Just a few years after opening her namesake clinic, Diandra Politano is booked out.
Building a loyal clientele who schedule their regular visit time and time again is the goal for many clinic owners and few have done it quite like Diandra Politano. With more than a decade of experience, she set out to open her own boutique studio in Sydney’s Balmain. But it wasn’t long after opening that she made the exciting yet challenging decision to close her books to new clients. Here’s how she got there.
Can you tell us how you got started in the industry? What did you study and where was your first job?
My first job was as an apprentice at a local clinic near my home. I was very young and eager to learn! I trained alongside 7 other senior therapists and completed my Diploma of Beauty Therapy at TAFE. While training to get into the treatment rooms I was the receptionist, which was an incredible experience for me, learning the back end of appointments, emailing and client relationships.
I worked there for about 3 – 4 years then moved onto a day spa still local to me. I do believe it was at the day spa where my facial touch evolved. Working in a spa teaches you so much. You learn how to work with grace in a clinic environment. You are back to back and chasing the clock, performing full body massages and facials, and you have to remain a calming gentle presence for clients.
I then moved on to a busy salon in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney which definitely helped me evolve into the industry. I learnt the importance of your brand and how crucial it is to have something different and genuine to offer the industry.
While working I completed a Graduate Diploma in Dermal Science, which sparked my passion for research and Skin Science.
I worked for 10 years before I started my own business and every clinic I worked in helped shape who I am today. I always made sure that wherever I worked could inspire me to be a better therapist.
What led you to starting your own business?
My father has been running his business for decades and my mother also ran and sold a very successful salon so from a very young age I always knew I would have my own salon one day. I was cautious to never jump into things unless my gut told me it was the right timing. However, after 10 years’ experience, I felt I had something to offer the industry as an individual.
After 14 years you see trends come and go, I always challenge those trends because I am obsessed with research. I am so honest and in this extremely saturated market I knew that is what people need.
What’s been the most rewarding and the most challenging thing about running your business?
Being booked out is by far the most rewarding and challenging thing. Also, rapid growth. I peaked 18 months ago (really fast) when I opened in Balmain. Admittedly I was not really ready. I needed another team member and more help behind the scenes.
Feeling overwhelmed and too busy comes with a huge amount of guilt for a business owner. I think we should celebrate being too busy, but also know when it is time to have a break. Another challenge is being too much of a perfectionist. My name goes on everything I send out so I hold myself and my reputation to a very high standard and I will not accept a half-done job. I struggle to satisfy my standards and the amazing ideas I have might not come to life because I did not have the time to ‘perfect it’. Something I am working on is seeking external help from creators.
Everyday however, I remind myself what a beautiful gift the challenges are.
What do you think have been the most influential factors in building such a loyal following?
Quality services and consistency! I never cut corners, even if it means quickly jumping on a call to let the afternoon know I am running behind. I have really good communication skills with my clients and I am extremely honest and meticulous. From this, it was all word of mouth which is so powerful!
I love marketing on social media. Right now, it is great for me and has helped me broadcast the success, but it didn’t build my clientele. Brands I work with are important, they have to inspire me and align with my ethos. These relationships have helped me become visible in the industry and has helped my staff grow their clientele as well as helped me run a successful online skincare store.
Can you talk about the decision to close your books? What were your thoughts/feelings leading up to the decision?
I did not like it at all. I felt rude for some reason. I eventually realised I had no other choice because my schedule was so full a whole year ahead. To fit new clients in I would over book myself 6 days a week, then do admin on a Sunday. I knew what I was doing was not sustainable. One day I woke up to myself and thought if I want to do this for the rest of my life, I need to make choices for my health, then also for my family and my clients.
If anyone who is reading this resonates with me and you think it might be time to close your books, please do not feel bad. You have to do what is best for you. The work we do is extremely giving, physically and mentally. You can’t continue to work if you are burnt out and drained.
How do you balance a full schedule of clients with leading your team?
My team is very experienced; they are both outstanding at what they do. They have come from the best salons in Sydney and one even owned her own clinic for a long time. I am alongside them, I don’t really lead them. Maybe that is my little trick? I have had the same team from the start and it works for us. My clinic is about having a warm energy that makes our clients feel at home and like family. I just want a team of friends that love working together and learn from each other.
I really need to select a team carefully. I have the right women who understand all that, but also know when it’s time to be a professional and not let that energy come across too casual and laid back. I always make sure we have training days to check in with treatment consistency. I run a tight ship in regards to product stock and set up, this is so we are organised and don’t need to worry throughout the day.
Then when it is time for me to start my clients, I don’t have to worry about leading, because we are all leading.
What are your plans for the future? Where do you want your business to go?
I always have small goals for each year. I don’t necessarily have an end goal, or a plan for the future. I am in this industry (hopefully) for life, so I like to take each year as it comes. For me it is important to make sure I am always inspired and challenged. The industry is evolving and you have to keep up, there are so many amazing people I want to learn from overseas. I am hoping to go soon and learn from some of the best and hopefully bring some knowledge home with me.
Skin is my focus, I have a lot to offer, but still a lot to learn. I believe everything I learn along the way will most likely alter and mould where I go.
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