acne. Such a device offers five in one solutions, allowing you to diversify your services and achieve a quicker return on your investment. Certain devices require a different hand piece for each treatment option, whereas newer technology, such as the Apilux SmartPro and Apilux SmartPur, require one hand piece and only the optical quartz filters need to be changed.
C. Range of the Light Beam
Another factor to consider is the surface covered by the light beam. Fewer flashes are required when treating larger skin surfaces, thus resulting in greater cost efficiency. That’s not all. You also have to make sure the device has the right ratio between the size of the contact surface and the lamp power. If the lamp does not generate the energy needed to fill the entire contact surface, there will be a loss of efficiency in the periphery.
Note the following ideal dimensions:
D. Performance of the Xenon Lamp
Nowadays, certain IPL devices can even be purchased in major department stores by the general public for use at home. They differ from professional devices because of the very weak fluence (intensity) produced by their xenon lamp. This fluence is measured in joules per cm2 and varies generally between 5 and 55. It is important to note that a fluence of 20 to 40 joules is more than sufficient to perform effective treatments. More important are the number of flashes and the number of pulses per flash. For example, the Apilux SmartPro lamp is guaranteed to produce 30,000 flashes (or 180,000 pulses) without any real loss of effectiveness. This device features alternative multi-pulsed flashed technology (APL), meaning every flash can emit up to 6 pulses. This allows for better absorption, helps the skin release excess heat for maximum comfort. Apart from technical specifications, it is important to determine if flashlamps are easily replaceable and at what cost. New technologies, such the Apilux SmartPro and SmartPur, allow you to change the flashlamp cartridges yourself, thereby saving you time and money.
E. Cooling System
Powerful IPL devices generate a lot of heat through both their hand piece and optical quartz filters. In order to avoid overheating, it is important that the device you choose be equipped with an effective cooling system with the option of either water or thermoelectricity. Thermoeletric and water-cooled systems will increase the lifespan of the lamp, the number of consecutive hours the device can be used, as well as maximize the comfort level of your customer.
2. Choose the right partner
Enhanced technology will be of little value to you if it is not supported by a proactive and readily available supplier during the entire life of the device. Ensure that the manufacturer, as well as the device, respect quality assurance requirements including: ISO 9001, FDA, Health Canada, CE, CSA and UL. In Canada and the United States, all IPL devices are considered to be medical instruments and must be approved by Health Canada or the FDA in USA. Your new partner’s true work starts at the moment of initial training. Ensure you get complete personalized training following the purchase of your device. Group training offered by Académie Dectro lasts a minimum of 35 hours and is conducted by qualified professionals in an accredited school. This essential training will allow you to gain the confidence necessary to use your new device and perform effective and safe treatments. Should your device breakdown, this income could be compromised if your supplier is unable to provide quick technical service or a replacement device. When choosing a supplier and a device, do not neglect to consider the technical assistance offered and the lifetime of the guarantee. Finally, the ideal partner will provide you with a range of original marketing material to help you advertise your new service, attract new clientele, and last but not least, make a quick return from your investment.
3. Esthablish a suitable price range
Once you purchase a new device, you will have to establish a price range for your beauty care services, and for each body region to be treated. This is a little tricky, given that the price of your beauty care services not only impacts your future profits, but also reflects the image of your salon. Prices can be set based on competition or on the purchasing power of your target clientele. However, these two pricing methods each present risks that can seriously threaten the success of your marketing plan, as well as your profit margin. The recommended and most frequently used method is without a doubt cost-based pricing. This requires keeping note of all fixed and variable costs associated with the use of your new device. Fixed expenses can be calculated with the help of your accountant, and for all variable expenses you can refer to your Dectro instructor who can inform you on the cost of flashes, products and accessories used. The last few items of information on which your final calculation is based consist of the number of flashes, the time required to treat each body region and the type of treatment. During your training session, you will receive a sample cost guide from the instructor that will help you project these figures. After you have determined your costs, you will need to factor in your targeted profit. This will be the basis for establishing your price list.
4. Actively manage your promotions
Now that you have bought a quality device, have become well-informed and your price list is established, all you need to do is market your new service offering to your existing clientele and attract new clients. There are several ways you can increase customer attention. There are the more traditional ways, such as print and radio advertising, and partnerships with merchants that offer complementary services. It is also recommended to remain open to trying other marketing approaches, such as using social networks, creating your own website, as well as online advertising and promotions. These tools are relatively inexpensive and the results can be easily measured. Regardless of how you choose to promote your new services, be sure to develop an annual promotional plan that lists your promotions, objectives and budget.
Are you tempted to promote your services on a group buying site? Many salons offer unlimited photoepilation services for up to a year with a rebate of 75 to 90% through sites offering group deals. If the number of new customers attracted makes this promotional strategy appear to be a smart move, it can equally cause significant consequences for your salon. Make sure you are aware of all associated expenses, as some salons may offer treatments below their cost for a period extending a year. Also, it is normal to doubt the loyalty of these new clients. For example, if a customer benefits from a 80% rebate for a year, he will not accept to pay full price for the second year. He will most probably look out for another discount!
When considering the purchase of an IPL device, you should concentrate on each basic feature and follow a well-researched approach that will lead you to making the right choice. A proactive and readily available supplier will help you choose a device suitable to your needs in terms of effectiveness, versatility and durability. All you will need to do next is promote your new services based on a welldeveloped and careful strategy.