Team Power

Does your staff compete for profits? Show them how to generate business instead by boosting cross-promotion efforts in your spa.



As a client exits a treatment room, post-facial, she can’t help but notice the great condition of her esthetician’s nails and offers a compliment. The esthetician proudly responds that her nails are done in-house: “Our tech, Marion, does amazing work,” she gushes. “She might have some open appointments this afternoon; let me check if I can get you in with her today.”

Behold the power of cross-promotion. Your spa may offer it all—facials, mani/pedis, body treatments, waxing and more—but if your average client comes in for a single treatment, you lose out on maximum expenditure. By cross-promoting within the spa, you not only boost your bottom line but also make visits more memorable and improve staff morale.

“Cross-promoting is essential—it’s not an option,” says Daired Ogle, owner of Daired’s Salon & Spa Pangea, with two locations in the Dallas area. “It’s also practical: A guest can have a better experience by receiving more than one service; the spa has more opportunities to get the guest back in with greater frequency; and you create loyalties for different sections of the business.”

DAYSPA checked in with spa owners and experts across the country to find out the best ways to help you motivate your own staff to collaborate, rather than compete, thereby boosting overall profits.

1. Get staff on the same page

Rather than isolate your employees in divided departments, why not foster a united front? Scott Kerschbaumer, co-owner of ESSpa Kozmetika Organic Skincare in Pittsburgh, believes successful cross-promotion requires the spa owner to regularly educate staff on all aspects of customer service.

“I include every employee in any training, and when new staff are hired we stress that every customer is the spa’s—not the therapist’s—client,” he says. “Not everyone gets it, and we’ve gone through dozens of employees to find the best possible team—those who think and act like ESSpa is their establishment—and try to empower employees to handle any situation.” Kerschbaumer adds that avoiding prima donnas and seeking happy people (“on the phone you must be able to hear them smiling”) helps create an integrated team focused on common end goals.

In addition to helping each department understand how the others work, this approach lowers turnover and enhances solidarity: ESSpa’s average employee has been there for more than five years, and accordingly, says Kerschbaumer, “everyone looks out for each other.”

Julie Mahoney, president of Oasis Day Spa in Weymouth, Massachusetts, agrees that a well-managed, empowered staff promotes the habit of generating business from within, and she regularly solicits feedback from staff members on everything from service ideas to departmental improvements. She also holds monthly professional development meetings, designed to educate about new services and share knowledge.

“The staff picks the topics we explore, like an upcoming ‘Sales Boost’ forum for sharing selling techniques,” she says. “The more I empower my staff to grow, the more they will follow suit and build each other up.”

2. Determine your starting point

Larry Oskin, president of Marketing Solutions in Fairfax, Virginia, suggests creating a list of available services, noting new options you might want to introduce to clients in the future, as well as a list of those that are generally underused. Create an annual marketing plan for promoting a mix of different services each month, and also incorporate a system to reward employees who succeed in booking “treatments of the month.”

“You must be organized. Mix it up to highlight different spa service departments, so your various teams will always help promote each other,” he advises.

3. Incentivize staff

Financial reward is, of course, a great motivator, so you might experiment with a system that allows cross-promoting staff members to receive a little kickback for their efforts. Tony Cuccio, CEO of Cuccio Naturalé and Star Nail International, suggests this type of trade, for example: A nail tech gives fellow staff members (estheticians and therapists) five to 10 business cards, and the staffers write their names on the back; every time a card is brought to the tech by a first-time referral customer, the tech gives $5 to the referring colleague. “This motivates each person in the spa to cross-promote on a regular basis,” Cuccio says.

You can structure your staff incentives in a variety of ways, using rewards, contests, prizes or recognition at staff meetings. For example, “offer a free $25 retail gift certificate to anyone who successfully refers at least five of her clients to another salon or spa professional,” Oskin recommends. “Or host a celebration dinner party if each member of the team cross-markets at least 10 new services to her regulars in a defined period.”

4. Try team-building exercises

Getting your staff to work together can happen most organically outside the spa, simply by getting everyone to spend time together. For example, Kerschbaumer frequently takes his team to local conferences (where they all wear matching spa T-shirts) to further their education, but he also mixes play with work. “We try to do fun and different things, like taking everyone to a comedy night at the local improv theater or to paintball; we also have a holiday party every year,” he says.

Mahoney agrees that bringing the entire staff together outside the spa—for occasions such as celebrating an employee’s wedding shower—helps to unify and encourage them to keep each others’ best interests at heart. “We all just went out for a celebratory dinner after winning ‘Best Massage in 2011’ from Boston magazine,” she says. “Each massage therapist received a silver star paperweight engraved with the award and his or her name.”

5. Load them up with offers

Clients may be more apt to take the leap with a new service if they’re given a special offer that feels exclusive. Say, a staff member finds out that a regular client hasn’t experienced a particular service or therapist in another department. She should be encouraged to provide her client with a gift certificate equivalent to a discount or certain dollar amount off that service.

“The spa professional should keep cross-marketing gift certificates hidden in a drawer at each station, or behind the front desk,” Oskin suggests. “Then she can tell the guest, ‘I’ve been allocated a few of these gift certificates for my best clients. Can I help you book the appointment for today or later this week?’”

6. Encourage staff sampling

Make sure everyone on staff has firsthand knowledge of all the services your spa provides. After all, an employee who has actually experienced the service will be most apt to enthusiastically recommend it to clients. “We allow and encourage all employees to enjoy complimentary spa treatments so they can have a personal, intimate knowledge of what we expect them to sell or suggest to guests,” notes Kerschbaumer. “We also want every esthetician to know the steps in our pedicure treatments, and every nail technician to know what our facials feel like so they can explain them to guests—and this includes front desk staff.”

Mahoney has also found ways to encourage staff to try co-workers’ services. For instance, each employee receives “Spa Dollars” for her birthday, and technicians can barter services (paying 25% to cover overhead) they book on their days off. Otherwise, for 50% off, the employees can visit a particular therapist only once during a six-week period. “It gives the employee flexibility to enjoy the full spa experience from the other side of the table,” explains Mahoney. “This perk has been quite successful, as the staff experiences the spa and their co-workers on a more personal level than just a working relationship.”

Remember, the greatest reward comes at the point when cross-promoting is no longer a chore, but something that happens naturally. “We used to track cross-promotions to elevate awareness in our spa,” Ogle says. “But we don’t have to track it anymore; it has become a part of our culture, part of the fabric of the entire spa.”

Tracy Morin is a freelance writer and editor based in Oxford, Mississippi.

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