Victoria Fox – known for her business-savvy initiatives and ability to keep ahead of the trends, Amanda Parker chats to her about business, inspiration and everything in between.

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Beauty Salon and Day Spa Miss Fox has created hype in the streets of Melbourne and is the talk amongst the beauty world. Amanda Parker-Jones from Kitomba spoke with director Victoria Fox about her inspiration for the business, the opportunities and challenges affecting the industry, the importance of having the right business support in technology, and sharing her ideas for other small and independent salons/spas.

How was Miss Fox born?

I had been in the beauty industry for a number of years already with a boutique skin and wellness concept called Shrinc Clinic that has a niche focus on non-invasive body reshaping and weight loss. It was an extremely detail oriented business, and our clients kept requesting more and more services of us in the same meticulous style, such as facials, skin analysis, nails, tanning and more.

In the end, there was so much demand for the full spectrum of beauty treatments that we needed to grow our space and expand our concept. Once we located the perfect city venue: central, expansive and with great personality, everything fell into place. This year we celebrate our second birthday!

What inspired you to create such a quintessential beauty destination?

Miss Fox is inspired in part by the retro beauty parlours of the ‘Golden era’, where women would be primped and preened from top to toe in a very social setting, and step out looking and feeling glamorous. We also take inspiration from the grand old department stores in New York, where guests can float from one speciality floor to another, stop and have some lunch or some Champagne, enjoy some pampering, buy some beautiful things from a curated selection, and have an expert assist them with their needs.

We wanted to offer a glamorous day spa experience that was different from the typical earthy, zen-style spa. People always leave us looking better than when they came in – not red-faced or with clay in their hair, but ready to hit cosmopolitan Melbourne city. We also wanted an experience where the spa therapies were to the same standard as say, the manicures or waxing, so that there was a consistently excellent service across the board.

All of our specialist departments complement each other and are themed: from the tanning expertise and selection at the Bronzing Boutique, to the decadent Signature Day Spa, and the cheeky MISS WAXXX hair removal centre. We manage the client experience so that they can book at every department though a central reception, and we use our client management software (and a keen eye) to ensure a seamless and stress-less journey for every guest.

What motivates you in business?

I love creating unique experiences and delighting people with great service. We have spent significant time and expense getting the mix right at Miss Fox – finding the world’s very best products, recruiting excellent staff, building a luxurious facility and creating a multi-sensory experience for our guests that is different and special. The most rewarding part of business for me is the impact we can make on our client’s lives, from controlling their problem skin, to relieving stress through massage, to creating a stunning look for their wedding day. Improving the way a person looks and feels is incredible and I am motivated daily by a desire to do things better and more brilliantly for our valued guests. Recognition from our industry and the media is also very rewarding and humbling. We were awarded Best Urban Day Spa recently by ASpa, which was a huge honour, and seeing our spa written up in Vogue was pretty incredible too!

Can you define a Miss Fox client?

Having worked in a city office for almost 10 years, I understand the needs of busy corporate workers and executives who want it all: a high standard of service, a luxe retreat away from the office and the convenience of a one-stop-shop when it comes to grooming. Miss Fox delivers on all of these wants and needs, but specifically caters to those who appreciate all the little things we do to make their experience more special, from tea in Wedgwood china, to the 1000 thread-count sheets in our spa, to the French Champagne menu.

The industry is telling us that beauty clients are pulling back on services and pushing out their appointments. What keeps your clients coming back?

We have designed our business so that those who want the best service in a beautiful package needn’t look elsewhere. Businesses need to understand their niche and ensure they are at the top of their game for their target market. A client that has also been well educated by your staff on their beauty routine and well looked after by your management has little reason not to follow your professional service recommendations. Clients that are unable to re-book at reception due to uncertain schedules can book online at their convenience. Our online booking system is linked to our appointment book so offers available times without revealing our full appointment book. It’s so convenient for our clients to book with us outside of business hours.

To keep things fresh and exciting for our clients, we participate and report back on exciting events and alliances, regularly expand our service menu to include the latest proven or cult treatments, add new product lines and even change the décor regularly. Using email marketing and social media is a great way to stay at the forefront of our client’s minds. Our booking software has automatic everyday marketing where birthday wishes, reminders and other powerful messages to keep our clients coming back. Our loyalty program is another great way we reward and retain our most loyal clients, along with prepaid packages with discounts for clients that purchase a series upfront.

Small beauty businesses are finding themselves competing against larger franchised beauty houses and spas. In your opinion, how can these small businesses stay true to their brand to keep their clients loyal?

Small businesses have a huge advantage – they are in a far better position to really ‘connect’ with their clients and customise the experience for better engagement. Like the big companies, you need to create clear internal processes that create connected moments with clients: How do you answer the phone? How do you answer emails? How do you thank and reward your clients?

As a small business, you have the power to ‘wow’ clients with genuine and inspiring gestures. Use your client management software to make notes on all of your client preferences and conversation points, and use this to provide services that have a huge impact on your client experience. We’ve ordered in special products, designed custom spa rituals, arranged chauffeur transport and had four therapists work on a client all at once to create a personalised and exceptional service experience. Outside of the treatment space we’ve organised restaurant reservations, VIP service at cool bars, filled prescriptions and arranged flower deliveries. Small gestures of this style are easily implementable by small businesses, can cost you close to nothing, and help to breed loyal clients who will not only stay with your business, but become self-appointed ambassadors for it. Who needs cookie-cutter spa and beauty services when at your last visit your therapist created a special treatment just for you, that based on your preferences, they knew you would love? Wow!

What part has technology played in supporting your success?

At Miss Fox we use Kitomba Salon and Spa Software – it’s a key part of our success. Being able to understand exactly where we stand from client retention and knowing our top spending customers, to understanding their purchase preferences and our voucher liability gives us a great snapshot of where we are as a business. It also allows us to customise our marketing efforts for different user groups.

Almost everything in Kitomba is customisable which means it works like a dream for us. For a detail minded business such as ours, this is a huge plus.

What were your key drivers that helped you choose the right technology for your business?

We’d previously used a booking system from overseas, and unfortunately most of the functions were disabled for Australian users. Kitomba has complete functionality for local users – the SMS and emails work properly, the currency and tax setting are customised, and the support is available almost all hours of the day and night. It runs on a Mac platform without simulators, and it can be accessed remotely on iPhones and iPads with a private login so my staff can check their upcoming appointments securely. Of course, the price was also right. We were very clear in what we wanted from a system and Kitomba ticked those boxes. It just made sense for our business.

For more information http://www.missfox.com.au/
For more information on Kitomba, visit http://www.kitomba.com/au/