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Weathering the Storm

By: Melinda Taschetta-Millane
Posted: February 25, 2009, from the March 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

For many, the new year has taken some expected—and unexpected—turns, challenging most to approach the workday a bit more creatively and to think twice before making any uncalculated decisions.

It’s inspiring to hear about some of the creative solutions spa owners, managers and estheticians are implementing to keep businesses thriving in spite of what is happening in most communities—companies closing, massive layoffs and home foreclosures. What has been seen in our own ranks is the spa industry standing unified and standing strong.

Avoid becoming a statistic

An article on Washingtonpost.com states that, according to Carl A. Boger Jr., associate dean of academic programs at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston in Texas, 5–7% of spas nationwide won’t make it through the coming year. Don’t let your spa become part of this unpleasant statistic. Folllowing are a few suggestions to consider:

  • Think value-added. What small, personalized touches can you include with your services without adding to your bottom line? Donovan’s Serenity & Wellness Spa in Alpena, Michigan, offers free LED hand treatments during facials, which doesn’t cost the spa extra because it already owns the equipment, but it introduces clients to a new element of hand care, and gives them something above and beyond the cost of the service.
  • Help clients ward off their stress. Not everyone can afford to get away on vacation this year, so promote your spa as a mini-escape, as Nusta Spa in downtown Washington, D.C., has done successfully.
  • Place an emphasis on staying healthy. The InterContinental San Francisco’s I-Spa recently implemented a membership program that is similar to that of a gym—with a more holistic approach.
  • Consider cutting back on operating hours. The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia, recently trimmed back its hours to a six-day spa week, closing on Mondays.

Work smarter, not harder

As a small business itself, Skin Inc. magazine understands the challenges the economy brings to businesses like yours, and is providing the information and resources you need during this time via the magazine and www.SkinInc.com. In this issue, associate editor Cathy Christensen identifies industry trends that are a direct result of this down economy in “The Economic Influence.” She reports that although the trends this year aren’t as entertaining or indulgent as they have been in the past, they reflect the utilitarian, business-oriented focus spas are taking in order to survive to see 2010. Turn to page 56 to read what your colleagues are doing.

Also in this issue, Skin Inc. magazine editorial advisory board member Heidi Lamar writes about turning barter into cold cash in “Champagne Marketing on a Bottled Water Budget: Why Barter is Better.”