Build your Team’s Fighting Spirit to Improve Business Outcomes

Published on Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Leslie Lyon

Always work towards building and solidifying your relationships with your staff and their relationships with each other.  Train them, mentor them, and lean on them. Build your fighting spirits together and strengthen the team to make survival your collective goal TODAY.  Here are some ways to do that:


On-Demand Monitoring System
It should be quick and easy for you to obtain an instantaneous status report on sales and services, any time of the day.  Get your staff involved, and when you aren’t on site, or simply when you need to know, your front desk should be able to call up this data and recite results, on the spot.  Decide which metrics best represent the heart beat of your business, and provide your front desk with the tools that will allow them to implement this reporting system. 

–Service & retail sales per square foot
–Average ticket price
–Rooms utilization
–Staff productivity
–Gateway or linked service sales
–# of service clients who purchased retail
–Next appointment bookings confirmed
–Customer complaints
–Unfulfilled appointments

Staff Mini-Marketing Program
Your staff may believe that it’s solely up to you to keep them busy, but is it really?  I believe that staff should be trained to understand their importance in keeping the business afloat.  Build staff pride in their accomplishments; monitor and evaluate their contributions to the business and its bottom line, and reward those successes. Remember that you can only effectively monitor and reward results however, if you assign timelines and numerical values to each initiative.

–# of new client requests & referrals
–# of sales/follow-up calls made
–# of consultations/educational workshops conducted
–# of clients with goal-setting programs
–# of add-ons, up-sells & cross promotions
–# of times they represent the Spa at business events
–# of brochures and business cards they distribute

Focus on Favourites
Now is the time for you to cut the fat. Take that handful of treatment favourites, the ones that are staff favourites; most requested by most clients; and that have the best margins as determined by you, and FOCUS solely on them. Develop a stand-alone (temporary) menu that highlights these treatments as your hot offerings and promote the heck out of them.  Stop trying to please everyone and just give them what they really want.  This may allow you to better control costs related to marketing; inventory purchases; staff scheduling, and more.  These “Chosen Ones” could take you a long way in streamlining your cash flow.

Bump up your Referral Program
Your existing clients are your VIPs.  Not only must they continue to always feel they are a part of your brand, they must also feel escalating value to their spa experience, so that they are driven to refer you to their dearest relationships.  Get ideas regularly from your staff on how to critique your service delivery systems in order to find ways to enhance every touch point of every client’s visit.  In tandem with these ongoing enhancements, develop a referral program that gives your client’s measurable (numerical) and meaningful rewards.  Teach your staff to ask every client for a referral, and power up the program by finding ingenious ways for your clients to recommend you. FOCUS on this program, market it aggressively and don’t deviate from it.  If you are doing your job, it will do its job.

Fast Forward to 1 Year from Now
What’s coming down the pipes?  Know that good, will no longer be good enough.  Will you be ready to hit the ground running?  Will you know what your clients consider to be worthy?  Will you have made the proper concessions to meet with their expectations of a platinum performance?  Will your staff still be with you?  Will they be ready and willing to accept the changes that have been placed upon the business and their careers?

Faith Popcorn Encourages Attendees to “Be Successful with What is Coming”

Published on Monday, November 14th, 2011

Nancy Griffin

Trend oracle Faith Popcorn was frank yet positive on Day Two of the ISPA Conference. Her overriding message was that spa professionals learn to be successful with what is coming—and that means change. “Align your brand and business to the emerging future. Seek future forward wisdom and have the guts to act on it.”

Popcorn’s BrainReserve shows that people across the globe are more stressed than ever. “The flood is coming,” said Popcorn. “Spas are in the right place. People are going to need spas more than ever.”

BrainReserve predicts that “the Consumer is Dead: Long Live Human Beings who seek substance over superficiality. “

  • 95% feel that wealth does not equal happiness.
  • 90% are opting for a simpler life
  • 72% want to remove clutter from their lives

“We are in the midst of a social revolution,” says Popcorn. “We are annoyed, nasty, rage, angry, upset—we’re looking for a transport to safety. There is a breakdown of community, an erosion of support systems. We are touch deprived. There is a craving for connection. We are looking for reinvention, renewal, inspiration, and elevation. Bring a human touch–listen and respond.”

