Spa Staff Engagement

Understanding the Ever-Growing Massage-Spa Divide

This fall, the spa and wellness industry received some eagerly-awaited performance data at two industry conferences; the International Spa Association (ISPA) Conference in Phoenix, followed by the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) in Cesena, Italy. 

As it does every year, ISPA shared an update to the “Big Five” numbers, as researched by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and they were all positive; spa visits, revenues and numbers of spas were all up. At the GWS, Global Wellness Institute (GWI) researchers Ophelia Yeung and Katherine Johnston released updates to the Global Wellness Economy data last reported in 2015, also positive. The wellness economy is now estimated to be worth 4.2 trillion, with the spa piece valued at $94 billion. We should be very excited about these numbers, as they show our industry is continuing to grow, and has even more potential as spa businesses continue to augment with wellness elements. I know I’m encouraged, but there is a dark side. 

At the ISPA conference, PwC’s Colin McIlheney also highlighted some of the findings from the inaugural Workforce Study, and they clearly show there are challenges ahead on the labor front. Spas reporting service provider vacancies numbered 67 percent, and almost 36,000 positions, both full and part-time, are unfilled. Of those, nearly 57 percent were massage positions

Spa Competition

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Wait—isn’t massage the number one selling service in 90 percent of spas, globally? This doesn’t make sense.

Much of my consulting work is in optimizing the business results of existing spas, and I can definitively say that currently, I don’t have any consulting clients who have enough massage therapists. In fact, I have three active clients, in three separate corners of the U.S., who have been consistently searching for additional massage therapists for as long as the past year, to no avail. 

It’s not that there aren’t any massage therapists, in fact the industry is far from it. The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) estimates that there are between 335,000 and 338,000 massage therapists and students, most in the U.S. It’s more that the success of spas and consumer awareness of the need to seek services that provide stress release has resulted in wide-ranging opportunities for massage therapists. When I started working in the spa industry in the mid-1980s, massages had to be included in packages I order to get clients to try them! That is hardly the case today. 

Today, massage therapists have many income-earning opportunities; massage franchises, app-driven service delivery models such as Zeel and Soothe, in-house therapists in tech and healthcare companies, and of course as independent contractors working for themselves. Perhaps working in a spa is just not as appealing?  Because of the physical demands of massage, therapists have long supplemented their four to six-hour spa shifts with client home visits and side jobs, but now the model is shifting, and many therapists are more focused on those other options and will commit to only a shift or two per week in a spa setting. 

Is compensation the answer? I don’t believe so.

My consulting client spas all provide competitive pay along with, at minimum, PTO accumulation, and some even offer health care benefit contributions and bonus opportunities. Yet, for one of my clients, the massage therapists are only willing to work if they can dictate their own schedules and remain independent contractors. However, that particular combination of low margin and lack of quality control and consistency is not a solution for spas attempting to offer top-quality treatments, while scaling their brand presence. 

As it is, filling a seven-day-per-week schedule for four massage treatment rooms would require as many as 10-12 therapists, given the fact that most therapists cannot perform massages for more than 25 hours per week. So, hiring even more bodies, in an environment with dwindling interest, does not seem like a solution. 

Contributing factors may be that people today have a different concept of work and careers; they often seem to prefer having multiple part-time jobs to one main source of income. Also, many spa businesses have neglected to create a strong career path or have been unable to provide a comprehensive compensation plan, with benefits and advancement opportunities, which might keep staff engaged and employed. But whatever the reasons, the trend cannot be denied. 

Perhaps it is time for spas to seriously consider other modalities, treatments and activities that will continue to attract guests and allow operators to at least maintain revenue while staying true to the original spa brand vision.

Wellness modalities including acupuncture, chiropractic, wellness coaching, nutritional counseling, and sleep-related treatments are all rising in demand. Movement and group therapies like Pilates, yoga, tai chi, and guided meditation can be offered in flexible lounge space. According to NPD Group, skincare sales in the U.S. are growing again, up 9 percent in 2017 over 2016, reaching $5.6 billion in sales. Given that skincare typically delivers a higher average ticket and retail ratio than massage, maybe it’s time to put more energy into growing this segment of the business. 

Our situation is not as much of an issue in other countries, where beauty therapists are licensed to perform all of the services on the menu, and whose daily schedule will regularly include facials, massages, and even nail treatments. I’ve long believed that our U.S. approach of specialization creates higher utilization rates, but that only holds true if you can fill your schedule with providers. Unfortunately, given the state-by-state beauty licensing model here in the U.S., multi-licensed and skilled providers are still a rarity. 

The numbers don’t lie; as the demand for wellness services continues to grow, U.S. spas are going to need to formulate a plan to provide wellness services in new and unexpected ways, or we risk losing relevance to tomorrow’s consumer.

