Feedback Matters

In this day and age, who doesn’t check reviews before purchasing products and services? Reviews are a vital means to create or break the trust of your brand. And while we can’t always rely 100% on every review, we can place much more faith in the feedback that we specifically ask for from guests.

If you’ve never asked your guests for feedback, you really are working without all the facts that can help optimize your business. Too many times, thinking that things are going okay aren’t the same as your guest’s expectations. Avoid errors and dissatisfied guests by getting on the same page.

Asking for guest feedback, and implementing their insights helps to create a personal touch and loyalty. You can instantly produce guests who feel important and valued.

Ask in person; and remember to ask. And don’t just go with the usual, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” store question. Be specific and ask something that they might actually be honest about; “Do you think we offer enough variety of this service?” Record the casual remarks, and over time, you’ll have something credible. The single most common occurrence in Sales, is forgetting or neglecting to ask for feedback. When you have a particularly happy guest, send them a link to your google reviews and ask if they will rate your service.

Decide what type of Feedback you want.

Feedback can be used to acquire all kinds of data. For example:

  • Guest Satisfaction; in terms of products or services.
  • Pricing; to understand how your guests feel about payment plans.
  • Guest Service; to see how well your reception handles inquires and administrative tasks.
  • Competitors; hear what your guests are saying about them. Since the buying decision of any product or service is an emotional decision, it pays to acknowledge users / potential users feelings in relation to what you offer vs. the competition.
  • Advertising feedback; how did you hear about us?

Obtaining feedback traditionally with forms:

  1. Offer a Reward.It doesn’t take much to incentivize people to provide feedback. A chance to win a gift card, some Tim Hortons, even a deep discount at a popular retailer will boost your response rates.
  2. Offer Anonymity. Isn’t it true that we all say things anonymously that we would never say if our names had to be attached to it? In guest feedback, accountability is on the brand, not the guest so you can let them be anonymous.
  3. Call for details. If you’re not doing this already, give it a try. Call guests up randomly, check in, and ask specific questions about their experience. Again, don’t wait until they’re no longer a guest.

Looking at modern ways to obtain feedback.

  1. Add feedback surveys into your WiFi Network. Cafes, bars, hotels and even stores are now choosing to provide free wifi to attract more guests to their Spas. While this is great for the guests, it also presents valuable opportunities to gain feedback from them. You can require guests to create a free account to access the wifi, and ask how their experience is while they’re online. Exploiting free guest WiFi to ask for feedback can be a fair value trade for both business and guest. It can also help you keep your information database up to speed by collecting their email.
  2. Initiate SMS surveys. Not to be underestimated, SMS is one of the most powerful channels to request feedback from guests. In an age when consumers are always a few feet away from their phones, SMS is still a great way to communicate with your guests. With higher open rates than email, they’re a strong alternative to use when only a phone number is known.
  1. Send out surveys.A common, effective tactic. Sometimes people just need to be asked. Try sending out regular, shorter surveys that are focused on specific areas. Using MailChimp is economical, and it is easy to have professional looking surveys that record answers.

Some operational software also can send out two kinds of surveys:

Quality Assurance Survey – this is an email or SMS to be sure they had a positive experience the same day as they came to your business. It gives you a chance to be timely and efficient responding to any problems and learn more about the ongoing satisfaction of your guests.

General learning survey – when you are looking to grow or change why not ask the people who pay you now what they think? Many of your loyal fans would love to have a chance in giving you specific and valuable advice and what you should add or change. It may not be something you use but it gives them a voice, which most guests love.

  1. Monitor social media and the Web. When was the last time you Googled your own business to see what people are saying about you? Odds are people are already talking about your brand.

Obtaining feedback is only one part of the equation. Feedback provides no benefit if it is left to sit on someone’s computer, or in someone’s desk. To reap the profits from feedback you need to respond, organize, share, and analyse it.


With a variety of ways to collect feedback you need a clear, obvious and timely strategy to respond to your guests.

Have something created in writing so your whole team knows how to respond. It may be obvious to you, but timeliness is critical. It can mean the difference between saving a guest’s business or them becoming a social media assassin attacking your business.

