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Tuesday, 17 January 2012 06:00

Becoming a Super Spa

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Are you experiencing growth or is your practice or spa maintaining an internal status quo that actually puts it at risk for extinction? By expanding your menu of services, you can stay competitive – and even take a lucrative step ahead of the pack.
According to the 2008 Global Spa Summit in New York, "The global spa economy is estimated to be over $250 billion." And in spite of the economic downturn, the industry continues to grow at a breakneck pace.

Anticipating and Meeting Demand
Consumers have become very savvy about the types of treatments and services available, as well as the potential health and beauty benefits they can provide. Turn this to your advantage by surveying your current clients to learn what they want and what they expect you to carry. Because it costs more to get a new client than to keep an existing one, it is vital to nurture existing relationships with your client base by providing what they want. The importance of this will become very clear to you once you calculate the yearly value of a single client to determine just how much she will typically spend and on which services. Adding desired treatments will increase that amount.
Take a step above the pure pampering, guests have come to expect from spas by including therapeutic treatments that have long-lasting effects and really make a difference to the tone, texture, and appearance of the skin.
"Now more than ever, people expect increasingly sophisticated services for everything from acne to anti-aging," says Dr. David Kamin, of Beverly Hills. "An interesting development is the recent array of vendors that once made equipment only physicians could access and are now adapting the same technology to the spa environment."
As Kamin notes, spas can now provide more to clients who have come to trust them by adding new technology, especially equipment that offers multiple procedures and has previously been available only to physicians. Better technology and more treatment options translate to added value from your new purchase or lease.
In addition to new equipment, carry retail home care maintenance products to keep your clients coming back between treatments. This can include private label and brand name skin care products, cosmetics, and/or nutritional supplements. By carrying the latest, most effective cosmeceuticals that clients can purchase directly from you – and with your endorsement – you not only enhance the results of your treatments, but also build another layer of trust.
While revenues from day spas have made a slight downward turn, growth in the medical spa field has been consistent – something that could be attributed to medical spas emerging as competition to traditional spas. Although the typical spa may not have the staff or medical director to carry more medically based equipment or procedures, there are a wide variety of options for you to choose from. Take the time to evaluate the new non-invasive aesthetic treatments that you can offer in a spa setting. But remember, while it is important to do your best to keep up with demand, it's your reputation on the line so you must be selective about the equipment and treatments you choose to add.

Expanding Your Menu of Services
Successful spas have worked hard to cultivate strong relationships with their clients, who have come to trust their providers implicitly on matters of beauty. Patients who have been going to the same spa for traditional treatments are thrilled to be able to receive non-invasive cosmetic services in the same location. An added bonus is the comforting and nurturing atmosphere. Plus, because they are so pleased, the word-of-mouth marketing for all aspects of their chosen spa is bound to reach even more ears.
Keep your competitive edge by developing creative combinations of aesthetic services that result in multiple treatments at one visit or multiple visits. Further, be sure these provide outstanding results. Expanding your focus to include new services traditionally available only in medical spas and physicians' offices not only draws new prospects to you, but also positions you as an expert in a much wider range of aesthetic procedures. Consider adding some, or even all, of the following specialty services to cater to specific groups and increase your market share:

  • Acne
  • Anti-aging
  • Dry skin
  • Ethnic skin care
  • Men's packages
  • Pre-and post-surgery
  • Laser skin patients
  • Senior skin
  • Sensitive skin and rosacea
  • Special occasion (wedding parties, reunions, etc.)

Be cognitive of the change in seasons to create specials. For example, in the summer you should start preparing for fall and developing special treatments for that season. Prepare marketing ahead of time to stay ahead of the trends.
Also consider acquiring some of the new technology that has recently been approved for use in a non-medical setting. Many vendors now offer equipment that is specifically designed to meet the needs of your clients without an on-site physician or medical director. This may include alternatives to microdermabrasion, such as new peels, facials, and masks with varying strengths.
Adding new technology to your service menu requires making a decision to purchase or lease. To determine which is right for you, look at the projected return on investment (ROI) before buying or signing a lease. First review the earning potential for the equipment. For example, if a business that chooses a new piece of equipment charges a modest rate of $150 per treatment, they estimate they will perform a minimum of two treatments per day and are open five days a week ($6,000/month) and carry a monthly lease payment of $375 on the equipment, the ROI would be incredible. However, if the business should decide to purchase the equipment, they could reasonably expect to have it paid in full within six months and still pull considerable revenue. Considering the fact that happy clients refer family and friends, the number of procedures per month is certain to increase steadily, thus driving ROI higher – whether the business leases or purchases. Some leasing companies offer very little down or no money up front, so as revenue goes up the machine will be paid off in fewer months.
Depending on the type of equipment you choose to acquire, you must take into account the cost per month for both options along with the revenue you can expect. A simple calculation should help you decide not only whether it is more economical to lease or buy, but also if you are about to make a sound investment: Take your total benefits, subtract your total investment, divide the total investment, and multiply by 100. This is your ROI percentage.

