The spa industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the hospitality industry, and The International Spa Association (ISPA) indicates that it generated $15.5 billion in revenue in the U.S. in 2015. There is also a predicted 25 percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for spa therapists, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With so much growth and expansion in the spa world, finding the tools to launch and grow a spa or wellness business has become essential. “As spa owners, we are change agents offering a refuge to our clients from a hectic and demanding world,” says Sherrie Tennessee, author, education manager for Red Lane Spa at Sandals Resorts (multiple locations), and education director of SpaSOS. “Spas provide the space which allows guests to reconnect, heal, and recharge themselves, and with this opportunity comes great reward and even greater responsibility.
Tennessee shares her top five spa business tips and tools from her book How to Open a Day Spa: 31-Day Guide.
1. Find your passion, know your goals, and attract your niche audience. “These steps are essential for developing a brand, creating uniqueness, and attracting individuals to support your dream,” says Tennessee. “It truly is about creating the vision that you believe, that others can support. With more than 16,000 day spas in the U.S., separating your location from the masses is vital for success.”
2. Do your research, read industry magazines, attend industry trade shows, visit spas, get services, and understand the effort required to become a spa owner. “The Small Business Administration (SBA) states that 50 percent of all small business will fail within the first five years of opening due to a lack of understanding the industry and a lack of doing proper research,” says Tennessee. “So, in making an effort to better understand the spa industry, as it is a unique sector, only increases the opportunity for longevity.”
3. Success requires teamwork and going beyond employees to advisors, mentors, and supporters to seek advice from those in the spa industry who understand the details. “The Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) found that local universities throughout the U.S. offer free consultations to start up businesses,” says Tennessee. “Also, speaking with accountants and lawyers early in the process can help to avoid costly mistakes down the road.”
4. Training is essential to the long-term sustainability of an organization. According to The International Spa Association, with 73 percent of day spas in the U.S. generating only 10 percent in profits, training becomes essential. “As an educator, training is near to my heart, and in the spa industry, training is vital in providing guests with consistently exceptional experiences,” says Tennessee. “The trends, skill-sets, and the consumer are always changing and evolving.”
5. Tennessee also understands that as an entrepreneur, it means encountering success as well as rejection. She recommends that spa owners see situations in new ways, develop new services, and products to meet the needs of an ever-changing consumer.