 

This article was published first on americanspa.com.

 

Global-Wellness-Inst.-Survey

Survey Results: Global Wellness Institute’s Spa Consultant Survey

by Lisa Starr and Michelle Cusanno

With over 121,000 (Global Wellness Economy Monitor – January 2017) spas in the world, you can rest assured that many of them benefited from the guidance of a spa consultant at some point in their development and operations process. But the spa consultant is a bit of an invisible guiding force; spa consultants don’t get their name over the door of the business, and once a property is up and running they are all but gone and forgotten, on to the next project.

LaTherapie Spa

LaTherapie Spa

Spa consulting is a highly specialized profession, and while there are several hundred full-time spa consultants in the world, they all have different capabilities and experience. Spa consultants do not share a specific college degree or certification or have their own association, but many of the global spa consultants have come together under the Global Wellness Institute’s Consulting Initiative. The Initiative aims to showcase the skills and abilities of spa consultants, and to give the consultants themselves a forum to share ideas and resources. While in general, they are all competitors, they also tend to work alone or in very small groups, and many have appreciated the opportunity to band together as a community that the Initiative has provided.

One goal of the Initiative has been to define the work that consultants do and to provide some basic framework for these activities for those who may benefit, such as real estate developers and owners, hoteliers, and entrepreneurs. Toward that end, the Initiative recently conducted a survey of its members in order to learn more about the size and scope of spa consulting globally and to gain some insight into the career path that can be shared with those who are interested in the field.

What are the competencies of a spa consultant to work to the best of their ability and reap the rewards?  What are these rewards?  How do they attain this knowledge and enjoy the process?  The answers to these and other questions are among the insights that were gathered in the survey, excerpts of which follow.

How did our consultants acquire the necessary skills to do their work?

Over 70% have 4-year college and/or graduate degree.  Some have hospitality training with large brands, while others are licensed in massage, esthetics or other modalities.  About 60% worked as therapists or in fitness, 75% had spa management experience, and 44% hospitality management.

Was the spa consultant path formalized or unstructured?

Many said both; structured, in the case of large hospitality brands, and the opportunity to gain years of experience in spa operations at multiple properties. Others learned in the trenches, mentored by others, having started in the industry back when there was no formal education for spa management. Some have owned their own spa at some point before branching out to help others.

When asked about resources such as books or articles that helped to develop their skills, many recommended combing a broad array of news and information, not just the topics of spa & wellness; topics included design, art, music, drawing, hospitality, restaurant, and retail publications, blogs and websites. Harvard Business Review, Forbes Magazine, the GWI website, ISPA resources, and Malcolm Gladwell books also received mentions.

How did our consultants develop an acumen for management practices?

Learning on the job, experience. Corporate training programs in hospitality. “sharp eyes, open ears, reading, exchanging, being super-interested”. Mentors. Working from the ground up.

What steps, skills, resources would they recommend to those who would like to take their consulting to the next level?

Responses included “International exposure, continuous education, attend all industry events and participate in educational opportunities wherever possible. Work with the best, starting in operations. Get an MBA if you want to write feasibility studies and audits. Understand what consultancy really is, not just a title, and you must understand spa management from an owner perspective. Manage multiple different types and sizes of spas.

Opinion on the necessary characteristics of a successful consultant were broad and varied; deep understanding of the industry and organizational/project management skills; multi-dimensional knowledge; strong communications/interpersonal skills; organization and self-confidence; superior level of specialist knowledge; leadership and people skills; patience, ability to listen, communicate clearly; empathy; passion; honesty; ability to tailor clients dreams and aspirations into an end product that is operationally practical; time management; flexibility and patience as the process goes through lots of changes; ability to disseminate information; ethical and moral fiber; vision and continuous search for innovation; collaborative; creative problem solver; strong financial acumen; ability to delegate. Maybe the best comment; “Have fun and don’t take it too seriously – we are solving first-world problems.”

How did they respond when asked what was most effective consultation?

Most importantly, it was noted that earning the trust and support of owners and staff was an important measure. The ability to tell a beautiful story and also create a solid business model was the mark of success for many. Other positive outcomes included achieving objectives, happy clients, referrals/recommendations from said clients, delivering projects on-schedule and on-budget, and better revenue and profit margins. Walking away with the feeling that “I finished the project thankful that I was involved.”

Our consultants noted that 25% of them work on 3-5 projects per year and 25% work on more than 12.  These projects are mostly hotel/resort, followed by day spas, wellness centers, and lastly, destination spas.  Over 90% of consultants do project-based pricing, or a combination of project and hourly, and most payments are made on a schedule of set points throughout the project (75%). 28% have 4 or more employees.

