Are salon and spa owners getting enough from their suppliers?

As an owner, I’ve always believed that spa is more than just the service provided. Instead, it’s about how the customer feels, what they take from the experience and the atmosphere created. Achieving something special is not always easy, though. So, what can our suppliers be doing more of to help?

Firstly, the brand must understand that it’s not about them, but about the operator and their customer’s needs. I don’t want to be told what to sell to make another company money. Instead, suppliers need to support spas in achieving sales for the right reasons. I want my therapists to engage with their guests, identify needs and recommend further treatment accordingly and honestly.

Customers often want a variety of choice, meaning suppliers should be willing to work with other suppliers to allow this. They shouldn’t be arrogant. Most guests don’t actually visit a spa because of a brand, so having exclusive products and treatments, backed by exceptional training and support, can ensure they stand out among competitors instead.

Prioritising the salon over the supplier may mean a greater focus on treatments, which are often more profitable than retail. This will all centre on a working relationship with the brand’s sales/account manager, who should be a sounding board and advice giver for all aspects of your business. If they can assist with training too, then this is even more beneficial.

As the typical brand-marketing calendar is no longer exciting, suppliers have to be engaging more consistently instead. This could include social media campaigns, offering opportunities to contribute to blogs or brand association, and helping their accounts link to that site’s marketing calendar.

They also need to be more adaptable to each individual spa. Summer is the peak season for many, but for others it may be a low period and this needs to be understood. Although brands cannot change the time of year they are launching a product, they can be more supportive to how this would work best in different spas. It needs to be more personal.

Nowadays, the responsibility of these brands should extend past the expectations of just their operators. When it comes to the commercial side, are spas really considering impacts on the environment or are they being bought by big brands that throw money at accounts? The ethics and integrity of the suppliers we use should be deeply important to us all.

There are many ways in which brands can help, for instance offering a refill service or reducing secondary and non-recyclable packaging. They should consider whether the sourcing of the ingredients and means of product delivery are as eco-friendly as they can be, as well as their use of free samples, small amenities and gift sets that come in unnecessarily bulky boxes.

Although the focus should remain on your own spa, we are in the wellness industry, so we have to consider the wellness of the wider world also. There is a lot that brands can, and should, be doing to help out both our spas and the environment. What else do you think they can help with to ensure your spa is the best it can be?

Diane Nettleton is a wellness expert and director of Gaia Spa at Boringdon Hall in Plymouth.