Beating The Odds

Kneaded Relief waterfall
The natural beauty of the grounds at Kneaded Relief adds a transporting element for guests.

All spa guests, who run the gamut from U.S. senators to stay-at-home moms, are treated to top-notch treatments and customer service, and receive perks for their loyalty. Relief Points, redeemable for services, are automatically accumulated by every guest and are also rewarded to clients for pre-booking, referrals and more. Clients who pay $50 to join the My T.R.E.A.T. (an acronym for “the relief everyone appreciates and treasures”) program receive 10% back in points for every dollar spent, plus a $100-value coupon book and a water bottle. (If a client brings the bottle in to her appointment, she gets $1 off any service—an incentive for clients to carry water with them, and to keep the spa in mind!)

Clients are especially appreciative of the spa’s dedication to community and worthwhile causes. Kneaded Relief barters with other local businesses, and often participates in silent auctions and community drives (such as collecting cell phones for a local rape crisis center). The spa won the Dane County Best in Business Award (the first spa to do so), for which a business must be nominated, and which is judged on three merits: profitability, contributions to the community and working environment for staff.

Many of the spa’s charitable efforts are directed toward the National Kidney Foundation (NKF), a tribute to a staff member who died from kidney disease. Recently, the spa initiated a Girls Night Out promotion where, for a $100 donation to the Foundation, 15 guests received two hours of service samplings (including manicures, facials and massages), food and discussion with an NKF representative. The event was so successful, Schumacher now plans to hold one every quarter.

At a time when the survival, much less the stellar success, of a single-location day spa is often brought into question, Kneaded Relief stands out as a glowing accomplishment. Despite early stumbles, the spa continues to provide much-needed employment and stress relief to residents in and around Madison. “It’s amazing how many people we’ve employed and trained to be great therapists, who are still out there, even if they’re working somewhere else,” Schumacher reflects. “And we love all of the clients we’ve helped with our services—because it’s not about the money, it’s about the well-being of the guests. Ultimately, we just want to be a great place for people to work, and a great place for people to come to and then leave from—feeling better.”

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

Website: kneadedreliefdayspa.com
Open since: December 1997 (2007 at new location)
Average ticket: $80
Size: 5,300 square feet
Facilities: 4 massage rooms; 3 esthetics rooms, couple’s suite (aka Waterman Suite); 3 nail stations; 3 pedicure stations; dual steam; single steam; private whirlpool; wellness classroom; fitness studio; men’s and women’s locker room with showering facilities; call center; staff break room; retail area; reception area; relaxation retreat; management offices
Employees: 34, some with dual roles (1 manager; 6 estheticians; 5 nail technicians; 11 massage therapists; 2 personal trainers; 11 guest service representatives)
Popular treatments: Sixty Minute Relaxation Massage ($80), Full Facial ($85), Pedicure ($50)
Retail lines: Aloha Bay Candles, Bioelements, Blinc, Dreamtime, Justin Blair, Masada, Tei Fu, Tend Skin, Trillium, Zoya


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