Top 3 Mistakes Made with TV Advertising
VIDEO: “Compensation Disasters”
Skip Williams tells us how to survive the economy
“Compensation Disasters” by Skip Williams of Resources and Development
Survive the economy via compensation changes, 20~ish minutes. There are NO skips this time!
When a guest is rubbed the WRONG way
Instead of publishing an annual trends piece or another ‘year in review’, Coyle went to its treasure trove of hard data and asked, “What would really help spas in 2010?”
Coyle researchers analyzed more than 1,350 responses from spa goers about the things that ruined their spa experience.
Why the negative approach? A research project completed jointly with WTS International showed unequivocally that word of mouth was the most important driver of new business to a spa. Good to know, but word-of-mouth cuts both ways, and those that leave unhappy present a bigger cost to spas in the long run.
Coyle reasoned that if spas were aware of the most common ‘significant negatives’ and their root causes, spas could take action. Yes, ‘Top 10’ lists and ‘Trends for 2010’ surveys are good reading, but they rarely provide anything a spa director can take to the bank.
Coyle kept it simple. Two very straightforward questions were posed:
1. What spa provided you with the worst experience last year?
Each open-ended survey response was read and catalogued into the following categories: People, Product, Post-Treatment, and Price. People A complaint about the receptionist, reservationist, therapist, or spa staff member. Product Anything relating to the spa facilities or products used. Post-Treatment Emotional or physical feelings that were realized after the spa experience. Price Comments that centered around cost or value
62% of the respondents mentioned ‘People’ as a significant contributor to the bad experience. Let’s put it in context. Nearly two out of every three people that have a bad experience at a spa are talking about staff behavior. This is most interesting because most spa owners feel that the quality of their staff is their most significant competitive advantage.
The bad news is that changing behavior is harder than changing the music, which by the way was the number one thing guests complained about the ‘Product’. The table below shows the most often mentioned ‘People’ complaints.
Type and Ranking of ‘People’ Complaints Reason for Complaint # of Complaints
Inappropriate pressure/touch; staff not well trained in massage
Staff was not listening, responsive about special needs, or accommodating
Too much conversation
Treatment felt rushed
Unfriendly, impersonal, robotic staff
Disorganized experience; treatments cancelled/not on time, etc.
Negligent during treatment, causing pain or bad result
Ignored by staff during treatment; not checked on
Talking amongst staff members
Bad staff hygiene and soiled uniforms
Received different treatment than what was booked; inaccuracies in booking
Debate over bill
Treatment cut short
Service provider insincere
Service provider not thorough or did not explain procedure
Staff harsh voice/tone
Poor follow-up by management
Children permitted to run around and cause distraction
Communication with staff difficult
The good news is that changing behavior is not capital intensive, but it does require vigilance and commitment. How many of these things above would be correctible by simply making your staff more aware of it? Some training and role play about how much we speak (#2), what we say or fail to say (#3), how we say it (#6, #10, #20) and who we say it to (#11) would go miles in addressing almost half of the top ten things that drive guests away. Spa guests are vulnerable, so remind your staff of the saying “You cannot un-ring a bell,” or the one about “loose lips.”
It also appears that all the yield management training of recent years has created issues as well, with ‘rushed treatments’ and ‘pushy sales’ taking two of the top five spots.
Changing behavior is not solved by a memo or webinar. Staff development requires diligence and stamina, and it must be a daily thing that gets measured, so there is accountability, leading us to another saying: “You get what you inspect.”
Brace yourself: Some excerpts of why ‘People’ caused the worst spa experiences:
* “The male massage therapist quipped coyly that “I had issues with my tissues,” and other choice rhymed phrases. It lacked professionalism and made me uncomfortable.”
* “The massage therapist asked me if I had seen a doctor about my back acne. I was mortified.”
* A staff member blatantly ignored a guest who was talking on their cell phone in a ‘No Cell’ relaxation area.”
* “The massage therapist never asked if I had a massage before and a deep-tissue massage caused me a great deal of pain.”
* “The [staff member] had bad body odor and talked during the entire treatment.”
* “An esthetician continually pitched microdermabrasion services during the facial. When I declined the upsell, she sulked and made me feel as if I had done something wrong.”
