Cracking Corporate Culture

Create profile- and clientele-boosting wellness programs that local companies will love.

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Today’s employers are increasingly coming to realize the bevy of benefits afforded by workplace massage: employee stress reduction, improved overall wellness, and a noticeable boost in morale and productivity. Accordingly, many spa owners have found that marketing their services to corporations has generated greater awareness of their businesses, more clients and increased revenue. “Reaching out to local employers and their companies is a great way to target a whole new client base,” says Felicia Brown, owner of marketing outfit Spalutions! in Greensboro, North Carolina. “When massage is provided in the workplace, it takes out a guest’s risk factor in trying a new therapist or spa—and, provided the on-site therapists do a good job, it can lead to company spa outings as well as an increase in individual services and referrals.”

Betty Weinkle, vice president of corporate wellness for SpaFinder in New York, notes that employee programs are no longer just for mega-corporations (though according to OptumHealth, 90% of larger corporations now have formal workplace wellness programs in place). “Companies large and small are offering employees services such as massage, yoga, Pilates, meditation, reflexology and stress management,” Weinkle says. DAYSPA reached out to experts and spa owners to find out exactly how these programs work, and we also tapped them for easy ways to create your own culture of corporate outreach.

Wellness in Motion

The Wellness Spa in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, has been offering corporate wellness programs since opening in 1994. At the time, Deborah Adams’ day spa spanned only 400 square feet and, with its small community location where few were familiar with the benefits of massage, Adams figured this kind of outreach would increase the visibility of her business. Her team members, some of whom specialize in performing on-site workplace services, have earned loyalty from several area corporations. (In fact, one of the spa’s business accounts with a local dental company has been active for more than 12 years.)

Adams’ service contracts with companies include schedules and rates, which are typically set at $1 per minute. However, she incentivizes employers to schedule their employees more massage time through her pricing structure: For 30 to 120 minutes worth of on-site massage per month, the spa charges $100 per hour, but two to eight hours runs $75 per hour, and 15-plus hours brings the rate down to $65. Spa staff members work with participating businesses to devise monthly or quarterly service and payment schedules, and Adams invoices accordingly.

“It’s a great way to get new business,” Adams says. “Our corporate programs get many people more comfortable with massage. Spas that don’t offer these programs are missing out on a huge opportunity for cheap advertising!”

The Wellness Spa’s on-site massages are acupressure-based to facilitate both relaxation and invigoration—ideal for the workplace setting—and therapists are trained to ask participants about health concerns (such as recent surgery or pregnancy) beforehand to ensure that services remain safe. And their material requirements are minimal: a therapist or two, a massage chair, a spray bottle containing sanitizer, some paper towels, and a CD player or iPod to set the mood.

Adams spreads the word about her corporate services through appearances at community events and by hosting on-site workplace seminars where she speaks about the importance of stress reduction and relaxation. And, to boost in-spa traffic, every three months Adams presents workplace clients with coupons for deals such as a free mini-service with a massage or complimentary paraffin or hot stone add-ons, or with $10 gift cards to use toward any purchase.

Adams credits these tactics with having grown The Wellness Spa to 10,000 square feet, with males—many of whom got hooked on massage through workplace services—comprising 40% of her regular client roster. “These programs have established us as a business people can trust, which is a huge selling point,” says Adams. “And when it comes to wellness services like massage, employee participation will be much higher than with, for example, a discounted gym membership!”

