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Mon01222018

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Minding Your Ps and Qs

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While in school most aesthetic and massage students learn to lose their inhibition of seeing other people’s bodies. They soon realize that clients come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. There is no doubt that there has to be some nudity with certain services such as a body wrap, massage, and bikini waxing. Even the most modest student understands that it is a necessity to be professional while verbalizing to the client how to undress, remove certain clothing, get into a robe, wrap, or putting on disposable undergarments; and it is a very important step towards the success of the treatment.

Proper spa etiquette is essential for the staff and therapists to understand, and with perfect execution, they will prepare the client for their visit to the spa.
While some may say that the treatment starts when the client lies down on the treatment table, I disagree. The appointment begins with the client calling and booking their service. Proper telephone etiquette for the spa is necessary and a very important part of the synergy of the spa. A smart spa will have a savvy receptionist take the time with the client answering questions and responding to their requests. The savvy receptionist will not hurry their calling guests but make them feel like a VIP! They will also take the time to ensure that the guest knows where the spa is located, reminds them of parking procedures, and lets them know to come in a couple minutes early to fill out client history forms. From this beginning, the client already is anticipating their visit to your spa. When they arrive at the spa they will not be surprised because the receptionist took the time to let them know certain particulars and additional amenities that are offered at the spa. From the front desk to the locker room the guest goes, and again this is considered a part of their treatment.
The locker room attendant cheerfully answers their questions and lets them know where their locker, robe, and slippers are, and reminds them of the treatment times. Some spas may not have a locker room, but a waiting area where the client changes in the treatment room. For some this is where the treatment goes downhill without it even really starting. If the therapist doesn't verbalize correct guidelines to how the client should change and lie on the treatment table, it might create a very embarrassing situation. The client must have clear and concise directions especially for their first visit at the spa. While many take it for granted that clients will disrobe, naturally we need to realize that more than not, people are unsure about their bodies and what they are suppose to do at the spa. With this insight we as therapists must be considerate and respectful of each and every guest.
Once, a male guest received a facial but didn't know what to expect as he had only ever received massages. The aesthetician quickly told him to take off his shirt and hop onto the table. When she opened the door she found a stark naked man lying on top of the sheet. Quickly thinking she grabbed a blanket out of from underneath her treatment table and covered him and began the facial. She realized she hadn't given clear enough directions and since he had only received massages he was used to getting completely undressed. She reminded herself that the next first time guest, whether it was a woman or man, she would give better directions as to how they should disrobe and lie on the table.
Another aesthetician relayed how she had a first time guest in for a back treatment. She explained to her client how the wrap should be on with the Velcro in the back so that they could open it up to give them the treatment. When she walked in, the client wasn't yet on the treatment table and was wearing the wrap like a skirt; and yes the Velcro was in the back. So while therapists are crunched for time and think that the clients know and understand how to get undressed for their treatments, we can never take treatment room etiquette for granted so that they do understand your spa's procedures.
Age has no limit in today's spas. We are seeing 'tweens, teenagers, and the elderly visit the spa. Each age group has their own challenges in skin care and body work needs. But let's start before the treatment when they arrive and go to the locker room. The 'tween spa guest is usually clients from the age four to 12 and with their small frames they may need their own robes. A large robe will be cumbersome and may cause them to trip and fall. They may also need extra assistance from their parent for direction.
Teenagers are a fun group to work with as they are very energetic and usually very excited to be apart of the adult world. They may be there with their parents or may be on their own. They probably won't need or want much assistance from the locker room attendant. Robes and wraps may fit but a spa should be prepared to have smaller robes for this age group. As the spa goers age and become older, they may need extra time to get ready.

Demographics of Aging Americans:

  • Thirty-five million are over 65.
  • In 1900, the average lived to be 46.
  • In 2000, the average lived to be 76.
  • By 2020, one in five will be over 60.
  • By 2025, over 65 will outnumber teenagers by more than two to one.
  • The very mature (over 75 years) are the fastest-growing subset of our aging population.

These guests don't move as quickly as the 'tween and teenager guests but they are very interested in spa treatments, not only to look good but to feel great! While some may think that this group may be shy, many therapists report that this is not the case! They are quite often seasoned spa goers that travel the world and have a better than average expectation of a myriad of services; they know your job and what to expect. Take care of them and they will return and most likely bring a friend.

