Now what? Spa management resources and thoughts

Greetings, and I wish it was under different circumstances.

I hope you will take 2 minutes to read this, and reap the benefits of some nuggets provided below…

To say these are unprecedented times would be an understatement.

After 35 years in this industry, I have never experienced this kind of situation, and I am sure the same is true for most of us, especially in respect to becoming familiar with terms like “social distancing” and “corona-lockdown.” However, as I walked through the grocery store Sunday (my only outing of the weekend, wearing rubber gloves) I considered that the half-full aisles are a common occurrence in many parts of the world, nothing new. Here in America, our norm is an abundance of goods and services, and access to those goods and services, at all times. We live in a country that is built to support speed and commerce; as someone who travels a lot, I am always struck by how easy and efficient it is to transact almost anything here, whether making copies and presentation materials in an hour, renting a car, getting a pedicure at 10pm, or even withdrawing cash from an ATM that is on every corner. Change is difficult for most humans, and as leaders we need to be prepared to be strong for our families and colleagues.

I suspect that in the next few weeks/months, we are going to learn a new appreciation for many of the advantages we have taken for granted. I am hopeful that our spa/salon/wellness/fitness clients will feel the same, and will have a renewed focus on maintaining their personal wellness which will lead them back in droves to our temporarily shuttered businesses. This is such a massively difficult time for our hands-on small businesses, and I am so sad for all of those who are losing so much.

Obviously, we cannot give facials virtually, but we can stay connected with our clients and should attempt to do so. We are so extremely fortunate to have the internet and all of the social media channels at our fingertips to aide in this. Personally, I am finding myself on Instagram and Facebook much more than usual, and there is a lot of optimism and support to be found there between your fellow humans and business professionals. In the last week, I have taken online yoga and fitness classeslistened to guided meditations, and even taken a bread-baking class! Many businesses are reaching out in new and creative ways.

Particularly for spa and wellness business managers, I wanted to share just a few of the recent and upcoming online resources I have come across in the last week, and which you may find relevant and helpful:

  • You’re not in this alone: register and join myself and several other industry veterans for a FREE webinar discussion sponsored by Mindbody Online on Thursday March 26,12:30 EDT. Additionally, MBO has created an impressive collection of articles and advice for beauty/wellness/fitness businesses, accessible to anyone.
  • The Green Spa Network is offering a free wellness business community webinar TODAY March 24 at 3pm EDT
  • The SBA page on COVID-19 business guidance and loan resources
  • The Global Wellness Institute’s new Positively Well page, with links to global health resources as well as articles on optimism and living well, including this article from leadership expert and GWI board member Renee Moorefield of Wisdom Works
  • Salon consultant Steven Gomez has this group of helpful COVID-19-related business support tools
  • Medical spas should read this article posted on LinkedIn by attorney Sara Shikhman
  • CNBC shared this story of how small business owners are helping their employees
  • For our crucial resource partners, this article from Global Cosmetic Industry outlines the results of an ICMAD membership survey on what they, and in turn, their spa clients, can expect in the next weeks

Remember also that our online academy is ready and waiting for you; if you or a member of your team has been hoping to sharpen your management skills, we are putting our industry-leading Spa Directors Management Intensive on sale for the next four weeks.

Regularly priced at $995, we will offer it at $495 until April 15, 2020. While it takes most students eight to twelve weeks to complete the curriculum, with additional time on your hands that can be greatly shortened!

Yesterday I took a long walk through my town, and many other people were out doing the same (just not passing too close to one another!) Spring clean-up in yards, and the cheerful flowering trees and daffodils, give one hope. Thank goodness at least we have that.

Stay well and stay strong!

Lisa & Michelle


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.

Spa 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

Spa Leadership Planning

Spa Leadership: Managing Spa Staff Vacation Time

Spa Leadership PlanningSpring is upon us and summer is around the corner. Which means that your staff will probably be looking to take some vacation time.  While everyone deserves a vacation , it can be hard to look at empty treatment rooms.  Planning ahead can help you to manage the vacation season so that the spa still operates smoothly and clients can be serviced.


