The RME Consulting Group’s Founders Royal and M’lisa Ellis sought to create change in the competitive beauty industry by creating a beauty business model aka SPA Strong which yielded successful results in revenue over 6 figures, which is undeniably great for any business and brand starting up. Once upon a time though, it was a different case with the couple, who, at the time, were both in the LAPD Police Academy. After a big life-changing situation – they chose to transition their careers into the large scale and the highly competitive aesthetic world by utilizing Spa Strong as a means to help other establishments grow until complete fruition.
With M’Lisa’s range of experience in the beauty industry and Royal’s powerful communication skills entwined they were able to survive and thrive since 2018 by helping out start-up beauty professionals with resources, one-on-one consulting, and coaching that shows the true meaning of running an enterprise effectively.
As 2022 starts, the husband and wife duo are working on making sure that they stay strong with new projects on the horizon, constant drive and motivation to achieve a future that stays strong amidst all obstacles.
We sat down with the Ellis Group as they talk about their beginnings, beauty expertise, communication, and more below.
How did you guys transition from law enforcement to Spa Strong? When did it all start?
M’LISA: I have been in the beauty industry since 2008. I started as a makeup artist and later ended up venturing into aesthetics and focusing on skincare. I graduated from aesthetic school with my master’s degree and IX license in 2012. I worked at a medical spa for a little while, and then I decided to go solo. When I opened my doors, I had no idea what I was doing big business-wise. I just knew how to do some treatments, thinking it was going to be easy– my mindset was “I am good at what I do, if I build it they will come.
This eventually, led to me opening the doors of my business —but in the span of 4 months, I was spending more than earning. I had no clients and didn’t know how to fill my books at all. And I ended up having to move into my car because I couldn’t afford both my apartment and studio rent. So that was a very humbling experience for me.
I later realised If I have a business, I should know how to run it. So I got scrappy and figured out how to turn things around by attracting the ideal client for me, how to keep them coming back while also knowing how to improve my sales skills and scaling up.
By 2017, I was opening my second location in Los Angeles. I had one location in Salt Lake City – I was also teaching, doing makeup, and coaching on a smaller scale, basically having multiple streams of income going on but that all changed when I got into a pretty bad car accident that forcibly led me to pause on my career. At that point, I thought it was time to pivot. I did not know or anticipate how long it was going to be. I was in physical therapy for 9 months. It was a long process and I just physically couldn’t continue doing the services.
ROYAL: So I was a police officer for a department in Los Angeles for five years. I got hired at 21 and it was fun until I got injured while on duty back on August 26 2018 and I messed up the back of my knee. So we were both at home sitting on the couch together because she was still injured as well.
M’LISA: So after I closed my doors, he said to me, Well, you’ve always wanted to be a cop, so why don’t you go for it? So I did. I learned a lot of valuable lessons in the Police Academy. Things that I wish I had known in my business, like how to communicate better and work with the public, such as different personalities and all these kinds of things.
While we were sitting on the couch we had a light bulb go up and we instantly thought, hanging out with each other is pretty cool. So we thought about combining her expertise in the beauty business and what we learned in the Police Academy.
ROYAL: On my end, I had the expertise in communication, sales, and putting yourself as the authority in your business, standing up for yourself. And we’re like, you know what? We combined those two and that’s how we created Spa Strong. We’ve helped thousands of estheticians and B2 professionals grow their businesses by doubling or tripling their revenue to reach over six figures.
How did you guys set yourselves apart from the others when you were first starting? Everyone’s always on a podcast and was trying to get their message out. What were the challenges that you guys had when you came to that and how did you make your branding unique?
ROYAL: It was getting the word and our work out. So as far as the branding, if you look at our social media and you scroll far back you will see our branding colours evolved to something we’re about. We asked, what’s a bad-ass way to incorporate my expertise and your bad-ass surviving to thriving motorcycle jacket vibe? that’s how we came up with the logo and branding that separated everything.
At first, when we decided to start Spa Strong we did coaching and consulting. It was more about” Let’s just have a blog or a podcast and be more on the informational side of things.” which we focused on. Safety aspects, boundaries and things like that. People started asking more questions specific to the business, social media and marketing.
Once we nailed all of those down about who we are and what our brand is, we separated ourselves from the rest of the pack. Since then everything took off.
What are the most common misconceptions that people had about starting a beauty business?
M’LISA: Firstly, you know, as an addition to all the misconceptions I had. Underestimating and overestimating the number of people who will become your clients and then underestimating the amount of time it takes to fill your books. Like those are massive misconceptions that cause a lot of people to become disillusioned, they opened their doors feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
And they’re saying this is going to be amazing. I can’t wait to do this. I’m going to be so successful. Kind of like I was. And the next thing I know I’m living in my car and. Swiping on Tinder, trying to find somebody to take me on a date that night so I can eat. It was pretty bad. And I realized that I had all of these people that I knew who didn’t book. Now a lot of that is my fault because I needed to be more aggressive in my sales. But at the time you think this is a no brainer, everybody’s going to book and then they don’t.
How did you manage to attract a one-time client into a regular?
