Today I want to share with you my suggestions on how to revive a failing spa business.  First off this post isn’t just good for Spa owners, this is good for any service based professional.  I’m going to focus on a spa experience, but you will see how this could easily be applied to any service based business.
How to Revive a Failing Spa
The idea for this post came to me after my husband bought me a package at a local spa for Mother’s Day.  I hit up Yelp to see what others thought of their experiences and see if I could find photos of the space.

The reviews on Yelp were so horrible, it was almost comical.  No one had a good experience.  It seemed the business made the mistake of doing a large Groupon deal and there were a lot of unhappy reviews.  

Groupon can KILL a business. If you’re not paying employee’s the same rate for service, they are going to do a sloppy job. If you are too busy to accept full price paying clients, you’re going to be stressed for cash. If you don’t treat Groupon customers just like full paying customers, you’re not going to turn them into repeat business. A lot of businesses don’t think things through and end up going bankrupt from Groupon and taking it out on the people who bought the Groupon instead of themselves for not really budgeting it as a PAID advertisement. That’s exactly what Groupon is! You are pretty much offering a discounted near free service to show everyone how awesome you are so they tell their friends and come back. While some can make money off Groupon, that’s really that real way to go about it. It’s an expense, that when done right, can bring you a good return!

Since my package was already purchased, I booked my services.

Upon arrival I was greeted and signed in.  Then no one told me what to do so I sat on a chair by the reception.  After a while someone noticed I was sitting and after some confusion I was pointed to a room to enter.

What I would change:  Always greet guests and walk them over to where they need to be, offer a refreshment, and show them the facilities.

When I entered the room I saw it had some cubbies to put your things with a camera facing them. There was a bathroom, water feature, and some chairs.  A table had a half empty glass of what looked like water and I saw some random magazines.  I figured out the robes in the bathroom were for spa guests and put one on and my things in a cubby then picked up a magazine and sat down.  Some time past and finally someone came and asked my name.  She said she would be doing my facial.

What I would change:  Check the waiting area and clean up empty glasses from previous guests and make sure current waiting guest has a refreshment.  Seeing others had one and I wasn’t offered one was not a good feeling.  It instantly made me thirsty.  Hand a robe to guests and instruct them where to put their things, change, and wait.

Being a licensed facialist I’ve had my fair share of facials and given them.  She said nothing the entire facial, which was fine, only I know a lot of people like to be told what products will be used for their skin and why.  It makes it more personal and feel like a custom experience.  This is also important if you want to sell any products after.  No formal intake was done only a checklist of any allergies was quickly checked and signed.  The facial was very basic.  I felt no extractions, maybe slight ones once or twice, but little effort.  I honestly felt it was too light to extract anything. As if she wanted to appear to be doing extractions when she in fact did not.  I was left with a mask and the facialist quickly left the room.  When she returned I could smell her fingers and breath that she just had an onion packed steak sandwich.  Yes, I could tell exactly what she just ate. She washed off the final mask and told me to get back into the robe and go back to the waiting room.  I never saw the facialist again.

What I would change:  Facials include extractions.  People expect this.  When it’s not done or you try to skimp on any service it does not go unnoticed.  Always do exactly what the customer pays for and a little more.  A formal intake is necessary to gain trust with a new client and make them feel like they are going to get a custom facial for their needs.  In school the first lesson was NEVER, EVER, EVER leave your client when performing a facial.  You need to be watching their skin for reactions and ready to act quickly should anything happen.  Also when a client has a mask on that’s when a facialist is to perform light massage on the neck, arms, and even feet.  No one pays for a facial just to have a stranger wash their face and put a mask on.  It’s the entire experience that makes people want a facial and that experience includes a relaxing massage.  It should go without saying, but a facialist should never leave for lunch in the middle of a session.  In school they went over and over how important it is to wash your hands before touching a client and to make sure you use a breath mint.  Your breath is right over their face and a bad smell can ruin an otherwise great facial.  After the facial the facialist should have taken the time out to show and talk about the products used and give the client recommendations for products for at home use.  This is where facialist should be making a good portion of their income on the percentage of their sales.  It seems likely that this particular spa either didn’t have products to sell, training for employees on how to sell the products, or just didn’t give a percentage of product sales to encourage employees to put forth any effort.

After leaving the facial room I found myself lost in a long hallway and walked up and down until I found the waiting area again.  After a good 45minutes, someone walked in the room coughing up a storm.  It was an employee.  I was terrified!  I was in such a small room with them and whatever they had sounded so horrible I sure as hell didn’t want it.  She offered me some water, but I refused after seeing her cough all over it and the room.  Another 15 minutes passed and another woman dressed in like a manager banged the door to the waiting area open and stomped over to one of the back treatment rooms and began yelling at one of the employees.  It was obvious, it was about me still waiting as the masseuse ran over to me and quickly took me to a treatment room.

What I would change:  Have a system in place to notify employees when a client is ready and waiting for them.  Expecting employees to just know or constantly check the room isn’t a good way about it.  The best way is to have the person doing the first treatment to walk over to the person doing the second and let them know the client is ready for them. Never allow an obviously sick employee to be around clients.  They should be sent home.  That is what sick days are for after all and everyone gets turned off by someone very sick around them when they are trying to relax.  Lastly, try not to reprimand employees near clients.  This should be done in private with low voices that cannot be overheard.

Fix The Problems

Fire anyone who refuses to come around to the new rules of the spa. Owners are responsible for organizing mandatory trainings at least once a month. Go over the new rules of the spa which should include: Walking clients to where they need to go next, making sure clients are relaxed and comfortable, no complaining or yelling when clients are present, no eating during treatments, no leaving a treatment room during a treatment, etc. Owners should train on sales and make sure commission is enough to make it worth while to employees. Pay employees their full price rate even when you decide to run a discount. Train train train on selling and new treatments. Keep their skills and knowledge up to date.

Making It Right When You Messed Up

If your spa or business sounds similar and your reviews have suffered greatly, here’s what you can do. Go to your list of non repeat clients and call them up one by one. Leave them a message telling them the spa has received a total overhaul and invite them to try out a service free of charge in exchange for filling out a questionnaire.

When the clients who agree show up, make sure you give a real detailed questionnaire. They can tell you everything they like, loved, and hated. Be sure to ask what they would have liked to have been included or a part of the experience.

Once you have enough questionnaires fire, change protocols, train, etc. as needed.

You can bring your service based business around! It starts with taking care of your employees and ends with making sure clients are having a great experience every step of the way.

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To our success darling!

xo, Kat