Perhaps the biggest conundrum that faces spas is that a lot of guests would feel too embarrassed to even complain. The massage therapist who thinks he has coined an endearing term about muscle tissue could actually be making your female guests very uncomfortable. The well-meaning massage therapist who sincerely wants to help the guest solve a skin problem could actually have mortified a guest.
The ‘People’ category was also divided into ‘departments’ to identify what staff, in particular, was mentioned the most. The results are highlighted in the table below.
News Flash: Besides general complaints, Massages account for 300% more negative comments than any other modality!
Massage services are generally the most frequently scheduled, accounting partially for its bulge in the numbers, but despite that, it is clear that massage is the most volatile in terms of guest response.
It makes sense then that massage clients would be most carefully gauged before the treatment, thoroughly informed during the treatment, and most carefully followed-up with to ensure that the ‘word of mouth’ the treatments they provide result in is the kind you want. These meetings may be tough, but preventing another guest walking out with hurt feelings or with the thought that the therapist came on to them, will be worth the awkward sit-down.
The good news about the ‘Product’ category is that while it encompasses 26% of the overall complaints, many complaints were not about the facility, almost certain to be an expensive fix. Most complaints in this category are correctible without calling a contractor (ugh) or ‘doing it yourself’ (Help!).
We divided comments into four subcategories and ranked them in the degree of difficulty for change:
Cleanliness (Easiest to change) 112
Dirty environment 112
Atmospheric (Relatively easy to change) 182
Ambiant noise too Loud 46
Temperature too hot/cold 24
‘Crowded’ feeling 39
Bland/sterile atmosphere 21
Unrelaxing/stressful atmosphere 15
Other guests disrupted treatment 11
Bad/Harsh lighting 10
Music too loud/annoying 6
‘Cheap’ décor or water features 6
Unpleasant/overpowering scents 4
Amenities (A bit tougher to change) 35
No products/lotion, water, or snacks; lack of amenities 12
Poor food/beverage 10
Steam room/sauna not working 8
Inferior (or lack of) robes 5
Facility (Difficult to change) 21
Cramped (or absence of) locker room 11
Uncomfortable (or lack of) relaxation room or waiting area 5
Showers dingy and not properly maintained 5
A total of 294 complaints fell on the left half of the line graph above, meaning 84% of the ‘Product’ complaints are generally easy to fix. This is very good news for the cost-conscious operator; changing easy elements like cleanliness, noise, lighting, temperature, etc. would potentially eliminate over 20% (84% times the overall 26%) of the worst spa experiences.
The post-spa results constituted 10% of the worst experiences overall, and the actual number of complaints can be seen below.
It makes sense that most guests that get a deep tissue massage should feel some soreness. Instead of the cursory medical history review or the blunted, “Do you have any medical problems?” which almost always begets a ‘no’, massage therapists would be wise to do a thorough review and check in regularly about pressure. This is also one of those cases where a guest really would appreciate a follow-up call the next day. A three-minute call or an even less intrusive email will show sincere concern, building trust. You also may just catch the guest while bad word of mouth is still just a muted thought.
All of the remaining issues seen above could be addressed on this follow-up call as well by putting some variation of the words ‘How’ or ‘What’ in front of the items above and creating a question that can not be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Though we know sales are always at the forefront of everyone’s mind, “So, I am glad you did not feel too much soreness, how did you feel about the rest of the experience?”sounds a lot better than “So I hear you have back acne. Can I schedule you for a back facial?”
The small number of complaints attributed to price is probably one of the most telling and insightful findings from this study. Only a total of 35 out of 1,350 respondents spoke about value.
This shows that the price paid is not at the heart of the problem, which in turn suggests that discounting will not create demand or improve perception of value. It’s about how the guest felt, not what they spent.
We think the story for spas overall is very positive. The things that people complain about most are almost all entirely correctable, something a savvy spa owner can address. The one thing a spa owner can not do is vivdly measure the guest experience from the guest perspective. For that, you need a trusted friend or a professional mystery shopping service to anonymously test and measure these crucial moments of guest interaction. A shameless plug? Maybe, but spas are so unique in that the experience they provide happens behind closed doors, that things are said, implied, or left undone, rubbing guests the wrong way. Wouldn’t you like to know about them?
