Ask an Expert on Operating a Salon and Spa
You have questions, we have answers. This month we spoke with Kimberly Levins, the director of Urban Allure Salon & Spa at Newtown Athletic Club, about operating a successful salon within a health club setting.
What are the benefits of having a salon located within a health club?
KL: The benefits start with gaining access to the captive audience that is our entire membership (12,000 members). We have collected key data and therefore can customize messaging to target groups within our membership easily. In addition, we can offer amenities that are generally unavailable to clients, such as complimentary baby sitting in the club’s childcare center during salon services.
How do Urban Allure and Newtown Athletic Club work together?
KL: The club and the salon and spa work together to cross promote by offering free or discounted spa services as incentive prizes for various club promotions. For example, a free massage may be the prize for a fitness challenge. This allows the spa to generate new clients who can turn into repeat paying customers.
Why is this relationship important?
KL: The synergy between the club and the salon and spa is very critical. It enhances the value of the club membership with convenience and excellence in service, while the club benefits from the 50 percent of the salon clientele who are non-members. If they don’t eventually join the club, they will spend money in the cafe or utilize non-member services that they observe while in the club.
Are there any challenges Urban Allure and Newtown Athletic Club have had to overcome?
KL: One challenge for a salon and spa within a club is to successfully create a brand that differentiates us from the club and is properly promoted externally. As good as Newtown Athletic Club is in the eyes of the members, this perception did not necessarily translate to the salon and spa. It needed to be perceived as separate from Newtown Athletic Club with its own brand, credibility and style.
How did you overcome this?
KL: We committed to some major renovations beginning in 2010. Prior to the renovations the salon and spa had been run by outside contractors, but when we took over, it soon became apparent that a complete renovation and re-branding were needed. The first renovation gave us the result we desired and business has grown exponentially ever since.
How do you attract employees?
KL: Our strategy is to offer generous sign-on bonuses to talented stylists with an already established client base. They receive a $1,000 signing bonus along with 100 percent commission for the first 90 days of their employment. After that they revert to the agreed-upon commission, which represents a split between them and the company. In all cases this has worked out successfully. In many cases our current stylists recommend new stylists to us.
By Rachel Zabonick