Spa Director Career Guide, Part 3


What personal attributes should a Spa Director have?

Have you ever wondered if your personality profile actually fits the demands that will be placed on you as a Spa Director? Here’s a rather lengthy checklist that you may want to contemplate.

Emotionally mature, empathetic not sympathetic, broad shouldered, friendly but not a friend, objective, level headed, stable, flexible, x-ray vision, good organizational skills, sense of humour, firm but fair, inspiring, motivating, possess a spa philosophy, live a wellness lifestyle, exude a strong presence, willing to occupy the head of the table, willing to temporarily forfeit the head of the table, forecaster, analyst, a thinker, visionary, self-educator, negotiator, multi-cultural and multi-generational communicator, respectful, full of SMILES!

Trending: “Hot button” topics for Spa Directors

The Spa Director Job Description has changed in the last few years. Here are a few hot topics you’ll need to (re)familiarize yourself with.

Marketing through multi-dimentional touch points (online and offline), guest experience, wellness vs. pampering, creativity, innovation, digital age, technological revolution, social engagement, mobile office, mobile marketing, tell a story, projects management, event planning, process development skills, menu re-development, methods of delivery, record keeping, running campaigns, sales skills, sustainable practices, lifestyle changes, culturally diverse workforce and styles, crisis management, team focused environment, cost containment, lead generation, brand perception, global forces, client conversion, competing interests, moving parts and people, multi-tasker, follow through, activation, opportunist, retention programmer, compensation management…PHEW! What did I miss?

Spa Director FAQs

If you have a question of your own, that isn’t covered here – send it to [email protected] and we promise you’ll get an answer!

How do I get my foot in the door?

Begin by reading Part 1 and Part 2 of this 3-part series on Spa Directors. Know the industry, know yourself, and know your target. Start your spa business research now and continue to be a student ongoing; know the (type of) spas you are interested in applying to and customize your personal and business offerings to fit their needs; and get a Spa Management Certificate as a start. Know that your education and experience will need to be wide and varied.

Where should I expect to start out?

Be willing to start as a receptionist; concierge; hands-on therapist; or assistant manager. During this time, concentrate on building your business management skills and broadening your educational pursuits. Your growing knowledge and confidence will indicate when you are ready to step into the Director's position. Work at becoming the Jack of all trades and the Master of many.

Do I need to be an Esthetician or Massage Therapist?

No, but you must be willing to learn about these trades ongoing in order to uphold your position of authority as the Director. Inasmuch as hiring from within is a popular method of acquiring and training a Spa Director, if you do work in a spa currently and wish to advance, consider succession planning as mentioned in Part 2 of this Spa Director Series. If the size of spa warrants it, you will benefit from having Department Heads that report directly to you who can act as mediators; reporters and up daters between you and your staff.

Do I need a specific diploma or certificate to become a Spa Director?

Neither of these are regulated requirements, but they will be immensely helpful to you and your future. It is fairly common for spas to favor candidates with a certificate or diploma. It is also widely agreed that Spa Management education will benefit both the Director and the Spa, and will position you above the rest during the interview process.

What’s more important, education or experience?

Recent studies show that on the job experience outweighs education. So if you have neither experience nor education, get your Spa Management Certificate first. Showing this initiative will help you get your foot in the spa door at a starting position, with the eventual goal being to graduate into a management position once you have gained the necessary experience. It is important to consider that each spa will have their own set of management criteria, so never underestimate the importance of demonstrating both your potential and your future intentions in the areas you may be lacking in.

What kinds of courses would I benefit from taking the most?

Spa Management, Human Resources, Hospitality, Strategic Planning, IT Skills, Public Relations, Revenue & Financial Management, Legalities, Marketing & Promotion.

How do I handle staff who know more about the treatments than me?

Be willing to continually learn a bit at a time about each spa modality (shadow during services, experience the services, assign yourself a service mentor), but as you are self-educating, be sure to always uphold your position of authority. Always be able to manage your staff based on your business knowledge and noton the way your staff are telling you it should be done. Draw from your lead therapists to support your position and keep you in the loop on the service side of things, but remember the responsibility will always land squarely on your shoulders.

What should I get paid?

Dependent on many variables, such as demographic/global location, size of spa, number of employees, the job description and your level of education and experience, Spa Director wages can range from $35,000 to $150,000+ annually. It’s a huge spread, so know your position within all of these variables so that if you feel the need to compare, you are comparing apples to apples.

What kinds of benefits should I expect?

It is quite common for Spa Directors to receive some form of profit sharing when they make budget. This varies widely and may be a percentage of net profit; a percentage of gross revenue; or a dollar amount based on a sliding scale (less common). You may also enjoy a bonus when a campaign is successful; incentives on retail sales; product and service allotments and/or discounts; paid time off; staff hotel/resort rates; free parking; meals when working; uniforms, etc.

Is this a growth position?

Yes it is, but is also a position that is quickly evolving. So be sure to always know your hot button topics and self educate regularly to stay on top of new demands and trends in the industry.

What will a day in the life of a Spa Director look like?

That’s a whole other blog! But it will be a combination of managing staff; monitoring the client experience; ensuring front desk is running smooth; building sales campaigns; maintaining social campaigns; planning events; developing new processes; updating existing processes, protocols, files and records; conducting meetings and huddles; crisis management; inventory management.

I’m burning out, how can I tell if there’s too much being expected of me?

If you’re in a position where you feel you can’t catch up, you are pedaling backwards now, and your personal life is suffering, you need to take action. Whether too much is being expected of you, or you aren’t able to handle the workload because of other reasons, is irrelevant…you’re not delivering on expectations. Approach management and begin negotiations. Maybe things have crept into your routine that weren't  there initially and you need to discuss reducing your workload and/or increasing support. Or maybe you want to discuss a shared position. Whatever you feel you need, a solution can only be found if your manager understands and agrees with your position. So gather the facts and go in with a solution. You’ll stand a much better chance of getting what you need. If you’re the owner and director/manager, look within the business for ways to delegate, dump, and defer your growing list of tasks.

A new career will change your life…so why not

be sure to make it a change for the better?

In Part 1, Spa Directors…Proof or Potential? of this 3-part series, we discussed what a Spa Director may need to consider when contemplating their career path and the importance of demonstrating both ’Proof’ and ’Potential’.

In Part 2, Spa Director Training, Education & Expertise of this series, we elaborate on these above points and even provide examples of how you can put these techniques into play.

ALSO!  Be sure to read Spa Director Resume & Interview Pointers.