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How to start a spa business

Running and owning a spa business can be a really rewarding job as it allows you to help your clients relax. The main purpose of a spa is to provide services and treatments that allow the clients to completely unwind and relax, which enables them to look after their mental health and wellbeing, as well as their body. You should really consider starting a spa business if you are a fully trained beauty therapist with experience, as well as entrepreneurial skills.

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About the business

A spa business can vary depending on where you are based and what kind of treatments you offer. For the purpose of this article, we will refer to a day spa business as just a ‘spa business’. There are multiple forms of spa, varying from spas within hotels to home-based spas. This guide will help you map out the process of starting your own spa business, and all the main factors that you need to take into consideration before taking the plunge and starting your business.

If you are set on running a business, then you should create a business plan to get you started. It will be a map for your business, enabling you to see all the essentials of starting and running a business successfully.

The skills, training and qualifications needed to run the business

In order to decide what kind of skills, training or qualifications you need for running a spa business, you will have to decide how active you will be in the day-to-day operations. For example, you may only want to be in charge of actually running the business, and you will hire staff to provide the treatments. Alternatively, you might already be a trained beauty therapist, and want to provide treatments to client yourself. If you do want to provide the services yourself, then you will need to be fully qualified beauty therapist. For additional services, you will need different training, for example if you are offering a range of massages in your spa, you will need to be a fully trained masseuse or employ a qualified masseuse to provide that service.

In order to see where your strengths are in terms of the qualification and skills, as well as where you lack skills, you need to decide which services you will offer. For example, if you are going to be offering manicures, then you will need to either be a nail technician or hire one as part of your team.

When hiring staff for your spa, you should really look for individuals with soft skills. A spa needs to be a friendly, welcoming environment and that should be reflected in how your staff behave and communicate with the clients. You will also need to have leadership skills if you are managing a team of beauty therapists.

Having experience of working in a spa or similar environment can be great in preparing you for the day-to-day activities. However it is not necessary, as you can learn on the job. You will also need to be business minded, and have basic knowledge of running a business. Again, entrepreneurial flare is not essential but will help you and give you a starting point. You will need to be passionate and driven to run any business successfully.

How much money will you need?

Start-up costs for a spa business can be extortionate, depending on what kind of spa you want to open. To get a good idea of the start-up costs you will need to decide what equipment you will need. You will only know what kind of equipment you will need once you decide on the treatments that you are going to offer. Having a treatment list will help you shape your business, from hiring the right individuals to getting the right equipment. For example if you are offering nail services, you will need nail stations, which will include stools and chairs as well as nail dryers. You may need to decide which services you can offer based on the cost of the equipment needed, and whether it is within your budget.  For example if you have a smaller budget, then you may want to avoid offering hydrotherapy services as buy a hydrotherapy tub can be costly.

After you have compiled a list of all the equipment and researched the costs of all the essential pieces, you can look at other products and materials you will need. This will include products such as massage oils, face creams and scrubs. Again these will vary depending on the treatments you offer, as well as the brand you want to use. Picking the right products can give your business a USP, for example, you may only use natural products.

The other major cost you need to take into consideration is the cost for renting a space for your spa. You can start your spa business at home, as this will obviously reduce your start-up costs by a considerable amount. On the other hand, if you are opting to rent a space then you will need to look at different locations to see what suits your needs. You will also need to carry out extensive market research in each area that you are considering to see how you will fit in within the spa market.

Location of your business

Picking the right location for your spa business is crucial to the success of it. The budget you have for the rental space of your spa is also a vital part of how you will choose your location. Ideally you want a space for your spa that is easily visible and accessible. A space near your town centre could be ideal, as it will be where the crowds are but will still be away from the hustle and bustle of shoppers. Similarly, you will want to avoid shopping centres as they are busy and noisy. They can also be be very expensive, and considering the shopping centre environment is not really suitable for a spa, investing in this space could be a waste.

