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Adding On to the Bottom Line

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: March 30, 2010, from the April 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Ruby Room Guest Room

The guest rooms at Ruby Room supply a comfortable place of respite for Chicago visitors who are seeking a less structured, more free-form environment with spa services available.

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Tea can be enjoyed separately from spa services, but Frenche commonly uses the tea room as a way to bring clients into the spa. “When people see my tea room, they get curious. When people walk in for afternoon tea, they get information about spa services; we have menus and a video commercial that plays,” she notes. The property also combines spa parties with tea. “It’s not just a cup of tea,” emphasizes Frenche. “We offer a tea room with china and tiers and everything; white tablecloths and pretty flowers. Those details are integral to our success.” The tea room offers customers their own teapot, as well as crumpets and saucers with doilies, for the full tea room experience.

Frenche says the tea room brings in revenue, but isn’t a huge markup. It is open during certain hours of the day, and with spa treatments, it serves as a nice amenity. “Recently, we hosted a book club for women who had full afternoon tea and no spa services, but now they know we have spa services,” says Frenche, who is featured on SpaFinder.com and also sends out e-mail blasts targeted to each client based on their interests. “We include a tea special with a spa special so they can get the best of both worlds, and our VIP service membership includes free afternoon tea, plus they can give their friends a coupon,” says Frenche.

Le Chateau de Frenche required a food handling license, but has partnered with other local businesses for the pastries served. “It’s easy, and you don’t have to spend a whole lot of money when you are partnering. I let customers know where I get my pastries, and the bakery gets additional business. I’m very much about partnering and uplifting other local businesses,” says Frenche, who advises that it is important to have adequate space if you are offering tea services. “Learn about the tea business. Be detail-oriented. It’s not something you can start and not pay attention to.”

All your eggs in one basket?

Often, a smart business strategy is not to have all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. If your spa is solely relying on services and a little bit of standard retail to succeed, you may find your profits waning during the economic downturn.

Why not take a close look at your clientele and try to see beyond your immediate capabilities to figure out whether an alternate revenue stream is plausible for your business? With thorough research and the passion that made you an entrepreneur in the first place, you may find a way to improve and extend your business’s profitability, and enhance client loyalty in the process.