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Spa Startups: They’re ba-aack!

The recession may have battered the spa industry and shut down many facilities, but we’re finally seeing a resurgence in startups–many of whom aren’t even using the “S” word (that would be “spa”) to describe themselves. “Wellness” is a watchword for many of these next-generation businesses, but other trends inspiring spa entrepreneurs include co-working and organic lifestyles.

Few would-be spa owners understand just how much capital they’ll need to invest to get their new spa up and running–and to nurture it through its first 18 months, the critical make-or-break period. The pressure from competition is usually underestimated in new spa business plans, and these businesses can crash quickly if spa entrepreneurs are over-optimistic and under-funded.

At the high end of the market, spa guests are seeking a new approach to luxury that’s based on authentic experiences rather than over-the-top opulence. That doesn’t always translate into a strong demand for esoteric services, though. The services that guests say that they are interested in and the ones that they actually purchase (especially on a regular basis) can be very different. Creating an appealing but unique menu is a must. It’s expensive to educate the marketplace.

Whether they’re in an urban setting or a remote one, one of the biggest impediments to new spas’ growth is finding enough talented therapists. A solid in-house training program is critical to success in every market. Not only does it improve therapist quality, it aids in employee retention: spa workers value education very highly. Lower employee turnover pays off big in customer satisfaction and pure bottom-line profit.

While there are still spas for sale–a great way to fast track a startup and reduce project cost–many of them are not listed with business brokers and identifying them can take a special approach. Sometimes a would-be spa developer is too deeply in love with their particular vision to recognize a fabulous opportunity in a distressed business. Differentiating a “distressed” business  from a “toxic” one is critical.

To help this wave of entrepreneurs avoid the pitfalls of developing a spa or wellness business, a new one-day Spa Startup Workshop is being offered on Saturday, October 3, immediately prior to the Wynne Business Spa Director’s Management Intensive (October 4-6) in Philadelphia’s Historic District.

For more information about the seminars, visit our management seminars page or call 610.368.6660.

Tuition details, including earlybird and multiple registrant discounts.

 

 

 

Discovering the heartbeat of your small business

Most companies today recognize the need to articulate their core values. Core values provide the compass that guides the business. While business strategies should constantly be evolving, core values, like true North, don’t change. In stormy times of stress and change (hello!) Core Values provide a secure anchor. They can remind us of who we are when we are considering compromising our principles. They can help us focus on what’s truly important. They can help us make decisions and set priorities. They can be used as a touchstone when coaching an employee and a measuring stick when hiring a new team member.

But where do Core Values come from? Jim Collins is one of the world’s experts on the importance of core values in organizations, having researched them extensively for his books “Good to Great” and “Built to Last.” He writes “… you cannot “set” organizational values, you can only discover them. Nor can you “install” new core values into people. Core values are not something people “buy in” to. People must be predisposed to holding them. Executives often ask me, “How do we get people to share our core values?” You don’t. Instead, the task is to find people who are already predisposed to sharing your core values. You must attract and then retain these people and let those who aren’t predisposed to sharing your core values go elsewhere. I’ve never encountered an organization, even a global organization composed of people from widely diverse cultures, that could not identify a set of shared values. The key is to start with the individual and proceed to the organization…”

Who should create your core values? Management teams or owners usually initiate the process of clarifying and identifying values, but as Collins points out, this can’t be a top-down activity. If Core Values are simply handed out to the team, they are often ignored or even ridiculed as more silly management-speak, or worse. (As the cynical Dilbert proclaims, “values are a type of emotional illusion common to children, idiots and non-engineers.”) Identifying Core Values is a process of discovery, and for that process to be relevant and resonant in the lives of your team members, it needs to involve as many of them as possible.  Agreeing upon your most cherished Core Values is a ritual that, when properly facilitated, can bring all an organization’s members closer together. Articulating core values is not simply an exercise in word-smithing. Word-smithing is important, but it actually comes last.

How do you identify core values? We like to compare the process of identifying and articulating an organization’s values to diamond mining:

  1. We collect a lot of ore, filled with rough diamonds
  2. Together, we sift through the ore and carefully select the best gems
  3. We polish and cut the best gems
  4. We proudly set and “wear” our gems

How many Core Values are enough? Good management is a lot like parenting, according to business “growth guru” Verne Harnish of Gazelles (gazelles.com).  He says, “have a handful of rules and repeat yourself a lot.” That “handful of rules” are your Core Values. Three to five concepts is more than enough for people to remember.

