Salon Marketing Mindset with Andrew Finkelstein [VIDEO]

VIDEO: “Marketing Mindset”
Andrew Finkelstein
Andrew Finkelstein on SalonSpaOwner.com
Andrew Finkelstein of the Beauty Resource shares his tactics on how to create a mindset that produces profits.

“Marketing Mindset” by Andrew Finkelstein of theBeautyResource.com & BusySalons.com

VERY important info on your mindset, goals and taking action. Don’t miss these 14 minutes (PLEASE pardon the skips, the data was corrupted).

Salon Spa Accounting “6 Numbers” with Monte Zwang [VIDEO]

VIDEO: “Six Profitability Numbers”
Monte Zwang
Monte Zwang on SalonSpaOwner.com
Monte Zwang of Wellness Capital shows us how to simple keep track of six numbers to ensure profitability.

“Six Profitability Numbers” by Monte Zwang of Wellness Capital

Under 20 minutes. The last third of this is just great.

Yield Maximization in your Salon Spa with Ellen McGinnis [VIDEO]

VIDEO: “Yield Maximization”
Ellen McGinnis
Ellen McGinnis on SalonSpaOwner.com
Ellen McGinnis of SpaDev.com shares her secrets the resort spas use to make clients buy more.

“Yield Maximization” by Ellen McGinnis

Salon Spa Marketing with Patti Biro [VIDEO]

VIDEO: “Educational Marketing”
Patti Biro
Patty Biro on SalonSpaOwner.com
Do what no one else is doing, utilize your space, get free press and create events with educational marketing.

“Educational Marketing” by Patti Biro

3 Reasons Salons FAIL by Ken Cassidy [VIDEO]

VIDEO: “3 Reasons why salons fail”
Ken Cassidy
Ken Cassidy on SalonSpaOwner.com
Salon veteran Ken Cassidy of Kassidys goes into the 3 main reasons salons and day spas fail. 20+ minute interview.

“3 Reasons why salons fail” with Ken Cassidy

Front Desk Blunders [VIDEO]

VIDEO: “Front Desk Blunders”
Maryellen Ferring
Maryellen Ferring
Maryellen Ferring points out mistakes that MANY spas make at the front desk that are easily fixable. 20+ minute interview.

“Front Desk Blunders” with Maryellen Ferring of Upsell training

The 5-step Competition Formula

The 5-step Competition Formula
Douglas Preston
competition formula
Yeah they’re everywhere now. New day spas are springing up like toadstools after a rain. Seems that all you need to get in on parade is a water spigot, some paint, and a stencil to add the overused title to your business’s sign. Voila! You’re a day spa!

The sudden profusion of plush or “me too” spa facilities has produced sentiments among the more established players that range from annoyance to panic. Spa owners find themselves jealously sizing up the threat that each new operation seems to present, looking for their flaws and faults–any way to discredit the legitimacy of a claim to the day spa distinction. And to make matters worse these “unscrupulous” competitors sniffed out your business while planning their own, and even managed to lure away a few of your formerly loyal employees! How could people be so sneaky and unethical? Forget about it.

Look, you don’t have to love your new neighbors but wasting time fretting about the effect they might have on your own operation won’t help you address the real issue at hand, that is, how to be the best on the block. And despite the coming competition the good news is that it’s easy to shine in the crowd–you just have to be willing to focus on the parts of your business most others will often choose to under-develop or ignore altogether. It’s not the spa that has the deepest pockets that’ll prevail over the others but rather the one that knows what spa customers want most, and then delivers it to them consistently. Now you really have something!

Before you spend too much energy circling the wagons to defend your spa business let me share with you the surest way to keep your customers, your employees, and your cash flow healthy and happy. If you follow my advice you’ll avoid wasting time and money reacting to perceived danger while building a better and more competitive business.

Lesson #1: Keep your cool.
It started with a rumor but now you have the news; a big luxurious day spa is under construction uncomfortably close to your own. Details pour in: they’ll have more treatment rooms, more locker facilities, that juice bar you couldn’t afford when you were building and, dread of dreads, are offering a higher pay scale than you! And it gets worse: they’ll have a meditation lounge, more wet rooms, and even a day care facility. You’re dead, right? Customers and employees will be flocking to the new spa faster than day traders to the next IPO, won’t they? You can see it now, appointments canceling, checks bouncing, all because your spa is suddenly out of fashion with the local market. Do you borrow money to remodel, give suicidal raises to employees, drastically lower your prices? Or give up? Hang on.

