Dear SpaFinder Insiders,
It isn't often that I hear a speech and still remember it years later, but a sermon entitled "The Gospel According to Nordstrom" is an exception. It was 15 years ago when the pastor in California gave this talk, and it is a message I have thought about many times since—especially in relation to our spa industry. Here is the gist of that sermon:
The pastor was at the Beverly Hills Nordstrom store shopping when she noticed a "bag lady" on the escalator in front of her. This was a woman who obviously lived on the street—ungroomed, shabbily dressed, and clearly out of place in such a fine store.
When the homeless woman wandered into one of the clothing departments, she was greeted by a Nordstrom's sales person with a cheery, "Hello, may I help you find something in particular?" The homeless woman said she wanted to try on a few things, and the sales person was delightfully accommodating.
The pastor was so surprised that she followed the two through the entire shopping ordeal. The homeless woman selected clothes with the sales representative's help and was respectfully escorted to the changing room, where the sales representative assisted her with size changes.
When the woman ended up not buying anything, the Nordstrom's salesperson genuinely said she was sorry they weren't able to find the right thing for her today, and that she hoped to see her back sometime soon. The pastor was amazed—and it became an example in her sermon of a loving attitude without pre-judging (prejudice).
I think about this example when I hear people in the spa industry talk about clients who phone about or come in with spa gift certificates. It saddens me to hear how often a gift-certificate client is negatively "pre-judged."
Here are some things I've seen or heard:
- An accommodating spa receptionist is courteous and helpful on the phone, but her tone changes when she finds out the caller is going to be using a gift certificate.
- When clients come into the spa, they are warmly greeted. When they mention they will be using a gift certificate, the person at the desk changes attitude and begins communicating "stipulations" or "restrictions" in its use.
- A therapist or aesthetician who knows a client is using a gift certificate for the service decides that "there probably won't be a tip" and cuts the session short or otherwise doesn't do their best.
- Spa staff gets together and laments that certain clients are better than others.
Not all spas or all staff members have a pre-judging attitude, but if even one person in a spa down the street does, it affects our entire industry. Not all gift-certificate clients are first-time spa-goers—but many are, which means that they are getting their first impression of an industry that is known for caring and nurturing
I think we have a great opportunity to do some teaching and training so that, as an industry, we are more welcoming and embracing of all spa-goers—first-timers in particular—to ensure that they have a great first experience and become or remain regular spa-goers.
As spa professionals, we know that it is expensive to get a new client to come in the door, so it is even more important to keep clients coming back. Whether a client is using your own spa's gift certificate or one of the gift certificates you accept from third-party sources, it is very important to train your staff to genuinely and enthusiastically welcome these clients.
Here are some tips that may help:
- If this is someone's first time, welcome him or her warmly and take extra time to give a tour of the facility, explain procedures (especially about how much to undress), and graciously explain your spa's gratuity policy.
- Remember that people who come in with gift certificates are receiving a great savings (their treatment may actually be free!), so it is likely that they will be happy to spend a bit of their own money on a gratuity and possibly even purchase a product.
- Some very affluent people dress down— either to avoid being patronized or simply because they want to be comfortable. You just never know who is coming into your spa. All should be treated as VIPs.
- And remember that for some clients, the only kind words and welcoming spirit they will experience today is from you.
Till the next Insider . . .