Need some time off from the spa? Implement these expert tips to ensure operations run smoothly in your absence.

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Work-life balance may seem like an unattainable fantasy when you’re helming a business (even one focused on wellness!), but spa owners agree that taking time off is a must. “Some much-needed rest, both physically and mentally, helps you think more clearly and improves your productivity when you return to work,” asserts Nikos Kouremenos, education and project manager at spa consulting firm Raison d’Etre. You may even be able to fit in some side trips to spas that spark business-boosting ideas, like Tracy Whynot, owner of PLACE360 Health + Spa in Del Mar, California, frequently does while traveling. “As an owner, it definitely took me years to feel comfortable going on holiday, but it’s great to see what’s outside of your community,” she says. “You also get to refresh and rejuvenate—ideally balancing research with unplugging.” Still can’t wrap your head around some time away? These simple strategies will help.

 

1. Check the calendar.

The amount of time you can take off may depend on various factors, like your ability to submit payroll when away, frequency of any personal clients’ visits, and how capable your support staff is—i.e., can they run your business without you? “Consider scheduling during slow periods so you don’t risk losing more revenue than necessary, and to avoid inconveniencing clients,” advises Dawn Nooney, owner of renew.calm in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Furthermore, Kouremenos recommends cross-checking your travel dates with key employees and avoiding time off during major projects, such as renovations.

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2. Share with care.

Whynot alerts VIP clients to her absence months in advance, but generally she prefers to keep her traveling schedule quiet. Nooney, too, admits to being selective when communicating too many details. “There’s no need to let your guests know that you’ll be away; they won’t even notice unless they have a complaint that can’t be solved,” agrees Kouremenos. “Notifying them conveys that something is going to be different, and potentially shows a lack of confidence in your team and poor professionalism. With all systems, operations and procedures properly set, plus a well-trained staff, there should be no problems.”

 

3. Delegate duties.

Nooney recommends putting someone in charge who shares your work ethic, knowledge and commitment to customer service—an approachable and capable manager, for example, who can fill in during your absence. Meanwhile, Whynot cross-trains all staff to handle certain emergencies while she’s away, carefully matches her own clients with the best technicians for them, and remotely maintains certain tasks like payroll. “Day-to-day management is trained to handle 80 to 90 percent of what can happen, and I let them know what I want to handle,” she adds.

 

4. Take a test-drive.

Kouremenos believes that all systems and operating procedures should be tested while you’re still in-spa—even if you need to do a few drills or exercises. Assembling a trustworthy staff or manager, however, requires year-round prep: If something outside their wheelhouse crops up, Whynot asks how they’d handle it, offers feedback, and explains how she would address the issue in a way that reinforces the spa’s culture and builds a responsive, ready-for-anything team. “Start delegating some responsibilities and/or testing your staff now to see how they would handle things, and think about which team members have leadership potential,” suggests Nooney. “Approach them to see if they’d be interested in taking on more; let them in on some of your daily or weekly tasks.” Bonus: You’ll pinpoint a key employee who will help you grow your business over the long term, whether you’re in town or not.

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5. Check out (and in).

Determine in advance with your team how available you’ll be, but really try to unplug for shorter trips. “Staff can get in touch with you for very important matters they can’t handle themselves (depending on the degree of empowerment they have), or you can tell them that you’re not to be disturbed unless the spa catches fire!” laughs Kouremenos. “Or, if you feel the urge to find out how things are going, you can check in once every three days or every week.” Nooney notes that with today’s technology, it’s easy to be reached anytime, anywhere, but she encourages taking this time for yourself. “Give your contact info to one designated person in a supervisory position and touch base with them daily,” she advises. “Or let them know that they can contact you in an emergency, but that you’ll support whatever decisions they make in your absence. When you return, you can deal with any problems together.”

—Tracy Morin

This story first appeared in the November issue of DAYSPA Magazine. To receive the magazine, subscribe here.

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