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Design for the Bottom Line

By: Sam Margulies
Posted: June 23, 2008, from the May 2006 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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For instance, if a back bar is located incorrectly in the floor plan, the two minutes that are added to each treatment because of the extra time spent walking back and forth to it can lead to a direct income loss of several hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Other design mistakes will prevent your clientele from returning regularly and will multiply your marketing expenses in order to keep a viable utilization rate of your treatment rooms.

Another mistake involves high-tech treatments. For example, some laser companies offer their equipment in 110 or 220 volts (V). Most spas purchase them in 110V because their power structure can’t accommodate 220V. However, the recovery time between two pulses is significantly shorter with a 220V unit, enabling the same treatment results to be achieved in 15 minutes rather than an hour. This can triple or quadruple your direct income-per-square-foot utilization rate. While conceiving your floor plan, as well as your lighting and power plan, your designer must be aware of what is needed to accommodate the equipment now, as well as in the future.

Locker rooms

If you only have a few treatment rooms, you don’t absolutely need to have locker rooms. However, depending on the spa’s philosophy, if you have a certain number of rooms—approximately five or six—you must provide locker rooms or your treatment-per-room ratio will drop dramatically. But how big should the locker rooms be? This will depend on the number of treatment rooms. Calculate how many clients can fit in each locker room at the same time, and make sure that they are spacious enough for them not to feel stressed about being forced into physical contact with each other. In other words, for every square foot that will generate direct income, you need to have additional space that will not produce any direct revenue. Without it, your spa will not be fully operational.

Spa furniture

Another big spa investment is furniture. This includes all cabinetry in the treatment rooms, as well as furnishings in the reception and retail areas, and the locker rooms. It is important to make the distinction between custom built and custom feet. Custom built means the furnishings are designed from scratch by a company that manufactures every piece for your project. Custom feet means choosing the style, dimensions, color and hardware from within a manufacturer’s collection and having that manufacturer assemble each piece for your project.

Generally, custom built is more expensive, but it gives you the opportunity to create a one-of-a-kind identity. Of course, a cheap custom build will be less expensive than a high-quality custom feet. From the beginning, define what kind of image and identity you want to evoke when your clients think of your business.