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.




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