VIDEO: “Become a PR Powerhouse”
This 20+ minute interview is a a great eye opener, get your pen and be ready to take notes.
“Become a PR Powerhouse” with Nancy Trent.
10 questions to see if you’re ready for salon & spa ownership.
Want your own business someday? This 10 question test will help you discover if you’re REALLY ready for spa ownership.
Whether you’re an esthetician, body therapist, hairdresser or manicurist, chances are you’ve dreamed of running your own spa or salon one day. It’s an attractive prospect, isn’t it? Being your own boss, setting your own work schedule, making a lot more money–who wouldn’t want a future like that? Then there’s the prestige, long vacations from a business skillfully managed by trusted employees, and the big cash buyout when it’s all over and you’re ready for an early retirement. This would truly be the way to go–if it were the whole reality. Now let’s look at business as it most likely proves to be for the brave entrepreneurs among us.
I’m a spa business consultant. I’m hired to fix businesses that have broken down or are about to, and there are many, many of them out there–some aware of their problems and others still in denial about them. They all have one refrain in common: “I never thought it was going to be like this!” And it seems that no one ever does, which possibly explains why so many Americans are eager to rush into the high-risk, demanding embraces of independent business ownership. Don’t get me wrong here–I’m a successful independent business owner myself twice over, and I wouldn’t reverse that fact for anything in the world. But, I’m also one of the lucky ones, a rare survivor in a sea of foundered and forgotten companies that have put the small business failure rate at a staggering 99% over 10 years. I waded, worried, and writhed through a perpetual tempest of threats to my companies: three recessions, three fires, three lawsuits and countless employee defections with clients in tow. We had every imaginable financial crises, equipment breakdowns, earthquake disruptions, and new competitors closing in from every direction. Somehow, miraculously, we navigated safely around the rocks and shoals to stay profitably in business for 20 plus years. And the personal cost for this achievement? Thousands of long, unpaid hours of work, threats from worried bankers to close our deeply overdrawn accounts, the erosion of a partnership/marriage, and the terror that caused the awful sleepless nights that had become an unavoidable facet of life. I never thought it was going to be like that!
So for those of you who are about to trace the footsteps of the hardy, the foolish, or the fearless entrepreneurs of spa business investment, evaluate your willingness to face the realities of your probable future as detailed in the questions that follow!
1. Can I financially and/or willingly accept a potentially long road to making money, any money?
The stark reality is that you may go many months, or even years, before the tide of cash begins to flow in a positive direction–that is, if it ever does. Most new business owners end up funneling far more up front cash into it than they ever imagined they would, and unfortunately many go into business without realizing what kind of cash reserves will be necessary to stay afloat. In addition to the financial resources, you will also need large reserves of confidence to keep your spirits high as you work hard for very little initial return. You are almost certain to experience this! Do you want to? Can you afford to?
2. Am I willing to work long hours without a break for little or nomoney, no gratitude, and no end in sight?
It’s important to realize that work-free vacations, relaxing weekends, and sleeping in will probably not be your realities as you build a business. Work/life balance also becomes very difficult as the constant demands of owning a business settle in. Your new reality will include a vast workload, including emergency calls at home or on your cell phone at any time. Be prepared to cancel plans at the last minute to fill in for an employee who calls in (or doesn’t call in) sick, to do the most menial jobs at the spa, and face the ire of angry clients affected by your battered service schedule.
3. How will I keep (or afford to keep) my employees around now that we’re not as busy as we expected to be?
Even if you’re paying your team a wage or salary there’s little that they loathe more than a flat service schedule. Boredom sets in faster than brown spots on bananas, and you’ll soon be dealing with an expensive and restless crew. Without the know-how or skill to inspire them during the lulls all new spa businesses experience, you’ll soon be spending your precious time recruiting, training and interviewing in regular cycles. What fun!
4. I thought that I was hiring professionals! Wasn’t I?
Uh-oh! The unfortunate revelation all spa owners discover has arrived at your threshold, too. Your spa therapists seem to have a curious habit of showing up late for work, running late on appointments, ignoring the dress code and slacking on sales of your retail products. How can they be so unprofessional?
One thing you will learn very quickly as a business owner: as wonderful and professional as some of your staff may be, employees will not care about the business the way you do–ever.
