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The Foundations of Success at Vida Spas

Vida is dedicated to building and operating the very finest of quality spas. We have built a clearly defined brand and only seek partners whose brand will provide a synergistic fit with ours. When it comes to our operating principles and our design and construction principles, we bring an unwavering standard of excellence to each. Through 20 years of operation, we have a true understanding of how to build a successful brand, how to build a positive long-term team and how to excel both in reputation and revenue.

The Vida brand was built around our values, mission and vision. We are mindful. We are present in everything we do. Every staff member and guest feels appreciated and listened to. This is the essence and foundation of our brand. The values we have maintained over the years have allowed us to achieve our current success.

Lead with transparency
We always have regular staff meetings or emails focusing on industry and company updates. Educating the team on the cost of goods, operating expenses, bottom line cash flow and industry margins is an important part of our philosophy. If your managers and team understand the cost of goods and expenses associated with sales, and the margins you are left with, they will work with you to stay within your budgets. By doing this, you remain cash flow positive versus overspending. This will allow you to have the cash flow needed for capital improvements and other unexpected expenses. This also gives your therapists and estheticians an honest approach and education they may never have been taught in school or through a previous employer.

Without this transparency, your team only sees the top revenue line coming in. They might assume the company is being greedy by pocketing a higher percentage of profit than they actually are. With education, your team will realize the costs to run the business and that their compensation is fair. They will want to work with you to keep the business healthy and strong for years to come.

Review monthly financial statements with your key managers. Going over each line item against budget and previous years allows you to work with them on improvements for the following months.

Establish a healthy work environment
Ensure that every member has 15 minutes built in after service to allow them the time to clean the room properly, rehydrate and be on time for the next guest. Allow for proper lunch breaks so that they can refuel their bodies, which helps create exceptional service. How can they give the best to someone else when they have not given the best to themselves?

Reward your team through competitive compensation, annual bonuses for each line item they manage and five-, 10-, 15- and 20-year anniversary gifts. Generously give back to members who have helped to build your business and your brand.

Support causes close to your team’s heart. Give back to those in need and it will come back to you in client awareness and appreciation.

Be hands-on
Lead by example but ensure you also delegate and allow your team to learn and grow. Let them make mistakes that they will learn from. Do not micromanage, yet give them the autonomy they need to be challenged on a daily basis. Hire managers who have the same core values.

Invest in back-of-house staff. Ensure you have enough administrative support for the team. By putting too much burden on your front-line managers, they may soon burn out. Without this support system, team communication can falter and their needs may not be met. Back-of-house support frees your manager or director for strategic thinking and overseeing the spa to ensure hygiene levels are maintained. It also allows your managers to be in the front of house to engage and interact with guests, and allows them to mentor the team by setting an example for the quality of customer care you expect from your team. Our culture leads by example.

Watch the bottom line

  • Reserve cash flow for unexpected and necessary annual capital improvements and the often unknowns in a luxury and hospitality-driven industry. Whether we face a recession or a pandemic, having excess cash flow is essential to keep your business going strong until things change and you can bounce back to a strong revenue-generating position.
  • Understand your top-moving retail and back bar items in order to manage your inventory levels. It is best to order more frequently than to have too much stock on the shelves, eating up your cash flow.
  • Leasing linen reserves cash flow versus out-of-pocket annual capital costs. Ensure the agreement you have in place makes the linen company responsible for maintaining quality linen that is replaced annually at their cost. Professionally cleaned laundry ensures a higher level of hygiene via commercial-grade laundry machines and detergent.
  • Maintain long-term relationships with your vendors. They will often support you by taking back inventory or working with you to get your costs down; some offer marketing support to help boost bookings.
  • Work with your neighbourhood businesses or hotel partners on seasonal promotions and partner discounts.
  • Share your knowledge with other industry leaders. Learn from each other versus hiding information that could help everyone improve their businesses. There is plenty of market share for everyone.

With this formula in place, we have cultivated a happy, healthy work environment where our team feels valued and appreciated. This has allowed for unprecedented longevity in our team with Vida. With some three dozen team members working for us from 10 to 20 years, we pride ourselves on our team support and loyalty. Even after rebranding in 2002, we have dozens of guests who remained loyal to our brand. If you have happy staff, you have happy guests. If you have happy guests and staff, you will always have a thriving business.

Allison Hegedus

Allison Hegedus is the President of Vida Spas and currently oversees five spa locations in Canada’s Pacific Northwest. She started her career in the spa as an aesthetician, before her interest in training and management led her back to school to formally study sales, marketing and business management. She has since worked as an educator and sales executive for OMI Technologies, Somak International and Dermalogica Skincare, and served as Spa Director at Chateau Whistler, Park Hyatt Toronto’s Stillwater Spa, and the spa at Toronto’s Old Mill Inn.

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