Incorporating Spa Services into Your Practice

Now that we’ve discussed the basics for introducing spa services into your business, it’s time to look at the details that make you successful. The saturation of the spa market and a final bursting of the “spa bubble” have been predicted by pundits for several years, but year after year those predictions have failed to come true. Perhaps the market will not be saturated until there are as many spas as there are salons. So, what does this mean for you and your prospects in the spa world?

The good news is that there are a lot of successful new spas opening up these days. However, at the same time, you must realize that these same spas will be your competition. When it comes to setting up your own spa space, even if that means simply adapting your massage room into a spa dry room, you have to remember how important it is to differentiate yourself in a crowded market. Do ANYTHING you can think of to make your spa business unique, compelling, personal, functional, cutting edge, and fun. People have a wide number of spa choices these days in many markets, and it is entirely up to you to get them coming back to your establishment.

So, how do you make your services different? Here are some ideas that might stimulate you in that regard:

Be yourself – Like your mother always told you, you are the only you. You are special. You come from somewhere, are going somewhere, believe in something, relate in a particular way with people. As you begin setting up your new spa services business, think about who are you and how you can offer that most emphatically to people. This kind of exchange happens during a good massage, when clients feel your skill and caring coming through your touch. Now, it must happen on an expanded scale with your whole business.

Do you come from a certain ethnic background? Make that part of your d?cor.

Do you have hobbies, a colorful personal history? Include it in photos, or collateral, or design elements.

Consider your clientele – Consider the clientele you already have or the clientele you wish to do business with. Are they Older? Younger? Luxury-minded? Sports-oriented? Environmentally conscious? What is the demographic?

Develop treatments or service menus with emphasis on this specific clientele.

Determine appropriate pricing structures for this group.

Create an atmosphere that makes these particular people feel at home.

Be unique – Think of the ways you could make your spa business stand out.

Do you want to include something unique, like spa services for pets? Then why not call it the “Doggy Day Spa.” Do not laugh-one really exists.

Incorporate local historical and folkloric highlights into your concept: at a spa in Lowell, Massachusetts, birthplace of beatnik writer Jack Kerouac, one spa put the “Jack Kero-Wrap” on the menu.

Is your building unique? One spa therapist planned to open her spa in an old bank so that she could build a wet room into the safe, putting a line of “Vault Treatments” on the menu.

Be economical – You do not need to spend a whole bunch of money to be yourself and be unique.

Use cheap but cool stuff to differentiate yourself. Shop at flea markets and second hand shops. The good items are often the slightly off-the-wall ones.

Play up the personality of your space with lighting and color and unexpected items.

If possible, include water features somehow as this is the historical source of spas.

Be outspoken – Once you have made your space, then it is time to make your mark. Take your unique, new personal spa offerings and get everyone talking about them. BRAND YOURSELF as the person to go see when people think about spa services. See marketing below.

Menu Development

You will no doubt want to explore your own creativity when putting together a menu of spa services to offer your clientele. You know your clients best, and you know your own skills best. This is your chance to grow and explore new possibilities. However, as you are developing your menu, keep in mind that there are a few RULES to follow regarding treatment order and combination. These are listed here for your examination:

Exfoliation first – It is a good idea to exfoliate BEFORE other treatments such as wraps and massage because exfoliation opens the pores to receive the benefits of the product application to follow. If you were to exfoliate after a treatment, it might take some of the benefit away by sloughing product from the skin. (note: after client has gotten a little too much sun, exfoliation is not recommended.)

Wrap next – Because product on the skin would impede penetration of the detoxifying herbs, herbal wraps should be performed BEFORE massage and other spa services EXCEPT for exfoliation. Herbal wraps should be performed after exfoliation. So treatment order might look like this: 1.) exfoliation, 2.) herbal, aromatherapy, or mud wrap, 4.) massage.

Massage last – Massage comes after exfoliation, and wraps.

Extend services – Create longer services out of shorter ones by combining them in ways that make sense. For example, for any exfoliation or wrap service, simply extend the application of hydrating lotion or massage butter for an extra 30 minutes into a longer massage and charge extra (but not as much as a full a la carte massage).

