We keep hearing that the spa market has been hit particularly hard by the economy, and decided to see if readers felt this was true.

In the past six months, are sales up or down?

A Walk on the Spa Side
Marti Goyal
Aniko Salon and Spa
Chicago, Illinois

A Walk on the Spa Side
Lori Bhargava
209 Downtown Salon & Spa
McKinney, Texas

A Walk on the Spa Side
Lori Nickols
Bodhi Salon & Spa
Springfield, Missouri

A Walk on the Spa Side
Iris Sanchez
Imagen Salon & Day Spa
Oro Valley, Arizona

Fortunately, our business has seen revenue increases month over month. This has been largely through various promotional activities to provide clients with the best value. Our sales have increased by almost 30-percent over the past six months. We continually adjust our business model to adapt to the economic conditions so we are able to sustain a positive uptrend in our sales.

Bhargava: The vast majority of spas within a 50-mile radius of us focus on service and price rather than the experience. Our goal is to not only provide an excellent service but deliver an amazing experience. Our facilities, highly talented staff and exclusive products support this goal. This has enabled us to increase our client base in a challenging environment.

Nickols: We had a luxurious couple's escape package for Valentine's Day and had our best day since opening. February became our most profitable month until Mother's Day in May, in which we saw a dramatic increase in our spa. I am pleased to say we are still experiencing steady growth in our spa services.

Sanchez: For the past twenty years, we have leased our business and about a year ago we moved to a new salon and attracted many new guests. We've been fortunate to continue to grow month by month throughout this year. We have a strong existing clientele, plus all the new guests that have been a great contribution to that growth. We've seen a huge variety of guests, especially men and teenagers, coming into the salon that we were not previously seeing.

What services are strong? 

Goyal: We've noticed our salon services have been notably strong-because hair is considered a necessity for our clients. Our nail department has continued to see strength, as this too has been a type of service the clients are less likely to eliminate from personal budgets.

Bhargava: We are seeing growth in facials and therapeutic massages as well as nail services. Many of the services, products and counsel we offer are an alternative form of preventative medicine. 

Nickols: During the summer months, our waxing and massage services have definitely been the strongest in terms of sales. Our gift certificate and package promotions during the holidays have helped to keep business coming through the doors during the typically slow summer months. 

Sanchez: In the hair department, I think color has always been and probably will continue to be the strongest. Facials and waxing are the strongest in our spa area.

What services are falling behind?

Goyal: While we have seen growth across all of our service departments, we are working to improve growth in massage and esthetics. While we are thrilled these departments have been able to grow despite the tough economy, many of these services are types consumers can eliminate from their budget because they are viewed as luxury services.

Bhargava: Services that are perceived as primarily being luxuries are in less demand. Most clients need to know that there is a health benefit. One example of a service currently in lower demand is Swedish massage. Although these are still popular at spa parties, we are seeing a lower level of interest from individual clients.

Nickols: Our body treatments and facials have been the slowest-growing services in our spa. We have donated gift certificates for our slower services to special events and fundraisers to help get new clients exposed to our spa.

Sanchez: The services that are falling behind are pedicure and nail services. They continue to be put off or done at a later time. Many people have taken off their acrylic nails to get a more cost-effective regular manicure and are doing their toes at home.

What incentives/promotions are you working on now?

Goyal: We launched Promo Saturdays-for instance, we dedicate a day to blowout services and pair them with Redken styling products to offer attractive package options. We started this program in early August, and it resulted in our best revenue-generating month in the company history. We spice up these promo days with snacks, and fun music to make for a memorable atmosphere.

Bhargava: Our primary marketing focus is on referrals. A satisfied customer is your best sales person. Our underlying goal is to make sure that clients are thrilled with their service and experience. Clients who refer friends and family may be invited to join our exclusive charter client program. This allows them access to special events. This supports our sales goals and is an integral part of creating amazing experiences.

Nickols: Our spa business has relied primarily on gift certificate and package sales, so we are constantly offering new seasonal specials and rewarding clients with points when they purchase them. We've found offering complimentary mini services to waiting clients has helped encourage new business.

Sanchez: Lately we've been very aggressive with our specials and in trying to reach out to our guests. We have been doing regular e-mail blasts with promotions, as well as special today-only offers, and using Facebook and MySpace to increase awareness of our salon. If we get clients in once, our expert staff will keep them coming back.

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