Spa Owner Focuses on Client Retention With Family Feel

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Remedy Facial Bar & Spa in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, was the first place Angela Bishop submitted her résumé after completing her esthetic schooling, and she has worked there ever since. Her career hasn’t stagnated, however, and instead of remaining an employee, Bishop now owns the place. “I got hired right away, and 10 years later, I’m still here, except I own it now,” she explains.

But before Bishop became an entrepreneur, she originally thought she wanted to be a nurse. “I was actually studying nursing because all the other women in my family were nurses. I just didn’t have the passion for that career,” she says. Suffering from cystic acne and self-image issues throughout high school, Bishop wondered if there was a profession that helped people deal with these types of concerns. “I saw a commercial on television for an esthetic course, and I didn’t know what it was, so I checked it out. I signed up and locked into it, and I still love it,” she continues.

After graduating from Concepts School of Cosmetology in Nova Scotia in 2000 and finding Remedy, Bishop excelled as an esthetician for several years. Then a little more than two years ago, the former owner approached Bishop about buying Remedy. “She wasn’t an esthetician, and she was afraid of the recession and how the business would do and asked if I was interested. With the help of my husband Chris, who takes care of the accounting, we bought the business,” she explains.

The recession turned out to be a nonevent for the spa according to Bishop, who says that, due to its loyal clientele, the spa is busier than it was before. Because the spa doesn’t cater to new clients as much as it pays attention to existing ones, Bishop believes client retention is built on trust. “We’ve built a relationship, and they trust me. I’m honest with them; I wouldn’t recommend anything that I didn’t think they needed,” she says. “They love the location, the physical things, the spa; they feel at home and that’s why they love coming here. Every employee knows our clients’ names, knows what kind of tea they like—that’s what keeps them coming.”

Remedy carries both Repêchage and Dermalogica for skin care, and retail is a big moneymaker for the spa, which has featured a self-serve facial bar since its inception 10 years ago. “We serve up facials and guide clients through them step by step. We cater to parties and can accommodate up to 20 people,” explains Bishop, who says the bar is a popular destination for bridal parties and other events that bring together female friends. The business markets through other shops that provide bridal necessities as well, such as florists and bridal boutiques, getting the word out to the target clientele—women 20–45.

In regard to Remedy’s retail success, Bishop credits her team members, who love to purchase products for themselves and give recommendations about their favorites. “They are really well-educated about the skin care lines we provide, and we pay for them to attend both product and continuing education. We also supply prizes for whoever sells the most, and do a lot of role-playing with one another, which helps with their retailing skills,” she states.

Another secret of her success is constant change. “If clients are coming in for a manicure every four weeks, they don’t want to have the same lotions applied every time. We always have really cool specials. A spa has to have something different that makes it unique in order to appeal to clients,” Bishop stresses. Along with this client focus, the spa and its owner have also won several awards to help increase the business’s appeal. In 2009, Bishop was named Best Esthetician and Remedy was named the spa with the Best Manicure/Pedicure in a contest voted on by the public via The Coast, a Halifax-based newspaper and website.

Above everything else, Bishop credits her success with being present and highly visible in her business. “I’m on the floor every day ensuring client satisfaction,” she explains. “People like to know who they are supporting. It gives the spa a family business kind of feel.”

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