About 12 years ago, while I was researching whether I wanted to venture into the Day Spa business, I came across 2 very important mentors that helped to influence my decision to become a day spa owner and, more importantly, shaped the brand name we are today.
Hannelore Leavy, the Executive Director of the Day Spa Association, provided me with a wealth of information about the potential and dynamics of the Day Spa industry. Noelle DeCaprio, owner of Noelle The Day Spa, and a renowned pioneer in the day spa industry, provided me with the basis for The Brass Rose brand. I owe each of them a great debt of gratitude for their guidance and for sharing their vision of the uniqueness of the Day Spa industry with me. Both mentors helped me define the difference between the conduct of business for a local Day Spa and a Resort or Destination Spa.
As is the way with all students, I took the best information from my mentors and included it into my business implementation plan, and opted to ignore or modify what suited my personal vision.
One glaring cautionary tale from Noelle was “NEVER DISCOUNT SERVICES”. Her philosophy was that discounting services was tantamount to diminishing the value of the service. She operated on the principal that it was far better to compensate a discontent client with a product, rather than a service.
For some time, I abided by Noelle’s principal. However, after a very short time, I realized that most client complaints or concerns arise from the service or the associated spa experience, not the product that was used in the service. Clients did not value a free product in lieu of their complaint about a less than satisfactory service. Product compensation did not satisfy the client, nor achieve our goal to assure that the client would return to us for another service. Our goal, from a customer service viewpoint, was to get that client to trust us enough to come back and receive the same service they had and to experience it at a level that not only met, but exceeded their expectations, and to garner their loyalty to the Brass Rose. The only way to do that was to compensate the client with a discounted or free equivalent future service. In my view, that is the only way to demonstrate that the adverse client experience was a “fluke” and to insure that they give us a second chance to demonstrate that we are worthy of their continued patronage. To this day, we owe the success of our customer satisfaction policy, and our brand/reputation to our adherence to this philosophy. Clients know that The Brass Rose “guarantees” that we will meet or exceed their expectations. It distinguishes us from other day spa providers in our area. In today’s marketplace, this is a significant factor in how consumers choose which day spa to visit. How many day spas “guarantee” their services? Do you?
As Harry Beckwith, noted author of “Selling the Invisible”, best puts it, in the service industry, we do not have a tangible item that can be felt, touched or tested. The average consumer, purchasing a service, makes their decision, on faith, to use a particular service provider based upon their perception that the service provider will meet or exceed their expectations. How then can we guarantee the client expectations for day spa services?
For the client in the day spa arena, it’s all about the “experience”, not just the service, per say. The experience includes many intangibles, such as how the client was received at the desk, the temperature of the room, the aromas associated with the service and whether or not they felt “connected” to the therapist, etc. Unless you are extremely confident that your spa culture embraces every aspect of that client experience, you will never be able to promulgate a “guarantee” to your prospective clients that their experience will meet or exceed their expectations.
How do you guarantee your client expectations? We’d like to know.