Build an award-winning spa team

Spring is in the air, bringing with it a much welcome sense of revigoration and renewal. So while we’re feeling refreshed, energetic and making plans to take our businesses forward, why not bring this fresh thinking into the spa? I’m not talking about cracking out the mops and dusters, I’m talking about spring cleaning your most important asset – your spa team.


Without doubt, your spa team is your most important asset. Every successful spa deploys a talented team that works together with the right spa-attittude, to deliver a genuine culture of service.

They are the frontline: selling your business and keeping your customers happy and returning. Your customers, as a direct result, will promote your spa’s reputation far and wide, through word of mouth – which, by the way, is the number one reason that new clients visit a spa.

“Staff come first, and clients follow,” says Jocelyna DUBUC, owner of Spa Eastman, in Quebec, Canada, a Destination Spa finalist in the World Spa Awards – North & South America.


Invest for success

To start the spring-cleaning process, I suggest you ask yourself these three important questions:

  • How much am I investing in recruiting talented staff?
  • How much am I investing in training them to get from ‘Good’ to ‘Great’?
  • How much am I investing in making them feel valued so they stay and deliver consistent, excellent service?


1391008028Abhyangalemassagedelayurveda_1I fear your answer may well be “not enough”. Sadly, labour is still considered a cost, rather than an investment by many spa operators. In our experience-based economy, it is not only your architectural atmosphere that creates the experience that clients want to find and reconnect with on a monthly basis, I believe it is the warm and nurturing relationship they have with your staff.


Our study, “Best Practices of Spa Managers” (presented at the Hotel & Spa Forum at the Ritz, Paris, in June 2011 stated that 30 per cent of spa therapists and receptionists are likely to leave within two years. The three main reasons were to get a higher salary, to relocate, or due to pain or injury related to repetitive strain injuries (RSI). Clearly, any spa would do well to offset this attrition.


Nurture talent

So, get out your human resources spring-cleaning kit. To make sure you retain your best employees, here are several strategies I would recommend you employ to freshen up those wilting employees.

First, make sure you offer a motivating package, with fair pay and a generous monthly bonus. This bonus should be performance-based, for example related to timeliness, tidiness, team spirit, completion objectives and client referrals.

Give your staff opportunities to learn and grow. Your therapists are more likely to be ‘thirsty’ for knowledge and recognition, than ‘hungry’ for commission. Why not start a mentoring programme? Or build a progressive, in-house education programme that runs over two or three years?

Create a clear career path for your staff, with increasing responsibilities and pay. Allow them to see how they can progress from trainee, to assistant, junior, senior, to assistant manager of their own department.

Finally, share your own duties, responsibilities, accountabilities and rewards, so that your staff can develop leadership abilities.

As a manager and a leader it is your duty to provide a pleasant environment in which people feel confident enough to use their talents. Lead by example by being cheerful and enthusiastic, praise staff who go the extra mile for their clients, and show staff that you respect them by giving them autonomy and a sense of ownership of their role.

Some of the therapists I’ve met tell me they feel like they’re working on a factory line, pressured by objectives to always make more money. They’ve lost their sense of purpose and are no longer aligned with the mission of the spa that they once were happy to be joining.

As the German philosopher Albert Schweitzer said: “In each life, at a certain moment, our inner fire goes out. It is usually brought back to life through an encounter with another living being. Those who revive the inner light deserve our deepest gratitude.”

It is your duty as a spa owner or manager to revive the inner light of your staff so that they can sparkle with enthusiasm, just like your clean floors.


Jean-Guy de Gabriac is Founder and CEO of TIP TOUCH Academie, a consulting & training company based in Paris, FRANCE specialized in Spa Marketing, Spa Management, advanced Massages techniques and Signature massages