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Want to know the secret to a healthy bottom line for your spa? While having the latest laser technology or even a massage therapist with magic fingers can be great selling points, ultimately your profitability is about keeping spa-goers so happy that they visit consistently, month after month. According to an article from the Harvard Business Review, boosting customer retention rates by as little as 5 percent can increase profits by anywhere from 25 to 95 percent. “It’s simply good business to retain people you’ve already seen,” says Felicia Brown, LMT, spa and wellness business consultant and owner of A to Zen Massage in Greensboro, North Carolina. “If you want to get the most from every investment you make in a new client, it’s important that they return again and again.” How do you do that? Heed the following advice.

1. Be Here Now: A critical starting point for building customer loyalty is making each guest feel appreciated from the moment they set foot inside your spa—and that means letting them know you’re happy that they’re there, and invested in their experience. “Use their name, look them in the eyes and give them a warm smile,” advises Kim Collier of Collier Concepts, a wellness consultancy firm in Whitefish, Montana. “Be truly present and engaged.” After all, few things make people feel as welcome as genuine acknowledgment from business owners and their staff.

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2. Go Deep: Most spa owners get to know client preferences for particular services and products, and even ask about special dates like birthdays so they can extend personalized offers or discounts. But don’t stop there—try to discern the deeper psychological reasons for their visits, as well. “Most of my clients come in for something beyond the services,” observes Brown. “Perhaps they need someone to listen to them, they want to feel special or important, or just have a comfortable place to escape.” Once you pinpoint those uniquely emotional objectives, you can better cater to their needs—and they’ll know where to turn when they’re looking for someone who really understands them.

3. Mark the Occasion: A to Zen Massage keeps small bags of chocolates with generic cards on hand to surprise guests celebrating birthdays, anniversaries or other special events. “They may not have come in for the occasion, but we want them to know that they matter to us and we’re happy to be celebrating with them,” says Brown. Little gifts such as these can help clients remember your thoughtfulness and motivate them to return when another milestone rolls around.

4. Sign Them Up: Loyalty punch cards are great, but a membership program is even better. So, consider creating a VIP club where regular clients are given exclusive perks, such as discounted services or complimentary access to certain amenities. Club membership can be free, but people may also be willing to pay for extras. At Olavine Spa & Salon in Wailea, Hawaii, guests pay $100 per month for the highest tier membership program, which comes with all sorts of incentives, notes senior managing director Cecilia Hercik. That includes 15 to 30 percent discounts on products and services, priority reservations, a free pedicure on their birthday, complimentary enhancements to their monthly treatments and a $150 gift card for every new member they refer.

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5. Set Goals Together: Beyond the short-term reason for each guest’s first visit, find out what they’re hoping to accomplish down the road. “Delve deep enough to understand their primary goals, such as reducing crow’s feet, as well as their underlying goals, like living a healthier life,” recommends Brown. “Each service provider should be able to create some kind of treatment plan that matches what each guest seeks.” Once you’ve come up with a list of goals, propose a multi-step strategy and invite them to return so they can start hitting each objective.

6. Follow Up: Haven’t heard from a client in a while? Reel them back in with a call, handwritten note or personal text. “Let them know you’re thinking of them and would love to see them again,” suggests Collier, adding that these follow-ups can be a good time to highlight a new offering. That said, she also recommends checking in with guests a day or two after their service to confirm that they were happy with their spa experience and got what they wanted from the visit. This isn’t the time to sell them anything, but simply to let them know you care. Such authentic communication, says Collier, helps build trust and an enduring connection—and, again, it’s those meaningful relationships that tend to equal the ultimate in client retention.

–by Barbara Diggs

 

This story first appeared in the June issue of Dayspa magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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