Do you Have What it Takes to be an Exceptional Spa Manager?


“No one is a success in business unless they love their work.” Such an observation reinforces the fact that one of the essential ingredients to success is having a passion for what you do. Your passion should be contagious; it will tend to infect the entire team and even the clients. As a result of this passion, it will enable you to influence the team to levels of achievement that they never thought were possible.


It’s essential and should be ingrained in a work place (where people spend a lot of their time), but what does it mean? Well it means that the workplace becomes more attractive and everyone enjoys work more. But it also means if someone sees that the workplace is a buzzing place they will want to work there and clients will want to spend time there which means they will spend money there.


You don’t have to be a therapist to become a great spa manager, although you must know and understand how treatments should be delivered. You need to be a sponge and you can learn something new every day; sometimes it’s from a team member, customer, basically anyone. If you don’t know something or need to know you should always ask or find out. The moral of this point is straightforward: Learning is a continuous process, and when you fail to pursue learning, you fail to grow. Pass this philosophy onto your team and everyone will grow.

So what else do you require to become a great spa manager?


Without a great team you won’t have a great business and that means you’re not a great spa manager.

Team Recruitment – take your time, trade test them, get as many references as possible, don’t just get a ‘body’
You’re accountable for the success of others and one of the most difficult responsibilities of any managerial position is to be accountable for each of your team members’ performance, over whom you can never have complete control, so get to know the team. Sit down with each individual and record everything. Know their likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, what they think is good and not so good, what works and what doesn’t, qualifications, what they need and wish to learn, personal interests, favourite food and drink, hobbies etc. You must create a picture for each team member. With this information it will help you manage and develop them as individuals and as a team. Remember, your team are your greatest asset so you must have a plan in place – development plans, performance appraisals etc.

Training Plan – great spas train constantly.  Putting in place an annual plan to ensure all aspects of a spa are operating smoothly is essential and this is done by training – both to maintain standards and develop the team, which is critical. Incentives, rewards and recognition are also vital to your team. Be honest and supportive to your team and they will follow you to success. “Keeping an open door is about valuing your team’’

People Skills

A spa manager needs to be able to intuitively listen to not only their guests but also their team.  A happy team will look after their guests, which creates happy guests – the ultimate goal.  To do this requires excellent people skills from the spa manager, creating a rapport with both your team and guests, communicating in a motivating and positive way and managing issues quickly and effectively. Understand everyone’s needs then deliver and exceed beyond their expectations. You will need to excel at crisis management and always expect the un-expected. You need to be level headed as spas tend to be an ‘emotion’ place (both for clients and the team).


This comes down to being someone others will follow even when the objective is one that runs contrary to an employee’s comfort or confidence. “The task of a leader is to get people from where they are to where they have never been” (in a positive way). This is critical, a great spa manager leads from the front, they are everywhere – checking on this, observing that, talking to guests and the team, motivating and supporting. Good leaders see the potential within their team and should encourage it and support the growth of the individual/s, thus providing an environment that empowers the team to perform with a sense of ownership.

“You can preach a better sermon with your life than you can with your lips.” As a manager you have the greatest effect on the team’s performance. More often than not it is because you have performed most of the jobs or understand the teams roles yourself and, when required or needed, are ready to step in and perform whatever task has to be done, if possible. Never walk by a towel that is on the floor, never ask someone else to answer the phone if you are available or nearby and never refer a customer issue to another team member when you can handle it. And never ask the team to carry out a task that you would not be prepared to do yourself.

To be a great spa manager you must have a solid business background.  You are often dealing with large budgets in a spa; therefore it should obviously be a focal point for a spa manager.  Knowledge of budgets is important but more importantly is the ability to analyse a budget and take necessary actions.

How is the spa going to achieve its revenue budget?  How are you going to manage your expenses? Can you justify an additional therapist when you are already over your staffing budget? Can you look to lower your costs without affecting service?  A spa manager must have targets/goals for the spa and know exactly how they are going to achieve them.


Quite often spas do not plan ahead and are managed on a day–to-day basis, there is no way you will be successful when working this way.

Revenue targets, retail percentage, costs of sales, expenses, room occupancy, therapist utilization, columns, white space, daily, weekly and monthly targets – these are all designed to bring success and should be used as a tool to motivate your team. It’s not acceptable to just say you are going to ‘make budget’, or you are going to ‘sell X, Y and Z treatments every day’, it’s how are you going to achieve that?

So you must ‘Plan for success’. Plan your work and work your plan and execute that plan with discipline. Planning for success involves creating and executing both a long-term plan for the business, as well as a short-term plan. View planning as an ongoing interactive process that sets clear expectations for both the process and outcome. Just as important, you should require every deputy / supervisor within the spa to have a plan.

Sales and Marketing

How often have I heard, I’m not a sales person … yet everything begins with a sale. We should clearly understand that all great spa managers are sales people. Stating that managers are sales people first does not mean that they are focused on making sales calls or selling products. As a manager you are selling yourself, your team, your colleagues and the spa to the guests, community and all other possible clients, creating a positive impression. You should be a person who engages the minds of audiences in such a way that everyone wants to get involved; this individual is the ultimate salesperson.

It is very rare that people just walk through your door so you must have an annual plan in place (with a 3 month rolling plan). Too many managers fail because they try doing something new every day, every week and every month.  If you do this then you will spend more time and money on advertising and before one promotion is ended you are promoting another. This can lead to higher stock levels and costs, and even sometimes higher training costs. Give a promotion a chance but always have a back- up plan.  For example, create seasonal treatments and Spa Days and run the promotion or promotions for 3 months (June, July and August).


One to one as well as team meetings are very important, the team need to be informed of what is going on in the spa and this also provides the opportunity for the team to give feedback.  Great spa managers use this open communication as a tool to motivate, inspire and develop the team.

Create a team info folder and keep it in the office, this will ensure the team read on a daily basis any general information they need to know; they sign and date it and if necessary they can discuss any relevant points with the manager. This is a simple but effective tool.

Another key element is that the spa manager must communicate the goals to the spa team.  How is a spa going to achieve their goals if the team know nothing about them!  Update the team on the goals status; use this as a motivational tool. Communication is key!

Make it happen!

You must be able to create the perfect journey from the moment the potential client enquires to the time the client leaves the spa. There is nothing that you cannot do to make a guest happy. The manager and the team should always go above and beyond to make the guest happy – (all within legal & professional boundaries) – the ability to analyse the situation, problem solve, prioritise and be proactive are important qualities all designed to create the best possible guest experience. It is not always easy to keep up and it is about the culture you create as a manager. Talking to customers and the team is very important but also to listen (SILENT is an anagram of LISTEN).

You will need to be a realist because as the person in charge of a spa you get the credit when it succeeds and take the heat when it fails. You will be a visionary, keeping up with what others are doing will always help you stay ahead of the rest. If you don’t your team and business will stagnate, which leads to poor sales, loss of revenue and poor team retention. Be creative and don’t be scared of trying something new.

You must have attention to detail, be able to look at all aspects of the business from the clients view, the team and the employers. You will be someone who is not afraid of hard work. Being a great spa manager ensures the team and business are as productive as possible, whether you are in the spa or not.


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