The spa industry has evolved into an ever-changing arena of possibilities. The full-service salon at one time transformed its unused closet into a facial or massage room, until the day spa emerged, offering countless services the client had never even heard of before. In the past few years, an entirely new concept has developed: the wellness center. A wellness center can be clinical or spa-like—or anything in between. In any case, it’s important to know what message you are sending to potential clients. Your success begins with having a proper plan and careful recruiting.
What types of wellness services do you want to offer? The list of ancillary options is endless: acupuncture; chiropractic care; reflexology; therapy or counseling; sauna; yoga; nutrition; and many other holistic modalities. Choose what you are passionate about and those services you believe in. At the same time, do your homework. Many modalities out there can be unconventional. Be wary of offering services that do not have credibility.
It’s also key to gauge interest—talk to clients to find out what piques their interest or what modalities might address their concerns. Would they be interested in workshops or seminars on health and wellness? What kind of topics would draw them in?
Also consider the demographic of your clients. Will clients be able to make these extra services a part of their lifestyle? Some services, such as chiropractic and acupuncture, will be covered by health insurance and others will not. Establish whether clients have the discretionary income to support added services without affecting what they are able to spend on core services.
Explore the community as well. Is the area in need of ancillary services? Will they be accepted? Find out how many chiropractors, acupuncturists, yoga studios and nutritionists are in your area. Are they successful? Are they busy? What can you offer that they can’t to make your business stand out?
As with any position you are trying to fill, finding a qualified, motivated team member is sometimes grueling. Once you have decided on the types of services you want to incorporate into your facility, make sure you have knowledgeable, focused professionals to provide them. Remember, they are a reflection of your business.
Where can you find the right people? Contact local schools for the various modalities you are hoping to add. Network with clients who may know a practitioner in the field. Look into local groups, health fairs and use the Internet to search for the right person. Check out businesses in the area that sell organic products and who may know people in occupations that are related to health and wellness. Take your time to find the professionals who fit in with your spa’s mission and vision—like-minded individuals who are self-motivated and want to build their practices.
Know your options
When setting up a structure within your business to add outside professionals to your facility, there are many factors to consider.
Independent contractors. The most common situation in dealing with ancillary services is working with independent contractors. Most practitioners want to be able to come and go as they please. It also relieves you, the owner, from the responsibility of payroll costs and other employee issues. This being said, there are some ground rules that need to be agreed upon to make sure the reputation of your facility stays intact. Independent contractors must have their own liability insurance and they must have their licensing up to date. You also need a signed leased agreement.
While being within a business is a benefit to them—it offers them an audience dropped right in the palm of their hands—contractors should be responsible for their own advertising outside of what your facility offers or does for them. It is their business and they must perceive it as such. It should not be expected that you will hand them your clients on a silver platter. It is their responsibility to promote themselves both inside your facility and in the community.
Flat rent versus percentage split. There are many costs involved in bringing on a new employee, let alone a renter. The space is not the only thing that will incur costs. Therefore, take into account other added expenses, such as potential marketing, utilities, phone, front desk help and laundry. These can also be considered as Common Area Maintenance (CAM) charges and can be added as a percentage or flat rate to the base rent.
Base rent can be determined in two ways: flat rate versus percentage split. For a flat rate, calculate cost of rent per square foot, plus the extras. For percentage split, calculate the average revenue your treatment rooms are generating per day and charge accordingly. Either way, make sure you cover all expenses and that it is beneficial for you, as well as the contractor. Do not think that any amount of rent is better than the room sitting empty.
With a percentage split, both parties tend to have a better advantage. Contractors perceive a great benefit to this arrangement, especially in the beginning when building their businesses. With a percentage split, contractors can feel more comfortable in the beginning about how they can cover their rent. Some consider this the same as commission-based pay; however, you will not be paying payroll taxes or social security. It also gives you the opportunity to make more money when they get busier. Usually, caps are agreed on in advance to protect both parties. Other factors to consider include the following.
- Physicians—Bringing on a physician is a different story. While physicians can be advantageous and add credibility to your business, they are not permitted by law to do a percentage or split. They have to have a separate base rent. So again, when considering this option, make sure you plan accordingly for your costs.
- Benefits—If you hire service providers for wellness services, they should have the same benefits as your other employees.
- Retail—Most wellness practitioners have their own ideas of what they need to offer their clients, from supplements to herbs and anything in between. Be sure to work this out, as it will all depend on what your final agreement is. Renters can be allotted space in your retail area for a fee. Independent contractors typically buy their own products, which saves you from having to invest in more merchandise.
Ancillary services certainly can be a boon for your bottom line. If you have empty space that is not being used, it is very appealing to fill it with warm bodies. However, make sure you prepare a plan that will be beneficial for everyone involved.
Bringing together like-minded professionals who will work in partnership for the utmost benefit of the client is the ultimate goal. With the right partners and advanced collaboration, a team-based atmosphere will not only be advantageous for you and your practitioners, but the clients as well. The result will be a true wellness center that emanates the peace and harmony you want your clients to experience.
Beverly Miller has been an esthetician for more than 30 years and opened Tranquility Spa and Wellness Center in St. Charles, IL, in 2000. Her passion is working with people and their skin-related issues, and transforming them into relaxed and satisfied clients.