M’LISA: Oh, this is something that we love talking about is retention. So our entire philosophy behind Spa Strong, coaching and consulting is that what we do is build your business on a map and we call it our ACRE Method™.
ACRE is an acronym that stands for Attraction, Conversion, Retention, and Expansion. So first thing– You have to identify who your ideal client is, make sure that your branding and marketing will be attractive to those clients and then make sure you’re visible enough, both online and in-person therein, you can identify and attract your ideal client.
You sell them conversion, And then there’s retention. The biggest thing is of course providing an incredible experience for your clients. You will need to have high customer service that validates your clients and their vulnerabilities, especially in the beauty industry. People are coming to you with their biggest insecurities and the things that they don’t love about the way that they look. And that’s so scary to have those conversations with a stranger. So make sure that you’re always handling your clients with deep care while letting them know that you understand and empathize with them.
ROYAL: I would say the final thing is the rebooking systems. Like if you are your client’s coach. They should expect you to invite them to come back. So if they say, “Hey, I need to get rid of this hyperpigmentation or I’m struggling with acne. I need this cured.” You should tell them, Hey, I need you coming in. You’re on a treatment plan and setting those expectations early with your home.
How do you guys set the tone in a way that is not pushy?
ROYAL: So it starts with your consultation. They are everything that sets the tone before the product first.
It’s not just about asking them what they’ve been doing. You tell them what you expect from them. I listened. Perfect.” We can help you get to those results, but nowhere are some things that you’re going to need in 4 weeks.”
Whatever the timeframe maybe two to six weeks to make sure you’re seeing those great results also. I’m going to need you to buy the product so I can manage what you’re on. All right. Do you feel like that works for you? when the treatment’s over and this comes down to the end – it won’t even be more questions, they already answered you at the consultation, so you can decide alright that’s perfect.
What were the tips you guys gave to these establishments? Are there any specific marketing tips or go-to’s to even keep the money flowing?
M’LISA: Absolutely. So we booked a ton of clients during the pandemic because a lot of them realize that they need change and help to do so. We pushed and helped them come up with inventive ways to earn –retail sales are everything but just because you’re not doing physical services, it doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to those clients and sell them retail. So not only can they see their results. You can do virtual consultations, you can do skincare parties, and facial parties.
So you can still bring that income to help your clients, even in the comfort of your own home. And there’s exactly. And then the biggest issue that we saw was with the spas and the BD professionals who just had one stream of income that they were focusing on, was in-person services where they’re having to trade their time for money and they don’t have any other way to earn because they’re not selling retail or courses.
We ask, Why are we not selling retail? Why are we not bumping up your e-commerce store? Um, what is your expertise? Do you want to teach other beauty professionals or do you want to have many courses that you teach to your clientele? So those were some of the things that we focused on during the quarantine.
On a personal note, since you guys have a lot of things going on, right. Especially with all these other things that you guys are doing, how do you guys keep yourselves creative and motivated?
M’LISA: Burnout is something that we work hard to avoid. I feel like we do a lot of things in our personal lives to help us stay motivated and on track. We spend time working out. But we make sure we have breaks throughout the day so that we can go and walk our dogs and spend time together.
So, I could work for 18 hours straight the day – forget about food and everything else in the world. And so he helps reel me back in so that I can remember.
ROYAL: When it comes to work, I’m a sprinter while she’s a cross country runner. She can just go 18 hours. While with my attention span I got a good hour and a half in me before I need a 30- 45 minutes break.
As far as helping our clients, I don’t get burnt out as long as they are happy that we’re helping and they’re seeing the results. I can go all day because it’s just instructing and giving them tips on what to change, really looking after the business.
All while being here for them whenever they need us. It’s fulfilling, but the real race comes around when it comes to the backend of the business so it’s all about the autonomy and operations. This is something we can do forever without stopping because that’s what our purpose is– To help educate people with the resources and tools. They need to find success within their chosen businesses and careers. When we get to see that outcome into fruition, it’s wonderful.
Do you guys have any new and exciting projects that we should all like to know about?
M’LISA: We do have something coming together that will be a great resource not just for beauty professionals, but for business owners and service-based professionals everywhere. I just can’t talk about what it is quite yet.
While we love Spa Strong we’ve learned that what we’re doing should not just be hidden inside the beauty industry. It applies to so many other businesses and so we are expanding outside of Spa Strong. Since we are focusing more on our consulting group, we’ll be working with other types of businesses, and service professionals by helping them to build their foundations on the ACRE METHOD while being able to attract their ideal clients and the rewards that come from it. That’s something exciting that we’re working on.
So my last question to you guys is– What’s the one rule when it comes to business that both of you always stand by no matter what. Separately?
M’LISA: I feel like they will be aligned. But for me, I have always believed that you were accountable for the level of success you have, it’s nobody else’s problem and not the saturated market’s fault. If you are not as successful as you want to be, that is on you. So take the action that you need to take to find the level of success.
ROYAL: Your goals don’t care about your excuses. So get to work –especially since everything you want is approximately six months to a year away. You have to remember that as long as you do what you’re supposed to do. Others don’t give a damn about your excuses and everything you want. So work hard, your goal is close – you just have to get to work.
Article Written By: Cyan Leigh Dacasin, Managing Editor