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7 Steps to Owning a Successful Spa Business!

By | Management, Spa, Spa Business, Staff | No Comments

spa

So you want to own a spa?

Congratulations! It’s a wonderful dream and goal. It is also an expensive, time-consuming endeavour that will require all the business acumen, talent, creativity, and determination that you have.

In the early stages of deciding to build or buy a spa, it is vital that time is taken for careful planning and homework. All of the greatest ideas conceived will—at some point—still require the careful, and sometimes painful, process of putting ideas and numbers on paper.

So why must you do this? To can give your dream as much opportunity to succeed as possible.

Starting Up Means Planning and Homework

I have identified seven key planning and analysis tasks to help you in this journey. They cover the fundamental issues that should be addressed before you start to invest your  hard-earned money.

The process itself of building a development plan and financial forecasts is a terrific learning tool. It will either prepare you to go into the spa business, or to realize what key areas you need to watch for to be able to operate at maximum potential.

Not only will this aid in the financial planning process, but it will assist you in closely defining the goals of the spa business and thus help create a clear vision to follow for the whole team who will join in making the dream a reality.

Performing mindful analysis in these seven key areas will drastically affect the decision making process, and may well determine whether or not you should go ahead with your dream as you imagine it today.

Up-to-date and accurate figures are critical in order for the spa to respond to the business needs. Even more importantly, they are the guide that will help you reasonably predict what may happen in the future and thus help in determine the path you will take to lead the company to long-term financial health.

The Seven Key Planning Tasks

  • Define the ‘Vision’ and experience?
  • Determine who the guests/customers will be.
  • Determine where the salon will be located.
  • Estimate the start-up costs.
  • Develop a Proforma.
  • Develop a sales and marketing strategy and plan.
  • Develop an operations plan.

All of these items require careful thought and consideration. If time is not taken to make these decisions, the ability to forecast the success of the business will be limited.

1. Defining the ‘Vision’ for your salon. What kind of experience are you looking to create for your guest?

Are you creating a day spa, amenity spa?  Is it holistic, beauty, or somewhere in between?

Defining the experience is important as it will impact who the spa is going to attract and what kind of physical space and equipment the spa will require.

Perhaps the salon will have a theme. Will it be ‘east meets west’, a salon and spa combined or focused on being a green spa? When this choice is made, it will assist in determining all of the other choices to be made that will affect the guest experience: the things they see and touch, the treatments, and the details that will evoke feelings and emotions. This will create a unique experience that can differentiate the salon from the competitors.

If you cannot differentiate yourself from your competitors—whether physically, by your treatments, or your service—then why will the clients choose your spa over any other spa?

2. Determining who the guests/customers will be.

Take a close look around and see where your guests live. Will your salon be a neighbourhood salon looking to attract the local residents? Will it be a destination spa for the world’s rich and famous on the coast of some tropical land? You need to know or—at the very least—try to predict the demographics of your guests.

Demographics are:

  • Socioeconomic groups, characterized by age, income, sex, education, occupation, etc., that comprise a market niche.
  • The characteristics of human populations and population segments, especially when used to identify consumer markets.

One you have specifically identify who your guests are, you can then determine where they are and then, most importantly, how to get to them. This is essential for determining the marketing plan.

Depending on the experience of the development team and target guest, the next stage in preparation can begin. These two factors: the guest and the experience, will help in planning the physical space of the spa.

3. Determining where the spa will be located, and planning the space.

Spa location

First and foremost: location, location, location. It is an old adage but has always had great truth to it. By finding a fit combining the spa experience with the target guests, specific target locations can now be considered. Where can the salon be located to achieve the greatest possibility for success? What is the population? How much competition is in the area?

Spa Size

The following factors must be considered:

  • How many treatment rooms or chairs will be needed?
  • What will happen in each treatment room, what is its purpose?
  • What common areas will be needed? How big will they need to be?
  • What are the space requirements for reception, storage, and staff areas?
  • How much total space will be needed to deliver the experience you have planned for your guests?

Location and space options

Once you determine how much total space is required, you need to determine how the space will be created: Is it better to build, to buy, or to rent? Can it grow and expand if needed?

These questions are interrelated, as those factors play key roles in the cost of the project and the ability to meet the needs of the guests you wish to attract.

These are the difficult decisions that will be faced, and they will need to be resolved as you collect all the information necessary to determine whether or not your dream is feasible.

4. Estimating Start-up Costs

Many different costs will be required to get the spa up and running. Everything from development costs, construction costs, furnishing and fixtures, and pre-opening costs (including training and marketing) will all need to be considered.

Calculating all of these costs is the first step to deciding whether the business will viable or not. It is not uncommon to see ranges in start-up costs of anywhere from $200.00 to $550.00 per square foot.

