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Does Your Spa Need a Facelift

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There's nothing nicer for a customer or employees than visiting a new spa. Everything about it says "new". It's exciting. There is shiny new equipment that works. Freshly painted walls and new floor coverings. Unstained linens and robes. Its clean and neat with everything in place. But just like people, spas age. And many times as spa owners or managers the daily tasks of running the business gets in the way of paying real attention to maintenance, upkeep, and in general, the spa's image. In fact, when we're busy working and in the trenches every day, we sometimes lose perspective and get used to things, accepting things the way they are—same ol', same ol'.

We may even lose sight of what our guests may be seeing. Before you know it, your spa looks tired, old, and worn. The good news is there are several inexpensive and relatively ways to reenergize your spa and give it a facelift. All it takes is a little elbow grease, teamwork, and a touch of creativity.

  1. Schedule a "Clean Up/Fix Up" day with your staff. In addition to the routine cleaning you do or hire done throughout the year, close the spa for a day and bring the staff in for some deeeeeep cleaning once or twice a year. Divide the staff into teams of two or three for each room or each area of the spa and arm them with trash bags, the cleaning supplies they need, plus a "needs attention" checklist they are required to complete and return to you when they have finished. Turn the volume up on the stereo with some lively music, bring in lunch for everyone, and go to work!
    You can make it fun with creative prizes for "most trash", "oldest, gunky product (ew!)," or "most unusual find in the back of the closet." The key is to make sure everyone understands the importance that every drawer, cabinet, and shelf is to be inventoried, reorganized and cleaned; throwing out old products and other things that collect throughout the year. Ceilings and walls should be checked for cobwebs, scuffs, and needed touch ups (yes, you will also provide the paint and brushes); equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and examined for things that need repaired or replaced and noted on the checklist provided. Furniture that needs cleaned, reupholstered, or refurbished should also be identified and added to the checklist. At the end of the day you will have a squeaky clean spa, a comprehensive checklist of items that need attention (so get it done!), and a staff that will take more pride and ownership in keeping the spa clean and neat in the future. Long time customers will definitely notice the difference and new customers will feel confident in the sanitation and cleanliness of your spa–something that rates as extremely important in customer retention.
    A side benefit is it is a great way to build teamwork among the staff. Believe it or not, they will have fun doing it! (Oh, and did I mention as the spa director or owner you're part of the clean up crew?)
  2. Change the spa scenery on a routine basis. As spa directors and owners, we encourage our customers to try new things, go for new looks, and have treatments that refresh and renew their mind, body, and spirit. It makes them (and us) feel good. Have you ever thought how that could also apply to your spa facility? We all become oblivious and bored with the scenery when it is the same old thing. The same holds true for your spa; in fact, when a new spa opens down the block… guess what? That is why it is important to change things up a bit on a regular basis.
    I recommend making some minor changes to the spa scenery at least once a season. A very simple and inexpensive way to do this is to visit your local arts and crafts store and create themed events in your spa. Seasonal themes are easy, such as spring, summer, and fall, as are special holidays like Christmas or Hanukkah, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, or Fourth of July. Add to your bottom line by tying these themes to special product offers such as free gift with purchase or special treatments. It gives your staff something new and different to talk about and keeps your customers interested in what you will have planned for them in the future.
    As an example, just because Valentine's Day is only one day out of the calendar year, don't hesitate to celebrate all month long! Three years ago at Turtle Cove Spa, we created a month long promotion we called "February is for Lovers!" Each year in February we offer special treatments like Hot Chocolate Stone Massages, Champagne and Roses pedicures (our technicians actually make a show of pouring a champagne flute of champagne in to the pedicure bowls adorned with floating rose petals), and Cherries Jubilee facials (yummy!).
    Many product companies offer products for special holidays and the seasons, so take advantage of their specials and be sure to incorporate the visual retail and merchandising opportunities that come with the products and fit your theme. It is always good to consider a free or discounted gift with purchase to increase your retail sales and draw attention to your promotion.
    Choreograph your themed events with scripts for the front desk and written protocols for the staff (make sure they are trained!) and ensure your theme is a well-executed presentation in all of the customer areas to generate interest and sell treatments and retail. Add to your presentation by "adding value" with special touches your customers don't ordinarily expect. During our "February is for Lovers" event, we offer our guests locally made, hand-dipped chocolate covered cherries with their Cherries Jubilee facials, champagne truffles with their Champagne and Roses pedicures, and gourmet hot chocolates with their Hot Chocolate Stone massages. Red roses and carnations are in every room and given to every guest. Everything about the spa says, "February is for Lovers!"
    Whatever you do, make it look pretty and special. Look for ways to add value without adding cost. Dig out your china and crystal. Make the spa smell delicious, look colorful, and feel inviting. Your guests will notice and appreciate the extra effort.
