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Designing for Dollars

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: January 30, 2009, from the February 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
drawing of a dollar bill

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If your spa is breaking even and you are making small cuts to ensure it survives the economy, you’re not alone. But now isn’t the time to completely stop thinking about the interior and exterior of your facility. “If it’s not broken, you don’t have to fix anything, but minor tweaks are necessary. Create a plan for incorporating small enhancements—such as paint colors, artwork and accessories—and implement them in pieces,” advises Falk. Clodagh agrees, noting that there are many ways to make a difference in your spa without spending a fortune. The first step should be taking a very close look at your spa, the way a new client would see it. “Have one person in the spa walk through and look everywhere. Ask them to make note of what looks worn and shouldn’t look worn,” she says, and also recommends a seasonal cleaning to create an energy release according to feng shui principles, leaving space for good luck to enter.

A can of paint is very inexpensive and can result in a big change in atmosphere for your spa. “Altering colors can make a huge impact on the way a space feels and how people react to it. You could even make a change during the seasons for a warmer feel in the winter and a cooler feel in the summer,” suggests Falk.

Adding and updating accessories are other great ways to freshen up your spa. “The key is to get items that are off-scale, not tiny little additions,” says Clodagh. “Have something outside the main entrance that denotes spa, such as a tall, standing vase with leaves and flowers in it. Consider adding some big, beautiful things, such as a huge golden gong that is big, round and reflective, invoking the infinity circle—it’s a beautiful thing for people to look at.”

Another way to add visual interest in your spa is by having a relationship with local artists. Offer to showcase and sell their art, as long as they swap out their offerings every month or so, Falk suggests. Also, fresh fruit and flowers can give life and positive energy to your space. “There’s a certain generosity in putting out a bowl of fruit, allowing clients to pick up a perfect apple that they aren’t charged for. Also, if you can put a fresh flower in every treatment room you’re telling clients they are special. I’ve found that orchids can last about two weeks if you change the water daily,” says Clodagh. She also warns against the use of silk flowers. “I’ve stuck my nose in more false flowers, and I reel back every time and think, ‘These people don’t care,’” she says.

Additional ways to make spa design changes without spending big bucks can have an environmental and client-loyalty impact, as well. Switching to LED or fluorescent lighting in public walk-through areas is a good, meaningful upgrade that will hit the bottom line, Clodagh says, although new light fixtures may need to be purchased. “Also, put in a good water filter so clients can refill their own bottles with cleansed drinking water. In my design studio, I used to get water delivered, but with the filter, I save nearly $3,000 a year and reduce my carbon footprint,” she explains.