Jay Shorr, founder and president of The Best Medical Business Solutions, a Florida-based consulting firm, puts it this way: “Other than an experience, what do clients walk away with when they leave your spa?” In other words, as a spa owner, how do you transform the intangible into the tangible? Arm yourself with the following tips to help you answer that question—and make the magic happen!
- Show clients you care from the get-go. Sending emails prior to appointments lets you share useful information with first-time guests, such as parking options, on-site amenities and when to arrive. Post-service, a follow-up email can include a link to a survey or Yelp page encouraging clients to leave feedback. As an incentive, throw in 15% off for rebooking within a set time frame.
- Make every word count. For guests who book appointments the old-school way, the spa experience begins with the first call. Shorr’s strategy: “Start with, ‘I can help you,’ versus ‘How can I help you?’ This conveys the message that you can meet clients’ needs, even if it means directing them to another staff member,” he points out. And always address callers by their first name, he reminds.
- Ask personalized questions based on intake forms. This starts a dialogue that helps clients get acquainted and comfortable with their therapist, says David Preslar, spa manager at Travaasa Austin in Texas. “It also allows our staff members to get a better idea of guests’ needs and goals, which helps us to deliver the best, most tailored treatments possible,” he adds.
- Listen actively and maintain eye contact. Jill Uechi, co-owner of Willow Spa in Santa Monica, California, trains her staff to pay attention to—and remember—details about guests. “If a client asks for education and close guidance, our staff helps create that experience. On the flip side, if they want anonymity and to ‘disappear,’ our staff is trained to acknowledge that and act accordingly,” she says.
- Roll out a signature spa aroma. A customized scent can evoke strong emotional memories. Willow Spa created its own aromatic spray for use in treatments, and turned the signature formula into a retail spray mist, candle and face oil to help remind guests of their spa experience at home—and hopefully prompt them to rebook!
- Strive for superior customer service. Bruce Schoenberg, owner of Oasis Day Spa in New York City and Westchester, New York, urges spa owners to scrutinize employees’ strengths. “Your staff members are what sets you apart and what clients will be talking about,” he says. “Even if I think someone is great at what they do, I don’t hire them if they aren’t warm or if they lack people skills.”
- Establish yourself as an expert. Education can distinguish you from your competitors (not to mention boost retail sales!), but gently does it. During each service at Oasis, the therapist explains the products being used. Afterward, the client receives a list of the items, plus tailored purchasing recommendations. Upon checkout, the receptionist observes where guests linger in the retail area, so they know which products have piqued their interest and are ready to answer any questions. The spa also sends out regular newsletters, which, says Schoenberg, “aren’t just selling tools, but include helpful advice and tips.”
- Launch a blog to support your spa’s philosophy. Willow Spa’s blog features healthy recipes with enticing food photography to promote the team’s belief that beauty and wellness start from within. This lends credibility to the spa’s message, and helps foster meaningful, long-lasting relationships with clients. “We’re showing our own struggles with living a healthy lifestyle and how we overcome those struggles,” shares Uechi.
- Create a “wow” factor that can’t be found elsewhere. Incorporating—and showcasing—a unique element helps elevate the spa experience and leaves a lasting impression. Travaasa Spa highlights its breathtaking natural surroundings, which include an infinity pool with panoramic views of Texas Hill Country. At Willow Spa, clients are greeted and then guided along the pathway to two lush tropical gardens complete with cozy seating. Says Uechi, “We try to make the experience memorable in the way we reveal our spa to guests, and by creating a procedure that naturally forces them to pause and experience the garden.”
–By Suchi Rudra