Taking spa development and operations to the next level

By Marisa Cachero

Is your spa operating at its best level?

Do you feel there is nothing more you can do to improve your business?

Let’s look at three simple areas and see how you compare:

1. Spa policies and procedures manuals
Known also as ‘standard operating procedures’ or SOPs. Do you have such a manual in your business? Does every single member of staff know exactly, without a shadow of a doubt, how you want everything to be done in your business? For example, is every staff member aware of how you want the telephone answered, or how to take a message for a guest in the spa or how you want a pedicure performed? Spending the time to create your own SOPs for your business will empower staff and create a more unified team. I suggest you detail, step by step, exactly how you want things done. Update your manual once a year and include your staff every time you do this, as their input and feedback is very beneficial to your operation. Be sure to outline your policy on the issue before you outline the procedure.

Let’s have a look at a template of an SOP for a basic eyebrow/lash tint.
DIVISION: Skin care therapists
CODE: (give each SOP a code) MCT0807 (ensure your code means something; in my case it stands for MARISA CACHERO TINTING 08 (AUGUST) 07 (2007) so I know who wrote the SOP, what it is about and when it was last updated. SUBJECT: Tinting
POLICY: Tinting is to be done in treatment rooms only. Please ensure your room is set up and clean before taking the client through. Patch tests are compulsory before a tint is done. Never leave your client alone with a tint on.
1. Meet your client in a warm and friendly manner at reception before you take her to the treatment room. If you are doing an add-on treatment explain that you will begin with the tint.
2. Check for any contra-indications before beginning treatment. If client not contra-indicated, perform a patch test on the inside of the arm to see if any reaction occurs.
3. Remove all eye make up with gentle, non-alcohol based eye make up remover
4. Prepare the skin around the eyes with non-scented Vaseline
5. Prepare the cotton pads, cut half-moons to place under the eyes and cover the cotton pads with Vaseline
6. Ask the client the colour tint they would prefer
7. Mix two to three drops of hydrogen peroxide with 1cm of tint
8. Ask client to keep eyes closed until instructed to open them
9. Apply tint with a tint brush taking care not to get product inside the eyes
10. Cover the eyes and leave tint on for 10–15 minutes
11. Do not leave the room; at this time massage your clients hands or scalp
12. Check tint to see if it has taken to the hair and once you are happy with the result gently tilt client’s head to the side whilst you remove the tint with cotton wool and lukewarm water
13. Wipe and dry the eyes with a tissue. Clean in between lashes with a cotton bud
14.  Ask client to open eyes. Apply eye drops to soothe and remove any redness
15. Eyebrow tint should only be left on for two – five minutes as colour develops faster on the eye brows.
16. Always hand the guest the mirror and ask if the colour is acceptable or if they would like it darker.

Now the above may seem like quite a mouthful, which it is, but if ever there is a query or complaint you can simply refer to the SOP to see where the system went wrong. Make sure each step is clear and concise.

2. Do-it-yourself treatments
“Profit centres without a payroll” is how self-service treatments are referred to. These self-performed treatments are a unique experience for clients as well as one of the most cost effective and profitable services you offer.

Self-service treatment areas can be costly to create however you will reap the rewards and pay off the expense in the long run, compared to the on-going costs of paying a staff member. Your only limitation when setting up these types of treatments is your imagination and planning.

Let’s have a look at some examples.
Most of us would be familiar with the rasul chamber mud experience, the ancient Arab custom of bathing, where the guest is provided with different muds to apply while they relax on heated seats. The lighting dims and star-like lights appear while warm steam is released, followed by a warm shower cascading from the ceiling. A basic four-seater rasul can cost in the region of AU$14-15,000; based on your menu price list you can easily calculate the number of treatments you will need to do in this room to cover the cost but remember there is no commission being paid out or therapist salary to cover.

An inhalation aromatherapy room is also a fantastic therapeutic self-service treatment with respiratory and anti-inflammatory benefits. This type of room need not take up much space and can accommodate either one person or up to four people at a time.