If you’ve done a good job pleasing your customers and staff, that is, really understanding what’s important to them and investing in the quality of these values you will have little to worry about. I’m talking about the things your business can and should provide that they look for most in patronizing and working for you. For customers it’s overwhelmingly consistent service quality and personalized attention. They want to be received and served by a genuinely friendly staff who makes them feel at home and appreciated. They don’t want uneven quality, self-centered spa professionals, or anonymity. Clients want to belong–to feel safe, cared for, and valued.

Employees have very similar values as customers do. Poll after poll demonstrates that employees value education, growth, recognition and appreciation far more than their income potential. They want an ethical and understanding boss who is both consistent and forthcoming with positive feedback about the good work of their staff–something so inexpensive to supply and yet typically spooned out on rare occasions. And while most spa owners and managers I meet rate their performance in these areas as excellent, interviews with employees and a sampling of the service programs regularly paint a strikingly different picture. I’m talking about the communication problems, uneven treatment procedures and timing, heavy-handed or weak management styles, and poor staff training if any meaningful training exists at all. It’s time to take stock of where your company stands in the crucial areas of genuine performance quality and see to it that you stand head and shoulders about everyone else in your local spa market.

Lesson #2: Be the most consistent in everything you do.
How would you rate your spa’s service and hospitality quality compared to o around you? If you believe you’re the hands-down winner you will be blind to performance deficiencies customers and competitors will find easy to spot. How often do you or someone you appoint shop your own business for a quality check? How else can you know if the reception staff is following the proper procedures or if therapists are short-cutting on services without it coming from a client complaint first? Are your employees thoroughly and uniformly trained on all spa service and sales procedures, or customer service techniques? Are you absolutely sure?

In order to be #1 in these critical quality areas you will need to put the following key steps into place:

• Know what you want. If your spa were a play production you would expect everyone on stage to know their lines, their places, the timing of their delivery, be in the proper costume, and to omit every emotion, attitude, and display of conflict not written into the script. A spa is in fact a play, that is, a place where customers are treated to a temporary escape from the real world, and where they are willing to pay for experience. Nothing else should be included. Begin by knowing exactly what this experience is supposed to be at your spa.

• Train everyone– again and again. Sure your performers know the script but it’s the frequent rehearsals that keep the performance crisp and consistent. Never expect that an infrequent training will suffice to prevent your service quality from drifting into undesirable “interpretations” over time. The effects of training are diminished by the day and must be repeated routinely in order to produce the results you want. This is the tedious but essential nature of business management–any business!

• Measure the performance for quality. Take a seat and watch the show. Look for weaknesses such as uneven sales between staff members, and client complaints about specific policies, procedures, or certain individuals. Spot-check the service schedule for efficiency or unapproved “line outs” by poorly motivated employees. And send in an anonymous agent to sample your services to look for the quality compliance you as manager cannot see. If your sleuth emerges from the facial cabin having learned more about relationships than skin care it is a sure sign that your team has gotten out of step! Only you can fix the problem.

Lesson #3: Price yourself higher than your competitors.
Okay, you think, now he’s lost it! But I’m dead serious here. The best spa must also be the most expensive–how else do you afford all that quality? If you plan to be different, hopefully meaning different in a better way than everyone else, you must also demonstrate that difference in your prices. Market realities dictate that quality isn’t free, and that you cannot and should not desire to be both the quality and low-cost leader. However, if you do elect to be in the upper end of the spa market you must be in the upper end of quality, period. It’s quite useless to seek the business distinction of being the same as but different than everyone else. It just won’t sell.

Lesson#4: Love your customers and your employees shamelessly!
I know I’m repeating myself but this point seems to need it in our business. If you want your loyal following to stick around then you must give them what they value most: attention, appreciation, and inspiration. This is something you won’t find on most drafting tables or business plans, and it’s also something all-too-often taken for granted. But the one thing your competitors can’t duplicate regardless of their startup budgets is the unique and rewarding relationships you forge between yourself, your customers, and your team. Business managers who truly take care of their people (those who value a structured and well-integrated environment, at least) will find them firmly disinclined to leave for the prospect of finding it elsewhere. And while a pie-in-the-sky promise may lure some away from you it will never be the ones who prove to be the most valuable as employees or customers.

In times of change the weak are frightened away but the steady will remain. You’ll discover in most cases relief in having lost certain employees who were never the most productive or cooperative among your team. We’ve seen competitors gloat over having stripped away some of our employees without knowing the productive quality or management compliance of these people, and this false confidence has even prevented them from conducting proper employee background checks. We have a saying at our spa that the easiest fruit to steal from a neighbor’s tree is that which hangs lowest to the ground. Just put it out of your mind.