First of all, does your spa even offer vacation or PTO (paid time off) benefit?  Back in the “old days,” beauty therapists never received any paid vacation, but with the modernization of compensation plans, we are seeing much more of this.  In fact, PTO is the second-most desired benefit to spa staff, after health insurance, and it is not all that difficult or expensive to offer.


Let’s say you have an esthetician who books $1500 in revenue per week, and she is earning about 1/3 of that or $500 per week.  You can offer her two weeks of paid vacation every year, and the cost to you will be about one percent of her revenue production.  In other words, not expensive as far as benefits go.  If your staff receives a more aggressive pay plan, you can still likely offer one week paid vacation for a little less than one percent of their personal revenue production.  If you are in the dark ages of high commission rates – you probably can’t do anything, and that’s a different conversation.


We know that working in a spa, while enjoyable, is still hard work.  Your beauty therapists are giving, giving, giving to their clients all day, it’s a very “on stage” kind of work.  They really do need some downtime; whether they take it all at once or in a couple of long weekends, it is something they should be encouraged to do.  Everyone needs to recharge their batteries.


However, when you don’t have a therapist column available to book, that causes a decrease in revenue for your spa, unless you are lucky enough to have a substitute therapist arrangement.  So the spa has to focus on ensuring there are available therapists, and that cash flow is not negatively impacted by paying for vacation time with money you did not receive.


Here are a few guidelines that may help you to be better prepared for vacation time:

  • Be clear when you are interviewing & hiring, and in your employee manual, in defining what your vacation or PTO benefit is, and what are the guidelines for using it, such as:
  • How much advance notice is required?
  • How long do they have to be employed to receive the benefit?
  • Does the benefit renew on a calendar year or date of hire?
  • Can the time off be pro-rated; i.e. can a 5-day per week staff member take 2 days off half-way through the year?


It is generally advised that PTO not be rolled over into the next year, and not be exchanged for money.  Especially in a wellness-based industry, we WANT the staff to take the vacation.


There should be some restrictions so that the business is not negatively impacted; for instance, your entire esthetics staff cannot take vacation at the same time.  Depending on the size and arrangement of your staff, you should set expectations that no more than one or two people can be out at the same time.


Do consider developing a group of reliable substitute staff; this is a good option especially for massage.  When you interview a potential candidate that you like but do not have a position for, you can offer them work on an occasional, substitute basis, like filling in for vacation or taking a shift for a current staff member who has a conflict.  It’s a great way to get to know someone before making an employment commitment, plus it provides a revenue option for the missing technician.


Do you need help creating a solid plan for staff vacations? Contact us for a free consultation.




Spa Organizational Issues

What’s Your Biggest Spa Organizational Issue?

What’s your biggest organizational issue?

At first glance, your response might be, “Simple, I need to clean off my desk.”

But we’re talking bigger, deeper, wider organization.

Spa Organizational IssuesWe’re talking processes, procedures, protocols, etc., all of those words that “organized” people use.  If you’re someone whose ears slam shut when you hear those terms, we’re probably talking to you!

Because really, you want your business to run smoothly, right?  You want your staff to know the “rules,” and not have to stop to ask you questions all day.  You want your clients treated with the utmost in care and respect at all times.  You want to have a good reputation in your marketplace, so you can continue to attract new staff, as well as customers.  And those things don’t happen by accident.  They happen for businesses who have systems and structure, businesses that are, in a word, organized.

I know it’s challenging to feel organized in the spa environment.  Some of the common spa work environment factors that challenge organizations are:

Operating Hours

In an office that’s open from 9-5, M-F, it’s easier to set aside some time for “busy work” such as end-of-the-year cleanouts and reorganization of supplies.  You can stay an hour later one night, or come in an hour early one morning.  We can do that in the spa also, but it’s a lot more difficult, especially as spas are often open six and even seven days a week, and the days are long.  Some spas are open as many as 70 hours per week, and when the spa is open, there are hopefully clients there, making it difficult to tackle behind the scenes tasks.


