5 Resolutions for a Healthier Business

By Douglas Preston, Preson Inc www.prestoninc.net

With every passing year your business brings new opportunities to explore, new markets to open and, new challenges to confront. Trouble is those new challenges are too often added to the list of old ones that may do harm to your spa or, at least, weigh on your mind like unpaid taxes. You KNOW you need to do something about them but, time and again, you turn your attention to easier or more immediate concerns. In business, sometimes it's the neglected or hidden problems that threaten a company most—secretly enlarging until a small problem becomes a major crisis, one requiring a drastic and potentially disastrous split-second response. In my own spa we overlooked a known but seemingly insignificant flaw in a new telephone call routing system we installed. One day we discovered that the system was routing random calls to a junk mailbox that we failed to check regularly. In it we discovered over 170 unseen, therefore, unreturned client calls! Among them were several from our local television station that was attempting to do a story on the spa. We lost the PR opportunity along with a number of irritated customers. Expensive "little" oversight.

Following that example we make an annual list of business actions that we know we've neglected and don't want to carry over into the New Year. Sometimes we'd correct these items during the lull between Christmas and January 1 but, in any event, get them completed before the calendar changed. Here is a list of some of the more commonly found spa business items that, should you have them, you'll want to be rid of before the new list begins to pile up.

1.    Eliminate waste!
It's everywhere. Redundant professional supplies, employees using expensive spa brochures as scrap paper, wax pots left on overnight, the esthetician that needs 20 towels for every facial—lots of things like these. They encourage even more waste and they are the small leaks in your cash flow that add up to financial trouble. Make your list of these with the help of all team members and vow to eliminate them by January 1. Then, add up the potential savings over the coming year.

2.    Reduce slow-selling retail inventory
In smaller spas customers quickly get bored with retail items, particularly gift-type products, that have been gathering dust for some time. GET THEM OUTTA THERE! But don't wait until after Christmas to do this—make your move when the buying season is still hot. Build one or two of these items into gift certificate spa packages, gift baskets, or feature them as "specials" for holiday shoppers. Move them to a new and more visible retail area. Dress them up with holiday decorations or in suggestive displays. Use shelf talkers that tell a story about how recipients have used the item you're featuring. Make them appealing—anything but presenting them as a mutt sale. Remember, it's your enthusiasm that sells the product—not the product's!

3.    Vow never to run another of those tiny, one-time advertisements in the local paper or advertising circular again!
You know the ones I'm describing: those little business card-size ads that the paper will surround a local feature story with. It's your big chance to buy a little ad space on the cheap in the big publication! Trouble is they're virtually always a complete waste of money. Too small to make much of a selling statement and disappearing before anyone can remember having seen it, this ad-scheme turkey is a common but worthless lure for the timid business owner. Don't fall for them!

4.    Terminate that problem employee
C'mon, you know you NEED to do this but have been too nervous, timid, or "busy" to do it. But this person is making you miserable and has been a bad influence on others who work for you. A problem employee is a serious cancer in your business, and they're potential for damage is widespread. Get it over with right away but, as the humanitarian that you are, give your 2-week notice a few days after Christmas.

5.    Find a business mentor
It's hard to run a business on your own—you know that. But it's worse when you don't have real business management skills, don't enjoy the task, or both. And nothing is worse than believing that you have everything in good order when, in fact, you don't. Allow a spa business expert to evaluate your operation, help you set some meaningful goals, then coach you through their completion. Think it's too expensive? Decide that after you've had a consultation. You'll probably be shocked at just how expensive NOT having a mentor has been and may continue to be!

PS: Make sure that you set a resolution to do the five resolutions in this article as soon as you finish reading it. After all, one procrastination always leads to another!