Signature services – Your Signature Services will be one-of-a-kind experiences that you need to develop on your own. The more personal these services, the better. Not just a new combination of existing treatments, signature services add something extra. Whether it is a special room with personalized ambience, a different twist on an old favorite, or a customized blending of products in a brand new way, the experience should be unique. An example of this from Deepak Chopra’s Ayurvedic spa is a 2-hour long 2-therapist synchronized exfoliation, massage, and third eye meditative Shirodhara treatment called the Odyssey. Another example is the “Rain Forest Massage” using a Vichy shower to cascade warm water over the client while applying a massage.

Considering your client is the most important piece of the menu development puzzle. Is your main target women over 30? What are their typical concerns? Your menu might focus on cellulite busting treatments, anti-aging services or dry skin replenishers.

Each client within that target group will also have specific preferences. Do you have add on options that would further their experience? A cellulite treatment might meet the primary needs, but what about relaxation services? You can fill that need by offering an add-on service such as an aromatherapy foot treatment or soothing scalp treatment to round out the service package.

Let your knowledge of your client base and creativity guide you. Having a core group of service is important, but consider adding in seasonal or holiday themed services for your regular clients. They will enjoy having new options to try and will eagerly anticipate the newest service.


As you hone your new spa-self-image and seek to expand your client base, low- or no-cost “guerilla marketing” is one of the best tools you can use. Marketing, in this definition, is everything you do (besides pay for advertising) to get people through your door, whether they are repeat customers or new ones. The following are some ideas you might use to get the word out about yourself and your spa offerings.

You are a writer! – That is correct. You are a writer. All of us are, but we limit ourselves by thinking that only “other people” write. You have all the talent necessary to pen a simple article for the local section of the local paper that is always looking for new material about new businesses. You can also write press releases that can go out to media outlets. This is not difficult. You can also put together a small booklet and “publish” it yourself at Kinko’s, thus instantly becoming an expert about, for example, stress reduction, how to relax at home with partner massage, what to look for in a spa, etc.

Give away free spa services – It is tactically wise to give free treatments away to people who can help you promote your spa. These include travel agents, hairdressers, waitresses, media personalities, journalists, car mechanics, shop owners, and other similarly well-placed people. Give them a full taste of what it is you do and let them do the rest. Also, you can choose a particular local charity to associate yourself with and create a special event, with all proceeds going to benefit the organization.

Open house – When you open your doors or when you add new services to your practice, use the opportunity to throw a party and invite the local media. Give away free services and small retail items.

Logo yourself – It is inexpensive to purchase simple items with your business logo on them. These items then become mobile messages promoting you. How about water bottles? Give one to each client the first time they come and remind them to drink plenty of water after spa services and always.

Catalogues – You can create a simple yet effective catalogue of the items you carry in your spa retail area. Give this to customers and prospective customers. Do a mailing around the holidays.

Seasonal promotions – Always keep current with the calendar, offering weekly or monthly specials, discounts, themes to go with holidays such as Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc.

Educational events – Use your spa space as a teaching space. If you have the room, invite experts, authors, and teachers to give classes on topics you are enthused about. This will drive in new potential customers while offering a valuable service.

Keep in touch – Keep yourself in clients’ minds by sending out periodic messages for anniversaries and birthdays. Thank you cards after a referral are a nice touch too. You can also quarterly or semi-annual newsletter to keep clients up-to-date with your spa offerings and include coupons and special offers.

Web site – No matter how small your operation is, without a web site, you are hindering your ability to succeed. Your web site should reflect the look of your collateral for a consistent image. Offer web site-only specials. Offer online booking if possible.


It is exciting to look at the growth potential spa services can create for you. Whether you make them a minor portion of what you offer, or if you decide to offer full start to finish menu options, spa treatments offer a new and marketable dimension to your business.

Once you have decided to add spa services to you practice, begin putting together a plan to let your clients know about your newest treatments. Consider the tips I have offered and create a system that works for you and your clients. By learning the techniques and benefits of spa services, you can make them a natural and profitable extension of the therapy you currently offer.