Tired of working 50- to 60-hour work weeks in higher education, Erin Owens and Lisa Vukonich decided to follow their passion of getting pampered and making a difference in women’s lives and opened in late 2006. “We originally wanted to buy a skincare franchise, but we looked at things and decided we could do a better job creating our own brand,” says Vukonich. Located in a shopping center with various retail outlets, the 1,900-square-foot spa with five treatment rooms was a labor of love for the two founders, who worked alongside the staff of 12 manning the front desk. According to Vukonich, the name Fuchsia was chosen because it captured the look and feel the two friends wanted to create. “Fuchsia is a shade of the color pink, but it is more vibrant than a traditional pink,” says Vukonich. “We like to think Fuchsia Spa is the same. We are part of the spa family, but we really pride ourselves on being distinct, fresh, and fun.” Thanks to its growing popularity, the spa relocated to another space within the shopping center in May 2012 and doubled its size. Today, Fuchsia has 10 treatment rooms, five manicure and five pedicure stations, a blowdry bar, and a team of 32 employees. “Since opening, we have grown our business by approximately 40 percent,” says Owens. “The biggest growth area for us has been in our service revenue, which prompted both a remodel in 2010 and our relocation in 2012.” Here, Owens shares how she and Vukonich adapted their business to thrive in challenging times.
How has Fuchsia Spa continued to succeed over the years?
A. During the recession, we found that our product revenue began declining while our services were holding strong. We quickly made a decision to remodel the retail area to incorporate new service space. We also created a membership that provided us with a steady monthly client base. The addition of services allowed us to acquire new customers, as well as increase treatment options for existing clients. We found that many of our customers were coming to us for massage and skincare services but getting their nails done elsewhere. Once the nail bar and pedicure stations were incorporated, current clients could do everything in our location, which helped to increase our revenue per client. The biggest thing we realized is that you can never rest and assume that all is perfect. You have to be willing to change and change quickly as the market shifts to meet your customers’ needs. Our original business plan was to offer only massage and skincare services, and today, we offer so much more.
Why do you think you have been able to succeed where other spas have failed?
A. We built our model on being an affordable spa, so when the market shifted, clients were still able to afford Fuchsia’s services. We also acquired new clients who were once frequent visitors to high-priced spas. In our decision to be affordable, we have not reduced the quality of our services, products, or staff. Without providing quality services with highly professional staff, we would not have the volume of repeat customers. Education is also important to us. Staff is trained on regular six-week intervals to assure that we are delivering the latest progressive treatments.
What are some of the steps you have taken to boost business this year?
A. We switched our database system to Millennium by Harms, which has allowed us to better analyze our business and manage our customer relations. We have incorporated a loyalty program for all customers. We also implemented regular customer appreciation events, networked with local schools and business, and instituted a party-incentive program, which involves giving groups of six or more our first-time client rates on facials and massages and a 10 percent discount to party guests on nail and blow-dry bar services. We also work with a local visitor’s bureau to help bring awareness to the travel industry. Our winter visitors often have family or friends who live here, and when the winter visitor comes to Fuchsia, they also tell their family members, thus expanding our reach.
How do you attract new and repeat clients and encourage them to visit?
A. We have found that the majority of our new customers come from word-of-mouth advertising from our current clients. We reward clients for sending us new clients through our loyalty program, which awards points for each new person who is referred to us. Clients can use their loyalty points on services and merchandise. We also email a newsletter twice a month that educates clients on services, products, and monthly specials. And we reward our members for doing more than one service with us per month through service discounts or loyalty points.
What steps and cost-cutting measures do you employ?
A. In some way, we feel fortunate to have grown during the recession. For us, budgets have always been tight. We function as a team, so we all are in charge of the cleanliness and maintenance of our facility. Space is carefully allocated to services, so almost every area of the facility has the ability to produce revenue.
What have you learned from surviving the recent recession?
A. Don’t get comfortable. The market can change in a split second, and if you are not willing to change, your customer will go elsewhere. Never let the customer experience wane. Deliver the unexpected. Service does matter. Lastly, be careful of jumping on the online discount coupon sites. It doesn’t always bring that long-term customer relationship you are seeking. Instead, focus on the customers you have, as they will be the ones who bring new customers.