 What if I don’t like the Values my team comes up with? It’s extremely rare to have the Core Values process deliver Values that are different from yours. Why? The people in your company ultimately reflect and agree with your true Core Values—that’s why they’re there. One important reason to work with a facilitator in this exercise is to ensure healthy balance in the Values. For example, when you talk about Core Values with your team, especially teams from hospitality and helping professions, expect the conversation to get fairly animated. Teams that deliver intensive customer service are highly interdependent. Positive interpersonal relationships are crucial to their happiness. Their values tend to focus on interpersonal relationships with one another.

The facilitator ensures that all stakeholders are strongly supported by at least one of the Core Values: employees, customers, and ownership all have slightly different needs and agendas. The “kumbaya” values of your team may not acknowledge the necessity of making money, for example. An easy way to describe this is to think about the “three relationships” each team member experiences in the organization:

  1. Relationships with co-workers
  2. Relationships with customers
  3. Relationship with the business

Rather than establish these limitations at the beginning, we try to encourage a very unstructured discovery of personal values as they relate to work. Too many rules early in the process can restrict the free flow of conversation and ideas. Instead ask

  • What’s important to you at work?
  • Why do you work here?
  • What’s usually happening when you’re having fun at work?
  • What do you like most about your coworkers?
  • What do you like most/least about the organization?
  • What behavior do you think expresses a true professional?

If you’d like help articulating and capturing your company’s core values, we’d be happy to help. Contact us at consultants@wynnebusiness.com, subject: Core Values! And we’ll figure out if it’s something you can do yourself or if you might need to have your process facilitated by an expert. Either way, prepare to see your team in a whole new light. And prepare to keep that light burning bright for a long time!

NEXT LIVE WEBINAR: Mastering Complaint Resolution and Service Recovery

Join us  for this live employee training session, co-presented by Lisa Starr and Peggy Wynne Borgman. We include time for your questions at the end of the presentation.

  • Are you confident in your employees’ ability to resolve guest complaints?
  • Do they know how to handle the inevitable issues that arise in a busy spa operation?
  • Are you certain that guests leave your spa satisfied?
  • When was the last time they received training in complaint resolution?

A great reputation has always been the best way to market a spa. But the internet has made superior customer service a crucial survival skill.

Web search is one of your top marketing modalities, and negative reviews can cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

Our employee training webinar, “Moments of Truth: Mastering Complaint Resolution and Service Recovery” can give you a chance to economically and quickly get your team up to speed.

Don’t let another month pass without inoculating your front line team against mediocre customer service, and common errors.

“The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled,” said the founder of Neiman Marcus. This webinar is designed to enable your front desk team to manage the inevitable mistakes and mishaps of a busy spa operation, while strengthening customer relationships and improving customer service. The adrenaline-charged moment when an upset customer complains is a make-or-break event for your business. Make sure your team doesn’t hide their heads in the sand–ensure that they will ride to the rescue of your reputation!
Dowload for unlimited use within your business.

Agenda:
• Why your team must treat complaints as an opportunity
• 96% of your guests won’t complain; how to treat the 4% who do
• Using complaint resolution to improve relationships
• How online review sites have magnified the power of unhappy guests, and what to do about it
• Managing the “fight or flight” response when confronted by an upset customer
• The five steps to masterful complaint resolution
• Cultivating awareness: the ounce of preventation
• How to ask questions that get real answers from your guests
• Making it easy to complain
• How and when to apologize
• Helping the guest realize you’re “on their side”
• Avoiding the common mistakes of complaint resolution, including explaining, blame and scapegoating
• How to effectively manage a “venting” guest
• Techniques to improve your listening skills
• How to tell the difference between an upset and an abusive customer–and what to do about it
• Restoring a guest’s faith
• Making amends without giving away the store
• What most clients really want from “amends”
• The hidden danger in giving refunds too quickly
• What to do when your offer of amends is rejected by an upset guest
• How to prevent problems from recurring

To register, simply visit our Webex Training Center and click on the “upcoming” tab.

Note: You can use any computer with internet access to attend, but make sure the computer you select has speakers for our audio portion.

Can’t attend the live sesion? We have an on-demand version of this webinar. Visit the link above, and click on “Recorded Sessions” in the menu on the left side of the page. Follow the instructions to purchase the webinar download.

The Spa Director’s Management Intensive: summer session August 22-25, 2010

August 22-25, 2010, San Francisco Bay Area

If you own, manage, or plan to invest in a spa, this program is a must!

