Business savvy

This month saw the return of UK industry event Spa Business Bootcamp, organised by consultant, trainer and executive coach Pete Scott, now in its third year.

The 2016 edition, which took place in London on February 8, saw 250 spa and beauty industry professionals gather at University College London premises for a day of education, information and networking.

The speakers, who were drawn both from within and outside of the industry, covered a wide range of topics of relevance to spas and salons. 

The lineup included performance coach and motivational speaker Jean-Pierre de Villiers, who delivered the opening keynote on the topic of how to improve your attitude and motivate your team, and consultant and Finishing Touch Health & Beauty Clinic owner Susan Routledge – who spoke on the topic of high standards and the mechanisms involved in creating an award-winning spas or salons. 

The afternoon saw marketing and social media expert Catherine Trebble outline how to built an engaged social media following for your business, while finance and business trainer Zahoor Bargir shared economics tips and advice – to name just a few.

In this rundown of the day, we give you five of the top takeaways from the 2016 Spa Business Bootcamp: 

1. Positive attitude = positive business results
Opening speaker Jean-Pierre De Villiers’ message was clear: having a positive attitude will have a positive impact on your business. People, De Villiers said as part of his Inspire your Team to Peak Performance session, don’t buy products or even services, “people buy people” and if you and your staff project a positive attitude, clients are more likely to come back and to want to spend more time in your spa.

You can impact your life and your business, he argued, through where you choose to place your focus. The attitude you have is likely to rebound back to you and whether it’s negative or positive is a matter of choice. De Villiers also encouraged business owners and managers to know their strengths, and to delegate tasks that don’t lie within those areas to others. “Strengthen your strengths,” he said. “It’s impossible to be good ad everything, so get someone else to do the stuff that you’re not good at.”

2. Goals and planning is key
A central takeaway from Susan Routledge’s Create an Award Standard Spa or Salon presentation was the importance of having a level of achievement to aspire to. “Even if you don’t necessarily want to win awards, setting standards that will enable you to do that will raise the bar in your business,” she said.

Routledge also encouraged spas and salons to plan ahead to ensure success and to “make really strong plans” for the future. A thriving business is, she said, one that is “saleable and scalable and able to run without you at any point”. Salon owner Routledge explained: “I set up all my businesses so they can run without me there.”

3. Do social media, but do it right
It takes a while to build a following on social media, advised Catherine Trebble as part of her Social Media Marketing That Works presentation, but it’s worth putting the effort in. One way to build that following is, she said, to not spam your audience with non-stop marketing and a hard sell. “Yes, you have an agenda, but don’t just push and promote,” Trebble said, as that will put people off. Social media shouldn’t be one-way, it should be a conversation – which means you need to get the public to engage with you.

This, Trebble added, means posting things that will be of interest to you audience, including information you may not initially see as relevant, content that does not relate directly to your business, but that you know your followers will enjoy. And in order to do that successfully you must, she said, “profile your audience so you know how to post things they will engage with”.

Practical tips during the session included posting content with images and videos, as “those are the posts that people stop at”. Trebble also encouraged spas and salons not to allow others to post on their Facebook walls as you then “leave yourself open” to all and any content. This does not, of course, mean people can’t comment on your posts, a habit you definitely do want to encourage.

4. Income and investment
You don’t have to love finance, Zahoor Bargir explained as part of his session on the topic of Better Budgeting for your Spa or Salon Business, but you do have to pay attention to it. Even more important than how much money you make is how you spend it, he commented: “It’s about making a profit and reinvesting that into your business.”

Encouraging participants not to be too wary of finance and figures, an area many find daunting, he suggested stripping it down to the essentials. “Revenue comes in and costs go out, that’s all it really is – that’s profit and loss,” he said. Bargir also advised businesses to “keep a handle on your costs. Finance is not about numbers, it’s about decisions; making decision today that will make your business thrive in the future”.

5. Customer service is key
That customer service is integral to the success of everything you do was one of the tips shared by LizMcKeon during the Top 5 Principles to Beauty Business Success session. Many spas and salons struggle with retailing and many therapists find it difficult to sell to clients, often being fearful of coming across as pushy and alienating clients. “

Why do so many in the industry struggle with this?” McKeon asked. “Well, it’s because it’s hard for me as the customer to get you to upsell me to another treatment, because you’re too nervous. As a customer, I expect you to tell me what I need.”

However, giving helpful skincare advice, including which products to use, is part of good customer service and McKeon advised business to be honest with clients, telling them what you think they need for their skin and then leaving the purchasing decision to them.

Insightful advice is good customer service and good customer service, she emphasised, is essential to the business formula of any successful spa or salon.