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Massage Today
August, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 08

Spa Letters

By Steve Capellini, LMT

Author's Note: The Spa Letters column features news, personality profiles, trends, and plenty of professional possibilities for LMTs in the spa industry. The style is epistolary, meaning the articles are letters to a fictional massage therapist friend of the author.

Dear Lou,

The spa that was in your dreams a few months ago is now just weeks away from opening! Things are happening awfully fast, aren't they? I bet you never thought you'd have such a huge number of items on your "to-do" list.

Brace yourself; it doesn't slow down for quite some time now.

You've laid the groundwork for a successful business by coming up with a mission for your new spa, something you and your partner, Barbara, believe in and hammered out as a team. You've incorporated your spa as a legal entity, and you've got a new name. It wasn't that hard was it?

It's like having a whole new identity, isn't it? You've got a new checkbook, new business cards, new stationary and a new logo. I'm glad my suggestion to try "automatic writing" worked for you in finding a name for your new spa. You and Barbara had some shared ideas on what you wanted to include in the overall spa concept, but you couldn't come up with a way to synthesize them into one simple name.

Let's examine them: First, you wanted to capitalize on the location-a beautifully renovated Victorian house right in the middle of the downtown-shopping district. Next, you wanted the spa's name and look to say something about your belief in natural, organic products and treatments. Finally, you wanted your spa's identity to reflect your personal journey, the way you and Barbara moved up through the spa ranks and put this unique vision together. So, you took this jumble of words and phrases, tossed them around, and started writing without stopping or censoring your thoughts until something clicked:

  1. Two Friends' Day Spa
  2. Vital Elements Day Spa
  3. The Natural Journey
  4. The Way Home
  5. Your Spa Home Away from Home
  6. The Spa House

And voila, there it was. Even though you and Barbara continued to fill in a full 100 entries on your list, there it was - number 6: "The Spa House." Sweet and simple: A home away from home where people can go to enjoy all-natural treatments. You settled on a Southwestern color scheme of sandstone, terra cotta and umber to reflect the earthy and organic properties of your chosen ingredients. Your logo is a simple child's drawing of a house with two figures in front holding hands - a symbol of the friendship between you Barbara.

I like it, Lou. Some of the graduates of my spa certification class have inspired me in a similar way with the creative and unique names they've come up with for their new spas. One woman wanted a place where spa guests could bring their pets to get groomed in an adjacent facility; she called it the "Doggy Day Spa." Another man, who was a paramedic prior to becoming a massage therapist and opening his mobile spa-on-wheels, named his "Back Savers to the Rescue." The cutest one was the couple that plans on opening a joint dude ranch and spa. They specialize in those wanting to ride horses and relax. The proposed name is "Just Horsin' Around"; their logo is a horse in a hot tub.

Out of Identity, a Mission

You've naturally found your mission within your new identity as The Spa House, Inc. It's a short phrase you can post on your wall and include in your literature and on your Web site. I like this mission statement as much as I like your new name: "The Spa House uses top-quality natural ingredients and world-class service to make each visitor feel at ease and at home, improving the health and well-being of the entire community."

It's good; you've gone beyond the narrow view and broadened your stated mission to help everyone in the community, not just your target audience. Of course, those of us in the spa industry are aware that when we treat an individual, we're also making an impact on his or her family. In turn, that family impacts other families, and the whole community. You can also - as do many spas - dedicate some of your efforts (and profits) to the community and chosen charities.

Remember, the more you connect with the underlying reason for building your spa and starting this new venture, the more successful you'll be, in the truest sense of the word. To get lost in profit-making alone may leave you stranded in a place you do not want to be. Look to your mission statement often as a life preserver in future months; while navigating treacherous waters.

The Unique Selling Proposition

That said, let's be real, here, too. You can't save the world if you go out of business! You also need to have a good handle on what you're offering to people so they'll want to buy it.

One of the quickest and easiest ways I've found to get the word out about a new business is called the "Unique Selling Proposition" (USP). It's also been called the "elevator speech" because it's a short "sell" that can be told during a brief elevator ride. It goes like this: First you start with a problem (you know how _____?); then you offer a solution (well, my business _____). It's that simple. Consider this example for a computer repair business: "You know how your computer freezes sometimes and you have to waste time rebooting or even suffer a loss of valuable data? Well, I come to your location and in just twenty minutes adjust your computer so that never happens again, money-back-guaranteed."

What would your response be to that person? You'd likely ask for his or her card. You might possibly become a customer. You need to think of something similar to get people to visit your spa. Think in terms of problem/solution or need/fulfillment.

Why don't you write down the USP for The Spa House and send it to me in your next letter? (maybe even on your stationary!) I know how busy you must be now, in the midst of a whirlwind of color schemes; decor decisions; furnishings; supplies; equipment; pre-marketing; and another crucial issue: people! That's right; several new people are about to come into your life. They are often called employees, but make no mistake - they have lives of their own and can take up a lot of your time if you don't learn early on how to manage them appropriately. I'll talk a little about them next time I write.

You're already getting a taste of life on the other side of the manager's desk; it's not as simple as you thought it was while you were an employee at the resort spa, right Lou?

Until next time,

Steve Capellini, LMT

Click here for previous articles by Steve Capellini, LMT.


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