Setting operating hours for a business can seem a daunting task. No one wants their therapists or sales professionals just hanging out doing nothing while they wait for clients. On the other hand, a spa owner does not want to lose the opportunity to grow their business.
ASK OTHER LOCAL STORES
Ask other businesses in the area what their traffic pattern is like. What is their Monday through Sunday open for business schedule? The hours of the local nail salon or the dry cleaner, for example, will give an idea of the traffic pattern of the spa’s location. Be specific when asking neighbors about their hours. Are they open between 12 P.M. and 6 P.M. on Sunday because most people in the area are in church from 9 A.M. to 12 P.M.?
CHECK WITH THE LANDLORD
Check with the landlord, lease agreement, or company that manages the building if there are set required hours for holidays and regular operating hours during the year. Are there specific times that the spa must be open or closed? Some buildings require businesses to be open certain hours regardless of traffic patterns.
BE CLEAR IN COMMUNICATING HOURS
Quite simply, clients need to know when the spa is open for business. Any marketing and branding materials, such as the spa’s website, brochures, menus, social media, search engines, and storefront windows, must clearly state hours of operation. Keep the spa’s schedule simple and easy to understand so client’s do not get confused. Make sure that the business opens on time every day. This is important because you never want to disappoint clients.
It is necessary to be competitive. Being competitive means clients can easily access the spa. Trying to get ahold of the spa, members of the staff, or getting an appointment should not seem like a full-time job to them. There are very few stores that close to observe certain public holidays these days, as online stores are open 24 hours a day. Gone are the days of spa businesses being closed on Mondays. There are so many new types of industries now where people work from home, work irregular shifts, or are stay at home moms and dads. Being open at times when clients like to shop is like being a mind reader. Instead, make the spa accessible, so clients can come in at lunch times, after work, during the weekend, and so forth.
Consistency is key. Do not change open hours from week to week. People are creatures of habit and like to know when they can get an appointment or stop by to pick up their favorite product. Even though online stores are becoming more and more popular, people still love in-person experiences and having a break from their day-to-day minutia. Check everywhere the spa hours are listed – Facebook, website, search engines, service menus – and make sure there are no conflicts or contradicting information. Watch trends by pulling reports from software systems to see what days and hours experience the highest traffic. This may give a clear idea of when operating hours need to be changed to reflect these trends.
Holiday hours are extremely important because a professional could make 30% or more of their annual income during the holiday months. Providing clients the opportunity to purchase gift certificates, products, series, and specials is very important, as many individuals rush into their favorite outlets to pick up a last minute gifts. Do research on competitors’ holiday hours and the holiday hours of the building. Make quieter days fun by offering specials like “Bring a Friend Friday,” “Bogo,” “Gift with Purchase,” or “Two for Tuesday.” Host a networking event with treasure hunts in the retail area, a girls’ night out, or makeup and beauty events during quieter times of operation. Extended holiday hours can add to the payroll, which can be stressful for a small business, so think of fun events to have every day to capitalize on hours of operation.
Remember, when open for business, be available, accessible, and consistent. One bad experience can have a lasting negative effect on the business. However, one favorable experience can have a lasting ripple effect on the bottom line. Do not be afraid to extend hours when needed for long-standing, loyal clientele. Client loyalty is key to sustainability. It is okay to close on major holidays like Christmas Day and the Fourth of July to give employees a work-life balance. Involve employees by telling them well in advance when the spa will be open during holiday hours, so scheduling is not a nightmare. Have fewer staff on during extended hours and offer incentives for employees working the extra hours – making sure they are rotating fairly.
Elaine Sterling, L.E., L.E.I., CIDESCO diplomat, and ITEC, is the school owner, founder, visionary, and CEO of The Elaine Sterling Institute. ESI offers three programs: aesthetician, massage therapy, and nail care. Sterling is a licensed aesthetician and aesthetics instructor. She holds prestigious international diplomas and is internationally trained and certified as a beauty therapist. Sterling’s passion for skin, health, and well-being is paramount to her and is reflected and energized in all of her professional endeavors, from writing to keynote speaking to spa business coaching.