how to manage a spa

People • Best Practice

How to Manage a Spa While Keeping Your Zen

The journey to your spa’s success begins with these four steps

Clients visit a spa for some well-earned “me” time, a bit of indulgent self-care that allows them to reset their physical and emotional balance. Knowing how to manage a spa takes more than a knack for curating botanicals or optimizing schedules. Spa and wellness management is about finding the rhythm between soft and hard skills, the people, and the cash flow. Too much heart will swiftly see your profits plummet, but too much mind will come off as cold. 

One need not look to the wisdom of zen koans to manage with serenity; one need only be open to change. (And to start by thinking about the four specific elements we’ve outlined in this article.)

Breathe in … and out … begin.

How to manage a spa: The people

One of the worst — yet easiest to avoid — mistakes business owners make is being so focused on the dollars and cents that they neglect the people they depend on. All the business acumen in the world won’t help you if you ignore your customers or your employees. Here are some crucial factors to keep in mind.

Be the boss you always wish you’d had

More than comparable beauty businesses, spas are meant to be a fully-realized experience for the client, and one bad encounter can ruin the vibe. A grumpy or ill-trained employee can be enough to turn a loyal patron into a vocal detractor. Your spa won’t be job nirvana for everyone who ever works there, but you can tip the scales in your favor with thoughtful and consistent effort to support your employees.

Start with the obvious benefits; take a yearly audit of industry pay rates to ensure that your spa is competitive. But also understand that a reasonable paycheck isn’t the be-all/end-all it once was for employees. Provide clear paths for improvement with well-implemented staff education and training. Let your staff see there’s a path for advancement, should they want to take it. Have well-established conduits for feedback, such as weekly staff meetings. And when you get feedback, listen to it. Your employees are on the front lines of your business, and they will inevitably know more about the day-to-day operations than you do. Treat your staff like the team they are, and you’ll not only have a high-performing spa, you’ll rest easy at night.

Appreciate your customers

How often do you think about your clients as people, as opposed to tickets or accounts? You’re running a business, so naturally, you have to think about the bottom line, but your spa isn’t the only game in town. Unless you want your customers to sample the wares at your competition, never lose sight of the fact that these people are making a choice to visit your spa. Appreciate them for that. 

There are plenty of ways, both big and small, to demonstrate that appreciation. Keeping track of client details in your client management platform helps with small touches, like using products with their favorite scents or sending them a card for their birthday. For a grander gesture, create “off the menu” specials customized to their history with you. If they prefer facials, for example, you could offer them a “facial at home” bundle with luxe products and a plush robe, or a “facial with a friend” experience. These don’t need to be heavily discounted, either — it’s the personalization that shows your spa’s appreciation more than the asking price.

How to manage a spa: The numbers

Soft skills are essential elements of salon and spa management, but there are still bills to pay. Business sense matters a great deal, and at a bare minimum, you’ll want to be fluent in the following.

Learn to speak $

It will be no great surprise that learning how to manage a spa means getting intimate with the financials, but there’s more to it than just profit and loss. Sure, at its most simplistic, business is just about making sure more money is coming in than is going out, but you’ll need to go far beyond that to realize your spa’s full potential. At any given moment, you should have a data-backed understanding of your margins, customer acquisition costs, year-over-year performance, and more. If you come into spa management with a strong financial background, you’re ahead of the game, but don’t fret if you’re still a little green in that area. Most professional spa organizations offer some kind of educational program, and in the rare case that’s not available, there are countless online or in-person non-spa-specific business resources available.

Rock the register

Clients come to your spa for the best-in-class experience, but they hopefully leave with some products in their pocket. Retail sales are a pillar of your spa’s financial wellbeing, so it behooves you to know your upsells from your UPCs. When considering how much of your revenue should be coming from retail products, first break down your business by the treatments it offers. Once you identify the percentage of revenue each treatment is bringing in, and weigh how likely it is to lead to retail sales, you can determine realistic sales expectations and goals. Massages tend to be very popular, for example, but don’t offer a lot of room for product add-ons; perhaps they’ll account for 10% of your overall retail sales. Pedicures, on the other hand (or foot), provide ample opportunity for product purchase and so may account for more like 30% of your overall product revenue. 

That’s just the beginning of understanding your spa’s retail realness, however. There’s much more to take into account, including floor space, inventory management, projected revenue, and staff capacity. Word to the wise: Get yourself salon and spa management software that crunches all those numbers (and more) into reports that make everything crystal clear. Trying to do it manually in spreadsheets is asking for an unending headache.

Boulevard was built to help your business achieve profitability at scale without losing an inch of sanity. See for yourself! Get a free demo today.

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