Do they carry Professional Liability Insurance?

Over 70% said yes, although many work in markets or on smaller projects where it is not required. For hotel and other projects, it is often required by the brand or developer. Even among those who carry it, many said clients never ask about it.

How do their clients find a spa consultant?

96% noted client recommendations/word of mouth. About 60% said through a website.  The average duration of their projects was 12-18 months, according to 30%.  The average capital spend on projects was US $1.5 million, and 25% of consultants said they are seeing annual growth rates in their businesses of 13% and more.

In summation, these observations were shared: “Spa consulting is a business plain and simple. There are professionals who are ready to begin a consulting career and have knowledge and skills that will provide great value and benefits, but many people have not thought it through as a business and should spend more time analyzing the opportunity before making such a big decision. Be optimistic but realistic, especially when it comes to your income, financial security, career goals and enjoying the work that you do.” And never stop learning.

More information on the spa consulting competencies, such as concept development, financial forecasting, staff recruitment, and marketing plans, and additional useful tools and information can be found at globalspaandwellnessconsultants.com.

How many spa projects per year

Average duration of spa projects

Average capitol spend for spa projects

 

Integrating Wellness Into The Spa Experience

Integrating Wellness Into The Spa Experience

According to the Global Wellness Institute’s 2017 Global Wellness Economy Monitor, from 2013 to 2015, Hotel/Resort spas were the fastest-growing category among all spa types, due to the emerging global middle class and a growing interest in experiential travel.

While massage will typically be the most-requested service in almost every spa, it has also become more of a commodity, with massages available in a wide variety of venues, including on-call services that deliver a therapist to your home, through an app, in under an hour. The hotel and resort spa-going guest is looking for innovation in treatments, facilities, cuisine and activities that will help them to lower their stress levels and unplug from their demanding lives, while reinforcing their brand loyalty and desire to return.

Facilities

spa services pricing strategies

Spas are intended to be sensory havens, beyond the basic element of touch inherent in treatments, and this can’t be forgotten in the design, decor and sensory appeal of the facility. COMO Shambhala spas around the world all carry their signature Invigorate products, scented with a blend of eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, and geranium, and these products are also used as amenities in guest rooms. Langham Hotel’s Chuan Spas each feature a signature Moon Gate entrance, and elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine are used throughout the spas, including customizable lighting in treatment rooms which are programmed based on the results of a client intake questionnaire, making the experience much more personalized. Effective air ventilation, soundproofing, and thoughtful design and furnishings will heighten the relaxation response of the guest before they even enter the treatment room.

Facility amenities including saunas, steam rooms, cold plunges and whirlpools, experience showers, and zero-gravity loungers, while not inexpensive to create and operate, provide an array of options that attract guests to the spa, and don’t have an attached labor cost. For example, the Spa Wave table by German manufacturer Gharieni offers heat, gentle vibration and a binaural sound wave system, experienced through a headset, which provides deep relaxation in a matter of minutes, without a therapist. The table can be used for typical spa treatment, but the guest can pay an additional fee to linger and enjoy these features. The Ame Spa at Turnberry Isle in Aventura, FL recently installed a cryotherapy capsule, which delivers a blast of ice-cold air in a 3-minute period, intended to boost metabolism and energy, improve circulation and relieve pain. Floatation therapy, either in a capsule or purpose-built shallow pool, calms brain waves by removing the senses of light, sound and gravity, and can be experienced at the Agua Serena Spa at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells, CA.

The ultimate in integrating facility and design with wellness practices may be the new Six Senses Bhutan, which will be comprised of five separate lodges across the kingdom, each designed around one of the five pillars of Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness Index, and intended to be enjoyed as a circuit experience.

Tranquility lounges offering healthy snacks and refreshments, such as fresh and dried fruits, nuts, protein bars and infused-waters is an easy way to provide a connection for guests between food and well-being. Park Hyatt spas have long offered guests a chef-created amuse bouche to accompany their treatments. Today’s spa guests are very interested in herbal and botanical teas and tinctures, making an updated selection of fresh organic teas and ready hot water a must. Read more

benefits of salon software

What are the benefits of Salon Software?

You may have started your salon business with just a few chairs operating, and a hand-picked team. Between equipment, and product choices, employee training, client marketing, and all of the other details, salon software might have been the last thing on your mind. You have been managing without computers to book appointments and to ring clients up. No harm done, right? Or have you?

It’s true that you can operate without software, and it may seem more convenient than buying a computer and learning how to use the program. Sometimes, the front desk staff pushes back against having to learn new technology, preferring a paper and pencil appointment book, white-out and all. However, salon software presents many advantages and efficiencies, both in daily operations and for management evaluation.

spa client receptionIf you don’t currently use salon software, you probably still have a good idea of how much revenue constitutes a good day for your hair salon. You may know your break-even number for the week or even for the day, and can relax when the till fills up. However, if you wanted to replicate those results tomorrow, how would you do it? You need more information about HOW those sales were created, and that is something that the software provides.