Lesson #5: Love thy enemy.
Nothing gives more power to your competitor than outright hostility from you. Your exposed anxiety weakens everyone’s confidence that you have faith in the strength of your spa, and this perception can put into motion the idea, no matter how unfounded, that the pasture just might be greener over there. Retain all of your ethical fortitude. Don’t denigrate the new spa. Don’t raid their employees or pay too much to keep your own in place (let them go bankrupt first!). Avoid lowering your prices to undercut the new spa or throwing in more expensive customer perks when you don’t need to. In other words stick to what has worked well for you and then do it even better. In all likelihood the competitor will try not to be the same as you are which will make your uniqueness more appreciable.

Following this formula you’ll probably find that not only will your business continue to grow and prosper but you’ll save yourself a lot counter-productive worry and expense. New spas are risky ventures at best that come without any guarantees of success. You, on the other hand, have already passed the initial test of business survival.

You have experience and operating wisdom that the new spa will have to struggle hard to gain in an even more competitive market than you did. Just be glad it isn’t you, and get some sleep!

Best of luck to you!

Is HydroTherapy Right For Your Salon & Day Spa?

Is HydroTherapy Right For Your Salon & Day Spa?
Douglas Preston
day spa hydrotherapy
When thoughts turn to starting up or expanding into a spa business, the entrepreneur will often focus on a few compelling concepts that will eventually decide the design, and fate, of the business-to-be.

Chief among these ideas is a spacious and relaxing environment, a unique spa concept, and glamorous, seemingly fun-to-perform services that include the use of Vichy showers and Hydrotubs. It’s exciting to imagine that equipment getting a good workout from throngs of eager, hydro-savvy clients that will make your business investment a successful one. But it seems that few spa business owners have investigated thoroughly just what’s really needed to make an investment in specialized, sophisticated equipment and services profitable.

Many hydro equipment vendors have expressed dismay with customers who sometimes fault the costly devices for their failure to generate adequate customer demand. Vendors correctly feel that if the equipment is working properly, has been serviced promptly, and sufficient operational training has been provided, then their obligation to the customer has been dutifully fulfilled. However, many spa operators have begun to expect, even demand, that equipment vendors also provide marketing assistance, service plans and protocols, pricing help, and routine technical training for a revolving door staff. And while the price structure of hydro equipment sellers does not–and competitively cannot–include the cost of all these post-sale services, it is also reasonable to understand that the seller may not feel obligated to do so either. Think about it–you may plunk down $75,000.00 for a new Mercedes Benz, but the dealer is not going to provide you with driver training, auto insurance, or vacation planning. You get a warranty, care and maintenance tips, and some basic operating instructions–all that anyone should or can expect. Anything you need beyond that must be obtained from resources whose business it is to provide it: insurance companies, driver training schools, and travel agencies.

Somehow a trend has developed for customers to insist upon services that go above and beyond what’s realistic when purchasing high-end spa equipment. But if we’re going to plan and operate a spa successfully, we’ll need to face the fact that we will need to independently locate, utilize, and incorporate the best overall service and management systems we can find. And this means taking full responsibility for our decision to run our companies. Think of it this way: as business owners we love our spa customers. We recommend appropriate home care regimens and give instructions on daily use, and troubleshoot if they run into a problem with a product. Beyond that–it’s up to them to decide what to do with what we’ve provided. We cannot, and should not, be expected to do more.

Hydro equipment and the specialty treatments they permit are fun and interesting to work with, but how much did you really know before setting up shop about attracting the hydro client, keeping them returning, and actually making a profit from those sales? Unless you have a clearly detailed and working business plan for this service department, you have no plan at all. No planning means no direction, and no direction means you bought the car but can’t think of where you want to go, and don’t have a map to get there even if you have a destination in mind. Yet you do have the car and at least some people are willing to ride along with you somewhere–but where?

Rather than print an entire business plan (also known as an educated guess) let’s simply assume that our goal is to keep our hydrotub from becoming a convenient place to store used linens. It would also be nice to turn on the Vichy shower for purposes other than rinsing the dust from the table below. In other words, we want strong service sales generated by the mere presence of this miraculous machinery in our spa. We open up for business, stand ready at the keyboard and then…well, maybe almost nothing. It may be slow in the beginning, and it will take enough effort to get our standard services such as facials, manicures and pedicures going let alone the more esoteric. Should we call our vendor and complain about this scarcity of customers? Should we demand that they give us more training, treatment ideas, and a foolproof marketing campaign? Were we falsely lured into this expensive investment by predatory, heartless salespersons? No. The vendor delivered and we have now painfully discovered what failing to plan properly will do to any part of any business. So instead of attacking a sales let’s learn how to make a hydrotherapy operation as successful as it can and should be.

