Humble Beginnings

Spa Ownership Tips from a Boutique Wellness Entrepreneur

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Spa Management - rose petal

A Spa Dream…

…Starting my Own Boutique Spa… By Corrie Jacobs, owner of Yophy Beauty in New Zealand and a graduate of Bali BISA’s Spa Management Course.

This always has been my dream…
I suppose that is the most important ingredient of opening your own spa with optimal spa ownership and management strategies

….…To Have A Dream…….


Martin Luther King used this phrase –“I have a Dream” 8 times during his speech in 1963, in which he called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the United States. (Wikipedia).

ABBA’s famous song – “I have a Dream, a song to sing…”, shares with us a dream of a beautiful life in this world. It is inspiring and motivating and filled with positive vibes. The song motivates you to take on the future, and have positive thoughts about happenings around us. (ADAM@JRT, February 4, 2019).

A dream is born from PASSION…the feeling of intense enthusiasm towards something… and passion makes dreams come true…

Through your spa ownership and unique your treatments you have a story to tell…
Keep your story, your passion and your dream in mind during all the hard core planning… the writing of your mission and vision, the research, the business plan, the financing, the marketing, and all other aspects of creating a successful spa management plan.

Mission & Vision

This will be your two most important brainstorms…

spa ownership - mission and visionA Mission Statement is a short, clear and powerful statement, addressing employees, clients, other stakeholders and yourself as the owner, summarising your spa’s goals, ethics, culture and norms for decision-making. It must define why it exists and its reason for being so well that it feels like a strategy.

According to Tim Berry, the daily routine of business can get in the way sometimes, and a quick refresh with the mission statement helps a person take a step back and remember what’s most important. (

A Vision Statement is future-based and meant to inspire and give direction to employees of the company rather than its customers. It focus on its goals and aspirations and encapsulates the core ideals that give your business shape and direction – it provides a road map to where you want to go.  The vision statement serves as your company’s North Star as part of your spa ownership and management business plan.

A good example is Disney’s vision: ”to make people happy”.

Why does this matter for effective spa ownership best practices?

Research shows that employees who find their company’s vision meaningful have higher engagement levels. More engaged employees are often more productive, and they are more effective corporate ambassadors in the larger community.

Given the impact that a vision statement can have on a company’s long-term success and even its bottom line, it’s worth taking the time to craft a statement that synthesises your ambition and mobilises your staff.

Don’t worry about practicality for now – what initially looks impossible could be achieved down the road with the right team and technologies. Effective spa ownership and management focuses on shaping a vision statement that reflects the specific nature of your business and its aspirations.

There is nothing wrong with a vision statement that is daring, distinct or even disagreeable – Dream big and focus on success

“As a small business, every day is an adventure, and sometimes that adventure leads us to a dead end or a ditch,” said Robinson.

“On those days, it’s important to remember the passion with which you launched your business – the values that helped get your company to where it is and the vision you have for a better future.”
(Paula Fernandes, Contributing Writer December 16, 2018 11:00 am ES)


Interest in spa treatments is on the rise, anything that keeps people looking younger and feeling better.

When times get tough, the need for stress relief increases. For millions of people, visiting a spa helps them to disconnect and recharge their batteries.

According to Anita Brown, wellness is the hot new word in the spa business. It’s the most powerful argument anyone can make against seeing spas as a mere luxury, a pampering experience that can be cut from the household budget.

Wellness means you live in a state of optimal health, well-being and vitality  You invest money, time and energy in the things that help you achieve it. That includes a good diet, exercise, and treatments like massage and bodywork that keeps you functioning at your best. Wellness makes our lives richer and more enjoyable.
(What is a Wellness Spa? by Anita Brown, updated 01/08/19)

  • Determine which product and services to offer and keep in mind that certain services require special equipment that can be expensive.
    While there are numerous services you can offer, the International Spa Association considers a business to be
    a spa as long as it offers at least two of the following services: massage, skin care, or body treatments.
    Start simple.
  • Research the licenses that are required to legally perform your spa’s services.
  • Find a location.
    Deciding where you will set up your spa can be one of the most important decisions you make.
    The range of services you plan to offer will have a major bearing on the kind of facility you choose.