5. Developing a Proforma

This is the most often forgotten, or neglected, area of spa development. Many future owners and operators fail to invest the time and energy required to complete a thorough proforma. It is easy to fall in love with the idea of creating a new spa. However it is crucial to look at some realistic numbers to determine if your concept will make a profit.

Proforma means ‘for form’s sake’. So, for this purpose, it is giving form to the salon project before it exists. It is the first close look at a rough estimated budget. Through a combination of knowledge, experience, and advice, an estimate will be generated. This estimate will show what revenue the spa can realistically achieve, and what will be the proportionate share of the expenses. 

Labour is—and always will be—the single greatest expense, as the salon experience is generally a one-on-one personal practice. The planned compensation structure will be critical. Learn what salons of a similar size and scope are operating at.

Be balanced and realistic in your estimates. Good decision making here will serve the spa well.

6. Developing a Sales & Marketing Plan

Sales

How is the spa going to be sold? What are the key messages the team will convey to the potential guests in hoping to entice them to visit the spa? The training of the team is essential. They will need to educate the consumers about why they should choose your spa rather than one of the multitude of others. Will you be focusing on local business or corporate business? What is your sales strategy?

Marketing

Your marketing plan must include the production of both physical marketing collateral (brochures, business cards, and signage) and electronic marketing content (website, social media, e-newsletters, pictures, and videos). Public relations and strategic alliances are also wonderful advocates of the spa business and will deliver results for your spa. Build a plan for customer awareness before the spa is open. You need to have guests coming to your door the first day it opens!

For a new spa operation, the amount of capital investment in marketing will be greater at the beginning in order to create awareness in the spa-goer marketplace, but it should become more efficient and economical as time passes. Never look too closely at this expense line as a place to cut costs. It will always be the lifeblood of the business, as a salon can never have ‘too many’ clients!

7. Developing a Spa Operations Plan

Now your salon has been created on paper, but services still have to be rendered day after day. Investing your time analyzing all the smaller costs required to deliver the desired experience to the guest will have long term benefits to the spa operating at maximum efficiency, both from a service and cost perspective.

In Summary

By examining each one of these seven keys areas, you will have information to help you make your business decisions. What you ultimately decide to do may not match your initial vision, but you will at least be taking an informed approach to starting up your salon.

In the end, all this careful planning and homework will not guarantee you success, but without it you will be just hoping that your great idea turns out as wonderfully as you had imagined.

Need helping starting your salon? Contact Spaformation : rob@spaformation.com 

SKY HIGH Customer Service

By | Spa Business, Staff | No Comments

Spa customer service

As spa consultants we always get asked what makes one spa better than another, what services do I need to implement to be on top, how do I outshine the competition? The answer is an easy one…. Dazzle your customers with great customer service. It sounds simple doesn’t it? 

The concept of great customer service is a simple one, but unfortunately it seems to be difficult to implement because so many places have a really hard time being consistently great at it.

We believe that investing in training your staff on how to properly service your clients is a better investment than the latest technology or even re-decorating your spa. 

Elevating your customer service standards means going beyond being the order taker. It means you have to go above your customers expectations and set an impression that they will talk about for years after. 

In this article we will address 5 steps towards achieving great customer service. The key is to manage this philosophy each and every day.

5 Simple Steps to having SKY HIGH Customer Service:

1. Treat Every Customer as 10 Potential Customers:

Always remember the multiplier effect the minus 30 rule, plus10 rule. What this means is people who have a bad experience are likely to tell 30 other people about that experience, but if they have a good experience they will likely spread the news to 10 other people. In the spa world word of mouth is the biggest form of advertising, so it is important to remember the 10 multiplier. Remember for every customer that walks through your doors, you are not just serving them you are serving their friends and family that they will tell about their experience.

Therefore make every interaction count and make it exceed all their expectations. Address this multiplier affect in your next staff meeting. By bringing it to your teams attention, they will be more aware of their actions when servicing your clients.

2. Training and Education is Key:

Do not expect your staff to know your standards through osmosis. You need to continually train your staff on what exactly your customer standards are but also give them specific examples of how to deliver it. For example: be specific regarding the ways in which to greet a customer when they walk in the door. Greet the guest before the guest greets you. Have a standard welcome. Many times spas have a standard greeting on the phone but they don’t have a standard greeting when the guest walks in the door. In fact many times when the customer first arrives we notice the standard fall apart. How many times have you walked into a spa and the receptionist was too busy to greet you right away? Don’t get caught having this happen at your spa.

Education is also essential. Your staff needs to be aware of all the products and services you offer. This means that they should be able to talk with confidence about every product you sell, right down to the benefits and some key active ingredients of each.

Your staff should have experienced all the services you offer so they can talk to your guests about them fluently. Could you properly describe a fabulous meal if you had never eaten it? Your staff can make your menu sound delicious if they have had a chance to experience it.

