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Massage Today
September, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 09

Step Nine: Initial Training

By John Fanuzzi

The initial marketing discussed in last month's column usually occurs on a parallel timeframe with this month's topic: Initial Training. As the energy and excitement builds toward your grand opening and you see the light at the end of the tunnel, it's time to get physical - hands-on training.

Now is the time to cover every aspect of your operation and communicate clearly with your staff. Ideally, you should have a manual prepared with detailed instructions of every phase of your operation. This manual serves as the starting point for all of your initial training. It is also a "work in progress" to be modified and updated as your operations expand and you add new services.

I recommend that every employee and therapist know every job to some degree and be willing to be flexible, especially if you are just starting out. As an owner, I like to have experience in every job, from reception, bookkeeping, computer, and retailing, to the not-so-glamorous jobs such as cleaning the showers, doing the laundry, and sweeping and vacuuming the floors. That way I not only have a feel for the job so I can train the employees, but I can fill in case of an emergency. Loving what you do, no matter what it entails on a particular day, means that everything you do is fun.

As I stated in a previous article, you should allow about two-to-four weeks of training before your grand opening, to get all of the kinks ironed out and have your staff working harmoniously and in sync. Your training should cover all aspects of the operation for all employees. I would make sure to have an internal communication system, so that nothing falls through the cracks. Every employee should have his or her own e-mail addressm so important personal and company wide messages or policy changes can be documented and acknowledged. Each employee should also have his or her own voicemail, so personal calls or specific instructions from management or customers can be directly communicated.

Company-wide standards and expectations should be spelled out clearly. Tell employees what you expect from them, so you can put issues on the table before they become problems. Ethics, client confidentiality, and proper treatment protocol can never be overemphasized.

Employees should be aware of timing and traffic flows. Staggering startup times means less congestion in hallways and dressing areas. Employees should also be trained in the physical plant and have a basic knowledge of electrical, mechanical, water, and HVAC control locations.

It is very important to train every employee to be an ambassador for your business. Everyone should be trained to sell products and services and be knowledgeable of the following:

  • Current marketing materials: This can include your menu of spa services; current ads; e-mail blasts; promotions; community events; and special events such as wedding parties.
  • Products: Knowing and believing in the products that you offer can sometimes make the difference between profit or loss. Employees should be passionate about the products they use - if they're not, find more acceptable products, or more passionate therapists. If your therapists are not believers, don't expect to sell much of that product.
  • Equipment: Owners, therapists, front-desk, and marketing personnel should all feel comfortable about the equipment clients will be using. Personally, I have a hard time selling any equipment if I don't love it and know its functions. The equipment is a part of your image.

If your construction is complete, you can train in your new facility and do a soft opening with friends only and with reduced pricing. If your spa is still being built, you may have to train off-premises with portable equipment and floor plans. Some of the training involves operations and protocol, which can be taught anywhere. Ideally, your therapists should be trained on the equipment you purchased and in the rooms they will be using.

After training is complete, you'll be ready for the grand opening! Next month, we'll add some final details to make the perfect presentation - just like your best chef.

Only Victory,

John Fanuzzi


Click here for previous articles by John Fanuzzi.

 

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