Beating The Odds

Kneaded Relief's steam room and a hot stone massage
Kneaded Relief's luxurious dual steam room (left) and a hot stone massage (right)

Once employed, staff members receive a guaranteed hourly wage and the opportunity to earn bonuses based on monthly service and retail sales goals. Schumacher also looks at the average revenue per hour in each department. Management spells out specific performance goals for each service provider. For an employee to receive a raise, she must hit her pre-booking, retention, average ticket and average retail goals. “If we hit our goals, any staff member who qualifies receives a bonus,” explains Schumacher. “We set up our business so that if we’re making a profit, we’re going to give some of that back to our staff.”

Schumacher picked up some of her business acumen at Strategies Business Academy, an organization in Centerbrook, Connecticut, that teaches salon and spa owners to operate successfully. Schumacher and Harvey both achieved the Master level at the academy, with Schumacher going a step beyond to become a certified Strategies coach. Through the process, she learned to appreciate the need to create a “no-compromise culture with team-based pay.” In turn, employees reward her efforts with impressive loyalty to the spa and increased dedication to clients.

Know When to Hold ‘Em

A keen understanding of its clientele has helped Kneaded Relief receive Madison Magazine’s “Best of Madison” title in 2010 and 2011. Although the spa marries two seemingly incompatible philosophies—Midwestern principles and an intense focus on wellness—Schumacher claims that given the local culture, the two are actually in perfect harmony. “The Madison area is unique in that it’s so wellness-oriented. Even when it’s 10 degrees below zero, people are out biking!” she laughs. “They’re very into fitness and health, and with the University of Wisconsin and state capital being here, there’s a lot of disposable income. It’s like a big-city environment in a small town.”