These days, most every spa has it.  But many still don’t use it to its full advantage or are not even aware of many of the built-in capabilities of their systems.  There may be existing solutions to some of your pressing problems, like tracking staff vacation requests, or professional inventory supplies, and certainly client files and marketing efforts.  Yes, there is no time to take tutorials and learn, but really, are you getting your money’s worth from your system?

Isolated Environments

In the spa, strangely, when the business is at its most busy, no employees can be seen.  Customer service, yes, but everyone else is tucked away in their treatment area working on-on-one with a client.  This doesn’t make it easy to work together; you can’t lean into your fellow employee’s cubicle and share information, or work collaboratively.  So this slows things down.

Physical Space

Since revenue-producing space is at a premium in the spa environment, there is not typically a lot of back-of-house space available.  Some front desks don’t even have the luxury of a back counter for storage of retail supplies or pending sales, and many spa owners share their office space with the laundry.  While this makes it very difficult to get organized, it also makes it even more imperative that we do so; with lack of resources, everything should have an assigned place.


Here is some useful advice from professional organizer and author Debbie Lillard, owner of Space to Spare.  Lillard advises on her website that “You may never have a perfectly neat office, but you can be functionally organized by following my method of C.P.R.”


Whether you are talking about your desk, a closet or the whole office, start to put things in categories.  If one pile is too big, break it into sub-categories.


Toss whatever is outdated, no longer useful information, duplicate material or broken electronics.  Keep the basics: a work table, filing drawers, a cabinet or closet for supplies, bookshelves, and maybe one whiteboard or bulletin board.


When you are left with what you use, start to arrange the workspace into functional areas: equipment & supplies, filing, Action items (to do, to read, to call, to send), and put things where you naturally use them. Use bins or containers that you already have or purchase ones that are the right size for what you need.

Lillard website and books share a wealth of advice, and you can follow her on Twitter at @DebbieLillard.

So don’t be shy, wade in and get started.  The new year is 10 days old already!


Age Logic Cellulaire - Anti-Aging Product

Spa Retailing: Whose Job Is It?

Spas know that retailing is an important component of revenue generation, and yet many still struggle to reach hoped-for results.

Who’s responsible for driving retail sales in your spa?

Management? Therapists? Support Staff? Product Companies?

It’s actually all of the above.

While spas consider product sales to be less important than the main spa focus of selling treatments, the business of retailing is a major industry globally. China is currently the second largest retail market in the world.

Retailing at Spas

Click to watch our short learning video with Spa Retailing Tips

According to McKinsey Consulting, the surging middle class in China is fueling a growth rate in luxury goods consumption that has ranged from 16-20 percent annually for the last four years, and Nielsen Companies finds that the health and wellness sectors are also maintaining a strong and steady rate of growth. Retail sales in China and globally continue to be fueled by social media, as shown by product and service reviews shared on Sina Weibo and Meilishuo. The retail industry global infrastructure includes trade shows, associations, best practices, and degreed university coursework. What spas do is dabble in retail; having a few shelves on a wall with a scattering of skincare products doesn’t make a business a “retailer.”


Since spas are clearly appointment-driven businesses, the common focus of spa management has been on selling treatments and experiences rather than thinking like a retailer. Spas open their doors in the morning with books full of appointments and knowing that those clients will be passing through certainly takes the pressure off the immediate need to create additional sales. And yet, the benefits of retailing are numerous, and include:

  • Providing an additional revenue stream
  • Creating sales that are NOT dependent on appointments
  • Enhancing and extending the value of the spa treatments guests have received
  • Presenting a range of margin opportunities for the business
  • A fast and simple way to grow average ticket for both therapists and spa
  • Building client loyalty and retention

All of these excellent results, however, do not happen by accident. Achieving a healthy retail to service sales ratio is the result of focused efforts by all of the stakeholders, working together to create a compelling retail environment.