Remember that you do not want just to reply to the bad stuff, reply to the good stuff too. It makes those who give you feedback valued and heard!

Here are your key strategies:

  1. WHEN: What is the correct response time for each piece of feedback. It will depend on where it came from and what it said.
  1. WHO: Name the people in your business who own this job, and that might be YOU! Create accountability in your spa for understanding the importance of handling this task.
  1. HOW: What’s the appropriate way to respond?
    1. In person?
    2. On the phone?
    3. Email?
    4. Social Media?
  1. WHAT: This can be tricky because it may depend on specifics of a circumstance. But remember the number one response a guest wants is acknowledgment of an issue, not a free service or product.

Let’s discuss some possibilities:

GOOD STUFF: With positive feedback clearly you just want to recognize that someone said something nice. If it was an email, create a template that says, “Thanks for saying something nice!”.

NEUTRAL STUFF: If the comment was neutral, like a suggestion for something near and a small thing that will not affect a future visit. Once again communicate back to them that you appreciate the feedback and will consider the change of improvement as your business progresses. Keep it simple and professional.

KINDA BAD STUFF: Here is where it’s tricky because it may depend on how you feel that day or what is else going on. Rule of thumb is don’t judge it. Take it at face value and imagine how you feel when you make a complaint and how you feel is the best way to handle it. Too many owners are looking to avoid, or get out cheap, when responding to a complaint. If you think about what it costs to get a new guest, vs. keep an existing one, it should give you a good clue. It’s ok to compensate a guest for a bad experience. It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong. DO NOT take this personally. This is a business decision to keep a guest in your business, or at the least, not have them share with all their friends and family how awful you were to deal with when they complained. The world is too small a place to take that risk. Ask yourself, and offer them, “what can I do to make this right?” and get it done.

REALLY BAD STUFF: Consider it like a fire in your business. Don’t panic but move quick and respond with something to put the fire out. In real terms this should not be happening very often. Although when it does it usually sends leaders spinning and upset. We recommend taking a very personal, hands on, and fast approach. It’s the right thing to do and acknowledge when something goes wrong. We are humans and it will go wrong sometimes. Just communicate with your guest in an authentic and genuine what that let’s them know you care and are stretching to make it right.


With a variety of ways to organize feedback, you can start by creating a spreadsheet and logging specific answers under columns. Using a rating system is helpful, graphs and charts allow you to see your data easily.


Share that feedback with your team. Once you’ve collected a pile of good reviews, hang them up in the lunchroom.

Send out a memo or email acknowledging the positive work of specific team members. That is good Internal marketing and improves staff retention and sets the bar higher for all team members.

Provide incentives or rewards for team members who uphold or exceed guest service standards.

Sharing both good, and bad reviews, is an important tool to keep your team informed and engaged. The need to celebrate wins but also learn when things go wrong. It is always better that information comes directly from guest feedback rather than just a leader or owner. This way the leaders can help coach the team members on how to improve their level of service without the team member thinking the leader is just “making it up”.


If negative reviews indicate a widespread problem or are specific to one functional area, you can use this knowledge to determine what type of training needs to take place to correct the problem.

Your team can incorporate proven tips into your training materials to steer team members away rom damaging behaviors.

When you uncover recurring issues, fix them. Then look for an opportunity to make the process, situation or product even better.

Implement your Plan

  • Hear the Problem – Leaders recognized the problem
  • Standardize the Behaviors Your Guests Appreciate Most
  • Eliminate future problems and turn your service into an asset, not a liability
  • Involve everyone. Even if you can’t increase your budget to upgrade a feature, you can educate team members on the issue and featuresso they can use the increased knowledge to improve your guest’s experience.

 By Robert Cass


Spaformation Inc.

The Cannabis Spa

Along with the legalization of cannabis comes its’ various uses.  In the spa world, the use of cannabis is being introduced and deeper explored on a daily basis around the world.

The move by the World Health Organization (“WHO”) to give CBD a good safety profile has opened a lot of eyes, and minds, on how cannabis may be useful in the world of health and beauty in Canada. And while WHO continues to investigate and monitor CBD, it had stated that the genuine CBD products are “well-tolerated” by most people who use them. This is further supported by no meaningful side effects experienced by CBD product users.

