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Positively Green

By Frederic Holzberger
Posted: November 28, 2007, from the December 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Upon hearing the word environment, most think of being green as recycling, reusing, reducing waste and saving energy. These are all important elements of sustaining the global environment and there are many ways people can improve their contributions to the earth, as well as community at-large. However, the concept of environment also needs to encompass your spa and focus on the social atmosphere within your business. By combining a harmonious team ethic with an Earth-friendly facility and philosophy, your spa will thrive.

Social atmosphere
 
     A point of concern is how business owners treat their team members, and how the team members treat each other. Employees from younger generations have a different set of business and personal ethics and it is important to try to figure out how to challenge them, motivate them and keep them happy. One of the top reasons why people leave their jobs is because they do not like their co-workers or bosses. The key to retaining these valuable resources is finding common ground and harmony in an environment where multiple generations work together.
     The spa industry’s future is dependent upon tracking and hiring its future leaders. You can create one of the most beautiful and most environmentally correct spas in the world, but that doesn’t mean success is inevitable. In order for your business to survive, you must have excellent standards in place. Your team needs to be on the same page and there has to be continuity of treatment for clients. A spa with a poisonous, toxic environment—one in which the staff members are miserable, speak badly about the owner or each other, wear inappropriate attire or arrive for the day unprepared, is one that is destined to fail.

The art of positive thinking
     Attitude is everything. People have to be happy at work. Every morning before you leave your house, act as if you are getting on an elevator—do you want to go up or down? Choose to leave in a positive mood. Everybody has challenges to deal with, ranging from debt, child care and parent care to traffic. When you go to work, it is crucial to park those challenges at the door.
Create a document that outlines standards of conduct and excellence for all team members. Have everyone review it before they begin working for your spa. These can be separated into two categories: personal performance and professional performance. Some examples include: 

I will treat everyone with respect and courtesy at all times.
I will not bring my personal problems to work.
I will address everyone in the most professional, nonthreatening and respectful manner possible.
I will turn off and store my cell phone or pager during working hours.

     Other standards that are non-negotiable include arriving at work on-time with finished hair and makeup, adhering to the dress code, looking polished and professional, maintaining proper personal hygiene and having fresh breath. Although these seem rather obvious, it can be critical to have them on paper, and have everyone sign and keep a copy. If this method isn’t already in place in your spa, adapting it and putting it to use can help take you to the next level. These guidelines help develop and prepare your team to deliver memorable experiences.

Be a people person
     The younger generation often uses mechanical devices to communicate, and perhaps its social skills have suffered as a result. Text messaging and e-mail have replaced verbal communication, and have allowed people to remove themselves from personal contact. The spa profession is built upon social skills, developing trust and constructing relationships, so this issue may need to be addressed.
     All things being equal, people buy from people.Those who nurture the best and most appropriate personal relationships with their clients win.Try to remember the details your clients share with you about their lives and follow up with them during their next appointment. This will make them feel as if their conversation was heard, and they will look forward to the next visit. Making clients feel special and appreciated greatly enhances their experience at your spa.

Motivating the entitlement generation
     This new group of youngsters is known as the entitlement generation. Be prepared to speak with them differently, praise them regularly and give them a lot of positive feedback on a continual basis. A quarterly review alone will not keep them happy. Have you considered how to adapt your style to theirs? Do you know how to motivate them? If you don’t, consider asking them—you might be surprised about what they find important.
     It is critical to develop opportunities that inspire young people, and keep them dedicated and committed. Arrange contests that award the winners with professional photo shoots, for instance. Encourage them to create ways to raise money for the community and include them in the decision-making process for any special events that will be held at the spa throughout the year.

Being green
     In terms of the environment at-large, the Earth and the global community, green has become the design focus of the decade. Your spa can be a true leader in this aspect. Along with recycling, consider creating a program that rewards carpoolers with premiere parking. Also, purchase hybrid vehicles for staff to use during travel and errands. You cannot say one thing and do something else—you have to live it.
     Due to the nature of the business, spas are guilty of using a lot of energy-based resources, such as water and power for heating appliances and laundering. Because of this, it is imperative that you examine your systems and cut back wherever possible. Lighting, for example, is an area where switching to energy-saving compact fluorescents can make a difference. They may be a little more expensive, but are worth the switch because they last much longer.
     Clients want to know that you are doing your part. Inform them if your facility changes lighting or is installing dimmers on the bathroom lights to conserve energy. Motion detectors can also be used to ensure that fans are not continuously running. Perhaps you have started e-mailing clients instead of sending postcards or brochures to reduce the amount of paper used in your business. Explain this to them so they understand why you have made the change. These are all positive steps toward helping the environment.

Reduce, reuse and recycle
     Being green doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Do your homework. Poll your team members and find out in which areas they would like to conserve and save. Before you start any remodeling, ask them how they feel about their physical work environment. You might find that they believe the flooring or treatment rooms could be more eco-conscience. Learn about their most pressing concerns and figure out whether something can be done in a better way.
     Being environmentally conscious can be another part of your standards of excellence. Require your staff to be environmentally responsible by picking up trash, recycling and minimizing usage of any and all products, water and energy.
A positive working environment
     Don’t forget about your most valuable inspiration source: your team. Come together to create the type of environment that is healthy and thriving on the inside, as well as the outside. If you open up channels of communication and give your employees the opportunity to help cultivate their ideal work environment, you will set your spa apart and be known as a great place to work. People want to be happy, challenged and inspired.
     Now is a great time to start thinking about 2008. How will you reinvent yourself? How will you attract, retain and train for the future? As a team-building exercise, re-examine your mission statement. Make sure that it is memorable and that speaks directly from the heart of your core purpose in the beauty and wellness industries. Keep it simple and make sure everyone who works for your spa knows it by heart and is committed to living it.