As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Business,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Lynn Heublein.
Lynn is the CEO and co-founder of SkinSpirit, an award-winning premier skin care clinic. As the country’s leading provider of treatments like Botox and dermal fillers, SkinSpirit was born out of the desire to help every person — at every age — feel confident in their own skin.
After receiving her B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington and MBA from Stanford University, Lynn became the Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble and eventually developed a rewarding career in the technology space where she served on an executive level for companies including Hearme.com, Catapult Entertainment, and THQ.
Lynn made a leap from the technology industry, fueled by a desire to create a space where women could feel their best with the help of best-in-class comprehensive aesthetic services. In 2003, Lynn partnered with Stanford-educated, board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. M Dean Vistnes, MD, to open the first SkinSpirit location in Palo Alto, California. Today, SkinSpirit has 13 locations throughout the Bay Area, Seattle, Southern California, and Texas.
Outside of leading SkinSpirit, Lynn serves as the Chairman and co-founder of Foxeye Robotics, a company focused on automation within the beauty category.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
In 2003, I launched SkinSpirit with Dr. M Dean Vistnes, MD — a Stanford-educated, board-certified plastic surgeon — as the first of its kind to offer comprehensive aesthetic services. And, we’ve since built the business to become the ultimate destination for all things skin and body. We are proud to now have 13 locations across California, Texas and Washington and plans for more expansion in the works!
I didn’t start my career in this space though — I was a civil engineering undergrad and attended Stanford for my MBA. I spent my early career-launching tech companies and made the leap to aesthetics when I saw a huge opportunity to create something life-changing for others. That desire quickly blossomed into SkinSpirit.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
Personal experience! My own skin looked better in my 30’s than my 20’s thanks to starting on a routine of medical-grade skin treatments with my co-founder Dr. Visnes. This confidence-boosting experience gave me the conviction that we were on to something that others would also benefit from tremendously.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
When we started out, we didn’t fully realize the size of the opportunity that existed for aesthetic injectable treatments such as Botox. Now, we are the number one provider of Botox in the country and it is a huge part of our business. At our launch, we viewed it as a smaller piece of the puzzle. But as we added on talented practitioners who were passionate about these areas, we embraced their advice and our business immediately grew. Lesson: Get as many experts on board as you can. We have learned so much from all the great people we have added to our company — taking their best practices and incorporating their ideas has led to our continued growth and improvement.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. Extensive research suggests that “purpose-driven business” is more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
My vision was to bring high-quality, non-invasive skincare options to a wider audience and to make these treatments easier to access so more people could enjoy the same benefits that I personally experienced. Especially the confidence it brought me! In addition, a year or two into our first clinic launch, I realized that we were also creating great work opportunities for our staff. Giving our staff a platform to grow personally and professionally became a huge part of our purpose. We remain dedicated to our staff’s training, well-being and growth.
What do you do to articulate or demonstrate your company’s values to your employees and to your customers?
We try to live our values by listening, taking action, being accountable and fixing issues. We solicit employee feedback every year and use this as a platform for improvement. Through our expert training for everyone, from front desk to the staff taking care of you, our clients can feel confident we are providing them with the best care because we invest so much in recruiting and training our team.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Yes! Business success is driven by all the small decisions and not one big bet. We sweat the details to make sure all the small decisions add up to some really big wins for the company, customers and staff. And because of that, any mistake is an opportunity to get better. As long as we stay accountable and honest, mistakes are opportunities.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
When we started SkinSpirit we invested our own money with a plan to break even and it just didn’t work out that way — it ended up taking us about 6 months longer than expected. It was a tough time because we were pioneering a new category and didn’t know how long it was going to take to grab hold. This was the second company I started and there were times I would go home and kick myself — I would say to myself, “you should know this stuff is going to happen, so why did you put yourself in this situation?” But the truth is, in life, there is always a risk. I would rather fail than regret not trying. That is the internal light that got me through it then and still does now.
So, how are things going today? How did your values lead to your eventual success?
Very well! We are the 1 provider of Botox in the US and we are very proud of that. My values, and our shared values, led to that because we never gave up. We understood that we had something valuable to offer and we kept believing in that above all else. That perseverance got us over those early bumps and has led us to continual success. We didn’t cut corners and we always believed in our own success.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a very successful service-based business? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Know what your clients want. Put yourself in their shoes and have a passion for the service so you can understand it better. I was getting some of the services we offered before I even started the company, and I still do today, and that helps put me in our client’s shoes.
- Happy staff is equal to happy clients. The services business is personal by their nature — everyone loves being around people with lots of energy and positivity. It is so important to create a happy climate for your staff to thrive.
- Your staff has to buy into your vision and share your values. We screen for this before someone even starts and have found that by being transparent about our expectations and standards, people who aren’t a good fit tend to self-select out.
- Don’t oversell — offer value and people will come. Our business is all about long term relationships, so we never oversell in the short run. We’d rather set our client’s expectations and work hard to exceed them.
- In today’s market word of mouth, live and digital, is everything. We realize that the experience a client has with us during treatment will live on as they share their opinion about us to their friends and family, and even online. We focus on making each experience with us exceptional so our clients can be our best advocates.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
First off, my father because he was an entrepreneur. I grew up talking about business all the time and I knew I wanted to run a company from a young age. Secondly, my husband has a great way with people. I tend to do things quickly and he has helped me slow down with how I relate to people and refine that side of my personality. This is so important in the service business! Lastly, Stacey our director of talent. She was the first manager we hired, and she is unbelievably positive and optimistic force. I learned the power of positivity from her and she helped set that course throughout SkinSpirit.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
If I could start a movement it would be to accelerate the empowerment of women to lead. The most high functioning societies have a balance of male and female leadership. I am honored that we are a part of this movement at SkinSpirit actually. We are mostly female-led and we provide a role model for a lot of women to see that they can lead here and beyond!
How can our readers follow you on social media?