There’s going to be some new work to be done by you but it’s better than doing a lot more of the wrong things. As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is in doing something over and over again while expecting a different outcome. And remember this article is for those of you who are just now planning to enter the hydrotherapy business, and those still looking to get it out of the starting gate. If you’ve already built a prosperous hydro department in your spa then just…keep reading a little longer.

Make Your Hydro-Treatments Pay!

Make Your Hydro-Treatments Pay!
Douglas Preston
hydrotherapy treatment strategies
Step 1: What is your goal?
Yep, you need a goal, and not a vague fuzzy goal such as, “I want to have a good hydro clientele.” We need more.

First of all, assuming that we’re going to buy this equipment no matter what, we need to know why we’re getting into this service area. If it’s to make more money, then we’ll need to look into the cost of each treatment, find a breakeven point per service, and then price the services to make money beyond that. How much should you charge? Find that breakeven point first, check out your competition, and then price your services above both. Anybody who’s not planning to be the best spa in your area? No? Then charge like you’re the best. You can’t realistically expect to be the highest quality spa and the low cost leader at the same time. Just go ahead and allow yourself to make some money, please.

So, we want to make more money through superior hydrotherapy services, right? The next question then is:

Step 2: Who is your target customer?
Oh yeah, the client. Remember him or her? The one breathlessly waiting outside before we even open who’s savvy enough about these services to want to hop into that tub or on the table for a little healing rain? What will get customers into your spa for these specialty treatments and keep them rescheduling for more? What results will they be expecting? We don’t really know for sure, do we?

To keep your hydrotub and Vichy equipment spouting water, you’ll need to be very clever in making sure that you’re appealing to the right consumer. There are two types of spa users that you will be serving most often: the dyed-in-the-wool, just gotta have it, Spa Enthusiast, and the gift certificate-waving Spa Package Pamperling. Each of these spa visitors have their own unique way of utilizing your services, and each represent a very different kind of business opportunity for you. Let’s examine them closely and see how we can make the most of their visits with us.

Spa Enthusiast
Get down on your knees and worship this person! She (I’ll say she) is the most lucrative and rewarding client you can possibly find. Treat her like gold! This lovely creature loves your spa, loves your services, and wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else for her treatments. She doesn’t need to be reminded hourly that she has an appointment with you–she can barely wait until she comes back in! She buys all of her spa products from you without any coaching, rarely if ever returns a purchase, and loves to experiment with your new arrivals. And fun? This woman is an absolute joy to work with! Why can’t they all be just like her? She’s healthy, a true believer in personal care, and is current on all the latest techniques for keeping her face and body beautiful, just like her close friends whom she refers to you. This client is the ultimate calling card for your business, and you can find her if you look carefully enough.

Step 3: Actively market your hydro services.
How to get this customer interested in your hydrotherapy program? Speak directly to her in your marketing efforts. She’s not a typical bargain hunter but loves an unexpected deal or perk. Charge her top dollar but deliver nothing but the best that you have, and deliver on it consistently. Tell her what to do and she’ll do it. If toning and firming of the body’s skin is what she wants to achieve, then give her a program that promotes those results. Treatment series coupled to a faithful home care routine is a must for this woman, as is maintaining a properly kept appointment schedule with you. Don’t be afraid to take a proactive approach with her–she’s there for the results and you are the professional that’s advising her. But remember, be as serious about what is needed to get treatment results as a nutritionist would be about the behavior needed to reduce weight. The same goes for all of the other benefits your hydro equipment is designed to produce. Believe in it, talk about it everywhere, schedule and lead your clients, and earn a wonderful reputation for great results and sterling professionalism; your hydrotub is not an amusement park ride.

Spa Package Pamperling
This is the life-giving blood of any new or established spa business. They come in every size, age, and enthusiasm about the role of a spa in their life. They are less likely to see the spa as a serious or affordable routine for themselves, but rather are there for a little “pampering”. Pampering is that scary, hard-to-recognize result that is so much taken for granted in the spa business.