You will also need to consider the accessibility of your spa. Parking should be an important factor in deciding if a certain space is suitable for your spa. Don’t underestimate the easy access factor which could either bring clients to your business or drive them away to your competitors. Therefore, it is worth searching for a place that has parking nearby, as it will help your clients have a hassle free experience when getting to your spa.

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Pros and cons of starting a spa business

There are both pros and cons to starting any business, and this applies to starting your own spa business as well. Here are the main benefits of starting your own spa business:

  • You can start from home and then expand – this will allow you to build a steady client base before you take the plunge of renting a space for your spa. Additionally, this will cut your start-up costs by a huge amount. Having previous experience through a home-provided service will mean that you have relevant knowledge and expertise in the area.
  • You will only need to make a big purchase once – looking at all the equipment you need to buy may be a little scary, however they are one-off purchases. This means that you won’t have to buy them again for a good length of time.
  • Be your own boss – as with running any business, you will have the freedom and ability to be your own boss. You will be able to run your business on your own accord with your vision in mind.
  • Big money – spa businesses can be very profitable when you become well established, so it is worth persevering and sticking to it.
  • The UK spa market is worth £1.5 billion with consumers spending £80 billion annually. There is definitely space for you in the market.

Here are some of the main disadvantages of starting up your own day spa business:

  • Large start-up costs – this will mean that you may struggle to find funding for your spa business venture.
  • Profits – it will be long time, usually about 2-3 years before you start making a profit out of your spa business. You will need to reinvest whatever you make into your spa to make it perfect. However you should start seeing profits in your fourth year.
  • Long hours – when running your own business, you will need to give it more time than you would as an employee. You will have to work long hours, and tirelessly plough through to make your business a success.
  • You will need to hire staff – this will mean more time and money are taken out of your budget.
  • Financial insecurity – this is the same for every business venture. You will face financial insecurity when running a business.
  • License – you may find it difficult getting a license as one of the requirements is for you to have employed trained staff.

What you need to start the business

There are multiple things you will need to start your spa business, and these will vary from skills to a good location. Here are the list of things you will need to start your spa business.

  • Equipment – from massage beds to reception desk.
  • Materials – for example massage oils, nail polish, face creams etc.
  • Licences – in order to run your business within a certain area.
  • Training and qualifications – you will need to be fully qualified to provide treatments.
  • Trained staff – you will need skilled staff on your team that can deal with your clients and their needs.
  • A website – you should really consider getting an online presence to attract customers to your business.
  • Funding – unless you can fund your business from personal savings, you will need funding to start your business. You can have a look at the different funding options available to you here.
  • Good location – a good location and an inviting space are essential to attracting clients.
  • Spa Menu – you will need a makeshift menu that will feature all the services and treatments that you offer.
  • Niche – you will need a niche to separate you from your competition. This can vary for example, your niche could be that only used natural organic products.

Attracting clients/customers for your business

You will need to use multiple methods of attracting customers to build a customer/client base. A great benefit of starting your spa business at home is that you may already have an existing customer base that you can direct towards your spa business.

You will need to make sure that you provide a personal service to your clients as a small business day spa. Day spas usually have a higher percentage of retuning customers, therefore it is essential to provide great service to all your clients and meet their expected needs.

You need to also get online, you can do this through a website and social media. On your website you could feature all your spa treatments with prices and pictures. You should also add your location and contact details, this will just make it easier for prospective clients to find you. Social media is a must as it is a great tool for marketing your business in an easy and inexpensive way.

You should also network and try to create contacts within the similar industry. Being active in the spa community will enable you to learn from your peers and experts and see how you can implement positive changes to your business. You can also learn what others in the field are doing to attracting customers.

Additional Information

Spa business can be a tough and challenging business venture, especially at the beginning with the high start-up costs and funding. However it can be a regarding experience, from providing s service to improve the body and mind of client to seeing your business progress and grow. You will need to persevere and stick to the vision of your business to really reap the rewards of a successful business.

More on starting up and small business ideas here.

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