The Next Generation - Service Stations?

I have been a little under the weather lately, with a sinus infection.  I don’t get sick very often, luckily.  But as a result, I don’t really get “how it works.”  Seeing a doctor, I mean.  I realized after a week of coughing that I needed professional help, and set out in my car trying to find one of those Urgent Care facilities, where you can just walk in and see a doctor.  That makes so much more sense to me than spending 15 minutes on hold to try to get an appointment sometime in the next 24 hours with your family physician.  I wasn’t successful in finding one, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

The experience made me wonder if this is the way spa clients would like to interact with their spa, just show up and get a service or two.  Obviously, it gets more complicated when folks want multiple services, but judging from the way Massage Envy is growing, a more casual approach to service is plenty popular.  Walking through Bloomingdales in New York last week, I stopped by the Benefit Brow Bar.  It’s a cute little nook off of the main cosmetics floor, where they wax, tweeze, and shape brows, no appointment needed.  In fact, there are drugstores in New York that are offering that same service now.  I know I’ve mentioned in previous blogs the Bumble & Bumble Styling Bar, also in Bloomingdales cosmetics department, not 100 feet away from the brow bar.  You just walk up and get your hair styled, no appointment needed and presto, you’re gorgeous.  And I’ll bet that once your hair looks good, you need to invest in some new cosmetics to go with it.

Another recent entry in the casual category is Ernest & Olivia, also in New York.  It’s a spa/salon/barbershop hybrid, mostly geared to men but they do have an area for women.  The owners set out to create a place where folks just want to hang out, and they do.  They serve French Press Coffee and Scotch all day, have WIFI, and even a computer you can use to surf the net and check your email while you wait.  All of the reviews on Yelp were extremely happy with their new find.  I must admit I do love the idea of creating spaces where people can just be, and equipping them so they want to.  Hang out with your friends, get a shave, brow wax, manicure, have a coffee, bring your laptop.  Sort of a Starbucks with beauty services.  Obviously, cities are better suited to this kind of thing, and you’d need to very carefully plan the space so as to accommodate the non-revenue generating area.  But if you can do it in a place with rents as high as New York City, you can do it anywhere.

I’d love to hear from anyone who is doing business in a new and different way!