5. Do I know how to bring in customers?
Your potential customers are out there–circulating in the great mass of your local population, one that won’t necessarily drop everything and flock to your new (and possibly me-too) spa when you open your doors. Think about it: do you notice every grand opening you read about, even if it’s a business you might eventually patronize? As the Wicked Witch of the West said, “All in good time, my little pretty, all in good time”! You’re going to have to work hard to get noticed, then convert that attention into steady, long-term business. Until then, you’ll need cash reserves or a credit line to keep you afloat.
6. Do I know how to find good employees?
Great recruiting takes skill and time. Be prepared to educate yourself about good interview techniques and to talk to a lot of people before finding the professionals that will really help your business thrive. You can also count on the fact that recruiting is an ongoing and often constant activity throughout the life of a business.
7. Do I know how to manage people?
As a potential business owner you are about to set yourself up to be the leader of people, the example, the one that all turn to for direction and motivation. Even if you put a wonderful manager in place, you are still the ultimate authority in this operation. Management ability, patience, and firmness in the face of inevitable employee challenges are crucial to success–no wimps allowed. Are you really up to, and willing to take on, this challenging task?
8. I don’t like financial figures, computers, record keeping, and inventory management. Is it really such a big deal?
Yes, it is. While you may be able to hire someone to help you with accounting or business management, that doesn’t mean that you can ignore the numbers and what they say every day about your operation. Sticking your head in the sand when it comes to understanding these crucial indicators of business health will very likely lead you into financial trouble–and quickly.
9. But our concept is different! That’ll make the difference, won’t it? Won’t it? WON’T IT?
No, it won’t.
10. I have business partners that will help me through the rough spots so we’re going to be fine.
Yes, and the Titanic had a captain, first officer, a chief, and even the ship’s designer on board. Still she sank. It was what they overlooked that sank her, not what they believed they already knew. Little good that did then. It was the sister ship that benefited from the lesson–a retrofit the first one needed from the beginning.
There are two phrases you should never utter when forging ahead into a new business venture: “We’ll deal with that when we come to it,” and, “We already have that solved.” Revisit your plan often, get the opinion of a qualified professional, and prepare for the ride of your life! With skill, determination, money, and lots of luck you just might reach the end of the rainbow. Those of us who’ve made it can attest to the hard work but also the joys of success.
Good luck to you!
Attack of the Salon Spa Staff
Have you ever undergone an attack of the staff? It starts easily enough. You walk in the door and immediately people are telling you “we need laundry detergent, there are no slippers that match, isn’t my next client a request – that name looks familiar!”
Breathe deeply and smile. Always smile. A busy day running a spa is always better than a miserable day ________ (fill in the blanks with your last corporate wage job).
In most cases your employees just want you to be informed so that you can fix the problem. However, if a list is set up to keep you informed of items needed soon (detergent, polish remover, product, napkins, whatever) you can always get the list from the break room and make a dash out to pick stuff up. That’s easy.
What you should NOT do is to lash out at your employees saying “everyone just back off I just walked in the door!” Not good. You just set a bad tone, vibe in the spa. Now everyone is walking on eggshells and making plans to go home early or call in sick the next day to avoid you.
It’s not easy being the boss. But you gave yourself this distinction when you opened up your own business. You told your friends and family you could handle it. Well — this is it. You have to wear many hats. Some hats look good on you — the friendly concierge, the likeable shopper gathering supplies. But for some reason the Manager’s hat gives you the willies and doesn’t quite fit. Did you have a bad experience with a crazy boss? Did you vow never to BE a crazy boss? Don’t let your past experiences cloud your actions. Take people as they are and treat your employees with respect and admiration and they will do the same. Remember you EARN respect — it is not automatically given to you just because you are the employer. They are in a closed room giving spa services to your customers. They should know what you expect and how to conduct themselves and professionally represent you and your business.
If you love the spa business it will be very apparent to your employees and customers. If you are treating your spa business as a gold mine and the gold is not there and you are stressing, well then it may be time to end the misery and do something you truly enjoy doing. People want to do business with and work with people who enjoy what they do.
Although I don’t like being bombarded with questions when I walk in the door, I know my staff is concerned because these things need to be done and they know how important it is for the spa to run smoothly. If they did not care and whined and complained and did not alert me to things that are important they are no good to me or my business so I let them go ruin someone else’s world.