Which of your stylists has the highest average ticket?

Who has the highest client retention?

Who sells the most retail?

The answers to these questions don’t come from counting your revenues, they come from the statistics you collect through your software.

Using salon software is not an all-or-nothing option, so if you’re not currently using computers, you don’t have to go from 0-60. In fact, deploying software is often best done in stages. The priority would be to begin with the point-of-sale function essentially, the sales register. In order to do this, you would need to enter all of your services, technicians, products, and prices into the system, but then you’re good to go. Ringing up sales of services and products will provide you with detailed daily reports on who is selling what, which can be very illuminating. You’ll also be collecting information on who is buying what, which can help you with your marketing efforts.

Once your staff is comfortable using the point-of-sale, you can start tracking inventory with the software, especially retail. You may be losing money right now, between shrinkage and inefficient purchasing, and the sooner you know that, the sooner you can fix it. Gift card and certificate sales are also easily generated with your software; tracking is seamless and you will have ready access to details such as your outstanding gift card liability.

Appointment booking is often the last piece that is put into place, and it may go more smoothly once staff is familiar with the program. Look ahead at your books, and pick a date in the future, maybe six or eight weeks from now, after which all appointments should be booked in the computer, not the paper book. then work backward from that date. Many salons continue to keep a paper book along with the computerized appointments for the first couple of weeks, but once the integration is complete the paper book needs to disappear; keeping two appointment books is a recipe for mistakes down the road.

Perhaps you are content just having your business generate whatever revenues come easily. But if you are looking to grow or expand, using salon software will help you to be more strategic with your plans. Salon software provides data and systems, which lead to consistency and structure for your business performance, all of which are crucial to creating a long-lasting enterprise. Remember the old adage, “You can’t improve what you don’t know!”

 

 

 

This post appeared first on blog.booker.com

Live Spa Staff Training

Does your spa have an employee handbook?

In the high-touch spa, we tend to shy away from official-sounding terms like policy guidebooks, employee manual, and employee handbook.  But having these useful tools in place can enable spa management to focus on more important issues, like growing the business.

Sure, when you started your spa business, you only had a handful of employees, and they worked alongside you to get the spa up and running.  They all know “how it works” in your business, and you feel that you don’t need an employee manual, with a lot of rules and regulations.

Those are for big companies, right?

You don’t want your business to be perceived as “corporate.”

Spa Employee HandbookBut the thing is, if you’re one of the hard-working lucky folks whose business is thriving, you’re probably doing a lot of things right, which means that the business will continue to grow.  Leading to more clients, longer opening hours, and more staff to take care of the demand.  And the next thing you know, your small group of compatriots has blossomed into a medium-sized group of people who are not necessarily on the same wavelength as you when it comes to how things get done.

Do you find yourself regularly answering questions such as these?

  • When do I get to take a vacation?
  • Why does so-and-so have more clients today than I do?
  • Can my sister come in on Saturday for a pedicure? Does she get a discount?
  • Who is going to review my performance and help me to improve my earnings?

If so, then your business is ready for a little more structure.  These and numerous other issues can be easily resolved by writing down how you want them handled.

As an owner/manager you are probably already stretched very thin; imagine what you could do with an extra 45 minutes per day in which you were not answering the same old questions over and over!  In one of my client meetings with a spa owner, I observed how, during our meeting, the staff interrupted her to ask her how to handle an issue with professional inventory, how to respond to a phone call from a bridal party, and which of two possible locations a particular technician should use to perform a regularly scheduled service.  While all of these issues seemed important to the people asking the questions, they could have been handled easily if there had been written policies in existence, without interrupting the owner multiple times.

As this situation illustrates, the purpose of the handbook is not to go corporate, but to provide a strong foundation which enables your staff to fully understand what is expected of them in the situations they are likely to face during the course of a day, and to remove yourself from the role of the “answer person.”  Plus, the added benefit of having written policies is that it removes any suggestion of favoritism that can occur otherwise.

One way to make an employee handbook feel more user-friendly is not to call it a handbook; a policy guidebook sounds a little nicer.  Whatever you call it, Staff Guidebooks are a legal document and should include numerous federal and state policies on how employees are treated and their rights.  Helpful guidelines on employee handbooks can be found at the SBA website, the Society for Human Resource Management website (SHRM.org), and numerous private sites such as this one from the HR Group.