Popcorn predicts a “SheChange”—a decade of feminine energy fueled by money, power and compassion. “Woman have all the money globally,” said Popcorn. “They are putting off marriage and running companies. In one out of five American homes, the man is children’s primary caregiver.”

What are some of the ways you create connection and become the calm in your client’s storm?

Turning Opportunities into Sales

Published on Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Leslie Lyon

Call it what you like: cross selling, suggestion selling, add-on selling…but no matter what label you apply, it is one of the most effective ways to boost your bottom line with only a very small amount of effort. Gentle persuasion during customer conversation is beneficial to the customer, to the salesperson, and to the business.

There are only two ways to boost profits: one is to increase revenue and the other is to reduce costs. When you cross-sell, you are accomplishing both. Obviously revenue increases with the sale, but at the same time, taking the “path of least resistance”, or selling to your existing clients, lowers your costs of doing business because you are only investing time, not time and advertising dollars.

Now is the perfect opportunity to introduce them to new products and services–you already have their attention; they are a captive audience. Your staff must be trained experts in turning opportunities into sales. And you must be able to monitor their results and reward their success.

Whether you have your client in person or on the telephone,it is one of the few times you don’t have to compete for their attention. 

And when your client decides to purchase a product or service, show your staff next, the advantages of always having a suggestion ready for a corresponding, beneficial product or service. Whether inter-departmental sales suggestions, or from other departments, understanding the power of suggestion selling will change the way your staff view a sale. If your clients are currently happy with their existing products or services, chances are they will be even happier with more of them! These items are providing your client with value and it is of benefit to them that you continually find ways to offer them even more value.

This approach to selling may even be perceived as convenience, in that perhaps the only other way they may have heard about these items is through off-site advertising, which would mean you are saving them an extra trip into the spa to purchase the item!

A therapist who is successful at selling has an unlimited career path! Meeting the challenge can greatly accelerate their position in the business, as well as their ability to command higher compensation and rewards. And knowing who can sell allows for all-round easier management decisions.

Developing this selling mentality turns a reactive personality into a proactive personality and can actually benefit one’s life in many ways. New abilities breed confidence and confidence can actually help us find our passion and true potential.

We’ve talked about selling opportunities in our industry forever, but only a select few of us have put it on our priority list and launched aggressive, ongoing internal campaigns to master the challenge. Perhaps you should be considering it as one of your priorities?

If you are one of the many who are considering extending your service booking times to 1 hour and 15 minutes to allow your therapists to clean, up sell, and bid a fond farewell to their clients, you must be sure that this extra time booked is somehow contributing to the bottom line.

Retail items don’t necessarily have higher margins than services–this is a common misconception, unless you are selling private label. But the reason retail is so important to us is because we can sell a lot of it in a very short period of time. This smaller investment in time is where we make our money with retail.

What’s better: A 1 hour treatment generating $100 in revenue or a 1 hour and 10 minute commitment that generates $200 in revenue?

If you extend your service booking times by 15 minutes for each one hour treatment on your menu for each staff member, every day of the week—well, you do the math. That’s a lot of lost revenue, if it’s not being supplemented.

BUT! If with this extension in booking times your staff is making up for it in up selling retail and/or generating gateway service sales, it can be a wise choice.

Live from Vegas: ISPA 2011

Published on Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Nancy Griffin

Day 2 begins at the ISPA Conference in Las Vegas. Yesterday was jam-packed with educational sessions and social activities. The show floor was buzzing and the relaxation areas were busy providing services to already weary attendees.

Universal’s relaxation lounge in Lagoon H is once again the place to be for elite spa directors. The Universal’s vendor partners provided mini services throughout the day. At the end of the day, the team hosted all the spa directors from the Marriott and Ritz Carlton, providing an overview of the new website and other breaking initiatives.

Yesterday’s keynote speech from Bert Jacobs, co-founder of the inspirational clothing line Life is good, received the Alex Szekeley Humanitarian Award from Deborah Szekeley.  Bert shared the progression of Life is good from selling t-shirts out of a van along the Eastern seaboard, to becoming a $100 million dollar company. Life is good is built along the values of simplicity, humility and a sense of humor.

