The Savvy Spa Boss


As a spa owner, you wear multiple hats. You’re an entrepreneur, bookkeeper, leader… (you get the point) the list goes on. But if you were to ask me what has been the toughest part of the job? It’s being everyone’s ‘boss.’ And you might assume that it’d be an easy task since we’re all adults… right?




Aside from taking care of all the fun stuff, such as making sure your employees are showing up for their shifts and that they’re performing up to your standards, there’s plenty more that you’ve got to deal with!


As a spa owner, I’ve been through A LOT.


But what has been the root of my biggest headaches and heartaches? My staff!


In all the situations where my own staff members were the main source of my turmoil, the common denominator was complacency.


When you’re part of a team, the entire group is only as strong as the weakest link. Regardless of their role in the workplace, every member on your team of staff will have some sort of impact on the success of your business. What does this mean? If you want to make money, EVERYONE needs to be on their A-game!


It took me a long time of letting my team dwindle down to the bare minimum and ride that wave before beginning to build it up to the positive, productive team that I have today.


So what do you do as a spa owner?

As a spa owner, you can’t afford to have complacent staff on your team. They’re like anchors tied to your business. Here are some examples of some challenges I faced when complacent staff members plagued the workplace:


I had staff members who would recommend drugstore products to clients. I mean, that’d be fine with me if we didn’t already have what they were looking for at our spa. And trust me, we always did.


I had employees who just made things up as they went. They didn’t bother learning more about the company, our brand, and the services we offered.


But what was my worst experience? Was it when I caught staff stealing from the spa? Or maybe it was when they caused some serious drama with one another? Nope.


My worst experience was when I had a staff member start her own business venture and steal 40% of my clients!


What did all of this teach me?


While you can’t entirely control what goes on at your spa 24/7 (nor do you really want to), you do have the power to create a positive work environment. And by doing so, you truly minimize the risk of getting yourself stuck with these incredibly unpleasant scenarios!


The key here is to make your employees feel appreciated, but at the same time, you DON’T want to make them feel like you can’t run your spa without them.


As long as you have a good understanding of why it happens in the first place, it’s easy to get rid of complacency in the workplace. Not entirely sure how to get your staff on their A-game? Here are some simple strategies to guide you through it!

1. Take a competitive approach! Create healthy competition between team members


Slow and steady wins the race… but NOT when you’re running a business. One great way to drive results in the workplace is to initiate a little healthy competition. It’s a great way to give your employees a reason to up their game!


According to, you need to find a balance between Teamwork and Healthy Competition to keep driving results and boosting business.


By taking a competitive approach, you’ll notice a huge difference in the vibe immediately. It boosts morale, stirs up the energy, and gives your employees a reason to work harder. It’s not uncommon for your employees to be unmotivated when they feel as though they only have the next payday to look forward to.


When it is done correctly, competition can boost your profitability, give your team additional earning opportunities and it can actually be a lot of fun.  


You should have seen the excitement on our teams face when we introduced an 8-week game of retail bingo… and they got to pick out their own stickers.


This can be as simple or as complex as you need and you can always be changing up how you keep things happily competitive based on what is working for your team.


2. Offer Recognition in the Workplace


When complacency is a huge issue in the workplace, you’re going to have staff members that just call it a day after doing the bare minimum. Complacency in the workplace happens for many reasons. But I’ve noticed that it tends to happen when your employees are unhappy with something about their current work situation or they are not feeling acknowledged or recognized any time that they are going above and beyond (so why bother right?).


A recent poll we completed in the spa community showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that besides money… recognition, appreciation, and respect are by far the greatest value that employees have in the workplace.  

According to Sarah McVanel an expert when it comes to recognition in the workplace, that couldn’t be truer.  She offers the business evidence to back up how recognizing greatness in ourselves and others is key to sustained business success through improved morale, employee retention, and generating a positive workplace culture.


This can be verbal affirmations, notes of appreciation, non-monetary rewards for performance.  For example, if one of your team members is an avid coffee-drinker and they went above and beyond for another teammate or they surpassed a goal early… you could reward them with a $5.00 gift card to the local coffee shop that they love.  A low investment for you but it really shows them that you care.


Someone who’s happy with their work situation will be more than willing to go the extra mile for you and their clients.


Because an employee who actually likes their job will be in a much better mood than someone who’s miserable. And you can expect someone who’s always in a good mood to consistently perform well!


Create a positive work environment for your employees by showing them that you care! Listen to what they have to say and let them know what’s going on with the business to remind them that they’re a part of the team.


3. Take care of your staff


Show your staff members that you appreciate them and the work that they do. Let them know that they’re an integral part of the business.


Understand what their values are, what they really want from you and your workplace and honestly do your best to try and make it happen.  


Of course, you need to have clear boundaries of what is acceptable and what’s not but flexibility goes a long way when it comes to your staff.


Did you know that one of the main reasons people often abandon the role of an employee to go and open up their own business is because they are seeking flexibility that they could not get in the workplace?  So what if you could provide that flexibility to your team in the hope of creating a positive, productive team that will stick with you over the long run?

Ultimately, your staff members are on YOUR team. Treat them as equals and with the same respect, you wish to receive in return!


4. Take on the role of a coach rather than the ‘boss’

A real #SPABOSS recognizes the tremendous value in coaching their staff members. You’ll definitely benefit from elevating the talent at YOUR spa.


Instead of seeing yourself as an ‘employer,’ try to shift your perspective to see yourself as more of a mentor or coach for your staff. Take the time to talk with your staff about how you can improve their work conditions or simply increase their job satisfaction.


This is also the perfect time to get to know your staff in terms of their professional ambitions. For instance, whether they’d like like to eventually take on more responsibility at the spa, which skills you can help them develop, etc.


5. Always Be Recruiting

One of the biggest causes of complacency in your business is when your employees believe that you couldn’t run your business without them.  


This has the possibility of creating a really toxic environment because people that truly believe that they are irreplaceable will often begin dropping the ball more often and more willingly simply because they can.  You never want your business to be compromised because one of your team members no longer feels like they need to perform to your standards.


This is not to say that you want your staff to feel like they are walking on eggshells… no that is not good for team morale.  You just want your team to know that bad attitudes and lack of performing up to your standards won’t come without consequences.  


One great way to accomplish this is to always bye recruiting and training new staff members so that you never feel like you are going to be stranded should the day come where your top team member leaves you high and dry.  


I know that hiring all of the time is not sustainable and you may even be scared that you won’t be able to get them consistently booked enough to justify bringing them on board.  Well, if you have a proven marketing strategy that works to consistently bring in a steady stream of clients… then it is fully possible to get them booked solid and grow your business in the process. Win-Win!

A little bonus secret to getting rid of complacency in the workplace for good AND it’s the ultimate back-up plan!


Ultimately, the key to earning more money as a spa owner is to invest more time into creating the best possible work conditions for your employees!


To save yourself from the headache of dealing with complacent staff, consider using a temporary and full-time staffing solution to connect you with professional service providers in the spa industry without necessarily having to commit to bringing new people on full-time.


It’s a great way to drastically cut staffing costs and to cover unexpected absences. Through SpaTemps, you have access to experienced aestheticians offering their services on demand rather than being tied to staff members that aren’t performing up to par!

About the Author: Susan O'Sullivan

Susan is a spa owner and a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur. She chases dreams full time and aims to empower the people around her to do the same. She has been through all of the highs and lows that this crazy spa industry has to offer and it is her mission to smooth the path for other spa owners and pro’s on a similar journey.

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