Spas

How to Start a Spa Business from Scratch: A 9-Step Guide to Get you Started Quickly

Guide to starting your own spa business

Inspiration has struck you to start your own business. You want to open a spa and you know what, it’s a great time to start one!

The unprecedented times last year resulted in increased symptoms of stress and anxiety among many people. In fact, 2 in 3 adults say they have experienced increased stress over the course of the pandemic. This has made them more conscious about their physical and mental wellness than ever. 

As a result, in the post-vaccination world, people have started to visit spas more often in search of some much-needed TLC, giving spa businesses worldwide a significant boost.

So if you are looking to venture into the wellness industry, 2021 is a good time to do it! And we are here to help you do it right.

The success of a spa business doesn’t rely solely on having skilled practitioners. It takes a strong plan and effective management to run a spa and grow it. The initial days can be overwhelming but stay with us as we will make it easy for you.

We have created a comprehensive guide on how to successfully start a spa business. Whether you want to start a day spa, a mobile spa, a massage spa, or a spa at home, this guide will help you strategize your way into this industry. So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Here are the 9 important steps that you need to follow to start your own spa business:

  1. Understand your market
  2. Set your goals
  3. Finding the ideal location
  4. Calculating the start up costs
  5. Financing your spa business
  6. Hiring your team
  7. Creating your spa service menu
  8. Getting your first customers
  9. Choosing the right spa scheduling software

1. Understand Your Market 

Before you start picking out a name and hiring practitioners, it’s important to have a clear idea of the market scenario. A clear understanding of your target customers, competitors, and trends will help you understand what works and what doesn’t. This will help you know what owning a spa business is like. Here’s how you can get started –

Research your market

A man doing spa market research on a soft board

On your quest to open your own spa, the first thing that you need to do is skillfully research the market. A good practice would be to engage on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and understand what is trending right now, what people are looking for, and what different spas offer. 

But wait, there’s more, you can even visit your local competitors, explore their setup, book an appointment with them and get an idea of how they run their business. It just couldn’t be simpler.

To find out the latest spa trends for this year, you can check out our blog: 7 spa business trends in 2021.


Know the target customers

Here’s something most people agree on – spa is considered a woman-centric industry and that makes most of the spas run in a way to attract female clients. 

Here’s the main issue with that – in today’s world, men account for nearly half of the spa visits, yet they’re still very much ignored, making them a largely untapped market. However, many spas are now trying to get their hold on this opportunity.

Before you go out and start your spa business, you must have a clear understanding of your target clients, the people you want to focus on and then you can work out a plan in line with their tastes and preferences.

Some common demographic targets can be men, pregnant women, toddlers, teens, etc. If your plan is a mobile spa, then you can target bachelorette or birthday parties.

Once you get it done, you’ll get a fair idea of what you need to offer. Start small and expand your target clients as you grow.


Identify your niche

One glowing bulb showcasing standing out among others

A niche is a focused area of a broader market that businesses can serve to differentiate themselves from the competition. Business owners generally find a niche in their industry that has underserved or unmet needs.

Start with identifying your target audience, realize an underserved market, research your customer base, and market your business to your specific audience.

Consider this: if you plan to serve only men, male clients can become your niche and you can provide services like grooming and waxing.

You can also have seasonal services, for example, during summers, your offerings should be refreshing and more focused on sun protection or tanning removal.

The most crucial aspect is determining whether or not the niche is already being served in your area. If not, is there a large enough market to generate revenue and make a profit in the region you plan to serve? A niche is what will drive your plans, frame your decor and give you a clear vision.

It all boils down to this – become a spa market expert, at least at a local level. Before deciding your plan for the business, make sure you have got answers to all the questions above. Properly understanding the market will help you get a headstart in running your spa business successfully.


2. Setting Your Goals

Setting goals is the first step in accomplishing something. Goals give you a purpose, a purpose that sets you in action. Once you’ve understood the market, you’ll have a fair idea of what you want to do.

To get started, draw up a sheet with your short and long-term goals that are realistic and prioritize them as per the necessity. Some common goal examples are –

  • Achieving X massage hours per week.
  • Expand to a team of 5 by the end of the year.
  • Add four new massages to the menu by the end of the year.
  • Achieve a profit margin of 30% by the end of 5 years.

Assigning deadlines to achieve these goals will automatically set an order of priority in your head, enhancing your performance and making your spa the best in the area. You can also use a free template to work it out.


3. Finding The Ideal Location

Several pins placed on a map

Want to know a secret? The main ingredient in the recipe of a successful spa? LOCATION! Yes, you heard it right. Renting a good place for your spa is crucial for your business and it is vital that you do a great deal of research before you settle for one.

