Are Executives Completely Missing the Point on Spa Management Training?

By Jim Croghan Chief Executive Officer, Identity Hospitality | July 07, 2019

This article was co-authored by Irene Macabante, Principal & Creative Director, Chix Creative

A successful spa operator requires a wide array of both hard and soft skills – these include an understanding of financial imperatives, marketing/sales savvy, teambuilding and leadership abilities, high customer service standards, and a positive, upbeat attitude. They may also need to handle facility management, security, purchasing, vendor relations, and even janitorial duties.

In the June 2012 study commissioned by the Global Spa & Wellness Summit, SRI International examined the many challenges faced by the global spa industry in "hiring strong, well-qualified spa management personnel, as well as the root causes of these challenges." Among the findings of SRI's study, 95% of spa industry leaders stated that they currently face problems in hiring spa managers and directors with the right combination of qualifications and experience; 52% stated that they believe these problems will stay the same or worsen over the next decade.

Considering the challenges in finding and retaining qualified spa directors and managers, it's crucial to invest in spa specific operations training support and business solutions.  

As operators, we must always evaluate the people, product and process to assess where future progress and improvements could be made to ensure your spa maintains its meticulous standards. These standards will help unite your spa team, creating and developing tangible, personal succession plans with them which ultimately engender a true sense of loyalty and belonging to your team and brand.

Creating a strong company culture ultimately improves employee engagement, increases productivity, promotes brand loyalty, and enhances financial performance.

In the past decade, the spa market has grown exponentially due to burgeoning consumer demand, and simultaneously the spa guest experience and business model has become highly sophisticated. These current upward-moving trends call for expert guidance and advice on successfully managing spa operations, maximizing profits, and planning new spa development.

Good spa management training is customized based upon experience level.  This is particularly important if management is lacking previous spa management experience.

When considering management training, ensure that you'll receive support and guidance for continued success in all areas of your operation:

  •   Financial Development and Analysis
  •        Operations
  •        Scheduling
  •        Yield Management Strategies
  •        Human Resources
  •        Programming
  •   Marketing and PR
  •        Training
  •        Branding
  •        Group Sales Process
  •        Menu Development and/or Modification

Where Else Can Training Be Beneficial In Order To Increase Productivity And Drive Bottom-Line Profit Right Now?

1. Your Spa's Key Performance Indicators

The first step in increasing productivity and profit is to create Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) to monitor performance. For example: what is the goal for average retail dollar spent per guest per day? What is the goal for retail per ticket per day? How about the goal for retail per treatment hour? Closely monitoring your spa's key performance indicators (KPIs) daily and/or weekly and making timely business decisions can impact your business performance proactively versus retrospectively at the end of the week or month.

Here's another example: knowing that your spa has dropped below your daily threshold for staff utilization can allow you to make good decisions intro-day (i.e. shortening shifts) that result in immediate bottom-line improvements. View KPI's continuously and adjust your strategy for exceptional results.

2. Managing Inventory Closely to Reduce Cost

Managing your inventory closely is imperative to reducing cost and improving revenue. Manage your top 50 and bottom 50 products very closely – the improvement can be substantial. Many spas run out of their most popular products resulting in lost sales opportunities and reduced guest satisfaction. Some carry too much product, resulting in increased spoilage, theft and money tied up in unsold inventory. Managing inventory on professional products is also key! Some booking and reservation systems can forecast shortages and adjust inventory as services are completed.

According to the May 2017 ISPA Snapshot Survey on Retail, 56% of spa respondents said retail sales make up more than 10% of their spa's total revenue. That's a large portion of the bottom line. Unfortunately, spa retail products do not and will not sell themselves.

3. Applying Revenue/Yield Management Techniques

Leverage a well-structured spa services menu (low, medium and high margin services) with revenue management techniques. For example, limiting the list of services available (to your highest margin services) during peak times can have a tremendous positive impact on productivity and profitability (often referred to as dynamic availability). Even with the same number of services booked (by the same treatment providers) the resulting boost in bottom-line performance can exceed 25%. Pushing lower margin bookings toward non-peak times may also help with booking times that may otherwise go unsold.

4. Defining Values And Company Culture

Identifying and defining core values should be the foundation of your company culture.

Committing to Your Values

Identifying and defining core values is only step one in creating a great culture. If they become no more than a list you give new hires in orientation, they will never authentically shape your culture. Implement your values into the day-to-day work and business decisions and actions of your company, thereby solidifying your commitment to your values.