Bert stressed the importance of “enabling your customer to build the brand. It is always about the receiver of the message. Believing that consumers are bombarded with too much “noise,” Life is good forgoes advertising in favor of charitable giving. The company offers an annual Pumpkin Festival in Boston for families with children with life-threatening diseases. “We will use every touch point to help children. Giving back is how you become rich, said Bert.

I can’t wait for today’s keynote–trend-predictor extraordinaire Faith Popcorn.  Check back for my post on trends influencing the spa industry!

Bert Jacobs




Preview of ISPA Conference Nov 7-9: Will You Be Joining Us?

Published on Saturday, November 5th, 2011

Nancy Griffin

Next week I will be among 2,000 spa professionals at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas for ISPA’s 21th annual conference. This is my 18th consecutive ISPA conference, and it is always a pleasure to see old friends and connect with industry colleagues from around the globe.

ISPA is known for incredible keynote speakers at the General Sessions, and this year is no exception. Monday’s keynote is Bert Jacobs, the co-founder and Chief Executive Optimist of Life is good®. In 1994, with just $78 in the bank, he and his brother launched the now $100 million company. Bert will be spreading the message “Optimism can take you anywhere.”

Tuesday’s keynote is best-selling author Faith Popcorn. Widely recognized as America’s foremost Trend expert, she has identified such sweeping societal movements as “Cocooning,” “AtmosFear,” “Anchoring,” “99 Lives,” “Icon Toppling” and “Vigilante Consumer.”

The conference finishes with Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. Tony helped Zappos grow from almost no sales to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually, while simultaneously making Fortune magazine’s annual “Best Companies to Work For” list. He will discuss how to build a long-lasting enduring brand, including the importance of customer service and company culture.

For attendees interested in practical spa management and marketing strategies, there are 20 Professional Development sessions featuring 26 speakers. Topics include customer service, sales and marketing, spa management, leadership and business strategy. On Wednesday, fellow Spa-Insider Blogger Rianna Riego and I will be presenting The Art of Networking: Parlay Your Relationship Skills into Profit on Wednesday afternoon. Rianna and I will focus on the intersection of personal and professional networking and share case studies of spa professionals who are successfully contributing to social networks.

When I’m not on the show floor or in the classroom, you can find me at Lagoon H—the site of Universal Companies’ Relaxation Room. For the second consecutive year, this rejuvenating haven will provide welcome respite from the craziness of the day. The Universal team will indulge spa directors from across the globe with ECO-FIN treatments and introduce some cool new products. Be sure to stop by if you make it to Vegas! If you can’t make it, stop by for conference highlights!

Green Guide to Wellness

Published on Friday, November 4th, 2011

Rianna Riego

Next week, a few thousand spa/wellness experts will convene at the Mandalay Bay for the annual ISPA conference.  An expo floor of product suppliers will host a marketplace catering to spa directors, owners, and consultants.  This begs the question: Do the buyers know what they want and how to go about looking for it?  Do they understand the significance of their choices?

 The Wellness Industry is a 2 Trillion dollar business.  There are 289 million ‘wellness’ consumers in the world’s 30 most industrialized wealthiest countries.  76 million of that reside in the US and comprise 25% of the adult population.  The $250 billion global beauty market is forecasted to grow by 12% by 2014.  Baby care, skincare, sun care and men’s grooming are expected to drive future growth globally.*


At this fall’s Green Spa Network Congress, one afternoon was dedicated to helping eliminate confusion in evaluating and selecting personal care products.  With all the ‘greenwashing’ claims, even the most seasoned spa director can be led astray.  And unlike drugs, the FDA doesn’t review cosmetic/personal care ingredients for safety before they hit the market.  In fact, personal care products and make-up often contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer, infertility, hormone imbalances, birth defects, neurological issues and other health problems.

Beth Greer, author of Super Natural Home, shared her personal health crisis that prompted her to re-evaluate her lifestyle and environment, identifying and eliminating toxins that she never suspected she was being exposed to.   She shared some hard facts: 98% of more than 23K skincare and cosmetic products on the market contain ONE or MORE ingredients never evaluated for safety by FDA.  The average consumer uses 15-25 products/day.  WHAT WE PUT ON OUR SKIN MATTERS… OUR SKIN IS NOT A BARRIER.