Work out a location that is persuasive enough for the clientele you are focusing on. For example, if you plan on offering outdoor services, setting up your spa in a rather remote location will be favorable.

Some top tips to consider when looking for a location are-

  • Parking availability
  • Surrounding businesses
  • Competitors nearby
  • Visibility of your spa
  • Type of area
  • Accessibility
  • Foot traffic
  • Demographics

One legal aspect to look after before choosing a location is ‘zoning.’ Some places don’t let you open a business in a residential area, while others may. Research this while getting to your location to see what the rules are where you want to be.

By now, you’ll have realized there’s one more addition to the decision of location, how big an area do you need? To get a better idea trying asking these questions to yourself:

  • How many people will I serve at once, and how many staff members are there?
  • How many treatment rooms do I need?
  • What is the purpose of each treatment room individually?
  • How big should the waiting area be?
  • What are the general spa requirements like reception, storage, and staff areas?
  • How are you planning about the common areas like locker rooms?

Your location and theme must blend perfectly with your target audience. A lively yet calming spa atmosphere will elevate the way you deliver experiences to your clients. 

For example, women appreciate a feminine decor, so a pink wall with bright flowers can be the right way to go. It’s easy to overlook various factors, so discussing your ideas with an interior designer can help you a lot.


4. Calculating The Start Up Costs

So far, we’ve discussed many aspects directly related to a spa business to help you envision your dream. Now, let’s get down to some solid business stuff.

One of the first questions you ask yourself before starting a spa business is, “How much does it cost to open a spa?”. Just like any other business, the primary investment of opening a spa business varies a lot depending on a myriad of requirements. Some typical spa start up costs involved are:

  • Registration of the business
  • Rent of the location
  • Construction costs and furniture
  • Utilities like water and electricity
  • Equipment for the spa-like massage table and facial chairs
  • Staff salaries
  • Initial supplies and inventory like massage oils and candles
  • Certifications and licenses 
  • Marketing costs
  • Legal and consulting fees
  • Website

This is just the tip of the iceberg, there are tons of other costs involved which you can’t predict initially. We know it is tough at this stage, but try to map out most of the expenses that you may incur. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did.

Accurately predicting the initial investment is essential, but a caveat: underestimating this number can lead to overestimating profits, which isn’t good for a business, especially in the initial stage.


5. Financing Your Spa Business

Financing is extremely important, especially if you’re about to start your spa with little or no money. There are various ways you can raise money for your business and now that you know the costs involved, you can choose any of the following – 

  • Your savings – Dip into your savings to fund some basic stuff.
  • SBA Backed loans – The US Small Business Administration is the perfect place to get started with your financing. Moreover, create a proper spa business plan and pitch it to increase the chances of you getting a loan.
  • Equipment Financing – A business owner who needs cash upfront for a specific task such as hiring or equipment purchase usually goes for this process. This can help you with your one-time expenses.
  • Help from friends and family – You can even reach out to your close friends and family and ask them for help in the initial stage.

6. Hiring Your Team

A spa team hand stacking after a successful meeting

Nothing beats the feeling of getting genuinely appreciated by your customers. A spa visit is all about providing the best experience and lasting an indelible impression on your clients. Clients are looking for a calm day and aestheticians and therapists are perfectly poised, given their expertise.

In the initial stage, you may start with a small team, handling most of the jobs yourself, but you’ll have to recruit more people for specific tasks as you grow.

Providing the best services to your clients depends on your therapists, estheticians, and technicians; hiring the right ones is very crucial. 

The experience of a customer doesn’t end in the massage rooms; how relaxed and comfortable they feel also depends on the people present at the forefront of your spa.

From the receptionist greeting them at the desk to the person escorting them to their rooms, having the right support staff will ensure that your customers feel comfortable and relaxed.

You’ll have to use a myriad of resources like ads, referrals, job fairs, offering internships, etc., to reach out to people you need to hire. Also, ensure that they have proper licenses of the skills you’re hiring them for.

Look out for qualified people suitable for your services, interview them, and then make your final judgment.


7. Creating Your Spa Service Menu

“What do you offer?”, a question which you’ll have to answer endlessly. But how will you prefer to respond to it? Showcasing your offerings using your spa menu rather than simply telling them about it will provide them a much clearer view.

Some tips for designing a captivating spa menu –

  • Categorizing the treatments is extremely important. Spas generally offer a combination of these – massages, skincare, and body treatments.
  • A description of each service acting as a tour guide for your offerings. Use adjectives to describe your offerings to make them look more appealing. 
  • Formatting and design matter; choosing the right font and size will make your menu more than readable.
  • Adding information like your timings, contact details, address, booking link, etc., will help the clients.
  • You can also offer combo packages to attract clients. Some combo packages gaining traction are immunity booster packages, stress-relieving packages, etc.