The better educated your staff is, the better they can serve your customers. When your staff is properly versed concerning all the ins and outs of your spa, it builds customer trust and loyalty. Your customers will feel like their needs are being met and they will feel safe.

Set up training with your product reps at least every quarter to ensure all team members are up to date with the lines you carry. Also have the product Reps perform frequent and regular training on the treatments you offer and make sure there are protocols to follow so there is consistency. 

Remember training is not a one time thing and should not only be for new hires. Especially in the spa business with changing technology and trends, it is so important to keep a head of the game. This means that all team members, service providers and reception team members, and even the most seasoned veterans, need to be continually trained and educated. This will give them the tools to best service your customers.

3. Set Sky High Standards and then Evaluate your staff

Take time to go through your operation and set standards for each and every instance where you team comes in contact with the guests. When setting the standards make sure you understand what a good standard is and then decide what a SKY HIGH standard is. You can differentiate your spa from the competition by doing the little things better than everyone else.

Once you have set the standards you want to insure that customer service a part of your staff’s job performance evaluation. It is essential that your team is constantly reminded of how performing sky high customer service is an important part of their job. Having this as part of the evaluation process will keep them on track and consistent. 

Make sure you encourage customer feedback in order to give your team tangible feedback. The best way for your staff to know how they are doing is to hear it from the customers.  Make your customer feedback forms easy and attractive to fill out. Have a monthly draw for your customers to win by participating in giving feedback.  The more advice and feedback you get from your customers the better you can evaluate your team. We always recommend having evaluations set every six months. This is a manageable time for managers and it gives a good period of time to make a detailed assessment on the team member’s performance.   

4. Reward their Performance:

Recognize outstanding customer service performance amongst your team. This can be through verbal praise in private or at a team meeting.  You can also give rewards such as gifts, products or dinners etc.

You can also join the team member’s exceptional performance to their pay. Once an evaluation is done you can give them a customer service bonus that needs to be re-earned every evaluation period. This will keep your team motivated and act as a constant reminder regarding the importance of providing excellent service. 

Score Evaluation System:

You can have a score system in place where they need to achieve a certain score in order to earn a pay bonus. You can set these standards and decide what this pay bonus is going to be. We recommend it being anywhere from $0.50- $1.00 or 2-3% service commission, in order to manage your labour cost and it must also be significant enough to make a difference in their pay. 

5.  Service them out of the treatment room:

Sometimes we forget that the customers spa experience is not just what happens in the treatment room but also the before and after. This means we need to service the customers from the first phone call before they book their service, to making a follow up call after the service is long over and they have gone home. 

In order to leave lasting impressions it is important to show the customer you really care and appreciate their business. Give them the time they deserve when making a booking and then show them you care by contacting them to see how they enjoyed their services, or even to inquire about any post treatment questions they may have.

Have a customer service checklist provided for your staff that informs them in detail how every interaction with the customer should be outside the treatment room:

Example:

  • Standard Welcome greeting when the guest arrives. Greet the guest before the guest greets you.
  • Taking them on a tour of the spa before the service
    • Make it part of your policy to show the guests around on a mini tour so they are aware of the facilities and where they are required to be after they get dressed. At this time it is also a good idea to ask them if they have any questions.
  • Greeting them for a treatment in the waiting room
    • Have a standard greeting with a hand shake and make sure they look the guests in the eyes. 
  • Escort them back to the waiting room
    • Always offer and serve them water or tea
    • Indicate that it was your pleasure to have them and you hope to see them again
  • Checking out and paying their bill
    • Ask them how everything was and look them in the eyes
    • Ask if they have any questions about products
    • Thank them for their business and say you look forward to serving them again
  • Follow up calls the next day
    • This is a great way to show your customers you care after the visit is over. Ask them how everything was and if they have any questions.  State again how it was pleasure to have them.

Dazzle your customers with SKY HIGH service and you will not need to worry about the competition.  Customer service does not cost money, but it does take commitment and dedication from the whole team in order to ensure its success. Every team member needs to be on board because you are only as strong as your weakest link. Make sure you make this a priority in your interview process. Hire people based on their customer service skills, it is easier to train them on the technical part. 

When you give your full effort towards creating and sustaining a culture of SKY HIGH customer service you will see the smiles on your customer’s face and SKY HIGH bottom line. To book a consult please email rob@spaformation.com or a Discovery Session here. 

Turn Your Spa Reception from Good to Great!

By | Spa, Spa Business, Spa Training, Staff | No Comments

spa reception

Training a spa reception team is a great idea. It’s the best favor you can do to your brand, given that the reception carries your brand image.

While there are several different forms of training you can offer these front office staff, sufficient evidence shows that outside training courses have a particularly significant impact on the team.

They come in handy particularly for your experienced reception staff. These are people who have worked in the spa to a point where they have virtually nothing more to learn within the organization.