As with many initiatives, effective retailing starts at the top. Successful spa retailers carry a selection of products from retail partners that are in keeping with the vision and mission of the spa brand, and that are priced appropriately for the target customer. Innovative spas will also look beyond the typical beauty brands for retail items that can drive sales as well as margin. But the most impactful action management can take is to be purposeful in hiring and training staff who can create rapport with guests, and in creating compensation and advancement plans for therapists which include retailing benchmarks as part of the career path.


Without a doubt, therapists play the biggest role in retailing to spa guests. As the uniformed experts, their artfully presented home care suggestions, in tandem with their one-on-one interaction with the guest, will be the biggest driver of sales activity. Therapists who are well-trained on the spa’s products and ingredients can weave suggestions into their service routine in a seamless way, which does not feel as pushy to the guest as a rushed effort at the service conclusion, or a list of products pushed into the client’s hands. Making home care recommendations MUST be part of every treatment on the spa menu.

Support Staff

While the therapist’s personal touch is key to introducing home care to the client, in a busy and/or large spa it can be difficult for therapists to complete the sale. Clients may be heading on to another treatment or spending time using spa amenities, and by the time they check out they have forgotten about products. Well-trained support staff who can advise on usage will be effective in closing sales.

Retail Partners

The role that vendors and resource partners play in the retail chain cannot be overlooked. Effective brands will provide plenty of tools and training for all of the spa staff, on a regular basis. Supporting activities including inventory planning, sampling, retail support tools and marketing collaterals will certainly help the spa to be more successful.

The global personal care product market is estimated to total $1.5 trillion annually. Your clients are purchasing home care products from somewhere, it might as well be your spa!

Are you struggling with retailing at your spa? Our team can help. Contact us to schedule a complimentary 30-minute needs assessment.




A version of this post appeared first on

Inspiration For Spa Leadership Challenges

Inspiration for Spa Leader Challenges

Do you ever wish you had more information that would help you to solve a problem?

Do you ever wonder whether you are the only one experiencing a particular challenge?

Fast Company - 30 Second MBAAs the spa business model continues to evolve, you may be presented with operational challenges that you don’t know how to approach.  But, as usual, if you are near a computer, inspiration is on the way.  Check out 30 Second MBA, brought to us by the folks at Fast Company magazine.  This website consists of video interviews with a variety of business-world movers and shakers on an array of issues, and they each last, you guessed it, 30 seconds or less.  The videos are organized by topics such as leadership, employee management, customer relationships, innovation, communication, and more, and the “professors” include luminaries like Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, Tony Hsieh of, Jay Adelson, CEO of Digg, and many more.

Read more

Heres To A Successful New Year

Here’s to a successful new year

   Welcome to the new year!

The older I get, the more New Year’s Day reminds me of the movie Groundhog Day; I can’t believe it’s here again, already! The fact is, the more quickly the years tick by, the more urgency you may have as a business owner to avoid procrastinating in regards to your spa business.

New Year’s resolutions have actually been around since the ancient Babylonians marked the new year as a time to repay their debts and return borrowed objects, 4000 years ago. You know that list of changes you’d like to make, or new approaches you’ve been meaning to try? The time is now, no need to wait until another year, or two, or five, goes by. Select one activity from each of these four areas, and get to work!  Read more

Secrets Of Retention And Retail Of Treatment Professionals

Secrets of Retention and Retail for Treatment Professionals

Registration for this webinar has closed.  Below are the topics which were discussed.

Please check the Events and Learning Academy pages for our offered trainings.

Spa therapists are not always comfortable with recommending retail products.

This session will help service providers and their supervisors understand how to boost confidence and income with new strategies, skills and and tactics. Find out how effective home care recommendation, an approach that honors the guest experience, can actually improve guest satisfaction.