At the end of the day all problems are resolved. We made many clients so happy that they are returning at a later date. The laundry is still going. The phones are ringing. The website is up and selling for us 24/7. We have money in the bank. Cash tips are dispersed. We go home, get up the next day and do it all over again.
Work alongside your staff and set the tone of professionalism for your spa business. It will reward you with a satisfied group of employees that will grow with you because they believe in you.
Are you driving traffic to your Grandpa’s website?
Do YOU have your Grandpa’s website? Worse yet, are you driving traffic to it?
Don’t bother. You will lose people faster than a right finger click killing a slow line by line pic download (who still has THAT going on?).
If you are not up on things your customers will perceive that your whole business is outdated and won’t even bother to read your website. Eyeballs are at an all time premium. We are a society constantly overloaded with things to do, text, see, take action on, listen to, etc.
What makes you think that a “click” to your website from a pay-per-service like Google or Facebook means that they will put up with looking at the tired ol’ times roman font, or the flash thingie you were so proud of in 1999 that flashes “S P E C I A L S ! ! !” all the time. And what’s up with the 3 exclamation points? Hmm?
It may be time to hire a professional writer to at the very least look over your website [you can get a free $97 website critique from Christopher by sending a blank email here]. How about checking in at some design websites to see what the trendy colors are these days? (2010 = Turquoise!) I was looking at a site the other day and it had the worst light pink, band-aid type color and all I could think of was being in College as a freshman having a dorm room that color in 1980. Yep, killed the whole mood for me — outdated colors and tired old fonts and websites that just center everything and have no design are just boring. Give me something fresh and nicely put together and show me you have put some thought into your site and then I will think — hey this business is pretty cool — I bet they do a great job and pay attention to detail and have updated cool spa services and…
See how things work in our brains?
We need stimulus. New. Fresh. Happy. Timely info. No Christmas specials should be lurking about when Valentine’s is staring us in the face.
So if you want new customers, you have to give the customers something new. You have time for this, yes you do. The internet presence for your business is so powerful that you would be silly not to pay attention to it.
So what’s an owner to do? LEARN by reading all you can and participating in meetup groups, or spend the $30 to take an Adult-Ed class. Get out there and meet some like-minded people like yourself and help each other out. Hey! You’re already on salonspaowner.com so you are already way ahead of some other owners sitting in the dark by themselves. Just get involved, post in the forum, join in on the mastermind calls.
Have a family member show you how to upload pictures from your camera. When you see how easy it is you will be so mad at yourself for not doing it sooner! Actual pictures of your spa are so much more powerful than any stock photography. Learn and make it happen!
Your Grandpa’s website is (let’s face it) really outdated. In order to get the movers and shakers into your spa to spend their hard earned mover/shaker cash….you have got to impress them — fast.
Your page should load fast.
Your pages should be well organized — easy to navigate.
Your image on that home page sets the tone for how they feel about your business.
What does your 1995 framed website say to them? (It says: “This place doesn’t have enough money to update their website; gee I bet I will get old products during my treatment”) Yep, that’s what they are thinking. Thanks Gramps, but we’re going to leave the yarn crocheted mouse covers here at the museum of all things internet circa 1995.
It’s time the website had a nice 2010 look and feel to it. Get creative and make it happen. If you don’t improve your website, your pay-per-click campaigns are just money down the soul train drain.
VIDEO: “Purpose, Vision & the Experience in Spa Design”
Creating, or redesigning a spa? This is a must see.
“Purpose, Vision & the Experience in Spa Design” by Sam Margulies of Atmospheres Spa Design
Under 15 minutes. The “skips” are mine, but the info is awesome.
VIDEO: “Client Marketing Touches”
Felicia Brown of Spalutions shows us all the different “marketing touches” a client encounters that can win or lose a client.
“Client Touches ” by Felicia Brown of Spalutions.com
20 minutes of all the different ways we touch our clients.
VIDEO: “Inspire Yourself”
This inspirational talk will help you set and achieve your goals.
“Inspire yourself” by Lauren Gartland of Inspiring Champions
Find out what you need to create your vision, 17 minutes. PARDON THE SKIPS, our data was corrputed.