Perhaps this paradigm will paint the picture well:

spa sales graph

Just like a product or business goes through this cycle of growth, so do your personnel. They join the workforce, learn and grow. But they eventually hit a point of relative stagnation if not exposed to the growth outside the firm.

Outside your spa, the industry always grows. You can choose to study it and grow with it or ignore the trends and be left behind. 

The only way out?

Expose your team to diversity. That’s where outside training comes in.

It gives your staff the exposure they need to learn new and innovative ways to reinvent their approaches to service delivery.

Outside training courses serve to renew your receptionists’ growth momentum to assume the (b) route in this example.

Sap sales graph 2

Three different forms of training will empower your spa reception staff and put them on a favorable growth path.

  1. Reception training courses. These are the basic. They’re aimed at building your staff’s professional image as the front desk personnel. They’ll be learning from skill-based and top industry experts. The first impression matters. And this training will equip your reception team with the skills to provide the most appropriate impression on customers.
  1. Customer service courses. You’ll help your team realize the importance of their role as customer service representatives. They get the opportunity and space to learn the nature of service that currently sells in the industry.
  1. Leadership courses. Make leaders out of your seasoned reception staff. It similarly brings back on track the senior front desk personnel who might have started to pick up bad habits.

With these courses, you’ll set standards for excellence for your spa reception and put your business on the path to success! 

To learn more about workshops in-house of coaching visit here.

Positive Changes – Effective Spa Reception Team

By | Management, Spa, Spa Training, Staff | No Comments

Building a successful spa business heavily depends on the quality of its spa reception team. As such it pays to invest in the people comprising that team.

Here are some positive changes for an effective spa reception team. Implement these to enhance service delivery through a better, happier and more capable team of receptionists.

Hire the right skillset

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Some weaknesses are inherent in the person, and if you hire a person who is lacking, say, the essential communication skills needed in a receptionist, man, you are doomed.

No amount of training might be enough for such a person. The chances are that they are better at doing something else.

Be sure to get a minimum skill set before you hire. This process can be as simple as integrating the basics such as computer typing, spelling and math tests.

Further, the person will be handling nearly all your client communications. Some of the clients will be judgmental and may readily form opinions from their first interaction on the phone. As an insurance against such eventualities, drop a mock phone call into the very first meeting with this recruit.

The secret is to be thorough and sieve your applicants to ensure you secure the top cream for your spa.

Train your recruits

Even the best staff needs on-job training. Take your reception team through orientation training. This involves communicating to them all your company policies and essential procedures immediately they are hired. They should understand the organization.

Train them about the product. Refresher courses are a perfect option here. Just be sure to have them understand every aspect of you product.

How should they handle clients? How do they communicate effectively and sales efficiently? Train them about that too. Don’t just assume they know.

All said and done, ensure you have set dates when your spa receptionists meet and review performance, eliminate mistakes and draw their plan of work.

That’s recognition at its best. It will cement their solidarity and solidify their sense of recognition.

These are feelings that motivate a worker.

These are changes that will motivate your spa receptionists. 

Learn more about how your spa receptionists are the cornerstone of your spa business here.

Reception Team: Cornerstone of the Spa Business

By | Management, Spa, Staff | One Comment

Spa Business Team

They receive the tiniest paycheck.

They are often forgotten. They are left on the fence when training is offered to the spa service providers. They are sought out only when something has gone really wrong with service provision in your spa business

They are the Spa Reception Team.   

They are the most invisible yet most indispensable of all teams for the success of any spa business. The very fact that you seek them out in the event of customer dissatisfaction indicates how much they are needed. Here are 3 reasons why the reception team is a cornerstone of the spa business.

1.The reception is your business’s initial touchpoint

The reception team is the main, and perhaps the only gateway into your business. They are always there to bridge your spa with the clients.  A first time customer will form an opinion about your business depending on what your receptionist sells them. And there’s never a second chance to make a good first impression. There’s always the receptionist, whether on the phone or in person. Their communication is the conduit through which your services are communicated.

They play a major role in winning sustainable business by creating that vital first impression.

2. Agents solidify customer retention

The longevity of your business depends on how well you win new customers. It also depends on how effectively you retain them.  Your reception team is constantly in touch with your customers and will determine the feedback your spa gets. Your customers are highly likely to tell others about their experience at your spa. Good feedback will win you amazing customer loyalty.  Loyal customers will spread positive information about your business and earn you more customers.

This is a great way to market your business and win clients particularly in today’s spa marketplace that’s brimming with competent players.

3. Power to make or break your business

Being your business ambassadors, your front-end staff have more power than anyone. They set appointments and direct client traffic. They are your front line. They make or break your business. 

So, in a nutshell, any spa with outstanding customer service owes it to the reception team. Hats off. 

To learn more book your Discovery Session today.