A dry floatation treatment is an excellent best of both indulgence. It includes a therapist performing an exfoliation and body mask application after which the client is left in privacy to enjoy a weightless, much-needed rest session.

A tailor-made rainforest rejuvenation room which combines steam and different shower heads such as pulsating water, rainforest water, mist and lighting to create a unique experience allows for the client to choose their own exfoliants, oils and body masks to apply. I would take it a step further and ensure that all the products used in this treatment are available for retail as individual stock items, and of course as gift packs.

Water massage beds are excellent add-ons to packages and for when there is no therapist available such as after hours or during peak periods. Offering over 100 massage movements and techniques, these aqua beds are powerful and individually therapeutic as the client is in control of the intensity of the massage and can therefore set the pressure themselves.

Ensure you take advantage of the marketing of these treatments through press releases. Unusual and unique spa procedures will capture the media’s attention.

Although all these self service treatments are just now starting to emerge in the market place there is no limit to where and how they can grow. Memberships and day passes for these types of treatments can provide valuable additional revenue for your business without too much work.

3. Men are starting to ask, “Why should the girls have all the fun?”
What percentage of men are you attracting to your establishment? It begins with understanding who the target market is. Don’t spend too much time or money trying to attract the “average Joe”, the type of male who pays $10 for a haircut and cannot understand why any man would pay a cent more for a simple cut.

Understand the following facts about the typical male spa-goer and focus your attention on ensuring you are giving him what he wants.
a) No mess, no fuss. Don’t try and promote two-hour facial treatments to men. Aim instead for a 45 minute get-to-the-point-and-sort-my-skin-out facial.
b) Stick to the facts. Don’t carry on about how a product or treatment makes one feel, but rather offer the facts about exactly what it will do. Men like proof they can relate to and that makes logical sense.
c) Promote machine/equipment treatments to men that provide visible results such as microdermabrasion for a smoother skin and IPL treatments for ingrown hairs and wrinkles around the eyes and on the neck.
d) Have your interior styling, of one treatment room at least, reflect a gender-neutral environment. Men do not want to feel like they are in a woman’s boudoir!
e) Ensure your advertising is specifically targeted. Sportsmen tend to steer towards waxing services, pedicures and massage. Businessmen will go for manicures, massage and skin treatments.

Karen Grant a senior beauty analyst for the NPD group in New York says that men’s skincare has the potential to be a billion-dollar industry if the user base can be broadened. One clue: the most fruitful marketing tactics used in the highly successful fragrance sector haven’t been about looking better and feeling younger – they’ve been geared toward making men feel relevant and impressing the ladies!

By simply focusing on the above three pointers and working on them diligently and implementing them into your business you can be guaranteed of an increase in profitability and turnover. Taking your business to the next level is imperative if you want to make real money in this industry.

Founder of The Spa Consultant, Marisa Cachero began her career as a sales executive for cosmetic company Ahava that launched in South Africa in 1997. Within a couple of years Marisa developed a passion for the health and wellness industry that saw her pursue new trends and treatments globally. After several years honing her knowledge in South Africa’s largest professional cosmetic distribution company, Marisa was invited to present her ideas and business models at an international spa conference held in Mauritius followed by an opportunity in Australia to present and put together a marketing and motivation seminar for the largest salon/spa group.

Marisa then lectured at the first South African Spa Conference in July 2005, followed by an invitation to lecture on Spa Design and Management at the Professional Beauty Conference in the UK in September 2005. In 2006 Marisa was again invited to the UK to speak to over 200 international spa conference delegates. She has since been involved in the set up of many leading spas in South Africa, putting together business models, marketing programs and feedback systems.

Today she heads a South African consultancy and equipment distribution business which prides itself on delivering ORIGINALITY, PROFITABILITY AND INSPIRATION and is currently in the process of launching South Africa’s first “all-organic” baby range.

For more information contact marisa@thespaconsultants.co.za or visit www.thespaconsultants.co.za

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