A Twist on Urgency


Allured Business Media, publisher of Skin Inc. magazine, consistently revises, adds to and deletes from its numerous business plans. They are considered living documents, meant to reflect the ever-changing marketplace, and each product is scrutinized with a keen eye in regard to external needs.

These plans from a publishing company can be related to a spa’s responsibility to be aware of client desires. Some would call this a sense of urgency, which business writers define in many ways; I like John P. Kotter’s definition. In his book A Sense of Urgency (Harvard Business School Press, 2008), Kotter, who is an authority on leadership and change, states that, “True urgency is driven by a deep determination to win, not anxiety about losing. With complacency or false urgency, people look inward, not out, and they miss what is essential for prosperity.”

Elaine Sauer, corporate director—spa at Mario Tricoci Salons and Day Spas, shares how urgency helps her succeed. Perhaps her thoughts will sound familiar and confirm your current strategy, or give you some new ideas to help you move forward.

“Urgency is important in the spa environment when things are critical, such as responding to an emergency for a client who is having a reaction to a product or an ingredient. However, in business, we have to be wise enough to know what we are working toward; our goals should line up to meet our business objectives. In business, if we are responding to every new trend, it may not be the best for the spa and it may take the focus off the bigger picture.

“We have to do what we do well, and what we can execute in our environment with a flawless result. If a company is constantly changing direction, it complicates the business. Although you must be able to pick up on trends, if client visits and average ticket sales are declining, act upon it immediately so it doesn’t erode your bottom line. You also must work your plan,” says Sauer.

I take from Elaine’s comments that financial benchmarks and reports must be heeded immediately; however, now is the time to concentrate on and improve what you do best rather than add to your product mix too hastily. At the same time, you must focus on the external more than the internal—your sense of perception will be off without outside input. Know what your current and prospective clients want, and be sure to listen to your team members, but don’t let them lose sight of your position as a manager and a leader. Guard your time in order to stay on track for your goals, and avoid creating a crisis by extending goals. You want your employees to say, “Wow, this is tough but meaningful,” not, “Wow, this is completely unattainable.”

In summary, you can help move your spa ahead by having a quick reaction to financial benchmarks, focusing single-mindedly on your goals before introducing new products and services, concentrating on the external to guide you and energizing your team by setting realistic goals.

I’d love to hear how your business strategy has changed with the current economic climate. Take a minute to share your success strategies with me at [email protected].

Annette Delagrange


More in Finance