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The Economic Influence

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: February 26, 2009, from the March 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Many spa owners are thinking on their toes and have kept a close eye on the country’s economy, allowing them time to react thoughtfully. “We’ve been feeling the economy for about a year. We listened to the news and followed up with our clients who are losing their jobs and businesses and homes, and we started understanding it at that time,” says Rayda Ireifej, owner of The Brow & Skin Studio in Huntington Beach, California. Anya Aderibigbe, manager of A-Skin CareSalon in Arlington, Massachusetts, also saw the recession coming. “We would be hurting if we weren’t doing anything about it. We started preparing for the economy awhile ago and are putting all of our efforts into making our spa work better every moment,” says Aderibigbe.

One of the ways to do this is to identify how to remain an affordable part of the clients’ skin care regimen. It’s not a question of whether spas are offering incentives to clients in this economic climate; it’s a question of how they are doing it. There are a variety of options available when appealing to clients’ thinning wallets, and every spa has its own preference. Although many frown on flat-out discounting, add-ons and promotions can offer price breaks to clients while introducing them to different services they may fall in love with. “We don’t want to take away from the dollar amount coming into the spa,” explains Donovan. “We have decided to offer more value instead of discounting, so, for example, with a facial, we’ll do an LED hand treatment for free. It doesn’t cost us any money, and it introduces the client to a new element of hand care.”

Aderibigbe also sees discounting as something she would like to avoid. “We have decided to cut back on discounting and instead add on services for free. We try to pick things that wouldn’t be very time-consuming to offer. This month, we have a special where we do a free mini facial when a client gets a hot stone therapy massage. That’s easy to incorporate,” she says.

Cross-promoting is another method being used to help clients save money in a way that is beneficial to the spa, as well. “Some services tend to bring in more money than others, so, for instance, we make more off of a massage than we would a nail service. Because of this, we will offer our clients a discount only if they book a massage and a nail service at the same time,” explains Stephanie Chwah, owner of Touch Companies, Inc. Wellness Center & Day Spa in Rosemont, Illinois.

Donovan is also utilizing this method to introduce her skin care clients to her hair services. “We are being more progressive about cross-selling for our facial clients. We are moving into hair a little bit more and will be offering a referral card for clients’ friends for 20% off on their color. We are trying to work more efficiently on cross-promoting and have always done well between massage therapists and estheticians, but have not explored the hair area,” she says.

Filling the books