One thing is certain: the Pamperling has come to the spa because either she or some kind-hearted soul wanted her to have a day of sheer personal indulgence, and it’s unlikely that they don’t really know what to expect from the spa beyond something unforgettable. And that’s exactly what you’ll give them by recommending your hydro services!

Step 4: Package your plan.
This is the golden opportunity to make those hydrorooms splash with pamper-making magic! While the Spa Enthusiast will likely follow your recommendations for good self care and thus partake of your hydro programs, the Spa Package Pamperling is less likely to reschedule, less likely to make a significant product purchase, and much less likely to articulate the benefits of “pampering” in a way that will lead to the getting of more of it. Probably another gift certificate will be needed to see her again, and that for another one-day-a-year pamperfeast. Your spa packages need to be a marvelous way to introduce new customers to new services, and hopefully get them to reschedule for more. That means you should design your spa package programs to include a healthy tour of your various exotic offerings. Who wouldn’t love a relaxing and toning hydrotreatment followed by a skin smoothing sea salt exfoliation under the Vichy rain? Here’s an example of a spa fantasy experience:

Water Music Rejuvenation Package
This unique and totally relaxing spa experience is a wonderfully refreshing escape for the mind and body! Your program begins with 45 minutes of sheer heaven in our warm and invigorating French Hydrotub where you’ll be pleasantly massaged by an array of air and water jets while immersed in seaweed-rich marine extracts and aromatic oils. You’ll then be guided to our Vichy spa where skilled hands will gently massage you with skin softening sea salts. Relax under a delightful rain of warm water that rinses your skin and promotes healthy circulation. Following a quiet herbal tea break, a highly trained aesthetician will treat you to a skin firming and hydrating facial treatment, where you’ll also learn some fascinating tips for taking the best care of your skin at home. What a marvelous retreat from the stresses of modern life!

So go ahead and confidently let the water flow in those spa packages. Create several different versions of them but make sure there’s some hydro in every one. This has been my instruction to many a spa and virtually all of them have found the plan extremely productive in selling these specialty services and products.

Is that all there is to it? No, there’s more.

Step 5: Service and sales training.
Let those hydro vendors off the hook and let training professionals handle this part of your business investment for you. There are some great resources available out there whose business it is to keep your spa team up-to-date on all the latest advances in hydrotherapies and treatment products. A good trainer will know how to use most types of popular hydro devices and will thoroughly understand the needs and sensitivities of the hydrotherapy client. This is no place to pinch pennies. Ask the experts for referrals to skilled spa trainers, and be sure incorporate that training into your own in-house program. This is an investment in your business; you’ll pay dearly for poor, perfunctory spa training, believe me.

An important and almost always neglected component of any meaningful spa training is in service and product sales. Why again is it that the hydro services have been moving more slowly than expected? Who exactly in the spa is actively selling customers on them? Be honest now. Are you really doing all that you can to interest spa visitors in the services they know the least about? Don’t wait for clients to discover them on their own. Many clients, even long time regulars, use a remarkably small percentage of what your service menu offers, just as most repeat restaurant customers select from a narrow portion of the dinner menu–that’s why they create “daily specials” to sell the halibut. Even then they still have to have to print specials on the menu or, better yet, instruct the wait staff to describe them in tempting ways. The same goes for you and your spa staff if you want to attract a greater number of your customers to your specialty hydro treatments. It’s still a developing market.

Step 6: Be focused.
My spa, Preston Wynne, removed its hydrotub (a menacingly mean-tempered machine of poor quality) after 10 years of battling with it. Service sales never grew appreciably and we needed the space for more in-demand treatments. Did the tub fail? Other than mechanically (relax, most of them are very reliable these days) no; we failed to focus on the hydrotherapy business sufficiently to make it successful. For us hydrotherapy was always a sideline to our aesthetics services around which we have built a considerable reputation for results. We just weren’t that serious about hydrotherapy, although we continue to operate a Vichy shower that has become the pivotal device in many of our body therapies. The point is, it may not be prudent to spend thousands of dollars on equipment and products with which you plan to take a “plug and play” approach. It’s not likely to benefit your business unless, perhaps, you’re a large resort operation who has the financial resources to provide marginal amenities that meet every client request. In that environment it is the availability rather than the frequent utility of specialty equipment that matters most. Unless you can afford to indulge customers on that level, you should plan to manage your hydrotherapy investment with care and dedication. This is the way to prosper in the specialty services business!

Best of luck to you!

Time to Bulldoze your Salon Spa Concept?