Basic legal requirements are all included in the employee handbooks that you can purchase off the shelf; however, those handbooks never include any policies or guidelines that are needed in a spa environment, such as the bullets above.  Your best bet is to purchase a basic manual, and then add your own policies to it.  Human resources law is quite complex, and you would certainly want to have your final draft reviewed by a local attorney before distribution.  It is very helpful to design your handbook in a way that it can be regularly updated, which it will need no matter how careful you are.  As the business grows, needs change.  Have your staff members sign an acknowledgment page, stating that they understand they are responsible for keeping up to date on your particular guidelines, and then you can turn your focus to more important things, like sales & marketing.

If you don’t have the time to put together an employee handbook, let us help. Contact us for a consultation.

 

Spa Staff Engagement

Why Staff Engagement Is Key To Spa Success

Ever look around the spa and feel like your staff is just going through the motions? They’re showing up at work, they’re servicing clients, but there is not a lot of energy or enthusiasm?

Staff engagement is a key component of your spa success, but how do you get it?

And how do you know when you have it?

Happy employees are not the same as engaged employees; staff members can be personally happy, but still not engaged in their work.

The Changing Faces of Spa StaffA recent State of the American Workplace report found that while 32% of employees are committed to doing a good job, 50% of employees are just putting in time, and 17% are actively disengaged; they are disrupting their coworkers and driving away clients through poor communications and bad service. Imagine how much more productive, and profitable, your spa could be if you could make some inroads in engaging that other 70%!

But it’s easier said than done.

Why aren’t your spa employees engaged in their work? There are multiple reasons, and it can be a combination of more than one of these:

  • You may not be selecting the applicants who are the best fit for your business and culture
  • Your compensation plan may not reward high-performers or provide a career advancement path, causing people to stagnate
  • There is not a clear vision and leadership driving the business forward
  • The spa is not well-marketed and is not attracting a diverse clientele to keep your “artists” motivated
  • There are too many cliques operating in your business, and those on the outside tend to disconnect

Part of the challenge facing spa management is that we are not human resource professionals. Our creative orientation sometimes causes us to believe that if we hire someone who is technically good at massage or esthetics, the rest will take care of itself. But all too often, that’s not what happens. Engagement in our work doesn’t just happen; it requires the creation of behind the scenes processes and structure to select the right people, and ongoing training, compensation and career development to keep them mentally tuned in. Certainly, spa staff members are interested in their earnings potential, but they’re also interested in opportunities to train and grow as professionals; in fact, their artistic backgrounds often mean that these factors can outweigh financial compensation. That explains the importance of creating annual budgets that allow the business to provide regular high-quality training for all staff members.

Human Resource consultant Josh Bersin of Deloitte explores tactics business leaders can follow in this post titled “Five Elements of a Simply Irresistible™ Organization;” while these are targeted to large employers, the basics he espouses are exactly the same for spas and small businesses. Put a little energy into considering the environment and culture you are providing, and it will come back to you in multiples.

In many cases, as spa leaders, we just need a refresh. We need to step outside of our spa and refresh our skills and our minds. If you need a refresh, consider registering for the Wynne Business online Spa Director’s Management Intensive. Our online course is available on-demand to fit into your schedule. Learn more about this valuable resource here.

 

 

Spa Email Marketing Best Practices

Ten Spa Email Marketing Best Practices

With all of the buzz around social media, email marketing may not get as much attention as it used to from spa marketers. But spa email marketing still has many compelling things going for it. Here are a few persuasive statistics on email usage:

The challenge is that your customers’ inboxes are already overflowing with marketing emails from all kinds of businesses. This requires that you be strategic about cutting through the clutter. Here are 10 spa email marketing best practices to follow when developing your email strategy and content.