Hiring for Culture Fit

Of course technical skills are important, but hiring for culture fit is also paramount to creating and scaling a great culture. According to the 2018 ISPA Spa Workforce Study, culture and work environment is the main reason employees choose to stay at their current organization. Make your culture attract and keep employees by giving them something to be excited about.

New Hire Training

Onboarding your employees isn't just about skills training. Companies need to immerse new hires into the company culture and create connections. Organizations that don't focus on acclimating new employees to their corporate culture are at a significant disadvantage. Employees who know what to expect from their company's culture and work environment make better decisions that are more aligned with the accepted practices of the company. Aligning these expectations is vital.

New employees need to get to know the job and get to know their new co-workers. Social interaction is critical. While skills training is important, if you aren't communicating what new hires are supposed to be doing and arming them with the tools to do it properly, you're setting them up to fail.

WOW Customer Service

Customer service should be the pillar of your culture. Whether it's serving your customers or fellow employees, pride yourselves on going above and beyond. You must start by looking at how happy your employees are. So much of how an employee treats a customer is due to their own happiness – or lack thereof. If you want your guests to be happy, you first have to make sure that your staff is happy. Employee happiness contributes significantly on how your employees will treat guests. Try incentivizing a wellness program using a workplace rewards system of healthy living. Take care of your staff so that they can take care of your guests, and that means ensuring their wellbeing needs are met above all else.

Employee Engagement

Having engaged employees can increase your bottom line because engaged employees stay longer. The 2018 ISPA Spa Workforce Study found that 80% of service providers polled would like to have a long-term career in the spa industry. It's important for HR to have a one-month check-in to make sure that that a new employee is comfortable, happy and engaged. Employees today want their employers to connect with them in ways that help them feel valued, heard, and have a sense of purpose. You can improve their experience by keeping them engaged and informed with employee engagement programs that communicate in ways that resonate with them, and show you the meaningful metrics behind this engagement.

5) Guest Retention

Five-star standards training will help to capture authentic and marketable qualities from the local culture, deliver distinctive facilities and guest experiences, and be able to ascertain the expectations of today's discerning spa guests and how to exceed them. Customers will not continue to give you their business if they don't feel well taken care of. You have to lovingly encourage your clients want to come back. Building client relationships should always be a top priority. Standards training will ensure that your spa brand is synonymous with a higher, deeper level of personal satisfaction and relaxation.

6) Overbooking, Overcrowding & Spa Chaos

If overcrowding or overbooking is an issue for you, training will first show you how to avoid these low-vibe problems which will ultimately drive your repeat, loyal customers running for the hills. Solutions may include looking into expanding, employing more intuitive AI-powered spa software to intelligently suggest scheduling appointments throughout the week, or hiring additional employees in the right areas to solve your problems.

Finding the Right Spa Management and Business Management Service

Finding a spa consultant that fits with your brand may seem like a daunting process due to the wide variety and specializations and the sheer number of consultants offering their services. Partnering with an experienced and professional spa consultant will provide you with access to some of the industry's most knowledgeable and talented professional spa associates. Striving to optimize the value, interest and productivity of your own spa team, they'll work diligently, providing the finest consultation, assisting in realistic goal setting, business planning and implementation to give your business a competitive edge and, in turn, magnify profits.

A great consultancy team will conduct periodic visits, and work with your spa management team and owners to evaluate where progress and improvements could be made to ensure your spa maintains its five-star standards. They'll also help unite your spa team, ultimately fostering a true sense of loyalty and belonging to your team and brand.

Within a five-star standards consultancy-type arrangement, you remain responsible for spa operating costs and all spa staff employment, and consultants appoint an operations associate to you. This associate will help drive commercial management and consistency of standards by overseeing all on-site and off-site operations. They'll assist in recruitment, produce detailed marketing plans, budgets and P&Ls, help set business objectives, implement Standard Operating Procedures and KPIs, and provide strategic benchmarking advice alongside spa industry overviews.

In addition, they can consult on all aspects of marketing and PR, perform audits and mystery shops, and engage with your team on career development to ascertain ongoing training requirements.

What If You Don't Need A Fully-Managed Solution?

Ideal for those spa businesses not looking for a fully managed contract, a Business Development Audit solution enables you to still access and utilize a consultancy's broad base of experience to enhance the spa operation and meet your own business objectives.

