Spas2b was once asked, “How do you develop a signature treatment? Should this treatment be your most expensive one? Do you use different product lines? How do you put it up on the menu?” We thought these were great questions, ones that many spas might have regarding these particular treatments, so we’re going to share our detailed response.
Signature treatments can be developed in tandem with your product suppliers or simply on your own. Be aware however, that if you decide to take ingredients out of your fridge or cupboard that are not prepared by a chemist, these products and subsequent signature treatments will not be covered by your insurance, should anything go wrong. So when creating a signature treatment, be sure to use products that you know are established and reputable.
Individual Signature Treatments and Signature Experiences
Although it’s quite common to see individual signature treatments at day spas and signature experiences at resort and destination spas, this is certainly not a steadfast rule of thumb. Spas everywhere are run by creative thinkers who continually challenge the status quo to re-invent “standard-issue” spa-ing…and that’s the beauty of our business!
Individual Signature Treatments may often exist in more than one department of a spa, such as in the facial, body, and even nail departments. I love it when I see even the smallest of spas using their imaginations and completely breaking away from their existing skin care line(s) to introduce signature treatments that are sensory, exotic, and/or indigenous.
Signature Experiences often entail a series of spa treatments that have been specially designed to complement one another and take the guest on a journey of sorts. Often they will include unique combinations of body scrubs, massages, wraps, hydro, sensory, energy and spiritual services. They are premium priced and often a time investment of 2-3 hours.
To create a sensory experience, consider the five senses:
Have a staged display to enhance and pique interest in the treatment experience, showcase ingredients, and help sell your products. Wear an accessory to your standard uniform that reinforces the treatment (e.g., wear an indigenous flower in your hair and give one to your guest too). Or take that one step further and apply a beautiful temporary tattoo on your client that is representative of the treatment experience.
Unearth specific music that is in harmony with the treatment. If it’s an ayurvedic treatment with turmeric and nightshade, don’t have bird sounds, have Indian sounds. If you’re incorporating Australian healing stone therapy into a treatment, play rhythmic aboriginal music, not waves crashing on a beach. Pay attention to each detail.
Complementary aromatics from specific oils or flowers are a natural extension of any signature treatment or experience. If you have your client in a face cradle, have a bowl of warm water on a shelf below with oil and a floating flower in it (sight and smell), or simply gather up aromatic breezes from your oils or incense and move the essence around the client’s face and head with your hands during the treatment.
I had a facial massage once where the esthetician choreographed her movements to the beat of the music. She tapped, pinched, and swept her fingers and hands over my eyes, face, and decollete, while seemingly in a kind of trance…and she almost put me in one too. It was amazing, and I haven’t experienced anything like it since.
Probably 25 years ago, I had a floral facial at a spa that included real mint marigold eye compresses (anti-oxidants) and an amazing orange essence floral water as the toner, which was absolutely intoxicating. These ingredients were from Mexico. After the treatment, I was served edible flowers and sipped the orange water from a flower. I can actually taste the orange water as I type these words.
Note: Don’t forget to give your treatment a catchy name that represents the service well, and inspires the purchase.
What’s Hot and Is It Worthy?
When I create a signature treatment, I always look at what’s hot, what’s up and coming, what the aesthetic value of the treatment will be, and whether it’s retail-driven.
Your signature treatments must provide appeal and results that none of your other existing treatments provide. So if you are hearing a buzz about a certain kind of facial that is missing on your menu, here is your opportunity to get creative and develop an “off-shoot” of it. Signature treatments can help you stay current and edgy and they can boost sales of luxury items.
Signatures don’t have to become current fixtures, however. You can rotate your signature offerings, and in fact, I recommend it. Plan out their life expectancy in the early stages, and make purchasing and marketing decisions based on that. Stay flexible though, a particular signature treatment could become a huge hit, or it could fizzle very quickly. If you haven’t done your homework, you may get a surprise.
Signature treatments need to be an exciting addition and a valued contributor—one without the other, a signature treatment does not make.
Ground Breaking or “Off the Shelf”?
If I am creating a signature facial, I will either start right from scratch with a reliable professional who knows ingredients and create something completely ground-breaking; or I will combine some of the existing line products available with a unique blend of complementary products, and add exceptional value throughout the entire treatment with enhancements and unique procedures.
You can still incorporate ingredients like real yogurt, coconut milk, and lime juice, but just be sure you have done your research and risk assessment. There are so many professional grade oils, prepared mixes, herbs and botanicals available today, that you may prefer to use tested organic materials as safe bases or enhancements, rather than store bought items that could equate to risky mistakes.
Do a Cost Analysis
Your signature treatment does not have to be the most expensive on the menu; however, it sometimes ends up being that way because of the “signature” ingredients and incentives within the service that increase the service cost.
So just as you would calculate profit margins on your regular service menu, do the same for your signature treatments and experiences before you finalize your decisions. Estimate your cost of goods, including product costs; studio supplies and miscellaneous; and staff wages, and then position the price according to your desired profit, balanced of course with what your market will bear. There is no point over-pricing and not selling the service, nor is there any point selling a lot of the service and losing money with each sale.
You will most often see signature treatments awarded prime real estate on the brochure. If they are occupying this space, just be sure they deserve it. To warrant that position, they need to be both profitable and in demand; they are the first choice you want your clients to make.
If they only fit one of those criteria (or neither), they should be either helping to boost your image, increase awareness, or be helping to “brand stamp” your developing business.
So allow your imagination and creativity to thrive and have fun with this experience, as it is one area that you can really put your stamp on, but don’t forget these 5 considerations when developing your signatures:
- Potential business benefits and risks
- Esthetic value and retail-ability
- Profitability and life expectancy
- Target market demand
- Required staff expertise and training
For more savvy business advice from Leslie, please visit her blog at spas2b.com .