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] 

Positive Changes – Effective Spa Reception Team

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

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.

Staff Interactions With Your Spa Guests

spa guests

Having standards for the way your staff communicate with guests is crucial to maintaining the desired professional atmosphere for your spa. Staff interactions with your spa and salon guests are of utmost importance.

There are many communications skills and standards that should be expected in all workplaces, and then there are other more subjective standards that will depend on the atmosphere you want for your spa. 

In any spa, speaking clearly and making eye contact with guests should be a minimum standard of interaction. What is considered acceptable regarding other elements of verbal and physical interaction between staff and guests depends on the policies of the individual spa.

Staff should never be heard by a guest speaking negatively about management, guests, other staff, or the spa facility. The guest must experience only a positive attitude.

Policies should be developed for what constitutes acceptable behaviour for different categories of staff, and at different stages of the spa visit.

All Staff Members

Personal communication between staff and guests should also have standards. Do you have a list of topics that are to be avoided, such as religion or politics? The spa owner needs to decide the level of personal sharing that takes place. For example, is it alright to discuss the guest’s family or personal life only when the guest initiates the conversation? Or perhaps you let your staff use their own discretion based on the history between them and a particular guest?  Is hugging OK? How about a ‘high-five’? 

The Reception Team

Consistent in-person and phone communications standards must be established. Do you have a checklist for your reception staff? When a member of the reception team gets all the required information, it can help make the guest’s visit run more smoothly. How does your team respond if the guest does not want to share their email or credit card information? Who guides your spa or salon guest from reception to where they will receive the service? Is that the role of reception, or does the other staff member providing treatment meet them there? Making sure all staff know their role will make the spa guest’s visit run more smoothly and the experience be more enjoyable.

What does the conversation look like in the chair? Is there a set of mandatory topics such as the condition of hair and scalp, trends, and home care? Do you have guidelines for how communication takes place, for example: face to face, not in the mirror?

Estheticians, Massage therapists, and Medical therapists

Staff must know the details and standards of all services they provide in the spa, and be able to make recommendations. Does your spa have a policy in place for the pre-treatment conversation? Is your staff able to explain, in detail, the service the guest is about to receive? Do they give the guest an opportunity to ask questions? Are staff required to ‘check in’ with the spa guest during a service to ensure the guest is comfortable and that everything is satisfactory?

Assistants, Cleaners, and Other Staff

Defining the role of support staff will help them to do their job effectively, and contribute in a positive way to the guest’s experience. How much, and what type of, communication is expected between support staff and guests, and between support staff and other staff? Do you expect the cleaner to address a guest by name, or do you expect them to be ‘seen but not heard’?

Guest Retention

Do your guests leave happy and relaxed? Have you improved their mood? Brightened their day? If your spa guests experience consistent, positive treatment from your staff, you can count on them coming back.

So make sure you provide excellent services in a beautiful environment, but at the end of the day, it’s the human factor—your staff—that make the difference for your spa guests.

Need help getting results in your spa? Contact Spaformation at [email protected]

Spa Industry Team Standards

spa reception

We have a saying, “Your business is only as good as your worst employee”. Your goal must be to have your staff doing the same things, to the same standards. All the time. The guest must leave with a positive impression of how they were treated by all the staff. It is so important to have team standards in the spa industry

Creating a gracious, welcoming environment for all guests—regardless of their physical appearance, weight, disability, or gender—must be a top priority. 

There are standards that should apply to everyone employed at your spa. There could be a simple dress code, or a more detailed one to fit with a spa’s theme. What about wearing a lot of jewelry, tattoos or strong scents? Should that be allowed or not? Guidelines on punctuality, use of personal devices (cell phones etc.), use of social media and communication between staff members are examples of standards that would generally apply to all staff and have an effect on the atmosphere created for the guest. Everything should be clearly laid out in your policy and procedure manual. 

Everyone plays an important role in the smooth operation of a spa. From the cleaners to the massage therapist, all staff must treat each other with respect in order to achieve a harmonious work environment that will benefit everyone—including the guests. Guests have ears and eyes for communication not always intended for them so your team must be clear on these standards…

Having clear standards for your team in the spa industry, and expectations for staff behaviour is a necessity for creating a positive guest experience. The team are your front line when it comes to communicating with guests.

Would you like to learn more or book coaching for your team? Sign up here to learn more!

The Human Factor- Spa Business

I think we should start with getting one thing clear: It is not all about the hair, the hands, the face, or the feet. It is about the experience people have when they come to your business that determines if they return. I’m talking about the human factor in your spa business.