Spa Email Marketing

  1. Ask permission. Don’t randomly add new clients to your email marketing list—ask them to opt-in. Otherwise, you run the risk of clients marketing your messages as spam. If you receive too many complaints, your internet service provider (ISP) may start blocking all of your messages.
  2. Make it compelling. Asking clients to “sign up for emails” isn’t a very good hook. But inviting them to “sign up for exclusive news and offers” is a lot more enticing. Let prospects know how often you’ll be emailing them (monthly is usually good) and what kinds of content you’ll be sending.
  3. Make signups easy. If you want clients to join your list, you need to make it easy. You can have a signup form right on the homepage of your website, include a signup tab on your Facebook page, and even post a paper sign-up list at your front desk. You may even give someone extra loyalty points for signing up on the spot.
  4. Be mobile friendly. Mobile usage continues to grow at an astounding rate; some studies say that almost half of all emails are now opened on mobile devices. Your email template must be responsive—that is, designed in a way that it’s easy to read on both desktops and mobile devices.
  5. Invest in subject lines. The email you carefully craft will go to waste if it never gets opened. The key to getting your readers’ attention is a great subject line. Experts recommend subject lines under 50 characters, with limited use of capital letters and symbols. One new trend is towards very brief subject lines, 10 characters or less, that really stand out. It’s a smart idea to test a couple of versions for each mailing to see which performs best.
  6. Provide value. Make sure your emails are informative and useful to the reader. For example, your monthly newsletter could include recipes, beauty advice, and industry news they won’t want to miss, in addition to special offers for services and products.
  7. Segment your list. You’re already collecting information about your clients’ preferences. Using that information to segment your list will allow you to target your messages to a specific group of readers. For example, you send a special offer on facials to clients who have previously had facials with your business, or extend a discount on a specific product line to clients who have purchased that brand in the past. The more relevant and specific your content is, the higher your results will be.
  8. Test your send times. In general, emails tend to have higher open and clickthrough rates on the weekends or later in the afternoon. As with subject lines, try testing your email send times to see which day of the week and time of day yields the best results for your clients.
  9. Use a consistent voice. Readers expect a consistent experience with your brand, and that applies to your emails, too. Having one person in charge of communications and a strong brand voice will cut down on ambiguity and help reinforce your spa’s “personality” with clients.
  10. Make opting-out easy. Not only is it the law, it’s also a good business practice to make it easy for clients to stop receiving your emails. Its okay to ask them why, but don’t make them feel guilty. Spend that energy on making your communications so interesting and compelling that no one wants to opt out!

The Bottom Line

Don’t sound the death knell for email marketing yet! It’s still a highly effective way to communicate with customers and drive repeat visits to your spa. Make sure to use email marketing judiciously and follow the guidelines above, and you’ll start to see success with your campaigns.

Email marketing is a valuable component of your spa marketing plan. If you want to create a powerful marketing plan to grow your spa business, talk to us. Schedule a free 30-minute needs assessment here.

 

 

This post appeared first on the Booker Blog.

Client Retention_ How to Keep your Spa Clients Coming Back for More

Client Retention: How to Keep your Spa Clients Coming Back for More.

Not having client retention tactics in place is like having a boat with a hole in it that you refuse to patch. What is your spa’s client retention rate?

Spa Client Retention

You’ve got great spa services! Don’t forget to create a strategy to keep your spa clients coming back.

You’ve gone through a lot of trouble to create a wonderful spa environment. Your spa is beautifully decorated, your staff is well-trained, and your marketing plan is bringing in new clients. It costs a lot to keep that cycle going.

Did you ever think about how you could offset those costs if you could improve the retention rate of your existing clients?

Think about how the mobile phone companies have all of those great offers for NEW clients. Yet you have paid them a huge chunk of change every month for the last five years, and what do you get for that?

Pretty much nothing.

Your spa’s clients may be feeling the same way: unappreciated. Especially in a spa environment, where building a rapport with guests is key to success, there must be a plan in place to keep guests returning to your spa, instead of sending them to the numerous competitors that you may have. Here are a few proven tactics.

Implement a guest welcome strategy for your spa.

The first thing to do is have a plan to welcome new guests into your “family,” and make them feel special. Your spa software should allow you to flag appointments of new guests in a particular way, but unless your staff is aware and taking action, nothing will happen. Train everyone, not just customer service staff, to take special care of new guests; show them around the facility, go out of your way to say hello, smile, ask if they need anything. Use their name as often as possible and appropriately.

When the new guest checks-out, your retention-building efforts should swing into action. Studies have shown that the likelihood that a guest will continue to do business with you increases exponentially on and after their third visit to the facility. A yoga studio that I frequent has this down to a science; at the conclusion of the first class a new student completes, they are presented with an envelope with their name on it, containing information on the studio, the class schedule, and a voucher that allows them to take unlimited classes for the ensuing week for a set price of $25 (regular drop-in rate is $17). For cost-conscious consumers, like the friend that I brought with me last week, that is a compelling deal.

My friend went back the next day and will go again within the week, and therefore she is much more likely to continue to frequent the studio. The key is striking while the iron is hot. For spas, a similar offer would be to give new guests a voucher for a promotionally-priced service on their next visit, and perhaps an even larger promotion on a service or retail item for the third visit – and those next two visits should be within a six-week period.

A client who visits the spa three times in a year doesn’t help the business as much as someone who comes three times in two months, so make sure you put an end-date on promotions.

Add new clients to your spa communication channels.

After that first visit, when the client has been welcomed into the spa family, be sure to add their email address to your database, after getting their permission. Let them know that you only send a monthly newsletter with special promotions for existing clients only and that you never share your list, and you should not have trouble getting them to participate.