“On-site massages have been a part of our culture at Delta Dental since 2000. Our employees sign up monthly for a rejuvenating chair massage from a Wellness Spa massage therapist. This is a valued amenity that demonstrates our commitment to employees and their wellness.” —Pamela J. Gartmann, vice president, administration, Delta Dental of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, WI

Innovating Program Perks

Erik Pampalone, owner of Naya Fresh Body Spa in Chatsworth, California, was chatting with a friend a few months ago about the friend's company’s wellness program, in which employees are rewarded for engaging in health-promoting activities such as regular medical check-ups and healthful eating, when he realized the great potential to be found in corporate spa services. So, he developed the Zenith Program, designed to help employers reward employees for receiving monthly massages. The program is structured for flexibility; companies can either receive on-site services from Naya Fresh therapists or they can sign up to offer bulk discounts for employees to become members at the spa. (Naya Fresh Body Club members receive one treatment each month and 25% off additional services, plus special offers and retail discounts.)

For the on-site services option, corporations either pay for employees’ treatments on a monthly basis, or simply make them available. Gratuities can be the responsibility of employee or employer. Alternately, employers can register to have their employees receive discounts for in-spa services and distribute badges that allow them to use Naya Fresh amenities for free, any time. The spa then tracks participants’ spa-going activity and sends this information along to employers so they can reward wellness-pursuing employees.
Therapists are scheduled to work on- or off-site according to their personal preferences, and on-site offerings range from 10-minute chair massages in a group setting to 50-minute, private treatments.

Corporations may also choose their employee booking procedure, which ranges from “line up and sign up” to structured appointment times. To advertise this new venture, Pampalone utilizes email blasts and taps existing professional relationships. He also coordinates with chamber of commerce organizations.

“We believe we can create happier, more productive, healthier work lives through this program,” says Pampalone, “and we’ve piqued interest from several employers who already run wellness programs at their businesses.”

Climbing the Corporate Ladder

If you’re looking to form your own corporate wellness program, your structural options are numerous. You can advertise corporate massage like Adams, or work with local businesses to tailor wellness programs and offer discounted spa memberships like Pampalone. Some spa owners also set up on-site massages at corporate events, dispatch teachers to lead workplace classes in yoga or meditation, and even market the spa as a place for businesses to host meetings and networking events. You can also offer spa gift cards to employers so they can incentivize employees to maintain a wellness regimen or win a company-wide lifestyle contest.

Whichever option you choose, “really take stock of the human and financial investment resources necessary to get your program off the ground,” advises Weinkle. “You need a plan—whether for memberships/discount programs or on-site therapist visits—that is profitable for your spa but also offers enticing discounts for the company client.” Weinkle adds that businesses will typically want a custom plan addressing unique employee needs and goals, so your program “must be flexible and customizable.”

To better understand local business’ needs, Brown recommends reaching out to your current clients. Create a simple survey asking what types of programs their companies would be most interested in. Request information to contact the human resources manager or company decision-maker from participating clients or, if you’re close, “ask the spa client to arrange an introduction of your facility and staff,” Brown says. “Obtain feedback in exchange for a complimentary or discounted spa service for this person, and then work together to create a list of services desired for their workplace.”

Brown advises offering an employer’s choice of on-site massage, hand massage, reflexology, paraffin dips and, for labor-intensive companies, stretching or wellness classes to help prevent repetitive strain injuries. “Once a need is determined through conversations with these professionals, create a menu for office or corporate settings, and then go into more of these businesses to promote it,” she says.

A former spa owner, Brown found great success in her own business by implementing a program that provided a 10% corporate discount to employees of a local hospital. “This hospital’s staff purchased more than $10,000 in services annually, often in the middle of the summer, when extra sales were especially needed,” she says.

The Wellness Spa’s Adams advises spa owners to spread the word about their corporate programs by arranging to speak about wellness at local “lunch and learn” seminars. Entice businesses to participate by coming into their offices, for free, to deliver presentations outlining the benefits of massage. “Bring brochures or postcards that relay what you offer and what your services can do,” she suggests.

Weinkle agrees that providing education about the scientific evidence behind spa services’ benefits, with hard data about how they will impact employees’ health, moods and stress levels, can be a highly effective way to pique an employer’s interest—and open up a new stream of revenue for your day spa.

Tracy Morin is a freelance writer based in Oxford, Mississippi.


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