Universal Companies Sustainability Specialist Lisa Sykes charges us, the spa industry, with the responsibility of being models for conscious living.  “Personal care products are part of the detox process,” per Sykes.  “In addition to nourishing the skin, they should enhance the spa atmosphere for relaxation, balance, and clarity.  Personal care companies have the responsibility to support wellness centers/spas in their endeavor to provide cleansing and conscious living.”  Her advice to us: Ask Questions; Analyze Marketing Messages; Check for Consistency; Do your Research.

But how do you do that if you don’t know what to look for?


Beauty expert & author Rona Berg shared some HOT & NOT SO HOT examples:

Hot General Categories with Green Examples:

•  Skin brighteners/dark spots: licorice extract (glycyrrhizinate), Indian gooseberry, soy proteins, white algae, kojic acid

•  Skin tighteners: rice bran oil-beauty secret inJapan, rich in antioxidants (and squalene), shown to promote collagen production

•  Skin boosters + serums: with rosehip, jojoba, argan oils penetrate deeply

•  Acids: still hot: glycolics, lactics, salicylics, AHAs (downside: thinning skin)

•  Antibacterials: honey

•  Antioxidants: vitamins A, C, D, E; pomegranate, resveratrol, acai and trans-resveratrol

•  Anti-inflammatories: licorice extract, chamomile, green tea, borage oil, shea butter, vitamin K, pineapple (active: bromelain), pomegranate, probiotics: emerging data indicates that these  protective bacteria may be beneficial for common skin problems such as redness, flaking, and inflammation


Not So Hot Ingredients

•  Phthalates: Landmark Korean study last year linked phthalates to ADHD in 8-11 year olds.   Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine recently found babies born to mothers exposed while pregnant 2.5 times more likely to develop attention and behavior problems. Many products with “fragrance” or “perfume” contain phthalates—but not all.

•  Hydroquinone: A skin-lightening agent now banned in many countries. Can cause serious skin irritation, swelling, and thick skin; may be carcinogenic.

•  Talc: Related to asbestos. in powder formulations, particles are easily inhaled and may lead to tumors in lungs and ovaries.

Ingredients aren’t the only ones we need to look out for.  The personal care and beauty products industry accounts for approximately a third of all landfill waste.  40% of women surveyed indicated that eco-packing was part of their decision when buying make up.  As a result, P&G and Estee Lauder, two companies that own 28 brands between then, are switching to 100% renewable energy, eliminating the use of nonrenewable resource + petro-derived plastic as well as reducing the packaging size.  We can consider more earth-friendly options like recyclable packaging, screen printing and soy inks, bamboo, and FSC certification (verifies products from the forest of origin thru the supply chain).

Finally, take the time to study the claims.  Supernatural Home author Beth Greer shares her Top 10 Greenwashing Watchwords:

1. Made with… – could mean made with as little as 1% or 1 drop

2. Organic – many brands say ‘organic’ but contain few or no organic ingredients

3. Natural – can give give the illusion the product is “of nature” when it’s not

4. Certified Green – by whom?

5. Free of… – it may claim to have no parabens but substitutes Phenoxethanol

6. Derived from – some byproducts require use of carcinogenic synthetic chemical for extraction

7. Nontoxic – by whose standards? Toxicity threshold for The Consumer Product Safety Commission is lower than that of CA

8. Allergy-Friendly Fragrance, Fragrance-Free – may still contain artificial coloring or fragrances used to cover up the chemical smell of other ingredients

9. Dermatologist Tested, Sensitivity Tested, Hypoallergenic – Look for the organization behind these claims other than the company making the product

10. Environmentally Friendly, Eco-safe – The US Federal Trade Commission considers these phrases to be too vague to be meaningful to consumers.



*Spas & Global Wellness Market Survey, GSS/SRI International

*Euromonitor, a global marketing research firm

Charts Are Sexy!