You will have a dedicated operations associate to assist with key services such as quality audits, assessing standards and procedures and marketing. The consultant provides ongoing business management and therapist training to further develop your team, including an extensive Spa Management Training Program – designed to develop commercial, marketing, financial and operational knowledge – and a "Train the Trainer" Course, to equip your in-house spa trainers with the necessary skills to analyze team needs and teach new recruits the basics.

A great consultancy firm will provide specific training in all areas of spa operations for key management staff and for service providers. In collaboration with you, they should focus on all areas related to the business of operating a spa and offer a complete team approach to supporting the staff throughout daily operations. This may include educational training through webinars, on-site seminars and group discussions with other affiliated Spa Directors.

With luxury-standards training, you'll also learn to consistently garner new ideas, trends, best practices and ways to maximize revenue, expense management and bottom line productivity. This training and support should be continuous from the moment you start your contract with the professional who specializes in helping spa and wellness companies define and achieve their goals, whether financial or cultural.

Ms. Macabante This article was co-authored by Irene Macabante. Irene Macabante believes that spas are at the heart of a healthy lifestyle and understands the industry not only as a professional design thinker, but as a regular spa-goer. Ms. Macabante crafts the brand identity and story, marketing campaigns, social media and success strategies for clients in the wellness businesses and the spa industry. She is responsible for designing print pieces, packaging, trade show booths and marketing materials and campaigns. Irene also designs and develops websites and web applications from start to finish: graphic design through production to implementation. She also manages and works closely with all resources who help implement technology and assets, and who co-create stellar content. Irene's graphic design career has spanned over 20 years, and she's worked in various industries ranging from video games to search and dot coms to life and style.  

Mr. Croghan Jim Croghan's hospitality management and spa career spans 22 years. He has a proven success record of resort and spa openings as a spa consultant and trainer, former Spa Director, vendor, writer and conference speaker. Mr. Croghan's role is all-encompassing: from the initial feasibility and financial stages to the pre-opening stages and support of the ongoing development of each spa project. He is also responsible for ensuring that the highest standards are adhered to and that guest experience exceeds expectations. He works closely with all client head offices, owners, Hotel General Managers and Spa Directors as he develops and maintains key objectives, operating criteria, programming, budgeting, staff relations, marketing and training. Mr. Croghan is a recognized and sought after speaker at hospitality events, including: University of California, Irvine - Spa & Hospitality Program, Global Spa & Wellness Mentorship Program and International Spa Association (ISPA) contributing best industry practices and tools for the spa industry. Mr. Croghan can be contacted at 760-916-5882 or jim@identityhospitality.com Please visit http://www.identityhospitality.com for more information. Extended Biography

HotelExecutive retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.

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Notwithstanding the foregoing, any and all disputes, which the parties cannot informally resolve, regarding the scope of issues or matter with the jurisdiction of the arbitrator, shall be resolved by a separate dispute resolution process whereby HotelExecutive, in its sole discretion shall elect the dispute to be resolved by either (1) a court of competent jurisdiction in the State of California or (2) a panel of three new arbitrators.

This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of California notwithstanding any conflict of laws provisions. You and HotelExecutive agree that the venue for all legal disputes, controversies, actions of any kind arising under or related to this Agreement shall be San Francisco, California. You and HotelExecutive further agree that in case of any litigation regarding this Agreement, you irrevocably and unconditionally (i) consent to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the state and federal courts in the County of San Francisco, California for any litigation or dispute arising out of or relating to this Agreement, (ii) agree not to commence any litigation arising out of or relating to this Agreement except in the California Courts, (iii) agree not to plead or claim that such litigation brought therein has been brought in an inconvenient forum, and (iv) agree the California Courts represent the exclusive jurisdiction for all litigation relating to this Agreement.

11. MEMBERSHIP FEES

Hotel Business Review Subscriptions

If you choose to purchase a subscription, member subscription payments can be made in U.S. Dollars, as well as a variety of international currencies. Membership terms are Annual Recurring, and Monthly Recurring. The Annual Recurring subscription is an annual commitment and subscribers will be charged each consecutive billing cycle. Annual Recurring subscriptions can be cancelled after the first billing cycle and within 30-days of the billing date for a full refund. Monthly Recurring subscriptions are ongoing and subscribers will be charged each consecutive monthly billing cycle. Monthly Recurring subscriptions can be cancelled after the first month and within 7 days of the monthly billing cycle for a full refund.