The effects of cannabinoids on skin is currently undergoing laboratory research. Current conclusions indicate it does warrant further study; especially involving Endocannabinoid system (ECS). Endocannabinoids are the enzymes involved in the biosynthesis or metabolism, and their two G-protein-coupled cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, which are present in virtually all tissues. The main function of the skin ECS is to establish the proper and well-balanced proliferation, differentiation and survival, as well as immune competence and/or tolerance, of skin cells. Pilot studies strongly supported the targeted manipulation of the ECS (aiming to normalize the unwanted skin cell growth, sebum production and skin inflammation) and might be beneficial in a multitude of human skin diseases.

When infused skin creams or bath products are applied to the skin and react with the body’s endocannabinoid system, change takes place on a cellular level—advocating that your skin becomes healthier, instead of just temporarily feeling softer.

Areas of Research include:

  • Psoriasis and skin tumors: aiming to increase ECS tone
  • Hair growth disorders: aiming to increase or decrease ECS tone
  • Acne and seborrhea
  • Dry skin and related conditions
  • Dermatitis
  • Systemic sclerosis
  • Pain and itch

Interestingly, not all Massage Therapist Associations in Canada approve on using Cannabis Oil and / or CBD in Treatments. For example, the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta has made its position clear by asking its members to follow the guidelines of:  DO NOT USE, DO NOT SELL, DO NO RECOMMEND until such time that clarification has been received from Alberta Health. This stems from the fact that, most (if not all) insurance policies do NOT cover the use of any cannabis-based or cannabis-related products as a part of any treatment.

When we consider that countless physicians write prescriptions daily, and it is readily available online, this position is curious.

Despite the lack of insurance coverage and some concern from associations, it looks like antioxidant-rich cannabis is already shaping up to be the next trending skincare ingredient.

Skincare products formulated with hemp have shown to be effective, as both hemp and some marijuana are rich in CBD that can tackle tough issues like eczema psoriasis, acne, rashes, sores, and bruises, without making skin oily. Once applied, some topicals have been shown to help reduce inflammation, eliminate bacteria, and help regulate oil production.


New mods are coming every month, “the world’s first cannabis day spa,” where the whole focus is cannabis bodywork and facials, recently opened in the USA. Sir Sam’s Inn & Spa, in Eagle Lake Ontario is now the only Canadian listing on the Hotels Cannabis website of North American hotels that boast the classification of being “cannabis-friendly.”

The spa-cannabis connection in tourism is easier than ever to experience, even dispensaries have added massage and wellness services, but the biggest “cannabis connection” for regular spas is using the new, won’t get-you-stoned topicals in bodywork and facials. Some Spas says they’ve tripled their business since they launched the pain-relieving massage lotions. Cannabis spa treatments are also happening in Europe: German spa guide Wellness Heaven recently tested diverse treatments like the Cannabis Sativa oil massage in Austria. There’s a reason that companies like HempMeds (which sells $1 million in CBD-infused products a month) has sponsored the International Spa Association (ISPA) convention.

So, what might one expect when getting a treatment at a weed spa? Pretty much the same services one would find in a regular spa — with just a little more oomph. Legal spas will use CBD and/or THC enhanced lotions and oils during massage treatments to help counteract pain and muscle inflammation.

Some spas take the term “spa” to its full potential by offering everything from cannabis-infused facials, waxes, even lash extensions.

As the Canadian marketplace becomes more comfortable and more informed about the benefits and concerns associated with cannabis and its derivatives what can we expect in the future? It begs many questions;

Is any spa encouraging the use of a vape, to relax, on the patio?

Is anyone purchasing oil on their own and introducing it into products or treatments?

What kind of dosing is appropriate?

Where and how is it stored? (You may want to be more regular in your inventory practices)

How do you ensure the quality of your product for use on your guests?

Are you and your team educated enough to speak with authority?

Where do you get the training?