Spa Ownership - small items reflect the spa owners personal style

If you’re considering an area that you’re not familiar with, think about hiring a real estate broker to help. They will have insights into the community as well as emerging trends that you may not be aware of.

Spa ownership and management also means choosing the right location.   This is about so much more than finding the place that looks closest to the one you’ve envisioned.  It’s about being somewhere your customers will see you, about being in a competitive location, about staying within budget, and about meeting local regulations and laws.

Study the demographics of your target market to see for example if the residents of a farming community are the type who will be interested in pedicures.

The surrounding area should be attractive, well lit, and safe.

You’ll also want to be clear about the square footage you’ll need.

Remember that you will probably need space for a reception and retail area, salon services (if you’re offering them), treatment rooms, consultation rooms to discuss treatment options and post-treatment care, changing rooms, storage, an employee and client restroom, administrative office, and an employee break room area.

Spa Ownership - an inviting massage bedSpa equipment (like massage tables) tends to be large, so you’ll need enough room to spread out and create a relaxing atmosphere. As a spa owner you might also want to discuss your ideas for a layout with a professional interior designer or architect.
(Eileen Figure Sandlin in her article of 21 December 2004); (How to Start a Luxury Day Spa by: Sonia Quinones ); (How to Choose a Business Location by: Candice Landau)

Another part of your spa ownership and management research is analysing your competition. Competitor analysis in marketing and strategic  management is an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors. This analysis provides both an offensive and defensive strategic context to identify opportunities and threats. Competitor analysis is an essential component of corporate strategy. It is argued that most businesses do not conduct this type of analysis systematically enough. As a result, this could place you at risk of dangerous competitive blind spots due to a lack of robust competitor analysis.

A common technique is to create detailed profiles on each of your major competitors. These profiles give an in-depth description of the competitor’s background, finances, products, markets, facilities, personnel and strategies.


This plan serves as a more detailed road map for charting your course and as an invaluable tool for showing a banker how savvy you are about the realities of running a business.

Armed with demographic analysis, you can write your business plan, including a description of your business and the services you’ll offer; market strategies (developed with the demographic info you’ve collected); an analysis of your competition; an operations and management plan; financial information, including assets and startup capital needs; an income/expense forecast and repayment plan; and a personnel management plan.


  • Set up a separate bank account for your business deposits and withdrawals. Deposit your start-up capital funds.
  • Keep track of expenses.
  • Be sure to plan and buy wisely.
  • Depending on your menu, spas require a lot of equipment. If you find that your grand plans exceed what the bank will offer you and what your personal savings can float, control costs by buying quality used equipment or scaling back the number of services you offer. In addition to all the treatment equipment and products, you’ll  also need to buy all typical office equipment.
  • Place a wanted ad in the local newspaper for licensed massage therapists and cosmetologists that are able to work as freelancers. Debbie Elliot from Salon and Day Spa in Portland recommends to look for friendly and polite people when hiring -“Personality is more important than skill, because you can teach people what to do, but you can’t give them a new personality.”
  • Generate a pricing list for services and products. Keep your menu simple, but interesting.

As a local spa owner, the multitude of challenges you face day-to-day — keeping clients happy, keeping your masseuses busy, maintaining a high staff morale, ensuring inventory is stocked —never seems to end. However, arguably one of the most challenging aspects to running any successful business is coming up with effective ways to attract new clients.

  • Create a website and keep it updated
    Your website is one of the first impressions you’re able to make to a new client, and we all know how important a good first impression can be — especially for a spa.
    Make sure you’re including the following:

    1. High resolution photos of your spa, your staff and happy clients (provided they’ve allowed for you to use their picture) enjoying your services. As with your social media pages, it’s important to visually show why clients want to visit your spa.
    2. Easy access to information on all your services, pricing, and any specials you may be currently running.
    3. The ability to book an appointment easy and seamless straight from your website. Convenience is king. With the right online booking system, clients have the ability to book an appointment straight from…
      – Your Website
      – Your Online Listing Profiles
      – Your Social Media Pages

Make booking an appointment as quick and painless as possible.

