HOW CHOOSE A SPA PRODUCT LINE FOR YOUR SPA
In my 25 years of managing spas and health clubs, I worked with many spa & beauty product lines. I also had the experience of having to change spa product lines, either because they went out of fashion or customers expectations’ changed. Spa operators often make poor choices purely because they skip over certain critical factors.
Just because the spa manager or owner likes the brand, doesn’t mean the customers will too! For example, it is pointless introducing an all-natural bio product line, if the customer target group has no interest in natural products. All too often spa development decisions are made based on the preferences and politics of whoever is making the decision instead of the following:
- The customer their age, wants, nationality, purchasing power, and class.
- What the brand means to the customer.
- The relevance of the country where the brand originates from.
- How the products fit in to the spa concept, philosophy and other spa treatments.
- That the treatments also have an attractive choice for men.
- The brand’s international reputation.
Simplicity of use is also a key factor. Simplicity doesn’t just mean therapist friendly; it also means keeping a tight control on stock. Certain companies now package their products with premeasured treatment doses and easy step by step protocols – user-friendly for the therapist and easy for the manager to control.
Brand reputation is one factor, but also how easy the supplier is to work with and the quality of support they deliver. All product lines should be providing training and most do. However its the day to day communication that really matters! Do the company answer queries quickly? Are they reliable? Are problems resolved swiftly? This will make itself blatantly evident in the early stages of the contract negotiation – watch out for slow and sloppy communication at the begining of the relationship as this can manifest in slow and sloppy service later on.
When international spa chains select a brand they often overlook the most important factor – just because a brand is reliable and delivering high quality in one country, doesn’t mean the representatives in other countries will deliver to the same level. Whilst the overall contract might be negotiated centrally, the spa manager should also check the local representation thoroughly, failure to do so can result in some nasty surprises. Also watch out for the start-up costs and minimum quantity orders!
Selecting an international brand means that in order to cover their costs, these spas will need to charge international prices. Spas in underdeveloped regional areas might not be able to carry the treatment cost of a global product line. An evaluation should be made whether having the kudos of an international line balances out the cost margins. In many cases it is more profitable and makes more sense for the spa to partner up with a cheaper, local supplier even though the support and quality might not be quite to an international standard. A client in a spa hotel, is not going to base their decision whether or not to have a treatment purely based on the brand. Yes the brand might add value onto the experience, but if the guest really wants a facial or scrub, they will more than likely book it.
Inhouse, bespoke product lines are also an option. Whilst this ties in nicely to the ‘uniqueness’ of the spa, quality can be an issue – not just with respect to the product but equally important, the packaging as well. In addition, the manufacturer will expect a minimum quantity which might not be practically or economically viable for the spa.
A final tip! One of the biggest challenges in spa retail is maintaining correct stock levels and moving the items quickly. Stock sitting in cupboards is lost revenue. Some product lines now offer a ‘purchase only when sold’ policy, meaning that the spa only pays for the product once they have sold it. This is an excellent way to reduce costs and removes the responsibility of the success of a product from the spa back to the supplier. If you can, do it!