The pricing of your offerings will rely not only on your target audience but also on your expected expenses; after all, you want to break even as soon as possible. Work out a pricing strategy that encompasses all these factors.

To get more ideas on how to create a spa menu, you can try reading this. You can get some customizable spa service menu templates here. 

The menu should also reflect your brand identity. Your brand is how people see you as a business. Give your spa a name that reflects your individuality and decide upon a logo that conveys the message effectively. The name must also be target audience-friendly.

For example, if your target customers are men, using words like “energized” and “vital” will be helpful compared to terms like “pampering” and “soothing.” 

To start with it, you can work towards creating a perfect brand that will help you connect with the customers at an emotional level.


8. Getting Your First Customers

A happy customer checking out at the reception

Now that you’ve completely understood all aspects from researching the market to hiring your team, it’s time to finally get started! 

But establishing your initial customer base is what will get the ball rolling. Some ways to appeal to new customers are –

  • If you’ve worked in a spa before, contact your old clients, inform them about your new opening, and ask them to visit you.
  • If you’re new to the field, you can start by establishing contacts in the local community. Start your co-marketing practice by partnering with hair salons, gyms, etc. in your area and exchange promotional materials.
  • List yourself on online directories like Google My Business, Yelp, etc, to improve your local visibility and online presence. This will enable your customers to view your offerings, see the reviews and book directly from there.
  • Offer introductory discounts and attractive packages in the beginning to entice large crowds.

Worship these first customers, make them feel special. Delighting your customers at every touchpoint they encounter in the spa will not only compel them to return but also evangelize your spa to their friends and family. 

Check out our blog specifically designed for marketing and advertising your spa efficiently and effectively.


9. Choosing The Right Spa Scheduling Software

When starting a small spa business, you’ve to be multifaceted; you’re not just a massage therapist; you’re also the marketing manager, accountant, HR manager and the list goes on.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could reduce this administrative workload? This is where the right spa management software comes in.

The future is automation. According to a report, usage of scheduling software in businesses like spas has increased customer satisfaction by a whopping 52% and improved marketing and sales by 30%.

A good spa scheduling software will take a few things off your plate, making your job effortless and improving the quality of the customer experience drastically.

Some of the tasks you’ll be performing using them –

  • Taking online appointmentsAccording to a recent survey, 94% of the respondents said that they were likely to change the service provider if that one offered online booking options. Accepting bookings, online 24×7 will provide flexibility to your clients and eliminate friction in the process. This will also help you save time and money and invest them in improving your spa.
  • Online payments – In the post-Covid world, going contactless is the norm. A secure online payment option is the right way to do it. You’ll also be able to keep track of your transactions in one place.
  • Client database – A complete database of each of your clients who book an appointment with you, from their basic information to personal preferences, can be collected and stored. This will help you implement the right strategy to serve them a personalized experience, something which is vital in this field.
  • Managing staff – You can set the availability of your team and the services they offer and track their productivity individually. Your staff can also log in and manage their schedule, empowering them to become more efficient and responsible.

Searching for a tool that can be used for these tasks? Well, it’s right in front of you, Appointy.

Appointy helps you manage appointments, send automated emails or SMS reminders, integrate with social media platforms and Google Calendar, accept online pre-payments, create gift cards, manage employee shifts, schedule resources, and more using a centralized dashboard to streamline business processes. Ahh, a lot of things you can do, right?

That’s why 9,000+ spa owners trust Appointy worldwide.


Conclusion

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them

Walt Disney

Never can a guide replace the experience of starting a business, but we hope we helped you get a headstart and understand how to start a spa business.

Drop a comment below if you have any questions for us or just want to have a chat with us 🙂

It would be great to talk to you!


Afterthought

Although the vaccination drive is at full scale, Covid-19 will still take some time to be wholly eradicated. Hence following proper Covid protocols is essential for the safety of both clients and staff and avoiding description in your services. This will also help in maintaining confidence among your customers.

Standard Covid-19 protocols to follow – 

  • All staff members must be masked at all times.
  • Each treatment room must be sanitized after each session by ensuring a buffer between clients.
  • Reduction in touch should be ensured wherever possible – online form filling, online payments must be promoted.
  • Temperature check of each staff member must be done regularly
  • Social distancing must be maintained in all areas.

Apart from this, follow all the local guidelines for Covid-19 prevention in your area. 

Appointy helps business owners and organizations manage occupancy, follow local safety guidelines, and reopen business safely during COVID19 with smart visitation management. For more information, click here.


About Appointy

We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day. 

If you have any thoughts on this blog, or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below. 

We love a good talk!