It’s no surprise that Viva Day Spas (Austin, TX) are thriving, especially when you consider that their name means “long live.” The first Viva Day Spa started as a labor of love for Laurie Aroch, her sister Maya Aroch, and best friend Shannon Mousser. Although Laurie was already working as a pharmacist and a nutritionist, and Mousser had a career as a massage therapist, both had indulged in many lengthy discussions about opening some sort of wellness-related business. “We always dreamed of having a workplace that helped people and was a joy to work in,” says Mousser. At that same time, Maya, an engineer at Kimberly-Clark, was looking for an alternate to the corporate path she was traveling. After she left her job and relocated to Austin, the three friends teamed up to launch Viva Day Spa in a converted house. “We opened in 2005 with a few credit cards and had all of our debt paid off in the first year and were profiting,” says Mousser. The second Viva location, which features a more urban vibe, opened in 2008. Together, the spas employ more than 62 employees, and last year, they grossed more than $3 million. According to Mousser, teamwork played a pivotal role in the spas’ successes. “We all bring different things to the table and really complement each other’s talents,” she says. “We have said many times we would not want to do it without the other two. After nearly seven years, we still love working with each other.” Here, Mousser explains the key to Viva Day Spas’ growth.
How has Viva Day Spas continued to succeed in these trying times?
A. We have a culture that nurtures employees and spa guests. Our guests can feel that we love what we do, and that makes all the difference. We only hire people who are truly passionate about what they do. We also believe that spa services are a necessity and not a luxury. Even after opening our second location in the midst of 2008 and the financial crisis, we have continued to grow.
Why do you think the spas have been able to succeed where others have failed?
A. We employ extremely empathetic people, and they have a real need to be cared for by management, as they deliver so much caring and nurturing for guests. We provide a workplace that is responsive to the staff, and we have a compassionate style of management. We really consider how our decisions will affect our staff, and we provide guest speakers to lead them in meditation and teach them methods to handle stress and to rejuvenate. We offer flexible schedules so that our staff can spend needed time with families and with self care, and we offer one of, if not, the highest pay scales in Austin for our industry.
How do you attract new and repeat clients and encourage them to visit?
A. We attract new clients mostly through word-of-mouth and online. We continue to grow by keeping a great reputation and having a real passion for client satisfaction.
How do you use digital marketing and social media to boost business?
A. We use Facebook, Twitter, and Google to attract new clients and to stay in contact with current clients. Social media has been a great tool to promote our current specials and to engage clients and potential clients on the beauty and wellness industry and what all it offers.
What steps and cost-cutting measures did you employ to offset the recession?
A. We cut back on our spending but kept our staff intact. We offered specials every month, which we have continued to offer. We started a
20-percent-off special for our existing clients on the month of their birthdays. They can receive a discount off products and services the entire month. We also started offering a 10 percent re-booking discount. If guests book the same day as their last service, they get 10 percent off their next service.
Did you change your menu of offerings?
A. Our menu stayed the same throughout the recession. However, we just launched a new-and-improved menu and website in March. We have been in business long enough to see what needs we could better meet, and we are always looking for ways to make our website and online store more user friendly. For example, we saw a real need for a series special. We are launching a buy five of the same service and get the sixth one for free series. We also have been able to see which packages and services have sold best over the years and which have not. We removed the least selling ones and replaced them with packages that are more in tune with our biggest sellers and our clients’ demands.
What have you learned from surviving the recent recession?
A. We learned that the most important lesson in business is to take care of people as best as you can. Be passionate about it. People will keep coming if they feel you offer a service that is needed and if you truly care about them. This is the key to our success.