Promoting Yourself
Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM), one of the most effective forms of advertising for your business, is just one avenue for promotion. Internal marketing, or using a database of current clients, should be where you begin the rest of your efforts because it is lower in cost than other strategies and can be extremely effective. Remember, this is a group that already relies upon your spa as a trusted resource. Other marketing options include newspaper, TV, direct mail, and the Internet. Keep your focus within five to 10 miles of your business.
To ensure your efforts are worthwhile, compare your ROI by media and marketing sources to the revenue generated by each. Any source that is generating less than 1.5 times your output should be dropped. The Internet is generally a very cost-efficient medium in terms of ROI, even though the conversion rate from lead to paying client may be the lowest among all sources and may seem unproductive and labor-intensive on the surface. However, even if a fraction of your leads convert, the ROI is probably the highest of all sources. Be sure you are tracking leads from the website and that you have the proper search engine optimization (SEO).
Public Relations (PR) also puts your name and information about what you do in front of the media, but with one major difference. It's free. You can take advantage of this commodity by offering free educational seminars, holding fundraisers, or sending press releases to the media announcing your events. You may even align yourself with one charity or organization in particular to become part of the community fabric. Good PR not only helps provide you with name recognition, but also places you as a trusted and contributing member of your community.
As you introduce a new service or product, be sure you are using marketing and cooperative advertising, when available, from your vendors and equipment suppliers. In addition to collateral material, such as brochures or introductory postcards, many vendors also highlight practitioners on their websites.

Training Rules
Client satisfaction is – or should be – a common goal among your staff. Proper training for front desk staff and phone room operators is essential for a thriving business since these individuals are often responsible for the first impression people will have of your business. They must be knowledgeable in all services that are offered and prepared to answer specific questions. That said, there are some rules you need to follow to ensure success:

  1. Be organized! Maintain a full set of spa protocols for treatments, as well as front desk staff. Design a commission and/or bonus structure that keeps your staff working your plan. Schedule regular staff meetings and management meetings. Keep communication flowing.
  2. Make the most of free training from your suppliers, especially those who provide the new technology you are using. This should include how to evaluate a client's skin for the new treatments you offer. Most vendors do on-site training and some require skill certification prior to working with the equipment.
  3. In any hospitality-focused environment, staff members should check their egos at the door. This allows your staff to keep their focus on the clients and also helps foster the team environment necessary for your business to flourish.
  4. Staff members should draw upon existing client trust to offer guidance and advice to cross-sell/up-sell additional treatments, procedures, and products. Obviously, current clients rely upon your staff to keep them apprised of the latest in their field. Now that your services have expanded, your staff has a responsibility to utilize the knowledge they have of each client to enhance their experience with additional services.
  5. Keep a maintenance or operational log on your equipment. The log should be accessible to all staff members who have access to the machine and should be updated daily or weekly. Be sure to include specific information, such as how and when the machine is used, how and when the machine is cleaned, and how often maintenance is required.
  6. The office manager should perform a weekly activity report to record what the machine earns and how often it is used. She should also log the number of procedures for each piece of equipment and for each treatment room.
  7. The final rule when combining the comfort and nurturing of a spa with the latest technology available is to follow the rules and regulations of your state and maintain compliance.

Keep up the Momentum
Simply put, continued success requires continuous growth and attention to what your clients really want. Spas have done a tremendous business catering to Baby Boomers, and now that Gen X and Y have hit their stride, savvy spa owners have recognized the need to step up their game. They are serious about keeping up with trends and technology because they want to provide what their clients –and prospects – want. By doing that, they are sure to stay ahead of the pack.

Cheryl Whitman, founder and CEO of Beautiful Forever, is an internationally recognized leader in aesthetic, medical spa, wellness and anti-aging business consultancy. She is also the author of Aesthetic Medical Success System, the only aesthetic business/medical spa manual also available through the American Society of Plastic Surgeons® (ASPS®). She also helps any day spa that wants to go medical in all aspects. 877-SPA-MEDI, www.beautifulforever.com, www.aestheticmedicalsuccess.com

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