No more lollygagging

Power-up your waiting room as a strategic sales venue

Think of a typical waiting room: it is a punishment to endure. However, a savvy spa owner can take that pit of ennui and turn it into an entertaining opportunity to increase business. Now, the waiting room can become an educational extension of the whole spa experience.

Front line of sales

The front desk can be the most important merchandising area for the spa. “Think of yourself as The Bay. At checkout, there are always promotions about something,” explains Larry Oskin, president, Marketing Solutions. “Have at least one or two counter cards every bi-monthly period, and use the visual space at the front desk to get your message in front of your customers.”

Somewhere near the front desk, Oskin suggests creating a ‘wall of fame’ highlighting various elements to increase interest in your business. It could include the story of the spa, and profiles of key personnel.

Rachel Bourdon is the manager of Studio 157 spa in Gatineau, Quebec. She said the waiting room at Studio 157 features photos of the proprietors on the wall, as well as advertisements of products, new treatments and the specials of the month. “Our posters are beautiful, colourful signs we have printed professionally,” Bourdon says. “Often people ask us about the ads they see on our walls.”

Add information and touches to promote the character of your spa and entice your clients to take time to read and view the materials you are sharing. Last October Studio 157 held an Open House to celebrate the spa’s 30th birthday and Amelie Grenier, a famous Quebec comedian, was there. A photo of the two spa proprietors with her is on the wall now.

Broadcast news

Having a television in the waiting room is a good opportunity to promote your business and products. Companies like CaerVision and HighTech Message provide video solutions. CaerVision offers educational information that can be customized to suit your spa, covering your products, promotions, staff and salon. HighTech message is fully commercial, and solicits advertisers from the community relative to your spa so the televised video becomes a profit centre itself.

“Be aware it’s not just about putting a video on the screen, but you should plan a marketing calendar, so the video changes, showcasing new tips, new promotions,” Oskin adds. “We recommend working with six bi-monthly periods. You want to be careful to pace yourself.”

Merging with retail

In the waiting room, you should pull out all the stops to market products and treatments: brochures, a flatscreen with video to market products and treatments, and so on. “Use the waiting room as a second space for retail space,” says spa designer Sam Margulies of Atmosphere Spa Design.

In fact, a strategic spa will combine the retail space and the waiting room. Always have sitting spaces in the retail space, and allow clients to sit in the middle of the retail space, so they can view products. Have testers available so they can try products, and brochures to ease their purchasing decisions.

Extend the experience

Entice your clients to spend a little more time with you before dashing off out the doors, and encourage them to linger in the waiting room a bit, once their spa experience is finished.

At Studio 157, a juice bar is set up in the waiting room for new arrivals, or clients on their way out. It makes them feel pampered, and is also a smart tool to ensure their spa experience is sublime. “A lot of people come after work and don’t have time to go to dinner first, so they are hungry,” Bourdon says. “We provide a little something to put in their stomach, so they aren’t distracted by hunger during their massage. As well, often after a massage people are hungry, and happy to take a fruit on their way out.”

On busy days, Oskin suggests booking demos in the waiting room itself, providing there’s space. “It could be anything from a chair massage to makeup demos, or even a health professional offering tips and advice,” he explains. “Product demos can be a way to entice clients to purchase, or to book further treatments. And overall, it can simply just be interesting or entertaining.”

by Heather Ednie | Summer 2011