During a recent visit to a regional festive I was not surprised to see oil vendors selling their products over the table beside the cinnamon donuts and home-made scarves. They had not received a much-coveted retail license but were nonetheless eager to answer questions and extols the virtues of this helpful plant. Needless to say they had plenty of interest from the attendees and many of the questions were simply, “How can this help me?”. As more and more evidence become available, I think its incumbent on our industry to be informed and judicious in our application but also open minded on how we can best serve our guests. If we are really focused on the health, wellness and beauty of all we should embrace every opportunity to deliver the best results available.

With the number of live and online forums, trade shows, and conferences there is every chance to learn what you need to make the right decision for you.


A Question of Culture, How Diverse are You?

A Question of Culture, How Diverse are you?

Over 11 million Canadian females between the age of 17 and 64 are spurring the growth of the Spa industry. It is also being spurred by an equal number of men in that same age group; many of whom are becoming interested in entering the Spa arena. It isn’t surprising to see Spas increasing their line of service when the male population is taking more interest in skin care, massage and other relaxing spa options.

How you embrace your clientele becomes part of your brand. Notably, spas that cater to women only, draw women with that preference. The Spas that offer waxing services to men; such as chest and back waxing and more delicate areas are taking advantage of new business opportunities and increasing their bottom line.

Let’s take it one step farther. In today’s world Canadian culture and diversity are symbiotic and synonymic. Canada’s exceptional experience with diversity distinguishes itself from most other countries. Our inhabitants reflect a cultural, ethnic and linguistic makeup found nowhere else on earth.

Undoubtedly, the question of providing a service requires the consideration of Canada’s Human Rights Act. Canada’s recent addition of self-identification policies (i.e. Bill C-16) and the case of Jessica Yanvi; a complainant in an on-going Human Rights complaint in BC, has many Canadian service providers and business owners waiting for the ruling due sometime in October. It would establish whether the Act will require Salons and Spas to offer Brazilian waxing service on self-identified women with male genitalia. How would this affect your brand? How will this affect your people?

This objectionable complaint went to trial in July of this year because the Human Rights Tribunal of British Columbia recognized Yanvi’s right to gender affirming care, including waxing. Canada’s Human Rights Act compels people and businesses to affirm someone’s beliefs; such as Yanvi identifying as a woman.

Yanvi’s complaint puts Canada’s Human Rights Act in an awkward position because its’ defendants explain that they do not feeling comfortable waxing male genitalia for religious reasons or have safety and security objections. A lack of qualifications in being able to provide that service was another valid objection. Indeed, waxing male genitalia has different procedures that requires different wax and specialized training.

This ground-breaking Human Rights claim, forces Canadians to recognize that something is wrong here, something perhaps, irreconcilable. Combining this gender affirming duty with religious beliefs and the safety and security of Estheticians is like asking for a cold sauna.

If Yanvi is successful in this case, will it lead to businesses being compelled to offer Brazilian waxing to everyone? Will the outcome become an imposition on Canadian Spa and Salon businesses? Staffing decisions are challenging enough without having to hire Estheticians that have specialized training and willingness to handle male ‘equipment’.  That said, what’s the right human thing to do? Will there arise, reasonable exemptions, such as exemptions for work-from-home estheticians? Will it become disruptive or unmanageable for your company?

And what if this claim is unsuccessful. Are we staying true to our national values of inclusion and equal rights?

To date this has been uncharted territory where service providers, and business owners, have been self directed on what services to provide and to whom they are provided. Will the impact of this decision lead to direct, and indirect consequences to the spa industry and all it’s stakeholders?

We will listen and watch with great interest. In our very Canadian way, let’s keep the conversation informed, open and respectful to all.




7 Steps to Owning a Successful Spa Business!


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


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?


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 : [email protected] 

Being ‘Present’ – Giving Spa Guests Your Full Attention

How we treat and communicate with our guests in spas or salons is a critical factor in their impression of the experience. It has a major influence on how they feel about their visit to your business. But how do we give them our full attention? What are the specific things we can do to demonstrate to the guest that they are the most important person to us in that moment?