Published on Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Lisa Sykes

I recently spoke at the 2011 Green Spa Network Congress on safety and toxicology and personal care ingredient resources. While I was giving my presentation, I referred to a chart on my PowerPoint and inadvertently blurted out, “Charts are sexy.” Such a weird, nerdy statement deserves an explanation.  

I’m a visual learner. If I lay eyes on something, I’m able to recall it later—in detail—very precisely. Therefore, when I am studying something that’s complex in nature, I create charts to make sense out of what I’m reading. Over the years, it has become standard procedure for me to include them in presentations. Cosmetic chemistry is complex, so explaining certain points to audiences via photos and/or text won’t work. What I need are sharp arrows, corpulent bubbles, and roomy boxes to illustrate processes.

My work space is covered with charts. They help me remember facts but also serve as works of art. Yes, I said it, “art.” And why not? Each chart is unique in purpose and features its own distinctive design. Some are very colorful, others demonstrate an intricate weave of lines that form a pattern, and a few of them are even pretty cool, in a mod sense.

Okay, so what’s the point of this? Interesting artistic diagrams that effectively communicate facts are more stimulating than mere words. Rather than expressing a point through text, or worse, Excel spreadsheets, try using a chart. It will more than likely help your audience retain the information you’re providing. Now, that’s sexy.



My desk (sigh)




How Spas Are Like the NBA

Published on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Felicia Brown

I just read an article about how the NBA contract negotiations are stuck over essentially over a “commission” dispute for league earnings. It seems that last year, NBA players earned 57% of the revenue generated while owners were left with only 43% to pay the bills and were losing money. The players have finally conceded to take just 52.5 % of the BILLIONS of dollars worth of revenue, but that amount will still cause the owners to lose money so there is “no deal” yet. Thus the NBA lockout and lack of play for the first four weeks of the regular season.

What really struck me other than the sheer dollar amount of money going into this “sport” and entertainment vehicle was the fact that the NBA players would rather the whole league be CLOSED for business indefinitely–causing everyone involved in it to lose money–instead of working together to make sure everyone could profit from it being open.

I hate to say it–and I’m sure this will hit some service providers out there wrong way–but I’ve actually heard this kind of rhetoric from my own former staff members (and reported from spa and clinic owners who also heard it from their staff members).

Time and time again I hear stories of owners who are foregoing a paycheck to keep the doors of their business open while employees (mainly service providers) complain that they do ALL the work and need to get paid more. That is so unfair.

Something has to change. I’m not really talking about compensation here–that is SO not my area of expertise as a consultant. What I mean is that a change has to come in the understanding on the part of the “players” on our teams. Whether in basketball or beauty, those working in a business have to understand, that without the owners, there would be no “game” for them to play. Without the team’s home court or the spa facility, there would be no place to practice or play the art/sport they love and make a living in.

So what to do about it? I guess more than anything this is a rant–something I very rarely do. But perhaps it is also a call to action for everyone in our industry.

For business owners, take steps to educate your staff about what it really costs to run your business.

For schools and instructors, include curriculum for your students about the realities of business.

For vendors and product manufacturers, provide support and other incentives to employers to pass on to their team members (education, free products, bonuses, etc.) so that they can “pay” them more without offering unaffordable commission rates or digging deeper into their ever shrinking bank accounts.

And for service providers working for someone else, broaden your thinking beyond what’s in it for you. Recognize that to be successful in your career, you need a place to practice your craft that is stable and profitable for everyone in it.

The success of our industry and the professionals/businesses in it cannot come without us all working together holistically. Together we can all achieve more and have a deeper, more powerful impact on all the clients who come to us.

Still a Yelp Hater? It May be Time to Take Another Look

Published on Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

Peggy Wynne Borgman

Back in 2007, we were all Yelp haters. Now most of us, to paraphrase Dr. Strangelove, “have learned to stop worrying and love the Bomb.” We understand that this is simply the brave new world of customer service: performed while stark naked, on a high wire, over a flaming pit. Otherwise, exactly the same principles apply. Listen when people complain. Take them seriously. Don’t get defensive. Do what it takes to restore the relationship and their faith in you.

But please, don’t ask a Yelper to amend their review. That’s not just gauche; it could get you re-flamed.

