Panelists weigh in on the issues impacting the efforts of spas in their pursuit of top talent and the things they can do to retain their expertise
Focusing on the customers and offerings that are central to the business to enable future growth and success
By Sean Tarry
Operating a spa today is no easy task, requiring those within the industry to maintain an unwavering focus on, and commitment toward, constantly growing their businesses and broadening the clientele that they attract and engage. However, in the quest to do so, it’s important that they don’t lose sight of the fundamentals that have helped bring their businesses to where they are today. In fact, according to Stephen O’Keefe, retail industry expert and Principal and Founder of consultancy Bottom Line Matters, it might be more critical today than ever before to redouble efforts around satisfying their core customers and enhancing the offering and service that keep them coming back.
“Industries and sectors in countries all over the world continue to grapple with the effects of the change and evolution that’s currently occurring,” he says. “Nobody has been immune to these impacts. And businesses everywhere are strategizing and innovating in efforts to realize further growth and success. However, a mistake that’s made all too often by companies and organizations is forgetting about the things that have brought them success in the first place—their core values and beliefs, the customer they sell to, and the proposition that sets their brand apart in the minds of the consumer. In fact, when addressing the challenges that businesses currently face amid increasing competition and pressure, one of the best tactics that can be employed is a self-assessment to ensure the businesses’ core is sound.”
Understanding strengths and weaknesses
O’Keefe goes on to explain that in identifying and enhancing their focus on core customers, businesses operating today enjoy a massive advantage over their predecessors. And that, he says, is the bounty of rich and meaningful data that they have access to. It can be leveraged by spa owners to gain a clear view of their customer—their demographic, tastes, tendencies, and behaviour. All of the aforementioned information gleaned by spas, if sorted effectively, can be analyzed to better understand what their customer is seeking from them, helping them to develop mechanisms through which their desires and expectations can be satisfied and met. And, as a result, says the retail industry expert, it helps brands enhance their reputations with customers and build on the trust that they’ve earned with them.
“Before diving into the data, businesses should first identify the reason they think they’re in business and the value they believe their customers receive from engaging with them,” he asserts. “It’s a really important consideration to make, and one that requires honesty from businesses, in order to gain an accurate view of their business. Once this has been achieved, then data can be used to hone in on customer behaviour, allowing businesses to identify patterns and better understand their own strengths and areas where improvements are required. This will help to inform the products they bring in, service that they provide for guests, and the experience that’s cultivated for them. And, in the end, data can go a long way toward helping brands and businesses cultivate and grow the trust that they enjoy from their customers, engendering deeper and more meaningful connections with them.”
Identifying your core group of customers allows you to cater to their needs, ensuring the product or treatment they’re looking for is available and ready for them to enjoy. Although, by most accounts, core customers rarely comprise more than 20% of any business’s total base, their spending and resulting influence on revenue makes them an extremely important group to satisfy. In light of this, in addition to ensuring popular products and treatments are available, the group’s interests can also inform supplementary treatments or add-ons that might spark incremental sales increases.
In order to run any successful business, a thorough understanding of the ways in which the customer prefers to be engaged is a must. This is especially true for spa operators. As a result, it’s critical to develop a deep appreciation for the level of service that’s to be provided, the modes and channels of communication that work best from a marketing perspective, and the incentives, enticements, and rewards that guests expect to receive from you for their engagement. Ensuring that service provided; is directed by your core group of customers will not only allow spa owners to retain the loyalty of this group, but will also go a long way toward attracting prospective customers with similar tastes, habits, and desires.
By combining an understanding of your core group of customers, the products and treatments they prefer, and the ways in which they like to be engaged and communicated with, spa owners are in a great position to be able to map out their customers’ journeys. By doing so, they can see all points of interaction and are better able to identify friction and ways to improve the customer experience. And, conversely, by gaining a clear view of your core customers’ journeys, spa owners can also recognize where they are strongest, allowing them to further enhance the elements of their experience that differentiate them from competitors.
Growth from the core
In the never-ending quest to grow customer bases and diversify services and offerings, it’s incredibly important for businesses not to lose sight of their bread and butter. In fact, according to O’Keefe, it’s the way in which spa owners will be best able to weather the current challenges while positioning themselves for potential future growth.
“Businesses everywhere are currently facing a number of different challenges. From a shortage of skilled employment and supply chain disruptions to price inflation and increased competition, everyone is operating against the same set of challenges. And, given the fact that it’s currently a time during which there’s very little opportunity to organically grow business, the best course of action for most businesses is to double down on doing the things they do best, and to pay undivided attention toward satisfying the needs of the guests that continue visiting because of those reasons. It may not be the most exciting approach to growth, but it’s the most cost-effective and beneficial one currently available.”