How to Become a Spa Manager

Published on: 3 Mar 2016

But what is the best way to become a spa manager and find spa manager jobs?

Becoming a spa manager

First of all be aware that most spas will look to recruit spa managers from within the industry itself. In other words it's notoriously difficult to study for your degree in spa management and think you can walk straight into a spa manager job after graduating. It just doesn't happen that way.  Generally you have to have worked your way up through the ranks with extensive experience either at front of house and/or therapist level.

This is because spas offer specialised treatments and gaining experience at every level within the spa is key to understanding the mechanics of everyday operations. Most spa employers will require that their spa managers have an intrinsic understanding of what each role in the spa entails and often this best comes from having done each job at some time yourself and being immersed for years working in a spa environment.  This is not to say that spa management degree courses are no good, just that they are no adequate replacement for practical spa industry experience. 

In terms of spa industry routes into spa management jobs there are 2 main routes:


Spa therapy route:

If you have recently embarked on your spa career as a spa therapist and have ambitions of becoming a spa manager then with hard work and enthusiasm you can definitely rise through the ranks, as many spa managers before you have done so. If you put the hours in you can soon progress to become a senior therapist and take on additional responsibilities which may include looking after and training more junior therapists on the team. Senior therapists and spa supervisors are well placed to take on additional responsibilities as and when required of the acting spa management team and will hopefully gain a valuable insight into the support and guidance that therapists require as well as the standards and expectations of clients.


Spa front of house route:

Although you won't have the specialist training and knowledge necessary to deliver treatments what front of house roles do give is exposure to the operational side of a spa business; booking systems, retail sales, guest care. It may be harder to climb the career ladder via this route but with hard work and perseverance and in showing your interest in the the operational side of the spa it is possible to progress via this route.

Regardless of which route you intend taking there are 3 key skills that can be found in any good spa manager, namely; commercial acumen, people management and operational skills. 

1. Commercial acumen

At the end of the day spas are commercial businesses. Yes they play a vital role in the  health and well-being of their clients, essential in today's fast paced lives but if they don't generate the necessary profits then they'll cease to exist. It's vital for any spa manager therefore that they feel comfortable with reading profit and loss statements and in preparing spa budgets and spa trading forecasts.  Spa managers have to know what key performance indicators (KPI's) of the business to focus on such as treatment room occupancy, retail products conversion rates, average spa treatment costs etc. Such figures enable the spa manager to monitor the health of the business and highlight which areas of the business most need their attention.

2. People management skills

Spas especially the larger destination spas have large staffing structures. A typical spa will employ spa attendants, housekeepers, reception staff, spa therapists and spa supervisors all of whom have a vital job to play. Spa managers have to understand what each of these jobs entails, the challenges that face each role and be able to provide adequate training, support, guidance and  motivation to each staff member.

3. Operational Skills 

Spa managers have to be supreme organisers and delegators with the ability to put controls and procedures in place to ensure that spas are tightly run ships. Every aspect of the spa is vital to its smooth running from how guests are treated on arrival, stock control, cleanliness of the treatment rooms and waiting areas through to treatment bookings.

As you can see spa manager vacancies require that candidates have a good mix of practical and operational spa experience together with the above skills that some people may naturally possess but most gain through years of working hard in a spa environment. So if you've got ambitions of becoming a spa manager and are currently working as a therapist or receptionist within a spa, hopefully this will throw a different perspective on the work that you do.


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