Time to Bulldoze your Salon Spa Concept?
Douglas Preston
salon spa concept
Last year the owners of a large California retail-shopping complex ordered it bulldozed and completely rebuilt.

The remarkable thing about this is that the demolished complex was a still beautiful 20-year-old structure in located in a heavily trafficked commercial hub. But in all those 20 years of leasing and repeated economic swells the center was a stubborn failure. Why? Because the basic design of the complex with its labyrinth-like and confusing layout, and dark, difficult-to-reach upper floors simply tired shoppers of the challenge of doing business there. Lease incentives, free concerts, and massive advertising did little to help tenants survive the drought of customers. It finally made sense to simply destroy the building and replace it with one that a convenience-minded public preferred–a bland but customer-friendly strip mall. The center is now a thriving commercial success, fully leased even before it was completed.

The wisdom here is that it is ultimately better to abandon a money-losing investment rather than lose more money attempting to make it pay off. Each losing month merely adds to the depth that a businessperson must climb back from in order to realize some profit. But many spa and salon owners cling to certain products, services, and build-outs even though they can’t seem to make money from them. They remain focused and attached to the original cost of their investment and can’t bear to toss out the “valuable” feature in question. All the while its cost continues to rise.

Does your spa have a steam shower that gets little use? Did you plan a build a men’s locker room that’s 3 times bigger than you now know it needs to be? Is the juice bar just an employee watering hole? Do the ever-increasing sales of that product line fail to solve your cash shortages?

I know I’ve said this many times in my articles but it must be repeated again; a business has one primary purpose: to make money. Failing this little else will matter unless, of course, you have so much money that your business performs as a hobby or community service only. But that’s doubtful. Everything is secondary to the moneymaking capability of your business because your business will eventually die if it can’t support itself financially. I’m not pointing to sales, the mere bringing in of revenue, but rather the money you get to keep after the business expenses, all of them, have been paid out. Profit. When you take the time to analyze your spa business an interesting story will emerge: most customers buy singular, standard services such as a massage, facial, or nail care. Never mind that you planned and built your spa to deliver service packages, your customers think for themselves, and most don’t have the time or desire to get a regular “day of pampering”. Think about it, how often do you, the owner and chief promoter of day spas, spend the day lounging in one? Most customers are busy people with limited time. They will also most likely use a limited array of spa services no matter how much you pitch them. Sure, they’ll buy the gift certificate for friends and family but these new customer prospects are often unlikely to convert into regular customers, customers with time.

My point is that if you find yourself in a similar situation it might be a good time to make some important changes in the structure of your spa business. I have consulting clients who regularly argue the need to build out more massage and facial rooms while their wet, client consultation, and yoga rooms stand empty most of the time. My reply is to tear out the wasteful space and convert it to meet the service demands they have. But they’re horrified at the idea of discarding that beautifully appointed room everyone claims to love but never uses. There’s this idea that somehow the lonely space in question is partly responsible for the success of the spa as a whole. I say show me the proof of this but the proof never seems to be concretely available. What customers say and what customers do are often very different, and many spa operators really don’t know their customers well. But if you’re tracking your sales numbers carefully you’ll probably see that most of your income is found in single-services with strong retail links. Numbers don’t lie.

Your spa “concept” can become a costly attachment if it, in fact, has little practical meaning or value in the success of your business. What your spa is to you and what it is in practical terms to your customers may differ considerably. And conventional thinking, industry thinking, about what is needed in order for a business to legitimately call itself a spa is a ridiculous preoccupation in light of critical finances and proven customer demand. A lot of time is wasted on this question at trade and association events while many spa operators are looking hat-in-hand for a profitable sales strategy. Your experience may differ but after 10 years of marketing our hydrotub services at Preston Wynne the effort has not proven successful in sustaining client-initiated appointments. It simply makes sense to haul it off and convert the space for massage services that sell well. So next month out it goes. Are we still a legitimate day spa without the tub? Of course we are! Better dry than dead would be a good motto. We’ll still be a luxurious, rejuvenating retreat for face and body services, and better able to remain one in the future. We’ve survived the discontinuation of our nail services, two recessions, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and growing competition while maintaining a 20% average annual growth over the last 16 years. All this with a shrinking but better planned “concept”. Next on our hit list: those headache-prone spa packages.

It’s not the list of services or the opulence of your facility that will ultimately decide your business success. Rather, it’s the spa operator who best manages the customer experience on the professional level and keenly controls expenses that will be around the longest and the most rewarded financially. Question everything and be one of them!

Best of luck to you!