There are many techniques that can help you to convey that you are giving the guest your full attention, and these same techniques actually do make you give the guest your full attention! When you employ these techniques, you will find yourself engaging with your guest in the best possible way. Here, being present-giving spa guests your full attention

Be Prepared for Your Spa Guests

You can only give your guest your full attention if you are prepared to do so. It starts with being on time, and continues with being organized throughout your day. Are you able to manage your working time efficiently? Manage your time effectively by planning ahead, setting goals, determining priorities and, minimizing interruptions.

Make sure your space, supplies and equipment are all prepared in advance so you are not distracted by setting up. Convey a professional appearance with appropriate clothing and cleanliness. It demonstrates a respect and commitment to your profession and lets the guest know that you take your work seriously.

Before your guest’s arrival, be prepared by knowing as much about them as you can so you can greet them properly and not need to ask them about past treatments or services: you will be better able to focus instead on their present needs. This includes knowing what services they had, what product they used, and yes: what they spent with you. With repeat guests, make notes about the guest and the conversations you had. Read over those notes before the guest arrives. By refreshing your memory about a guest’s planned travel or event, you’ll be able to ask them about their trip or how that anniversary party went.

Being properly prepared can contribute greatly to a positive guest experience.

Your Spa Guest’s Arrival

It’s show time! Make sure you make eye contact, greet them warmly and avoid distractions. It’s the guest’s turn for attention — ignore your cell phone and whatever is going on in the room, and focus all you attention on your guest.

Even the posture you have when you greet your guest matters. Our body language ‘speaks’ volumes about our attitude, energy and focus. Standing up straight conveys that we are interested and attentive.

Maintaining control over your own emotions is very important in good customer service. Do your best to put aside your own personal stresses before your guest arrives. Keeping your emotions in check will help you to deal with on-the-job surprises, changes in schedule, and negative or angry spa guests.

If you’re not ready and in the right frame of mind, they will sense that you are too distracted to give them your full attention. Make sure you’re ready so that things start off on the right foot.

Get into the mindset that you will treat each guest independently from any other guests that day. Don’t let a negative comment from an earlier guest affect the way you treat your next guest. Each interaction with the same guest must also be treated separately. They may be in a different mood, or have different needs. Responding appropriately to the way they act and what they say on that particular day will demonstrate that you are giving them your full attention.

Listening to Your Spa Guest’s Needs

Listen carefully to the guest’s requests and needs. Ask questions to verify and clarify what you’ve heard. This shows that you were truly listening.

Refrain from sarcasm and critical comments, and be patient with your guest as they may not be clearly expressing their needs, or they may be unsure.

By paying close attention, you may be able to detect hesitation or uncertainty in what they are telling you.  If you pick up on those cues, take the opportunity to question them further and hopefully they will reveal their true thoughts about the service or treatment you are going to do. Maybe they just need a little more information to make them comfortable about trying a different service, treatment, haircut or colour.   

Give them thorough responses to questions, and make sure that the answer you gave actually answered their question.

When an element of personalization is introduced to your guest, it helps them to feel special. Know the client, products, and services well enough that you can present them to the client in a personalized way – how that product or service is good for their particular needs or how a treatment can be done to best suit the guest.

Being a persuasive speaker can dramatically improve your customer interactions. The secret of persuasive speaking is putting the verbal focus on the target of persuasion (the customer), rather than on the speaker. In practice, it means calling a customer by name, using action-oriented words, the active tense in words or phrases instead of the passive tense and avoiding prefacing statements (like ‘I think’ or ‘I believe’) that express your personal thoughts or opinions. Putting your customers at the centre will make them feel more respected and appreciated.

Communicating with other staff and management

The same principals we discussed regarding how to interact with your guest applies also to your engagement with other staff and management. Use these same strategies with your co-workers in order to foster a positive work environment. You are either a positive contributor to your work space, or not.

Mental Discipline

You can use all the techniques above to help you stay in the moment, but often it is your own mental discipline that can be your greatest asset. When your mind starts to wander to other areas of work or life, your ability to come back to the present is critical. These mental wanderings can distract you from the technical competency of treating your guest. In fact, they also impact your guest in a subtle but powerful way. You quite likely know the difference of how it feels when someone is completely focused on you or not focused. Two massage therapists can perform the exact same massage, but the one who stays ‘present’ with their guest will always get greater results and long term loyalty. Being present indicates care for the guest, and that is truly what they are looking for and deserve.