I still meet spa owners that don’t realize they can actually message Yelpers who’ve eviscerated them. This isn’t a feature you have to pay for, folks. You can set up a free Yelp for Business Owners account and message away. They even offer some messaging guidelines to assist the panicky (or ticked off) business owner.

We tried Yelp’s first paid advertising program back in 2008 and were unimpressed. Per their own metrics, page views didn’t improve. We left the program. But we’re thinking about getting back in–and I’ll tell you all what happens if we do.

Here’s an interesting piece on how Yelp crushed Citysearch. Remember Citysearch? What a dinosaur. I noticed the other day that Citysearch still has a six year old, vicious review of my business posted by some angry customers I’d had to “fire” for chronically disrupting our operations. Six years ago!! When I wrote and asked why an ancient review was still lingering, posing as relevant and timely “content”, someone from Citisearch “explained” that there wasn’t any new content. Now that’s just sad.

The wonderful world of technology is ever-changing, and Yelp may end up being crushed by Google Reviews, though Google is a company that hasn’t had too many home runs lately, mostly due to missing every opportunity to get in on “This Social Media Thing.”

For now, Yelp is the industry standard. If you haven’t learned to love the Bomb yet, you might want to take it out on a date.

Robust Retail is System Driven

Published on Monday, October 31st, 2011

Leslie Lyon

Getting your spa staff to sell retail has been in the Top 3 spa business challenges category for decades! But somehow, we think our low involvement still warrants high expectations…….what?? With your dedication, these 5 systems to Robust Retail will provide you with a measurable, impressive payoff.


1. Discover: Use Your Good Sense(s) to Identify Influencing Factors

Who: Staff – who’s (not) selling? Clients – who’s (not) buying? Rank both

What: Your top tier retail items are: Most # of units sold + highest unit price + highest unit $ & % gross margin

When: Know your peak retail sales times: Daily, weekly, monthly and annual seasonality

Where: Identify where your current retail initiatives are working/not working

Why: Why are they working/not working? (Mature offering? Price? Under exposure? Training?)


2. Analyze Staff Statistics and Client Tiers

Staff Stats: Begin to study and capture weekly/monthly staff retail KPIs from your spa software program. For example, each staff members retail sales per hour; retail to service ratio; retail success on booked appointments; average retail ticket price; # of retail units per client transaction, etc.

Client Analysis: Investigate who’s buying. a) Lock in top tier “active/life-long” clients, with retention programs; b) Bump up mid tier “occasional” clients to top tier, with incentives; c) Build interest with bottom tier “non-committal” clients to mid tier, with education (and freebies!).

3. Design Training & Support Reward Systems for This New Retail Initiative

—–Make available 3 levels of staff training programs: mandatory, optional, and authorized extras.

—–Insert product and service allotments into your staff compensation plan as a quarterly bonus incentive, based on staff tiers. This better encourages staff to experience a wider range of products than discounting does, and you’ll know exactly what your in-house annual retail and service training costs will be

—–Develop Staff Tally Sheets to be used daily by staff for minute by minute self goal setting and monitoring

—–Be “success sensitive” and plan to continually monitor and minimize potential staff animosity/competition by choosing sliding scale commission; discretionary disclosure of staff stats; conducting mostly one-on-one staff recognition with well placed public staff recognition; resolve to staying flexible when you see upward or downward swings with your staff stats.


4. Launch Your “At a Glance” Reporting System Program

—–Turn your staff stat findings into a customized spreadsheet report with columns for each KPI you wish to monitor; and rows for each staff member in each department

—–Share the influencing factors mentioned above with your staff so they understand the need for more robust retail

—–Introduce each staff member to the new personal reporting system program:

           —–Reveal each employee’s current results; set new goals for each (Independents N/A)

            —–Introduce the new Staff Tally Sheet and Retail training and support reward systems

            —–Did you achieve staff buy-in?

5. Monitor Your Management Style

Robust retail requires that staff understand the importance of their efforts in growing this vital second revenue stream; and the relationship between their results and rewards. You must make staff feel clarity and confidence; proud and professional; recognized and appreciated! How are YOU doing?

Today’s takeaway: Do more of what’s working, and less of what isn’t.