  • Online Directories – Get Your Spa Listed
    Clients turn to online directories such as Google My Business and Yelp to connect them with local businesses in their area. 88% of clients say they check online reviews on directories before ever stepping foot into a business’ brick-and-mortar.
  • Advertising is also crucial for a successful start-up.
    Social media pages give spa owners free opportunities to promote their business through words and pictures. Stop just telling potential, new clients why they should start coming to your spa. Show them! Take photos of your facilities, show the difference you make in each client’s life — the time and effort you put into making them feel beautiful both inside and out. Always share ongoing or upcoming promotions on your social pages to get them across a large audience in a small amount of time.
    Make sure you utilise all the big social media sites such as:

    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Instagram

Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.

  • Also advertise through Health & Beauty magazines, the radio and do not underestimate old fashioned distribution of eye-catching flyers.
  • Create a Blog Powered By Your Spa
    This gives you the ability to really show off your spa’s personality and knowledge in the industry. Here you can share your advice on body care and new aesthetic trends. A blog is also a good place to give or discuss any product reviews.
  • Create a First-Time Visit Special, Last Minute Specials and Monthly specials, Product bundles, Packages, Sample Gifts with purchase and loyalty punch cards. It can be difficult attracting new clients to your spa, but that’s only half the battle. The other half is making them stay and come back.
  • Start a Referral Program – Referral programs are great for encouraging new business. In fact, the New York Times reported in a recent survey that business owners reported about 65% of their new clients were generated through referral programs which rewards clients for referring new customers. This is a soft expense that can lead to a lot of new business.

The key to a successful referral program is to push incentives that are both enticing, yet simple.

  • Start Up a Monthly Newsletter
    Emailing your clients a monthly newsletter is the perfect way for your spa to stay top-of-mind and remind clients to come for a visit. Important things to always include in your newsletter are as follows:

    • Current positive customer testimonials
    • Current specials and promotions
    • Visuals of services, products, and/or happy clients
  • Capitalize on Holidays & Special Occasions
    • Valentine’s Day
    • Mother’s Day
    • Father’s Day
    • Prom
    • Christmas
    • New Year’s
    • Easter
  • Always Promote Gift Certificates

Last minute shopper’s perfect gift and guaranteed money for your spa.

Always Be on Top of the Newest Local Trends and Fads
It’s important to know the newest trends in the industry, but it’s almost more important to know what’s hot in your own backyard. As the owner of a spa, it’s important to know the new activity surrounding the spa industry, business in general and also what new products are being used by your competitors.

To keep abreast of what’s new, consider joining a professional trade association such as the International SPA Association.

You’ll also find tons of information online that can help you do business better, faster and smarter.

Keep the Shop Spotless
This may seem like a simple spa ownership tip, but a messy or dirty spa can be a major turn off to clients.

Be sure your spa always has a clean and tidy appearance

Once you hook your customers, make sure you provide the best level of service possible. Provide customer satisfaction by creating a clean, relaxing and friendly environment.

Word-of-mouth advertising is crucial in this business and can mean the difference between many years of tidy profits or ignominious defeat.

I would also also recommend getting a business education at an International Spa School, such as the Bali International Spa Academy, (BISA), they offer a range of 5 – 60 day courses, including 5 day Spa Management classes with an option of CIBTAC, VTCT and BISA accreditation. This will educate you on industry-specific, tested business principals by experienced spa professionals.

You need to have an understanding of what makes business work to make your business thrive.
(Eileen Figure Sandlin)

Until you actually do it, it remains just a dream…

Corrie Jacobs has owned spas in her home country of South Africa for over 10 years.  As she was planning to emigrate to New Zealand to open a boutique spa, in 2016 she and her daughter enrolled in Bali BISA’s 5 day spa management class.

She was so impressed by Bali BISA that she returned two more times to learn other bodywork modalities, but focused on Balinese spa rituals in their 4 week CIBTAC Endorsed course incorporating;

  • Balinese Massage
  • Traditional Body Scrubs and Wraps
  • Traditional Facial
  • Traditional Creambath Hair Treatment

While in Bali, she also purchased beautiful Balinese arts and crafts to decorate her new spa with.

Now settled in New Zealand she says “Everything I do is with this dream in mind is my reason d’être.  My passion is to create spa experiences for everyone entering my world”.


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