Waxing Grandma
Shannon Carter, who works at Studio Abasi in Berkeley, Calif., does a lot of waxing and she is having more requests that are out of the norm. Shannon was a little surprised when an elderly woman appeared at her salon and made an appointment for a Brazilian wax and facial. Shannon asked who the appointments were for and was surprised when she answered they were for herself. Shannon is fairly sure she did a good job of hiding her surprise. She has to admit that she was a little nervous having never waxed a woman in her 70s and wasn't quite sure of what to expect. Shannon was nervous about ripping fragile, thin skin. Her client also mentioned that she was going to a funeral and wanting to look fabulous. Who knew that this age of clientele would be so concerned in having down under look clean and tidy? The wax went off without any bruising or ripping and she made another appointment for the following month. Shannon did make sure that she had her client fill out a wax history form to make sure she knew of any medications she should be aware of. She didn't necessarily take any special precautions to drape her client while performing the Brazilian wax, but did what she normally does since her client seemed very comfortable with her own body and was not shy at all. If for some reason the client would have been a little shy, Shannon would have draped her with a hand towel. For bikini waxes, disposable undergarments are usually given to clients. Not only does this help as a guideline to where the wax should start and stop, but they also provide some privacy to the modest clients.
Aging clients also may need assistance after the treatment. Remove the sheets and blankets that you have cocooned them in from a facial or body treatment. Many times we have wrapped our clients up so tightly to keep them warm and we forget that it may be difficult for them to get up and get out so give them a hand to sit up. Give them a couple seconds to stay seated and answer questions about the treatment or any follow up protocols they may need to adhere to; this ensures that they are not dizzy or that there feet are not caught up in the blankets. Hand them their robe and let them know that you are waiting outside the treatment room if they need any assistance, and will take them back to the relaxation area.

Going Commando
European spas are more relaxed about nudity. They don't use elaborate draping techniques, and men and women typically take steam and sauna baths together, nude. International guests may have to be reminded that they are not in their own country and conform to American spa rules and keep their bathing suits on. Many a massage therapist have told me that European clients laugh at having to keep a sheet on when they are getting massage. They feel it is cumbersome and more of a bother and really don't want it on at all. However, massage therapists do need to adhere to national guidelines and keep their clients draped properly.
Spa Educator and founder of ASTECC, Anne Bramham states that a client's comfort level is often a reflection of the therapists approach. A thoroughly professional approach combined with excellent draping skills will earn the trust of most clients. Licensed and professional spa therapists are taught these draping techniques almost the first day of school so that they know the only part of the body exposed at any one time is the part being worked on. While a client is receiving a massage or body treatment and they have to roll over, hold a towel or sheet up to give them privacy.
Spray on tans can be a bit unnerving to a client who doesn't want tan lines and will have to be in the buff. Spray on tans can be chilling having a hair dryer on at the same time the spray is cascading over their body will warm the client and an additional benefit is that the sound will divert attention and it will take the client's mind off being nude. Plus, it will dry the solution quicker, which will aid in it not streaking. Spray on the tan with one hand and in the other hold the hair dryer for a perfect bronzed look.
Spa etiquette can be easily achieved with training your team on how to greet and treat clients. Spa clients can easily learn proper spa etiquette by providing a reference guide on the menu and website. Some spas give tips to having a successful spa day posted in the locker room, such as reminding them to apply sunscreen before going into the pool. Many spas are posting little plaques around the facility that says 'Shhhhh… services in progress" or "spa voices" to remind clients to speak softly and turn cells phones off. Guests also need to feel comfortable in their robes as they sit in a roomful of people that they may not know. Having a one size fits all robe is too generic and offering various sizes will ensure the client's comfort of being at the spa. All spa employees should be trained to respect the privacy of guests and to create a comfortable relaxing environment for all.


author

Denise R. Fuller is a licensed aesthetician and beauty therapist consultant, educator, and author for the aesthetic industry. Fuller is also the CEO of International Spa Importing Specialists. For more information please contact her at 888-566-4747.

 

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