  3. Make one WOW! investment in your spa each year. Wouldn't it be nice if we had an unlimited budget to redecorate our spa anytime we want? Most of us don't here that luxury, but it really doesn't take a lot to make an impact and create the "Wow!" factor for your customers. Surprise your returning guests with new potted plants and flowers or landscaping at the spa's entrance, purchase or build your own new fountain for your quiet area, or explore the flea markets for a new piece of local artwork or unique antique piece of furniture for your reception area. Do something that says, "We want to make you feel special and have something new to experience when you visit us. We care."
    Plan ahead and look for bargains. Be creative and enlist the creativity of your staff. You can make your returning guests say, "Wow!" without a major financial investment with a little planning and creativity. You may even see a new attitude and pride in your employees as well!
  4. Define your spa and tell your spa's story in everything you do. What do you want your customers to believe about you? Are you high-tech? Holistic? Are you in an urban environment targeting the busy businessperson on their lunch hour or in a rural area where your guests want to stop and smell the roses? Is there something about your spa that sets you apart from your competitor down the street?
    Let's face it – a massage room is a massage room. Or is it? Previously in this article I talked about choreography and presentation. Are you choreographing the story of your spa or is it a happen chance? Do you send mixed messages to your customers? Are you rustic antique in one room and chrome and glass in another? I'll never forget stopping at a Mexican Restaurant in my hometown and observing all of the cooks and servers were Oriental. There was something wrong with that picture! Did it give me confidence that the food they prepared was authentic Mexican? Perhaps it was, but I didn't get that sense. And, it probably influenced my overall opinion of the experience. The same holds true for your spa. It is up to you to define your spa's image and execute the message in everyway possible.
    If you want to convey that your spa is "high-tech," make sure your furnishings, décor, treatment, and product offerings convey high-tech. Or if you live in the dessert near ancient Indian burial grounds, why not incorporate this important aspect of your location, history, and tradition into your spa's décor, music, and treatments? Think about what you want your customers to believe about your spa and revamp your spa décor, ambiance, and menu to reflect that. Whether it is a treatment room and hallway visited by your customers or communication through signage, advertising, or a personal letter, every detail of your spa environment and spa personality should be a planned and choreographed presentation. It should tell the story of your spa.
  5. Do things to appeal to all of the senses. One way to help you tell your spa story is to entice all of the senses of sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch to fit with your spa's story or image. In a spa environment, that is relatively easy to do. For example, consider developing (or use an existing product) as signature scent for candles or aromatherapy oils that guests smell as they enter the spa.
    At Turtle Cove Spa, we worked with a local candle maker to develop a wonderful scent we appropriately named "Turtle Tranquility." (smell) We burn the candles throughout the spa and sell them in assorted sizes and colors uniquely packaged with a turtle charm in our retail boutique. Guests constantly comment on how wonderful the spa smells, and it makes it easy to make a retail sale. We also serve a signature ginger tea (taste) in our waiting area that guests loved so much, we created recipe card/postcards to share our "secret recipe" and remind them about their spa experience.
    Another suggestion is to develop one or more signature treatments that incorporate lotions, oils, masks, etc. using indigenous products from your locale. If you do this, you will want to be sure that your insurance provider will cover you on use of these products.
    Again, as an example, Turtle Cove Spa is located in a small county in Arkansas that is one of two places in the world where Quartz crystals can be commercially mined. We have the beautiful crystals on display throughout the spa, and use heated polished crystals (touch) in our signature "Crystal Energy Balance Massage." The treatment is done on a vibro acoustic sound table (sound and touch) and the guest gets to select their own personal crystal to take home after the treatment, packaged in a pretty velvet pouch.
    Not only does offering signature treatments using indigenous products give you something to talk about with your guests, it will also create a unique selling position for your spa and possibly generate interest within your media market.
    Invite your staff to brainstorm on things you can do to appeal to all five of the senses and how it can fit with the image you want your spa to have. You may find you can create a new "look and feel" (and sound, smell, and taste!)" for the spa with very little effort or expense that helps you stand out from your competition down the street.

In summary, if you haven't taken the time lately to evaluate your spa facility and the story you are telling – it's time to take a hard look. Take the five points outlined in this article and see what you can do differently to change things up and improve upon what you are currently doing. Definitely involve your employees in the process because they often have great ideas and it would make good business sense to call a few of your customers and invite them to a spa lunch to give you some honest feedback on what they observe when they come to your spa. You may be amazed at what you might find out.
Get out of your rut of same ol', same ol'. It's time for your spa to stop looking its' age. With a few special treatments the end result will be your spa will have a new energy and look year-round that will keep your customers coming back!


authorDebi Barnes is President of Debi Barnes Consulting, Inc., providing marketing and business expertise for the services industries, and she is the founder and owner of Turtle Cove Spa at Mountain Harbor Resort in Arkansas. Barnes has served on the ISPA Marketing Committee for the past four years. For additional information, e-mail her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

 

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