Give your guests your full attention, get ‘present’, and they will give back the gift of their loyalty and dollars.

Need help getting results in your spa? Contact Spaformation at here. or reach out at [email protected]

SKY HIGH Customer Service

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:


  • 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 [email protected] or a Discovery Session here. 

How HEALTHY is your SPA Business?


Your days are full of treatments, meetings, deadlines and team member issues. In order to stay on top of it all you have to stay on the run. Right? Not really, if you want to see the big picture. Stay grounded with what is important to your success.  The question is how often do you stand back and take a look at the overall health of your spa business?

In order to keep your finger on the pulse of your operation it is important to keep track of the items and areas that are most important to you in the overall health of your spa business. Sometimes you may not be sure of what those key factors are so here is a TOP 10 list of what to watch.

Bottom Line

  1. PROFIT – it may sound odd to you but many spa operators do not know what this number is. Are you profitable? How profitable are you? As a prudent spa operator you want to know the amount of the profit and also the percentage of the profit in relation to the revenue. It may be that the business profit is $50,000 per year. This is appropriate for a spa that is generating $400,000 is gross sales but not for one that is generating $1,000,000. Make sure you now what is right for your spa so you can maximize your potential. Typically we expect to see between 10%-15% profit.


  1. REVENUE GROWTH – Is your revenue constantly growing? If you are a start up operation you want to see steady growth month by month. Once you have passed the one year mark you want to see the continuation of the month by month growth but also see growth when you compare the performance of the same month last year to the current year. As your operation continues you will look to insure that those corresponding months continue to grow year after year.


  1. LABOUR COST – Many spa operators do not calculate labour costs. It is the single biggest expense you will ever have in your spa so you had better know if it is in line.

We calculate labour cost as follows:

Total Cost of Labour

Labour Cost %  =       (includes wages, benefits, bonuses, incentives, government deductions, (CPP,UIC etc.))

Total Revenue

Depending on the size and nature of your operation this ratio should be between 35%-50%. If your costs are significantly higher than that you will likely need to review your compensation strategy and your sales volumes.

  1. RETAIL COST – this is the cost of the items you sell on a retail level in relation to sales revenue generated. It is calculated as follows:

Total Cost of Retail Items

Retail Cost %  =       (includes cost of item, shipping and taxes (where applicable)

Total Retail Sales Revenue

This also relates to your retail pricing strategy. If you are marking up your retails products and items at 100% of their cost, or doubling the price, your cost target will be 50%.

Items that will affect this cost are:

        1. discounts and sales to your customers
        2. discounts and sales from your suppliers
        3. shrinkage – theft and spoilage
        4. inventory count accuracy

It is important to count your items monthly to insure your costs are in line. If you do not you may not know you have a problem until the end of the year when it is too late to do anything about it.

  1. RETAIL SALES PERCENTAGE – this is the amount of retail sales your operation generates in relation to the amount of service sales generated. We calculate this as follows:

Retail Sales %  =             Total Retail Sales         .

                 Total Service Sales Revenue

This target will vary based on the type of spa (day, resort, destination, medical) you have, location (urban, rural), and the makeup of your services. Typically for a day spa operation we expect to see a successful spa operation having a retail sales percentage of 30%-35%. High performing locations will be operating at 50% and above.

If you are watching this target it will tell you if you what you need to do for increased sales. It may be more training, different products, better inventory control, etc. Your retail sales can make or break your spa profit so keep a close eye on this.

  1. PROFESSIONAL COSTS – this is the cost of the products you use to perform services.  This cost you want to be in the range of 7%-10% of your service revenue. It is calculated as follows:

Total Cost of Professional Products

Professional Cost %  =       (includes cost of item, shipping and taxes (where applicable)

Total Service Sales Revenue

It is important to know how much product is being used to deliver your services. Service protocols and proper training will help keep your team, and your numbers, in line.


