In 1976, Bella Schneider opened the first LaBelle Day Spa & Salon in San Francisco. Starting out as a 3,000-square-foot facility, it has since grown to encompass 5,500 square feet. Passionate about esthetics, Schneider later expanded with two additional locations in Palo Alto. They, too, have each grown in size. The second spa, which is located in Town & Country Village, went from 2,500 square feet to 7,000 square feet. The last to open, nearly 24 years ago, went from 1,200 square feet to nearly 10,000 square feet. “This specific location is the bread and butter of LaBelle, as it is a five-star formulator school for advanced esthetics and product for trades all over the U.S.,” says Schneider. Today, LaBelle Day Spas & Salons employs approximately 128 people. Here, Schneider shares the secrets to her spas’ longevity.
Q. How has LaBelle Day Spas & Salons continued to succeed in these trying times?
A. We are succeeding through self-product formulation and owner education training. LaBelle’s product line LaBELLE earns a high percentage of our profit. I strive to have at least 35 percent of our business profits credited to retail sales. However, I believe the most important key to our success is educating employees to give our clients a true LaBelle experience. Our business plan has always been to supply clients with all their beauty needs while making sure all of their treatments are unique and simply theirs.
Q. Why do you think LaBelle Day Spas has been able to succeed where other spas have failed?
A. The high percentage of revenue brought in from retail countered by the low costs of goods in the facial rooms has enabled us to expand in the Bay area. The experience we give is unparalleled to other spas in the area thanks to our custom treatments. They are responsible for giving us our extremely loyal customer base.
Q. How do you attract new and repeat clients and encourage them to visit.?
A. We offer client rewards in which repeat clients are entitled to free services, seasonal promotions, and exclusive specials.
Q. How do you use digital marketing and social media to boost business?
A. We use various social media outlets, including Facebook and Twitter, to offer treatment specials for that particular day. We also send email blasts the day after clients come in that offer extra loyalty points for booking certain services.
Q. Did you change your menu of offerings in response to the recession?
Q. What steps and cost-cutting measures did you employ to offset the recession? A. With the recent state of the economy, certain aspects of business have become negotiable, including our laundry service, which offered us the same service for 50 percent off when we raised the idea of doing our laundry in-house. We also introduced robes that are less bulky, easy to wash, and less expensive but still considered high quality, as it is important not to compromise the client experience. We also reduced management in that each location now only has one corporate manager overseeing all aspects of the company, while the lead receptionists are taking a larger responsibility within the spa. We also introduced a guest service concierge to VIP clients. Despite these changes, we continue to maintain our level of education and standards that we’ve always had at LaBelle.
Q. What have you learned from surviving the recent recession, and how do you plan to incorporate those lessons in the future?
A. I’ve learned not to participate in online coupon outlets, such as Groupon and Lifebooker, that don’t correspond to our brand. These sites do no target our demographic, which means they won’t lead to repeat clients. Alternatively, I am in the process of working with Gilt City, which targets our client demographic and has a high rate for repeat buyers. I think it is important to strategize what offers are right for your spa. For example, offering a service along with LaBELLE products to boost the value of the offer, so when the discount is applied I won’t lose money. I’ve also learned that it’s important to create desired treatments as opposed to inventing services for the moment. I’ve also found it more profitable to forego facilities with low profit margins, such as steam rooms and showers, as they can make room for more popular services. Lastly, I believe in participating in the lives of our clients by contributing in local philanthropic causes. This not only is a way to give back to the community but it also maintains the relationships we’ve developed throughout the years.