Ms. Brown

Spas, Health & Wellness

Five Things You Didn't Know About Your Spa That Affect Your Bottom Line

By Ann Brown, Founder, Saltability

When I was in college, my door into the spa industry opened when someone reached out to help me. Spa therapy changed my entire health and wellbeing, and it continues to do so today. As much as I love the holistic wellness and altruistic side of the spa world, I very acutely recognize this is a business. In order to do well by your clients and impact their health and in order to support our therapists in their careers, our organizations must stay healthy and profitable.

Licensed in massage, esthetics, and cosmetology and holding a business management degree, I'm grateful to have knowledge and insight from all sides of the spa. After 20 years in the industry, I know that what I give, I receive. I'm still paying back the favor I received in college, by sharing my knowledge with others in the industry.

From me to you, here are five ways you can impact your spa's bottom line.

One: Evaluation and Management of Product Usage

Any spa director knows that product costs add up in your expense column. Don't get caught in the trap of "this is what we have always done." Instead, evaluate your treatment protocols and take a hard look at what you are doing and why. Ask the questions:

  • Do we need this product in the treatment?
  • What's the effect if we take out the product? Do we lessen the treatment's effectiveness? If yes, is the value of the treatment set appropriately?
  • How can we be innovative with the treatment to eliminate the need for the product use? For example, instead of using a costly exfoliant or gommage for your body treatment, you may be able to accomplish the same results with body brushing, saving money and increasing the profit on that treatment.

Two: The Match-Up of Product Lines and Your USP

Unique selling proposition (USP) - It's more than marketing jargon. Your USP should reflect the heart of your brand, who you are and how you match up to what your market wants. Your treatments and product lines should be in sync with your USP.

Before you begin to evaluate your treatments and product lines, sit down with your USP in front of you. Write out your USP if you don't already have it in black and white. With this focus, first ask yourself - Is this USP accurate? Does it match up with what the market wants from your spa, and does it reflect what you do best? Your profitability and success lie in that sweet spot between what the client wants and needs and what you provide them. What do you uniquely do or offer that others don't?

Asking for help is never a weakness, and if you are evaluating your USP, reach out for input. Evaluate your revenue sources to ascertain data on your most popular and profitable treatments and revenue streams from the spa. Ask for insight from team members within your spa, other staff and leaders within your hotel or resort, and from your guests on how they view your spa. A short survey can be set up easily and inexpensively and give valuable feedback to make sure your perceptions match up with others' realities.

Once you are comfortable with your USP, take a look at your product lines. What are you carrying that fits perfectly with who you are? Which ones miss the mark?

A few things to consider when evaluating a product line:

  • Does the company's "story" connect with yours? For example, what is your spa's theme or mission? How does the line's history or the products' origins relate to the experience you provide guests at your spa?
  • If you are focused on sustainability and positive environmental impact, does the line uphold the same values?
  • Does the product line's brand reflect your spa's standards and offer support for your mission?
  • Once you have determined which lines are best for you, consider dropping those that don't. For those lines that do fit, share why they do with your guests. When they know you have thoughtfully, intentionally selected your product lines, your guests will have more confidence in their purchases - and buy more!

Maintaining a consistent, coherent identity for your spa and fulfilling your USP strengthens your brand presence. Let your guests know that, at every level, you are who you say you are.

Three: Your Staff's Timing

Payroll is the biggest controllable expense in a spa. While you want to stay invested with the best staff you can hire, you can look at how small moves and adjustments may tighten up (and better utilize) their time at the spa. Your spa profits the most for every minute your therapists are hands-on in their work, providing top service to your guests.

Each day, however, therapists must perform other duties related to their services, such as prep time and clean-up. Walk through a day in the life of your treatment providers, and consider what changes you might make to simplify or shorten the work they do that is not hands-on.

For example, a traditional stone massage may require a therapist to clock in 30 to 40 minutes before their first shift or appointment, to ensure the turkey roasters and basalt stones are prepped, warmed, and ready to go. When paying hands-on staff an hourly rate in addition to commission, that 30 to 40 minutes is not well spent.

One of the reasons, I designed and developed the Saltability Himalayan salt stone massage is because I didn't like seeing that wasted time and money. Our Himalayan salt stone warmers require a one-time set-up to enable a timer. After that initial set-up, therapists can set the units to turn on automatically 35 minutes before they are needed for use. Thanks to the timer, without any human interaction, the hand-carved Himalayan salt stones heat up, and when the therapists come in a few minutes before their shift, the unit is ready and waiting for them to use as a treatment or a service enhancement with a traditional Swedish or deep-tissue massage. Less work for the therapist, time saved, and - payroll cost decreased.

Four: Treatment Order and Service Enhancements

Guests come to your hotel or resort spa to be cared for, pampered, and have a luxury experience. You want to deliver. Look at your menu through the eyes of your client. Which treatments are highlighted? Are they in a strategic order, prioritized according to those that are your best and most profitable treatments, or are they randomly listed?

Think about what you have listed first on the menu and why. Make adjustments to highlight your best treatments. Also, go beyond the basics and think about what service enhancements you can offer to upsell. Most guests eagerly want to know how they can make the most of their time at the spa, and service enhancements, such as an add-on to a facial, hit exactly what they are looking for. For the most profitability, look for service enhancements that don't require additional, regular product use (an expense that adds up). Instead, look for service enhancements that don't require product, such as upgrading a Swedish massage to a Himalayan salt stone massage. You can easily charge $35 for the upgrade, and the enhancement doesn't require any more time from your therapist!

Almost all of the extra money generated from service enhancements directly pads the bottom line, and they give guests extra benefits, something new to try, and an even better spa experience. Service enhancements are good for you and good for the guest.

Five: Your Spa Team's Happiness

High morale does more than simply create a place where your team wants to go to work each day. It can also impact your bottom line. When your staff feels valued, part of a team, and a sense of purpose, they are happier and more productive. You'll see the benefits through your guests' satisfaction, more upgrades in service enhancements, and more retail sales. Spa therapists are not naturally salespeople. They are helpers, so help them understand the connection between helping their clientele and the services and products your spa offers. Make sure your therapist staff is well versed on treatment benefits, service enhancements and your product lines - not because of sales but because of your collective mission, to improve others' health and create an impactful guest experience.

When your staff feels that sense of purpose, they will naturally sell more, because they will want to help their guests more. Everyone benefits.

As renowned leadership and management consultant Simon Senek says, "If you hire people just because they can do a job, they'll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they'll work for you with blood and sweat and tears."

You'll see greater longevity in your staff's tenure and greater heart behind what they do when you engage your staff through purpose and mission and make sure they understand their voice is valued. Talk with them about the spa and their role in the success of the business. Listen to their ideas, and lead with genuine care for who they are and interest in what they have to say.

A happy team is a productive team that provides treatments with intention and encourages guests to continue their spa experience through home care - which leads to more retention and better retail sales.

Ann Brown is an industry veteran whose expertise extends from licensed cosmetologist, esthetician, nail technician and massage therapist to accomplished spa director and business manager. In 2014, she founded Saltability to answer the need for a better treatment in the spa industry and conceived a line of Himalayan salt products that benefit clients as well as their therapists. By keeping products and services chemical free and eco-friendly, Saltability offers multiple therapeutic benefits in a single treatment, helping client and practitioner alike. Today, Saltability is a spa industry partner that provides quality Himalayan salt stone treatments and products for resort, day, medical and destination spas. Ms. Brown can be contacted at 888-210-9918 or Please visit for more information. Extended Bio... retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by

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