Loyalty or rewards programs are another excellent way to encourage clients to consolidate their purchasing with your spa business. Let them earn points for each purchase, whether services or products; 10 or 100 points to the dollar spent is typical. Look at what a “good” client spends in a year, and set a threshold for the redemption of those points, say after they’ve amassed 7000 points, which would likely be after about six visits. You can also use the points as leverage to encourage specific behaviors; double points on Tuesdays, or for appointments before 11 am, for example.

Social media provides the perfect way to continue a dialogue with your guests, well after their service has been rendered; frequent posts or polls on Facebook, compelling imagery or recipes on Pinterest, and fun photos of happenings at the spa on Instagram keep guests engaged at the level that they choose; just be sure not to inundate them.

Schedule your client’s next spa appointment before they leave this one.

When the guest checks out the first day, with their Welcome Bundle, that is the time to ask them if you can book their next treatment before they leave your spa. Pre-booking is an activity that can also carry reward points to encourage participation, and it develops that beneficial habit in your guest.

You’ve heard the statistics; it costs 7 to 8 times more to snare a new client than it does to keep an existing one. Imagine if every client you serviced in a week made a return appointment; you would be able to put a lot less money and energy into prospecting for new clients. This is doubly beneficial since “regular” clients know how it works at your spa. They do not need a lot of hand-holding or client care, and so, not only do they bring in more revenue but they cost you less, as well.

If you put some of these efforts into place throughout your spa, you will certainly see a client retention rate that is steadily increasing, along with your bottom line.

For more ideas, read Guest Checkout That Maximizes Retail and Retention.

Spa Services Pricing

Spa Services Pricing Strategies: Are you leaving money on the table?

When it comes to spa operations, one thing that I think is often taken for granted is the service menu. Often with spa services pricing treatments are priced and listed, and then no one looks at it for a couple of years. But how would you feel if a restaurant you frequented NEVER had anything new or different to offer? A little menu re-engineering is in order on a regular basis, so that neither your customers nor your staff gets too bored with what you are offering.

The recessionary environment has somewhat faded, but it was an important wakeup call for many spas. The treatments and products that we offer are not essentials, and consumers are still very careful with their discretionary dollars. Retail sales average increases of about 3% each year, consistent with what they’ve averaged for the last 10 years. In other words, not a lot. And yet, we still have to make sure that we do raise spa prices occasionally, just to avoid lulling our customers into thinking they’ll never change. And the fact is, the treatment menu should be a major sales tool.

spa services pricing strategies

Spa Services Pricing – Strategic Change is Good

First, consider the “what” that comprises your menu. It can be helpful to run a sales report for the previous year, and consider eliminating any treatments that you sold less than, say, 25-30 of. That’s only one every other week, obviously not a big seller. Clearing out a menu item makes room for another that may have better turnover, or margin, or both.

If you haven’t raised prices in a couple of years, it is likely time to examine the current environment and weigh your opportunities. Begin by creating a spreadsheet listing your competitors and their prices on basic services, and add yours to it.  You want to be able to see at a glance where your price for a basic facial or 60-minute Swedish Massage lies in comparison to others in your area. Look more closely at spas or salons in your competitive set, but don’t neglect massage studios and facial clinics – they’re competing for your customer too.  Make sure that your prices are consistent with your position in the marketplace, whether you are you a high-end facility, value-priced, or somewhere in the middle.

Once your ideal ranges are created, you can consider raising prices on a few specific treatments. For now, if you are adding services to the menu, since they are new you can set them at the high end of the range you want to create.  Avoid raising prices on all of your treatments at one time, this can have a greater negative impact on clients who typically enjoy 2 or 3 different services.  Try raising some nail prices in the spring, and perhaps bring up a few facials or massages in the fall. And by the way, there is no law that your prices need to end in “0” or “5”! Try pricing some treatments in a more random way; $68, $76, $83. This probably looks more realistic to a client than having symmetrical pricing.

Remember, if your clients never say your prices are too high, they’re not quite high enough.  Don’t price yourself out of your market, but make sure you charge what you are worth.

Delving Deeper into Menu Logistics

It’s helpful to enter the entire contents of your existing menu into an excel spreadsheet, which makes it easy to view and manipulate your data.  Plus, you can use the spreadsheet to create treatment rate or commission tables for your compensation plan at another time.  Group services together by department; looking at your menu in this more abstract way makes it easier to determine retail prices for services.  Once you’ve created the spreadsheet, re-order the services, and make sure to start with the highest-priced item, and let the others fall into place in order of price, ending with the least expensive.  Spa menus always seem to start with the lowest priced service in a category, and most clients don’t read any further.  Show me a sales report in which 80% of the facials performed are the entry-level facial, and I don’t need to see the menu to know it is presented in this way.  Starting with the higher priced items will likely encourage clients to read more about their options; they may settle on a service priced somewhere in the middle, but not as low as the entry-level price.