  1. GUEST SATISFACTION – The guests are the only reason you stay in business so be sure you are delivering what they want. Be consistent and relentless in your pursuit of your guest’s opinion and feedback. This can be an amazingly helpful process in your quest for constant improvement as they will tell you what does work and what doesn’t.

Use available tools to help in your information collection.

        1. Formal and informal Surveys – written, verbal, on-line.
        2. Client Retention Reports (manual of computer) – are they coming back again and again or are they just coming once?
  1. STAFF SATISFACTION – Who impacts your guest experience the most? Your team! Accordingly you need to be aware of how satisfied your team members are working in your location. How you treat your team is a direct reflection of how they will treat your guests so make sure they are happy, happy, happy! By performing a mix of meetings and surveys, both verbal and written, you can get a good idea where areas of concern may be. This will help you get to those areas before they become a negative force in your business. One key way to see if things are going well is looking at your team turnover rate. If you are seeing a revolving door you need to look in the mirror and make some changes to keep your team happy.

Don’t fall into the trap of just assuming you know how your team feels. Make sure you ask them directly and be open for what they have to say.

  1. PERFORMANCE APPRAISALS – Inspect what you expect. By constantly reviewing the performance of your team members in relation to the expectations you have established you can keep your team happy and high performing. Every team member wants to know how they are doing so make sure you are conducting your performance appraisals regularly throughout the year. Good job descriptions, clear employment agreements and a well designed appraisal will be a terrific support in helping make this task efficient and fruitful. Remember although this is a time to work out any challenges it is also a wonderful time to celebrate success!
  1. PHYSICAL INSPECTION – When is the last time you took a good walk around your operation and identified any short comings, damages, or problems? You walk in the door each day and can get very used to seeing something that is wrong without the mental recognition that something has to be done about it. Have you ever walked into a business and seen a light bulb burned out and seen the same bulb burned out two weeks later? Don’t let this happen to your spa as the guests want to know you are looking after the place. It makes them feel safe and that they can trust you to take care of them too.

At least once a month make it a point to walk around your business to look for problems. It may be a scratch on a wall, a crooked piece of art, or a damaged piece of equipment. Once you identify the problem make a schedule to get it fixed. Your guests will love it and so will your team as they will be proud to work in a spa that is well maintained and cared for.

By watching and maintaining items #2 to #10 you will keep your spa business running smoothly and item #1 will take care of itself. Keeping your spa healthy will keep the profits healthy too!

Need help with your spa? Contact [email protected] to support the health of your spa business.

Couples Spa Services. The Good & The Bad.

Couples Spa

Couples services are a retreat of choice for the frantic partners who can only escape for a short window of time.

In the past few years, one of the hottest trends in the spa market has been the creation of rooms and spaces where partners can feel free and safe, all at the same time, to enjoy some a few moments of solitude to relax and unwind from the pressures of life. Couples services can be the highlight of your business or bring you down. 


Is the spirit of political correctness the term “Couples room or service” needs to be stretched a little and it may be bigger than you are thinking of. It starts as a couple in the traditional sense of the word, two people in a relationship. The most common market asking for treatments is man-woman. At Novo/Sanctuary Day Spa ( in Toronto’s trendy Yorkville district this is their primary market. “Since we opened our doors the couples rooms has been our number one seller,” says Novo creator Nora Londono. “The vast majority are men and women with a few friends and sisters.”

The market of couple’s spa services has naturally expanded to same-sex couples. Outside the city, at the quaint and classy Millcroft Inn ( the couple’s room gets a workout on weekends. “It is a great problem to have but we are constantly having to tell our weekends guests we cannot accommodate them because the room is full,” smiles Spa Director Jennifer Stemmler. “We have a terrific demand from our overnight guests whether they are man/woman or same sex couples. They love the privacy and safety of our couple’s room. In the summer they can even go directly outside and sit on their private deck and enjoy the fresh country air.” So popular in fact, that the Millcroft Inn is looking at expanding and adding another couple’s room to their inventory to satisfy the demand.

Couples also refers to a “couple of sisters”, a “couple of friends”, or a little more loosely translated to mothers and daughters. All of these markets are migrating to capture the spirit of togetherness couples treatments can create. You need to think of this when marketing your couples spa services.


