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Nurture Spa

Nurture Spa


Name of spa: Nurture Spa

Opened since: September 2005
Hours of operation: 7 days a week; 10-6 most days, 10-8 Wednesday and Thursday
Type of Spa: Full service day spa
Size of Spa: Just doubled in size to 3,800 sq ft
Number of employees: 18
Number of treatment rooms: 10
Types of treatments offered:All types of massage including couples, facials, facial rejuvenation, nail services, waxing services, some medi services

Business Stats
Software program used: Orchid Medical Spa Software
Compensation method: Hourly wage and commission (depending on employee)
Product lines used: Sonya Dakar, Intraceuticals, Astara
Top 3 selling services: 60 minute Therapeutic massage, Fitness Facial, 60 minute Signature massage.

Contact information: 415 South York Road, New Hope, PA 18938 USA; 215-862-7010; carolyn@nurturespa.com

Your valued advice to those opening/operating a spa: Have passion for what you do. Without sincere passion for every aspect of this business it’s hard to find real success. Thoroughly interview every employee and ensure that they will represent your brand like you would.

Nurture your client on a level that always allows them to get a cut of the action.

Nurture Spa is the first luxury day spa of its kind in Pennsylvania. Owner Carolyn Holdsworth visualized a spa in which exceptional treatments, exceptional service and an exceptional environment worked in synchronicity. “I have been a spa patron for nearly 20 years and have been to some beautiful spas, had amazing treatments here and there, and have experienced good service sporadically. In building Nurture Spa, I wanted to create a model that offered excellence in every single area of the business. From the furniture…to the beverages…to the quality of the staff…to the types of products…I wanted to offer complete consistency throughout the business,” said Holdsworth.

In just 30 months, Nurture Spa boasts more than 8,000 clients and the coveted honor of being named “Best New Day Spa” in 2006 by Philadelphia magazine. Along with several excellent editorial reviews, Nurture Spa has been filmed by the Style Network and featured in American Spa magazine.

“We are very grateful for our quick success out of the gate,” said Holdsworth. “The key to our success is hiring people who love what they do, practically over-training each team member, and treating every single client as if they were the only one. Our clients tell us frequently how the way they are treated – both interpersonally and therapeutically – is like nothing they have experienced before.”

In addition to focusing on client service, Holdsworth said that she could not have been prepared to run the business successfully had it not been for the consulting services of Leslie Lyon. “Leslie really taught me how the model worked,” said Holdsworth. “She has great business sense, and was able to teach me what it takes to not only build a successful spa, but sustain it. From utilization to compensation to cost of goods, Leslie was an exceptional consultant on all fronts.”

Because of Nurture Spa’s positive reputation and success in the area, many developers have approached Holdsworth to open additional locations. “We would love to expand the business and open another spa…or two,” said Holdsworth. I am evaluating a few proposals at the moment…you never know what the future will bring!”

Q&A with Carolyn

Leslie: Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

Carolyn: I was in corporate America for 15 years focusing on marketing and product licensing. My title most recently was Senior Vice President for Roots Canada. I also worked for many of the big global brands, including Estee Lauder and Hearst Magazine. But in spite of this success and the financial rewards, I was unfulfilled. In 2001 I knew I had to do something different. It needed to be about contributing and it had to be on a heart level; I needed it to connect with my spirit. I let my mind wonder; how do I want to spend my time? In the midst of my soul searching, I took a vacation on my own for the first time. In 2001 I visited Rancho La Puerta for one week. There was no phone; no TV; no radio. Throughout the experience I came to the realization that I wanted to be a part of that world. Such wellness; such nurturing; such care; and I felt better than I had ever felt in my life. I thought that if I could bring this kind of joy and feelings to other people, then that would be my joy; that would not feel like work – I could do that for free for the rest of my life. It was an epiphany. I came back to the 9-5 and my mind was racing and running with how do I make this happen? In September 2005, Nurture Spa New Hope opened – the most scary, yet enriching experience of my life so far.

Leslie: What has been your biggest challenge?

Carolyn: My focus is my challenge, which is always delivering exceptional service to my clients. I am succeeding at it, but if there is one thing, every single day, that’s it. If you give 100% to every client, every hour of the day, everything else works out. If you’ve made that person happy in that that hour, the therapist will get a re-booking; more clients come in the door; the spa is rewarded financially, and it is the beginning of a wonderful cycle. The original reason I wanted to open a spa was to bring the feelings of joy to people and I am living proof that if you follow your heart – the “how’s” will show up naturally – the money will appear; the staff will appear; the cycle will continue.

Leslie: What has been your biggest success?

Carolyn: It has to be the number of clients we have acquired since our opening. Because we deliver killer quality service and products, people are talking. We all know the best way to build a business is through referrals – advertising has been such a small part of our success. At this juncture we do very little of it. Layer on top of that; a beautiful environment; nice products; staff that are gracious and treat everyone with respect, and we have found our recipe for success – but the service needs to be killer.