  • The Home Care Advisor
  • When treatment time is sales time: walking the fine line
  • The difference between professional products and mass marketed formulas
  • Understanding social styles, starting with your own
  • Mastering the meet and greet with new clients
  • Using the New Guest Profile
  • Surefire techniques for connecting with even difficult clients
  • Mastering the art of the client consultation
  • Finding out where it hurts: understanding your client’s deeper needs
  • Analysis and observation skills
  • Treatment “narration;” helping them understand the value of what you’re doing
  • Creating the desire to extend their benefits through home care and spa services
  • Finding out if it’s “okay” to recommend home care
  • Appropriate timing and opportunities for communication during different services
  • Why it’s hard to toot your own horn and what to do about it
  • Creating solutions for your client’s deeper needs
  • Setting priorities: understanding how much to recommend, and when
  • Integrating home care communication into a service
  • Optimizing your recommended program: the fastest and best way to achieve their goal
  • Extending the invitation: when, where and how
  • Visual presentation of home care: do’s and don’ts
  • Understanding and responding when clients don’t accept your invitation
  • Fun with Bumps
  • Do’s and don’ts of sampling
  • The crucial importance of record keeping
  • Follow up: when and how
  • How to grow the relationship with every visit


Live Education Spa Training

Clinical Oncology Esthetics Training

Registration has closed.  

Please check the Events and Learning Academy pages for our offered trainings.

Morag Currin of Health Challenged Esthetics literally wrote the textbook on Oncology Esthetics.

A true industry pioneer and visionary, Morag is returning to California with her three day program for estheticians. We’ve already hosted this once and I believe any serious esthetician or spa owner needs to experience this education–whether you choose to cater to cancer patients or not, you need to know how to safely treat them when they are in your spa. Even cancer survivors, post-treatment, have special needs and restrictions. Do you know what they are? I sure didn’t.

This program includes lecture, demonstration and hands-on practicum with cancer patients in the spa environment. You’ll also be educated by an outstanding oncology nurse, one of the highlights of the first seminar. Participants will leave with the ability to offer safe, beneficial treatments to clients with health-challenged skins, and with a thorough understanding of the issues facing clients undergoing cancer treatment, including side effects that impact skin and contraindications for treatment.

If you’re wondering how to expand your customer base, it’s time to look at marginalized groups who have a strong need for self care, as well as high levels of stress. These are customers you may have shied away from, for fear your treatments might not be beneficial. Customers who desperately want and need your treatments, but don’t know if they’ll be safe or effective, or if you’ll even understand their health issues.

These potential clients include cancer patients, as well as other people with health-challenged skin: organ transplant patients, people in recovery, and even people with severe sensitivities.

As the spa industry moves toward a more meaningful focus on wellness, we have a tremendous opportunity to reach out to groups we have previously ignored, out of fear or ignorance. I think the health challenged segment will offer our industry some of the most profound growth opportunities we’ve seen in years. But education is essential. This is your opportunity to be in on the ground floor of a new and exciting movement. Whether you practice in a clinical or spa environment, you’ll leave with an important new skill set that very few people in the industry possess.


Strategic Vision Sessions Planning

Spa Business Planning Made Easy

Registration for this webinar has closed.  Below are the topics which were discussed.  Please check the Events and Learning Academy pages for our offered trainings.

“A vision without a plan is a hallucination.”

Join us on Tuesday, January 18, for our first management webinar of the New Year, Spa Business Planning Made Easy. 

Planning is one of the most misunderstood business processes, and one of the most essential. Yet most plans don’t survive more than a few months.

If your spa doesn’t yet have a 2011 Strategic Plan in place, you’re not alone, and it’s not too late to create one. This session will give you a fresh understanding of the planning process, and the tools to build a simple and resilient strategic plan than can be continuously renewed, even when conditions change.

Would you like to tackle the New Year with a simple, executable Strategic Plan? Would you like to have a way to move from 30,000 feet vision to tactical, practical “sea level” and back again with ease?

This webinar will share with you the secrets of:

• Identifying your most important priorities

• Understanding what planning can (and cannot!) do

• Setting actionable goals

• Setting the optimum planning “time horizon” (it will surprise you)

• Getting your team to buy into your plan

• Techniques to ensure that you stay on plan, every day
• Ensuring that your Strategic Plan translates into your company’s Daily Plan
• Not getting sidetracked by the “tyranny of the immediate,” the daily crises that erupt in every company