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Re-open and re-start your spa @ Professional Beauty’s Virtual Spa Week

by Arun Shirishkar

Professional Beauty UK offers insights into the dos and don’ts of reopening a spa business post-pandemic.

For its next session of Virtual Spa Week, Professional Beauty UK featured Amanda Al Masri, Founder at Al-Masri Consulting (USA) Former Global Director of Spa Operations & Development STARWOOD on PB Live. The session was moderated by Mark Moloney, Professional Beauty Group’s managing director, and Jean-Guy de Gabriac, WSWC conference producer and founder of  World Wellness Weekend.
Here are highlights of Amanda’s session.

Carefully consider the right time to open: Just because you can, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. You may have varying degrees of control over when your spa(s) reopen, but you almost certainly have a seat at the table for that decision. It’s both a human and business decision, and you should be armed with data for both. Be mindful that every market, every brand and every consumer is different. What’s right for the spa in the next country, city and even across the street isn’t necessarily what’s right for you and your guests. Don’t re-open without carefully considering the when, why and how.

Consider the motivation to re-open: Motivation is probably a combination of things—bring money in, support the team, have services available, etc. Is the motivation in sync with predicted demand, financial liquidity, and staff availability?

What is your financial reality: Without a playbook, it’s impossible to predict how consumers will react. How much risk are you prepared to absorb and can you afford to take? Planning for the worst doesn’t mean you’re doomed for failure.

Consider how much are you prepared to lose, and for how long?

Consider how you’ll scale quickly, if demand is greater than anticipated?

What fallbacks do you have if it’s the worst or best case scenarios? Plan for those in a very literal sense!

Modelling your options: For example: Will you lose > money re-opening with limited revenue and variable costs, than simply staying closed until demand builds? Model it/do the math with various operational scenarios. This is quite simply something you ‘have’ to do, there’s no way to ‘gut check’ this. When you’ve made a decision, remodel it again with best, worst, and likely scenarios. Are you comfortable with all 3 scenarios? 

Putting it all together: Look at the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ factors at play (from a-d), and combined, that’s your answer.

Consider what it looks like when you re-open—hint, it probably shouldn’t be status quo. You may need a plan and should start working on that now.

Your re-opening operational reality: This is the time to consider everything from treatment menu to compensation. What should change to position you best for success? And what’s the ‘trigger’ to go back to ‘normal’?

Strategic plan: It doesn’t have to be onerous, but write down your strategic plan for right now (prior to opening), 1 mo, 3 mo, 6 mo, 12 mo… It can be on a sheet of paper—no need to overcomplicate. What are the few things you’re going to stay focused on to get you through this? It may be a continuation of things that you were already doing, it may be a complete pivot.

Decide and commit (but be willing to course correct)!

Try to find things you can do NOW, I promise it will make you feel better. Note that this is not a to do list. Do what you can now, have a plan for how you get done what needs doing leading up to pre-opening.

Data is your best friend: Stay on top of things! Data is even more critical than ever, and when times are tough, you don’t have the luxury of being complacent about performance metrics. You may need to pivot from time to time, especially early on—and setting measurable goals and having daily, weekly and monthly KPIs or markers, ensure you can course correct more easily and with greater insight.

Over-correction and brand equity: Don’t lose sight of your brand and your values. As much as possible, keep to your brand/marketing and pricing strategy. Knee-jerk reactions are natural, but carefully consider the long-term impact of the actions you take. 

Keep it real: Brand equity is important, but so is covering payroll. Do what you need to do to get customers back in the door and to keep things running. But do it thoughtfully, have a strategy, and keep track of its impact.

The “People Factor”: Check in with your team—your single most important asset—and consider what the way forward looks like from a ‘people’ perspective. EQ has never been more important.

Getting back to the ‘new normal’: Pushing a team back into a ‘normal’ operational scenario without preparation, is a recipe for disaster.

  1. A team meeting/gathering to re-establish the team and process this disasters’ impact, is a minimum requirement
  2. Training/establishing precautions for their safety

Training on any changes to the operation (e.g. new menu, new operational procedures)

Communication and transparency: This is so critical, especially when things are still uncertain. But be mindful!

  1. Be honest, but be careful of sharing things that may cause confusion or undue stress if you share before they’re fully formed (e.g. if you’re considering changing compensation).
  2. Don’t pretend to have all the answers, but honour questions and queries.
  3. Speak to the team regularly, and take their cues about how information is best passed on.

Special circumstances: When and if possible, this is the time to consider their personal needs more than you may be able/willing to in other situations (e.g. does someone need a revised schedule due to limited childcare, or need more hours due to financial burden).

For more details from Amanda’s session, watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOKU5I_jEFg&list=UUDU7I_AtAf-YgLX0X8YtQyg&index=13

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