12. PAYMENT AUTHORIZATION

Payment for the services provided to you in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive may be made by automatic credit card, debit card, direct debit, bankwire or Paypal and other approved payment means offered in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive, and you hereby authorize HotelExecutive and its agents to transact such payments on your behalf.

You hereby authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card to pay for your membership to HotelExecutive. You further authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card for any and all purchases of products, services in association with HotelExecutive. You agree to be personally liable for all charges incurred by you in association with your access or other use of any content provided by HotelExecutive or any third party in association with HotelExecutive. You acknowledge and agree that your liability for all such charges shall continue after termination of your access or any type of membership arrangement with HotelExecutive.

In the event that you have chosen to have your membership automatically rebilled, unless and until you notify HotelExecutive that you wish to cancel or terminate your membership to HotelExecutive, you hereby agree and authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to automatically renew your membership to HotelExecutive on a continuing basis and to charge your credit card (or other payment means you have selected) to pay for the ongoing cost of your membership. You hereby further authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card (or other approved payment means you have selected) for any and all purchases of products, services and entertainment provided to in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive.

13. PRIVACY POLICY

The following is the Privacy Policy for HotelExecutive

We can be reached via telephone, email, or online at our contact page. When you visit our site we do not log any information regarding your domain or email address. Information Sharing: We do not share user information with any third parties other than via press release distribution as described below.

Hotel Newswire is a newswire service that distributes press releases on behalf of our users. If you decide to submit a press release for distribution through our system we will transmit your entire press release including any personal information therein contained to our media contacts and online distribution points including search engines. This is the only redistribution of your information that we engage in. Your submission of press releases through our system indicates consent with this policy. The information we collect during your registration process is used to notify users about updates to our service and inform users of any special events hosted by Hotel Newswire. This information is not shared with other organizations for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Cookies: Our system requires the use of cookies to enable the user to log back into our website to access information from the newswire, without having to log in each time using the required username and password.

If you do not want to receive email from us in the future, please let us know by following instructions included in our communication with you. Users who supply us with telephone numbers online may receive telephone contact from us regarding their account, or informing them of new products and services available on the HotelExecutive website. If you do not wish to receive such telephone calls, please edit your account and remove your phone number from your account profile. This can be done from your user account menu.

Ad Servers: We do not partner with or have any relationship with any ad server companies. From time to time, we may use customer information for new uses not previously disclosed in our privacy notice. If our information practices change at any time, we will post the policy changes to our website to notify you of these changes and provide you with the ability to opt out of these new uses. If you are concerned about how your information is used, you should check back at our website periodically.

Upon request we provide site visitors with access to all information (including proprietary information) that we maintain about them. Users can access this information by logging in to their account.

Security: We always use industry-standard encryption technologies while transferring and receiving user data exchanged with our site. We have appropriate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of information that we have collected from you on our site. We do not store credit card information in our systems.

If you feel that this site is not following its stated information policy, you may contact us.

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Clifford Ferrara
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Coming up in August 2019...

Food & Beverage: Millennial Chefs Lead the Way

Led by Millennial chefs, hotels continue to foster sustainability, sourcing and wellness within their dining rooms and banquet spaces, and by all measures, this is responsible for an increase in their revenues. In many hotels, the food & beverage division contributes 50 per cent or more to hotel sales and they are currently experiencing double-digit growth. As a result, hotel owners are allocating an increasing amount of square footage for F&B operations. The biggest area of investment is in catering, which is thriving due to weddings, social events and business conferences. Hotels are also investing in on-site market or convenience stores that offer fresh/refrigerated foods, and buffet concepts also continue to expand. Other popular food trends include a rise of fermented offerings such as kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, kefir and pickles - all to produce the least processed food possible, and to boost probiotics to improve the immune system. Tea is also enjoying something of a renaissance. More people are thinking of tea with the same reverence as coffee due to its many varieties, applications and benefits. Craft tea blending, nitro tea on tap and even tea cocktails are beginning to appear on some hotel menus. Another trend concerns creating a unique, individualized and memorable experience for guests. This could be a small consumable item that is specific to a property or event, such as house-made snack mixes, gourmet popcorn, macaroons, or jars of house-made jams, chutneys, and mustards -all produced and customized in house. One staple that is in decline is the in-room minibar which seems to have fallen out of favor. The August issue of the Hotel Business Review will document the trends and challenges in the food and beverage sector, and report on what some leading hotels are doing to enhance this area of their business.