Courtesy of The Raithwaite Estate Spa, N Yorks

Keeping Our Industry Spa Therapists Healthy - The Commission Model

uksa july 9

It’s strange how things work out. I have been qualified for 20 years in Beauty Therapy and also hold a degree in teaching, but I can honestly say every experience I have had throughout my career has brought me to the point that I am at now; owner of two spas with very different, yet complementary business models.

Anyone who has worked within the spa industry for a long time knows that recruitment is the one thing that presents the most challenges.  So when I started both my businesses last year I knew that, especially for spa businesses, I would have to think carefully about how to manage the situation.

However, the thing that I lacked most was time …..A common story I know!

My therapy business in Hayle had been up and running for just eight weeks when we were approached to look after the management of the treatment rooms at Una resort. I had done all the ground work setting up one business so felt that by simply mirroring what we had already done we could achieve the management of both.

I knew that I couldn’t take on employed staff as I just simply did not have the resources. So it was a big risk, but for Una we decided to negotiate a commission-based model for rental of the treatment rooms. This meant that if we had no clients (although I was very much hoping this wouldn’t be the case) we would not have bills mounting up.

The idea of a commission-based model was to attract experienced therapists that were tired of working for minimum wage. It meant that they could achieve a very healthy wage, with the control being in their hands.

Handing the therapists control on their hours and pay scale was completely different from what I had ever implemented before. But suddenly something amazing happened! My therapists were keen!!!!

They were energised and refreshed and willing to come in on days off and stay later at the drop of a hat. I am very flexible in the way I manage things like holidays or appointments and am willing to work around them and the result of this is that my team are very flexible back. Even to the point that we use a group what’s app chat for appointment requests that come in and I put it out to the team and the first one to reply gets the work. 

Now that we are getting much busier we do have the therapists working regular days and hours. The model is the same it’s just we now have a plan in place to who is in when. They all do extra days when needed too, to cover the needs of the business, and I can now pay for receptionist hours to help out, so it gets easier and easier as we go.

Another aspect of the spas management that is slightly different is that all the bookings are taken and paid in advance. This means that when a therapist is working all they need to concentrate on is their client. I do feel this has eased the pressure from the working day too.

When we started out we took all the bookings remotely and encouraged clients to use the online booking porthole which has also worked well.

I recently sat in on a UK Spa Association Spa Directors Assembly and became involved in a conversation about how many massages therapists should or should not be doing in a day. Being a spa therapist myself for many years, I know I don’t enjoy doing lots of massage, so I am always very aware of the amount that the therapists do. BUT I can honestly say that since we have been working with the new there has not been one single occasion where a therapist has come to me and asked to do less massage! 

So maybe it’s not the amount of massage, but rather the mind-set behind it and the reward that is the key plus the freedom to choose that makes therapists feel happy in the workplace.

Our moto at the spa is “Happy Therapists Give the Best Treatments”, and this is truly happening at The Retreat Spa. We have had month on month growth and I regularly get messages from the therapists who are truly grateful for their positive and inspiring work place. I support the team well and plan to continue for many years.

So, one last thing, the bottom line?

Of course this is what all the large hotels and spas want to know. The impact of a commission based model on the bottom line. For me it’s about getting the right balance between the costs of the treatments and running costs.

The commission rate can be variable dependent on these things. It’s also a great way to reward hard work too. We took the decision to not have to worry about down time or unproductive hours and not to have a full-time reception to save costs so there are ways to juggle the finances.

I also believe that due to having happy therapists that sick days are incredibly rare and as I said before I have a team who are very reactive to an increase in business at a moment’s notice. All these things have a positive impact on the budget.

I feel sure this is a grower and I still have some learning to do with how to implement this on a larger scale, but I am very passionate about the Spa and Beauty industry and rewarding our very very hardworking therapists that give away so much of themselves, every day, to ensure amazing experiences for their clients.

It’s taken a lot of blood, sweat, tears and laughter and a great many experiences both positive and negative to have got me to this point in my career, and inspired me to believe that the commission model is the way to go. It’s worked very well for me and I hope that this is the way forward for helping Spa businesses to flourish and all our therapists’ wellbeing and happiness being kept top of mind!

Your Wellbeing is the most important thing!

Wellbeing and Happiness for Spa Therapists

Business Owner for, The Retreat Spa at Una St Ives and The Water’s Edge Retreat, Hayle

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Images courtesy of  uksa july 7    and uksa july 8      


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Thursday, 18 July 2019

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