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Massage Today
June, 2004, Vol. 04, Issue 06

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,

One month to go 'till your grand opening! In just four short weeks, you are going to have The Spa House Day Spa up and running.

Your staff is in place, the facility is looking good, and you have your job descriptions and operational manual in place; now comes that nail-biting interlude of anticipation mixed with dread. "I've done everything in my power," you're probably thinking. "Now, this is out of my hands. Luck and fate will decide how the grand opening is going to be. I wish I had more control!"

Well, Lou, you're at least partially right. There seems to be a kind of magic that allows one to business take off, while others stagnate. This is perhaps more true for the spa business than others. In the spa business, you're selling yourself, your concept, your touch, your vision - the product is you. In a sense, you've done everything you can do and become everything you can be. However, there is still one thing you can do; one thing that there is never too much of in this world that will be certain to give you the absolute best chance for a dynamite, successful grand opening: a party.

That's right, Lou-- It's time to get down and boogie! I'm talking about an all-out, everybody-in-town's-talking-about-it kind of affair. I'm talking about media hoopla -- in short -- marketing. Of course, I'm being a little tongue-in-cheek. There's more to marketing than party planning; however, at this particular stage of your spa's incarnation, nothing else is as important.

So, how do you go about planning this shindig? Now is the time to enlist the full efforts of the spa consultant you hired and work closely to create an event that will get The Spa House off to a great start. First, you want to get the local media to the event by creating some unique and enticing invitations. Physical invitations make a big difference. Editors, freelancers and columnists get a barrage of invitations to all kinds of events, and they know how the game is played: They're "wined and dined" in exchange for positive press. So, let them know you value their time, expertise and influence by using creativity on the invitations. Create something eye-catching and relevant.

How about a miniature dollhouse with a custom, hand-painted miniature sign says "Welcome To The Spa House"? This would tie in with the children's art hanging on your walls. Inside the dollhouse (stuck in a window?) you could have a little invitation inviting them to free treatments that afternoon before the reception and ribbon-cutting ceremony that evening.

Call your consultant and get her involved. I'm sure she'll come up with many more ideas. How about enlisting the help of some local businesses? You could broker a trade with a local caterer or restaurant and swap food for spa treatments or invite the owners of the toy store where you buy the dollhouses, and tie in the children's charity you've chosen to benefit. Create a compelling story through this party and its impact will continue for a long time to come. In the meantime, what else could you be doing to market The Spa House?

The Web

As you know, I'm a big proponent of the Internet as a tool for spa success. As you approach the opening of The Spa House, it will serve you well to have your Web site up and running so you can support the business that starts pouring through your doors. Your Internet presence will serve as an information resource regarding your spa. People will get a feeling for your facility before they arrive, and their questions will be answered so you won't tie up your receptionist's valuable time on the phone. You'll be able to tie your marketing efforts together in one central location, creating links (both virtual and actual) with the charities you support, the community you serve, and the vendors and service providers you work with. I suggest finding a webmaster you trust and hand the work over. You've got too much on your plate right now to try and learn Web design!

And speaking of having too much work on your hands, here's one more piece of advice, friend-to-friend. Now that you're in a personal relationship with your business partner, Barbara, there is bound to be some additional stress during this hectic time as the spa is about to open. Try and give her some extra slack in the relationship department. This has to be unilateral, I suppose, because you can't control what she does or says, but you can control what you do and say. The next month is a time for letting things slide: a time for not sweating the small stuff and for acceptance and appreciation, rather than judgment. The challenges of owning a business together with a life-partner will be difficult enough over the long haul. Try to make this party into a time of real celebration. I'm looking forward to hearing how the grand opening goes. Wish I could be there!

Until next time,

Steve Capellini, LMT

Click here for previous articles by Steve Capellini, LMT.


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