Support for Upselling

Next, and perhaps most importantly, consider your technician compensation plan.  If your plan emphasizes performance metrics such as average ticket, does your menu provide the structure to make upselling of services easy?  I recently encountered a service menu with no facials priced between $85 and $135 – that’s too big a jump for 90% of your clients, who will all stick with the less expensive option.  If your price structure on facials is $85, $93, $98, $103, and $112, and you add in a menu of micro treatments priced from $8 to $22, you’ll be able to find the sweet spot for any customer and give multiple upselling options to your staff.  When the service providers have a menu that supports upselling, they are more likely to practice with every client, and they will be transformed from order-takers to sales creators.

For more help with spa retail strategies, watch our short video about the positive side effects or spa retailing.

 

 

This post appeared first at spastandard.com.

Importance of branding your spa

The Importance of Branding Your Spa

Do you have a readily available “elevator speech” when asked to describe your spa business?

Are those few sentences capturing the essence of your brand?

In a crowded market, the importance of branding your spa is paramount in maintaining your market share. If you have not invested time or effort in carefully crafting your spa’s brand message, it’s not too late to start.

Importance of spa branding

What sets your spa business apart from your competition?

It’s the intangibles such as your reputation, your client care, and the way your spa connects with clients. These are components of your spa brand that are the cornerstones of any marketing efforts but are too often after-thoughts in the development of a spa business.

Sure, your treatment menu offers facials, massages and body treatments, but so do many others. Sell retail products? Check. Use high-quality skin and body products? Check. With so much competition available for discretionary dollars to be spent in the spa, and with so many spas bombarding clients with marketing messages, it has never been more important for your spa brand to have a clear identity that stands out from the crowd.

The goal of branding your spa is to attract the right clients.

Your goal with strong branding is not to attract all clients – it’s to attract the right clients, who relate to your brand and the way you do business. This deeper connection does more to keep clients coming to you than fancy décor or staff training programs can, because it connects them to your meaningful purpose. But in order to know what you “stand for,” that has to be clearly articulated at many different touch points.

For example, let’s imagine that your original intent was to create a spa business based on holistic health. You would carefully select a name for the spa that communicated your concept; maybe something like Spa 360, emblematic of a continuous circle. You would have a logo designed that would likely incorporate some sort of circular graphic, to reinforce the concept visually. You would want to make sure that your emails and your receipts have your logo printed on them. You would likely choose a plant-based product manufacturer that offered options that were organic, as opposed to something packed with chemicals and artificial preservatives.

You would develop a compensation plan for your staff that had components such as a contribution to health care coverage, and paid time off, to ensure their health and wellbeing. Your website will probably have a tab for “community,” where you can share a calendar of upcoming events that are important to your clients. These are decisions that support the meaning behind your spa brand; in and of themselves, they are not significant, but they add up to a sum greater than the total of the parts. The feel of the brand that you create resonates with your target client, and that is why they continue to do business with you.

Spa branding should be a constant component of your operations.

Once you have breathed life into your spa brand, that identity must continue to be nurtured and evolved, and should be a constant component of your operations and marketing plans. Take a look around your spa; is your brand personality clear? The colors and ambiance should, at least subtly, reference the brand identity. Internal signage, retail wrap packaging, staff uniforms, and printed collateral such as menus and other marketing materials, all should share the look and feel of the spa brand you are striving to create.

The same holds true for your external and internal client communications; invest some time and energy creating e-blast and newsletter templates that reflect the brand personality. Although the look and feel of these materials is the more immediately obvious reference, a strong brand connection has to go deeper. Back to our example of the holistic spa, used above; your monthly e-newsletter would include educational and informational bits, such as introductions of new staff members, an article highlighting a community event that your staff participated in, and perhaps a recipe for a healthy, easy make-at-home soup, as well as product and service sales promotions.

As you grow, you may branch off into different directions.

It’s important to be aware that brands change and evolve over time; even if you did have a major premise and set of core values at the center of your spa personality, as the business grows, it is common to branch off into new or different directions, which may not be as firmly linked to that central identity. At least once per year, you and your management team should be holding an off-site retreat and candidly evaluating your market position and the effectiveness of your communications. Have you strayed from your original message, or is it time to make adjustments to the brand identity? Sometimes a simple logo refresh by a graphic designer can do the trick, but at other times, you may need to make choices that better articulate your company values.

Remember, there are approximately 26,000 spas in North America alone; what will encourage a client to choose yours over all of the others, at least on a repeat basis, goes beyond the price of your standard facial. Having a clear brand identity and developing it over time will help your business to stay true to your original intent and to stand out from your competition.

This article was published first at blog.booker.com.