How to Make MORE As A Salon Spa Owner

STOP being the lowest paid person in your spa.
Christopher Brazy

Do you know many spa owners are not making it? Most are barely seeing a profit, and of those who say they are do so by working for free. Realistically, if we’re not all losing money, we’re certainly not making what we could be. Does our staff sympathize with us? NO. Actually, if they know of your worries they’d be gone that same day.

How did this happen? I feel it’s because of salons. The first spas started in salons, and a stylist most often makes 50%. When they added on a massage room they offered the same pay. What they forgot to notice was that the therapist (compared to the stylist) does NOT have a following of a few hundred people that would bring new business to the spa.

Instead of an asset, therapists are liabilities. They often don’t reschedule their clients, are scared to death of retail sales, their room takes up 10x the space of a hair chair AND there are product costs, yet they get the same pay.

The more spa you have, the higher your expenses are. There are also expectations with a spa. You need to provide an experience. Staff must be more thoroughly trained. You need ROOMS. You need tea. You have laundry. With all the extras (including a WOW factor) needed for a spa, with salon style pay, you’re already in the negative doomed to bankruptcy.

It’s not you, it’s the model. Drop the salon model. Start a spa model. Equate the expenses involved in running a spa into a business plan. You’ll find a very high percentage of your sales income will be already eaten up BEFORE you even get to staff pay.

Let’s say you’ve got 60% in expenses before you pay for staff and yourself. Well, that leaves 40% for you and your staff to split. Obviously if you paid 50% you’d be losing money. If you paid 40% you’d be working for free. How much do you want to make? Investors of hard money (cash) expect a HIGH (30+%) return within 30 days. A cash advance from your credit card company expects over 60% back within half a year. What are you making for your investment? Are you even making payments, paying back your investment? (I bet not). You should be, and with interest. That’s before you even lift a finger working. How much would it take you to hire a manager to fill your shoes? What about health insurance or God forbid, retirement/profit?

Treat it like a business. Pay yourself like you should be. Then see what there is for staff. We’ve seen franchise places promise 50% and end up paying $8/hour, $5/hour (below min. wage), even $3/hour (yes, literally). They have requirements and loopholes and if you figured out their pay hourly (i.e. $300 for 100 hours) you’d see how low it is.

So don’t be scared to change staff pay. Be scared of going out of business. How can you care for your staff if you’re not around? How can you care for your family if you’re working 80 hours/week? How can you care for your clients when you’re filled to the brim with stress? Setup a pay plan that is fair to staff ($20+/hour AFTER tips seems MORE than fair to me!) and allow yourself to be fairly compensated for your time AND investment.

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