Co-taught by Peggy Wynne Borgman and Lisa M. Starr of Wynne Business Spa Consulting

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First time in China: Advanced Spa Management Techniques with Lisa Starr


A one day class with Lisa M. Starr of Wynne Business Spa Consulting
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Sponsored in part by


The Banyan Tree, Hainan

Competition is increasing! Are you ready?

The rapid growth of the spa industry in China requires managers to be at the top of their game. Attention to detail in every aspect of the spa operation is essential to its success. A beautifully designed spa is just the beginning. Making sure that your spa can attract customers, make a profit, and operate smoothly is the truly challenging part.
If you are a spa director, manager or owner, you can’t afford to miss this outstanding program, which emphasizes practical and proven methods for improving spa performance. International spa consultant Lisa Starr, a former GM of a group of spas herself, will share advanced techniques for mastering the four pillars of spa growth and success:
  • Advanced financial management skills
  • Spa Marketing Strategies and Tactics
  • Selecting, training and retaining the top employees
  • Building an efficient operating infrastructure
This outstanding professional education will be presented at the luxurious Banyan Tree Resort. Admission includes lunch and tea breaks as well as your course text. Attendees will also receive a certificate of completion. Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the class begins at 9:30 a.m., ending at 5 p.m.
Tuition discounts are available for attendees of the SpaChina Summit, and members of the China Spa Association.
Register now with credit card or PayPal.
Questions? Prefer bank transfer payment? Contact us at seminars@wynnebusiness.com
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
Wynne Business Senior Consultant Lisa M. Starr has almost 30 years of experience in the spa industry. An accomplished instructor, Lisa leads Wynne Business educational seminars for spa owners and managers. Her consulting clients throughout the U.S. and in Asia include day spa start-ups and turnarounds, medi-spas and hotel spas, hospitals, fitness clubs, and salons offering spa services. She is a popular speaker at industry events, including IECSC, ISPA, Spa & Resort Expo, and the Spa Asia Wellness Summit. Lisa is a regular columnist at American Spa Magazine and is Director of Community for SpaTrade.com, a top spa business portal.

You can’t win an argument with a customer

Holly Stiel, the great hospitality customer service guru, says it perfectly: “Being Right is the booby prize.”

Last week, an article in the Wall Street Journal described Proctor & Gamble’s burgeoning PR disaster involving a new disposable diaper that may be causing rashes. They’re printing the liquid-absorbing gel onto the surface of the diaper instead of putting it inside several layers. It makes the diapers thinner. P & G insists it was the most-tested new disposable diaper ever. Great! They avidly courted 50 influential Mommy Bloggers before the launch.  But after all that, 7,000 Facebook-wielding Mommy Bloggers (and counting) have stormed the barricades, demanding the return of the previous version.

But P & G is mad as hell and they’re not going to take it any more!  (I can just hear them hollering in the board room, “I thought you said we got ALL the Mommy Bloggers!”) The company that wrote the book on branding and brand management is not in the driver’s seat any more. It is a profound illustration of just how much business has changed in the last few years. You almost feel sorry for the poor saps, as they draw their line in the sand and stare down the jostling mob just across the moat.

So. How do you think this is going to play out? Do you think those Bommy Moggers are going to listen to the voice of P & G reason?

British Petroleum has been even more ham-fisted in its handling of the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. A company that makes billions in profit should be able to afford better PR coaching and crisis management.

But I have to admit, I feel exactly the way any embattled business leader does when I read a snarky Yelp review. (Thank goodness I don’t have to do that live, on a web cam.) The urge to prove that you’re right (or at least, not wrong) is overpowering. This is when we count to three hundred and try to remember Habit #5 of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

I remember Steven Covey describing this behavior as “being willing to have your mind changed.” Instead of promoting your point of view, or waiting your turn to speak, you actually listen. And those of us who have customers know, you apologize. In this litigious world, it’s hard for businesspeople to forget about liability and the potential legal consequences of saying, “You know what? You’re absolutely right. We screwed up. And we’re sorry.” But you have to.

The simple fact is, if the customer thinks you screwed up, you did. Perception is reality. The question becomes not how you’re going to convince them otherwise, but how you’re going to rescue the relationship. Doing the Right Thing when you’re pretty sure you didn’t do anything Wrong is hard. Customers are wrong all the time; however, the social contract we entered into when we opened the doors to our spa clearly states that they’re Always Right.

(Admit it, when you’re the customer, you’re always right. Aren’t you?)

The customer who complains is the canary in your coal mine–only 10% of customers actually do. So the next time a mishap tempts you to even explain (explaining is an insidious form of not-agreeing, i.e. arguing) listen to what the customer is saying. Chances are very good you’ll learn something valuable.