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Business Success, Part II: Elements of Staying on Top

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: April 28, 2010, from the May 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Glen Ivy Hot Springs

“Being up a little and having a comfortable enough cash flow; it’s a trick, but it’s what makes Glen Ivy go,” Gray says.

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Kim Dudek, founder and owner of the 21-year-old Belladonna Day Spa in New Orleans, agrees that a leader’s role is an important one for maintaining a successful business. “When you are the head of something, everything you do is noticed. If I don’t smile when I come in, if I don’t say ‘hello,’ if my makeup isn’t right, I set the tone and people notice. You have to do some introspection when you have 50 employees and three businesses and ask yourself, ‘What am I doing to contribute to their success?’ and ‘What can I change about what I’m doing?’ ” she explains. It is this constant evaluation that has to carry through to other areas of the business as well, in order to maintain focus and stay on top. A constant and ever-present emphasis on clients, plus a team that can feel passionate about your business, are crucial aspects of continued success.

Clients. “The single most important thing is to focus on the client experience,” says John Gray, owner of 150-year-old Glen Ivy Hot Springs in Corona, California. “It is the little unexpected pluses clients experience that sets one spa above another.” Jamal agrees, pointing to her client base that spans generations. “I built my business on repeats and referrals. Skindulgence is a small boutique spa, and I wanted that concept to remain; I never wanted to expand. I just wanted to grow and maintain that one-on-one contact. Now, I’m seeing the children of some of my original clients,” she says. “It’s important to nurture the client base you have and ask them to refer people they think would enjoy the quality of care that you offer.”

Team members. “The two c’s are what we are looking for in team members; they have to have confidence and provide great care. You need a team leader who is focused on client experience and a staff with the professional competence to deliver an accomplished facial and have a genuine caring quality,” says Gray. “It emphasizes the need to hire well and astutely. It’s hard to train people to care, so you have to hire people who have that naturally.”

Amber Yeargin, director of education for 20-year-old PCA Skin, located in Scottsdale, Arizona, agrees. “It is important to invest in your people; that sets a strong foundation internally. We hold a lot of different education events throughout the year for every member of the company, including a yearly educator summit, and biannual customer service and sales workshops. It’s very important to make sure your house is in order, and then you’ll be able to execute externally.”

According to Murad, “You’re only as strong as the people who work with you, and you have to give those people an opportunity to use their brains and the latitude to do their business.” Dudek also cautions against the consequences of hiring the wrong people, an experience she had firsthand after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. “We did everything we could to help the city come back and give people jobs, but that was at the expense of Belladonna. I was hiring people I shouldn’t have, and they just didn’t care about the spa. In the past, I always had team members who were dedicated to Belladonna,” she says. Only recently has her team become one the spa deserves again. “It feels so good in here. The energy is great. It’s very exciting to have the team members who are still with me say they are feeling the good energy again.”

Overcoming obstacles