We could be more buttoned up though, and perhaps capture even more into our client base. We only do quantifiable promotions 3-4 times per year. The person at the front desk, (our Customer Service Managers) are responsible for tracking such things as redemption of coupons; post cards; always asking the client how they heard of us, or what brought them here; as well as gathering data on our Intake form.

Leslie: How did you choose your product lines and did you hit it right the first time?

Carolyn: With my professional background in the beauty business, I showed up with a pretty deep knowledge of product image; branding; efficacy; which products don’t do anything and which products do. I also had my preferences. I combined what I believed in with a good understanding of what my clients would connect with. We got about 70% right the first time. We have had one switch in skin care lines and now are very happy with our choices. We use Sonya Dakar and in my opinion this line is the most efficacious I have ever seen. You get instant results in one facial – it’s dramatic. We can’t keep it in stock. We have $200 serums that fly off the shelf. It doesn’t matter how affluent your client is, if the results aren’t there, they won’t come back – the product must work – you must know it’s working, and if it isn’t, you have to find one that does. Just because a line makes strong claims doesn’t mean it’s true.

Leslie: What would you do differently next time?

Carolyn: I would have watched my spending more carefully. I wished that I had of opted to prepare a really detailed Profit and Loss and have it in front of me to help me make better purchasing and hiring decisions. I had absolutely no regard for what I was purchasing, and I overspent on staffing; yet I don’t regret it. Although I knew I was being generous, the great compensation package that I opened up with got me the best staff in the business. The senior level of talent that I attracted, make the business what it is today. In the beginning I was paying my service staff commission plus hourly. I did eventually change the compensation package to commission only, once the staff were booked steadily. But no one left when I made the change – they knew the original compensation strategy might not last forever, but it made for happy staff initially, and continuing to manage their expectations ongoing has kept them happy and has certainly paid off.

Leslie: What would you do the same next time?

Carolyn: One thing that I have learned is to never be cheap with my staff or dicker over a dollar or % point in order to keep them happy. To get great staff you need to be fair and flexible, and to keep them you need to pay attention to their expectations ongoing and show deliberate generosity when the situation warrants it.

Leslie: How do you think the current economic conditions in the US are affecting spa goers?

Carolyn: I can only speak for my business and region and thank goodness I am not affected at all. My theory as to why we have not been affected is that I chose to open my business in an affluent area, which is a segment of the population that is not as affected in that way, by the recession. Our demographic also places strong value on spa therapies as a necessity; less of a luxury and more as a need. They feel they need their massage to stay relaxed, healthy and productive. In some ways I could even say that my business is stronger because the experience our clients receive with us, allows them to escape from the drama going on inside the economy.

In middle- America, say a household with $70M and a family of 4; spa services are a luxury and one of the first things to be eliminated when everything is tight.

Leslie: With increasing competition, what can spa owners out there do to hold onto their piece of the pie?

Carolyn: For the most part, I believe that going to the spa really is an affordable luxury. You just have to look at it like this: Your client may not be able to get a new car, or even that new Chanel handbag, but they can probably afford the smaller hit to their wallet, like maybe a $25 tube of lipstick or the occasional $50 pedicure or $90 massage. They can still be a part of the brand and a part of feeling special. And it is incumbent upon the therapists during dialogue with our clients, that they reinforce their good decisions to take care of themselves. Our therapists must take the opportunity to encourage our clients to come back; even if it is at a more relaxed pace than preferred.

Leslie: So if you were to wrap up your advice to spa owners in one word, what would it be?

Carolyn: Be strategic. Nurture your client on a level that always allows them to get a cut of the action. Let them know they can always afford your spa; they can come in during the middle of the week when prices are lower than on the weekend; and they can purchase items during promotions; or just purchase services and items at price points that will still uphold their desire to stay engaged with the spa. Make yourself accessible to them always.

Leslie: Can you tell us a bit about your future ventures?

Carolyn: Sure, well the short story is that I have been approached to open another location. I had a client approach me after he and his wife had our couples massage. They were so impressed by our service that he wanted to explore business opportunities with us. They are avid spa goers and they place great value on the experience. After some contemplation, I jumped on board and may be opening a number of new, privately owned locations in the future. I now know that what we are doing is unique and different and we have a model that is scaleable, so we’ll scale up! The essence of this opportunity is because the client experience was so spectacular, he wanted to be involved. A one hour service has literally changed the course of business for me.

The morale of Carolyn’s story: You never know what can manifest when you do the absolute best you can do. She’s living proof.

About Leslie

Spas2b Inc. is a full service Spa Development company, specializing in Online Spa Management Distance Learning Courses, Spa Business Manual Instant Downloads & Resources, and Spa Consulting Services.
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