Yes you need to be skilled and get results. I made that sound trivial and I know that is far from the truth. But for the purposes of this conversation I am going to assume you, and your team, know that. Everyone, you included, stay current with your chosen service and treatment techniques. The results you deliver are important BUT I find most people/customers find it hard to separate good from great treatments. What clients want most is to FEEL special in that heartfelt way. They want to be heard, appreciated and understood. That everyone in your business “gets” them and know how to make them feel like they are the one and only most important client. I describe it as the experience you get when an exceptional person you know, and we all know at least one, who makes you feel “happy” after talking with them. They look you in the eye and they don’t look away, get distracted by their phone, look for someone or something more interesting during your conversation. They make you feel like the most important person in the world! You know that feeling don’t you?

So it really does boil down to the human factor. How you make your fellow humans feel after doing business with you.

So my question for you is what steps are you taking to assure a quality experience each and every time between your customer and your team?

Are you relying on your team to have your same standards you have? Do they know what they are? Are they in writing? Do you manage them to this standard?

Simple things like greetings and departures. Simple to say, no so simple to detail, write out, train, and manage to, improve and do it all over again. Getting into the details like how to shake someone’s hand. How long is good eye contact? What is the tone and volume of the voice? What to say, precisely. I am not a fan of creating robots but rather highly skilled professionals that I would be comfortable and proud to leave alone with my highest spending customer.

So just start by doing it step by step today. Keep it simple:

Review all moments of truth in a client arrival.

– where they enter

– how long it takes to greet them

– what is said by a staff member

– what does a customer see and hear and smell?

– etc. etc. etc.

Just keep going though the client experience. If you want consistently excellent experiences you will invest the time and training needed to make sure everyone who does business with you is thrilled with the outcome and the feeling they leave with.

Be well and Be Excellent!






Spa Training – Love the Learnin’

People always are asking me what are the traits of the most successful people I work with. What do they do? How do they think? How do they know what to do? For those of you who are wondering. Sorry, there is no magic bullet. In my experience, there is no one singular trait that makes a successful business owner. Some are real hard asses, some are warm and fuzzy. Some are number crunchers, some just know there’s money in the bank.  Some are passionate leaders and others one of the herd.  Spa Training – Love the Learnin’.

That said, the one consistent activity I see that successful spa and salon owners take on is training and education. They are constantly looking for betters ways to do things. They are not stuck on yesterday but looking forward to tomorrow. They will go anywhere and pay anything to get what they need. When I ask them why the answer is inevitably something like, “Whatever I learn I can use to be more profitable and whatever I pay is a drop in the bucket in comparison”.  To me, that also speaks to their understanding of not always fixating on being the smartest person in the room and being able to learn from others.

So my question for you is, what are you doing to be better, smarter, inspired or more profitable today? When is the last time you took time away from your business to work ON the spa business rather than IN the spa business. Is it time to get some spa training for your team?

Take time each week and set it aside. It may be reading an article online, or watching a video and maybe getting out of your office and somewhere else where knowledge is being shared. Start with a little time on a consistent basis and it will build to something meaningful. I read a great example the other day in the world of fitness. The man was speaking about the wonders of doing pushups. He said make your goal 100 pushups a day. That can be 20 sets of 5 or 10 sets of 10 or 5 sets of 20. Whatever it is, get it done throughout the course of a day. That makes it sound pretty doable right? At the end of the year, it would mean you did 36,500 pushups. Do you think that would make a difference to your fitness?

Take the same approach to your learning. be a ravenous learner and bask in the results.

Do you want spa training for your business? Contact me here.

Be well,


Spa Business Staff Training

Staff education and training is the way to achieve this. Individual and group training must be continuous. Practicing mock situations can be helpful in training staff to deal with unusual situation and unhappy customers. Practice, practice and more practice. Staff training is essential in your spa business. 

Setting clear expectation for staff is key to achieving a happy, efficient work environment. Detailed job descriptions covering all aspects of a job help staff feel secure in what they are doing. Providing detailed information for procedures from answering the phone to re-booking, will help your staff to improve the guest experience.

A positive, friendly workplace environment is essential to having your staff feel like they’re part of a great team. Celebrate your staff’s successes, communicate with them, and empower them. Happy staff generate positive guest interaction. 

Staff training—both group and individual—should be mandatory and be done on a regular basis. There should be opportunity for the sharing of ideas, and for feedback—both positive and negative. 

For this and other coaching in your Spa business contact us here.