The concept of having a room big enough the room with simply two massage tables has long passed. Spas are now competing to build them bigger and better. In Barrie, Ontario, Spyce Spa & Salon ( owner Debi Board wanted to make her “Couples Suite” as one of her signature spaces. “I wanted to create a space where two people could flee everyday life and enjoy peace and serenity”. To do this Board had a couples hot tub, oversize glass shower, fireplace, and sitting area all built into the couple’s spa space. When asked if it has been as success Board replied, “Since day one it has been the busiest part of the spa. Our guests love it.”


From an efficiency point of view a couple’s room seems a no-brainer. A typical spa room will by 10 ft. X 10 ft. space and is able to generate one service at a time. In contrast, a couple’s room can fit into a space of only 50% larger, ie. 15 ft. X 10 ft. and generate double the revenue.

However when the desire to expand the “room” to a “suite” the water becomes a little more muddy. 

So why isn’t everyone scrambling to do them?

The couple’s movement is not sweeping across all the spa doorsteps.

A couple of years ago the calls seemed to be coming in to take up the charge and add a couple’s room at the five star Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa ( “We converted an available space close to the spa to a couples room because we thought there was a demand,” explained Alison White Spa Director, “but it just really never took off”. A short time later, the space was renovated to take on other uses. It is worthy to note that Langdon Hall has just announced plans to create a grand new Spa & Wellness centre in the next 18 months and a new and improved couples suite will be part of it.

In some cases, philosophy plays a role.


But that does not mean it is not without its challenges. With this expanded space is the need to insure it is booked. 

Care needs to be taken when designing the space as managing the cross-gender issues between therapist and client is delicate. As well as consideration for the “couple” that is not romantically involved. Couples spa services can be a challenge. 

Unique logistics of handling clients needs to be considered when creating couples spa services. The rooms are booked for defined periods of time and the spa needs to create a tactful way to let clients know when their time is up. Often treatments will be created whereby the couple can enjoy some private time at the enjoy of the service.

Therapists also need to be keenly aware of different dynamics that enter the room when there are two therapists and two clients.

Design and layout must to be carefully considered.

Need help starting or expanding your spa or couples spa services? Contact Spaformation at [email protected]

Turn Your Spa Reception from Good to Great!

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.

How to Make Your Menu a Power Spa Marketing Tool!


Spa marketing is a game changer in the spa business world.

You can have the most amazing offers in town. But if the spa business down the street is more strategically loud about their offers, they will without a doubt snatch even the customers that would otherwise be yours.

That’s the case in the Spa industry. There are multiple players today. And you must find ways to drive customers your way from the competition. How better would you go about it, than to give them reasons to come in and try stuff out?

A nice menu will draw customers in and influence their decision to trade. That means it could be placed somewhere strategic, such as your website or at the entrance to your spa.

Sounds like a nice way to convert passersby into customers? I bet it does. The following are some tips on how to make your spa menu a powerful marketing tool. 

How inviting are the descriptions? 

Use genuinely appealing words to connect with people. They need to see why they should come into your spa instead of the seemingly snazzy competitor just blocks away.

Make the treatments come out as deluxe as possible to the guest. That way, they will be excited at the prospect of getting an unforgettable experience. Give them a reason or two to be excited in anticipating what you’ll offer them.

Make necessary changes to your spa menu with different seasons

You don’t want to be too predictable with your services. Predictable often borders boring. And as soon as you bore down your customers, you can be sure to lose them to someplace more livelily.

In the hospitality world, different seasons bring different preferences. Read them well and make changes to your menu to keep it relevant. It’ll be amazing how being trendy keeps your spa business ahead of the curve all year long.

Make it easy to navigate

Keep every description precise. The purpose of the menu is to tell customers what you offer, not to entertain them. Engage the customer right from the first word or sentence. Otherwise, you risk losing them.

Does any of these fit your spa menu? If not, it’s high time you did something about it. Most of all, ensure you have variety and a proper balance throughout your spa marketing.   

Need more insight? Book a Discover Session here.