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March 24, 2020

Smart Spa Strategies for Slow Seasons

March 24 • Business Success

It's a secret fear of everyone who thinks about opening a spa or salon, and it nags at even seasoned spa directors: what if no one shows up? What if those shelves of sunless tanning supplies, products, tools, and equipment get no use? What if your massage rooms and spray tan booths stand vacant?

Thankfully, the silent, empty spa is more fiction than fact. Every industry deals with slow seasons. Slow seasons vary according to the type of service, time of year, and location of your business. For example, if your spa is in a tourist destination with distinct high and low seasons, your business slows in the low season.

Instead of thinking of lulls as a crisis for your business, use them to your advantage. Follow these easy strategies for using short-term slow seasons for long-term business benefits.


Understand Your Business's "Seasons"

If you already track indicators that lead to profit maximization, you're ahead of the curve. If you don't, now is a great time to set up a system for collecting and analyzing data to maximize profits. Common profitability indicators that spas and salons collect include:

      • Average treatment revenue and profit
      • Therapist productivity
      • Room utilization
      • Profit per available treatment room
      • Revenue and profit per guest
      • Retail sale to service ratio
      • Client retention rates

You can collect key performance indicators (KPIs) on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Over time, your KPIs will identify your busiest and slowest times, your most and least profitable services and times, and when and with what services retail sales are highest.

Examine profitability ratios, not just revenues. Fewer higher-profit services with related retail sales can generate more income than a higher volume of lower-profit services. A complete picture is needed to know whether slow days are actually less profitable than busier days.


Choose the Right Solutions for Your Slow Times

Look at slow times as an opportunity for enhancements in four broad categories:

      • Improve the business side of your operations
      • Invest in employee education and empowerment
      • Improve the appearance and functionality of your space
      • Adapt your marketing to your clients' behavior and your business needs

Focus on the categories that best fit with your business plan and long-term goals.

If slow times are sporadic or you don't have enough data, compile a list of tasks categorized by the amount of time they will take. When an employee has an empty time block, she knows where to find tasks she can complete. Consider providing a group reward for employees once a certain number of tasks are successfully completed, or create a contest to see how many tasks employees can accomplish within a set time frame.

The task list should consist of items in your "to do when I have time" list, not tasks that employees should be completing as part of their daily or weekly routine. Examples include updating staff and service listings on your website and automated reminder messages sent to clients, or reviewing retail product displays and making sure to highlight items like sunless tanning supplies and products leading up to bikini season.

Use these idea lists to start profiting from your downtime. Tailor the task lists to ensure progress toward your business goals.


Bolster Your Business Side

  • Identify KPIs for profitability and set up a system to track them.
  • Analyze your KPIs and set goals for improvements.
  • Hold a staff pep rally to recommit to reducing waste. Set a reduction goal, deadline, and reward for meeting the goal.
  • Catch up on industry reading and research new products and services.
  • Plan ahead for promotions and specials.
  • Review your client roster and reach out to clients you haven't heard from in a while.
  • Update your website, promotional materials, financial records, staffing information, compliance documentation, and communications.

Educate Your Employees

Use slow times for cross-training and shadowing within the spa, so you have a backup plan when you are short-staffed.

In predictable slow times, schedule staff for off-site training, certifications, or conferences. Schedule time for online training or bring a trainer on-site for a customized investment in your employees.

Create and practice sales scripts. Upselling and cross-selling are important to profitability so ensure all staff are prepared to succeed at this.


Spruce Up the Spa

This is the perfect time to give your spa the makeover it deserves. Use these slow times to address minor maintenance touch-ups, engage in "spring cleaning", and replace outdated decorative items and product displays.

Also review product / supply costs and usage for everything from back-end supplies like software and office items to sunless tanning retail and professional supplies.


Master Your Marketing

  • Implement creative approaches to generate business in slow times while minimizing your expenses. Many businesses default to discounts on services to bring in clients. Regularly offering discounts conditions clients to wait for discounts before they book services. Instead, offer something of value that improves their experience (like a complimentary product, add-on treatment, or room upgrade) without de-valuing your services.
  • Review your social media feeds and feedback. You should update your social media skills and presence to refresh your client communications.
  • Market your services through businesses like gyms and bathing suit stores. Create partnerships with local businesses. One creative spa offered a discount on sunless tanning supplies, products, and services to anyone who bought a convertible at a local car dealership.

The next time your massage room is empty and your sunless tanning products sit on the shelves, seize the opportunity to build your business. That free time can be an investment in your future profitability if you use it productively.


Universal Companies is proud to have a team of experienced spa advisors on staff and welcomes you to consult with our professionals about spa products and supplies, including ingredients, equipment, and retail. Dedicated to the success of spa professionals everywhere, we're grateful to be recognized with the American Spa Magazine Professional's Choice Award, Favorite Distributer of the Year for many consecutive years. (Thank you!)


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