Planning for results

Posted by on February 28, 2002 in Articles

Planning for results

By Vivienne O’Keeffe, A.A.D., P.E.A., C.I.B.T.A.C. 

Published in Spa Canada magazine’s February 2002 issue 

Foremost in everyone’s mind for the last few months have been concerns as to how recent economic fluctuations will influence their business in the short and long term. Clarifying your business strategies now, and being open to necessary structured growth can make all the difference in the months and years ahead. Critically examine the direction that your business is heading. Bearing in mind what it is that your customer base demands (and indeed can absorb), is crucial to strategizing practical business expansions.

Comprehending what it is that your immediate business opportunities primarily are and understanding the demographics of the clientele in your area can effect the way that you present your business to them, and ultimately how you in turn are perceived by this market. This is the key element in any equation that will secure the financial footing of your business. Basically what the market wants is to have its needs fulfilled. Know what the customer wants. A successful business will know their customer very well.

Considering the most common ownership structure in the Canadian spa market is sole proprietorship at 43%, Partnership at 19%, Small Corporations at 22%, according to the 2000 Spa Industry Study prepared by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, stagnation is a frequent and understandable occurrence for the isolated spa owner.

Isolation and lack of support, planning, knowledge and no vision can be major limiting factors for the growth and success of any business. Spa owners can often get stuck in the day-to-day necessary tasks of running, manning and operating-just keeping the spa going. Currently the average net profit in Canadian spas has been 19.2%. Many spa owners are not enjoying this kind of net profit, simply because they are too busy in their business and not working on their business. Stepping back slightly can give you the necessary perspective to engage the opportunity to grow the business.

It is more important to grow steadily and surely than erratically expand without a strategy. Plan for expansion that will boost profitability without incurring unnecessary risk. Expanding the range of services you offer will have a protective effect upon the health of your business, but it must be done with caution and care. Be prepared to enhance your existing staff’s training rather than hiring new staff to facilitate a new service you wish to offer. This can have a two-fold effect, increasing your staff’s morale – which is directly manifested in the way they handle clients, and it also eliminates an element of risk that a previously untried treatment brings with it. If clients do not readily take up the new service you offer you still have a trained member on staff that can offer the service as an option to valued clients.

Why is planning important? Firstly, you have to know where you want to go in order to get there. Secondly, is there a market for where you want to expand and what you want to do? Proceeding with any internal expansion requires commitment to the plan, and an understanding that the changes, once begun, cannot be undone. Expansion and growth will change your business. If you are not well organized now and are experiencing problems, growth will cripple you as the problems only expand with your business. Your business cannot grow without experiencing change, but if you have carefully planned the process, your business will grow strong.

Planning Drives Success diagram

Fundamental business strategies will indicate which form of internal expansion is most suitable for your business. Depending upon how you currently market your business, be it through competitive price strategies or emphasizing better service and quality, your business will benefit from sourcing materials more cheaply than the competition (i.e. private label) or growing in ways that allow you to improve service – expanding your current facility in order to offer more people the quality and experience. Be less vulnerable to seasonal cycles: a resort that is very busy in either the ski or summer season, may want to supplement services into the weight loss market, and so on, in the off season.

Successful growth requires a systematic approach, a comprehension and understanding of the relevant marketplace and is rarely the result of a fortuitous event – your business won’t grow by accident. Growth must be objectively pursued as an actual business objective. Once you have made the important decision to expand and strengthen your business by way of increased capacity, adding a new product line, forming a strategic alliance, or by any other means, there is no second-guessing. Plan ahead or plan to fail.


Vivienne O’Keeffe, A.A.D., P.E.A., C.I.B.T.A.C., President of Spa Profits Consulting Inc., has earned an international reputation as an expert in designing successful spa concepts. She specializes in working with owners to create profitable spas. As an international consultant she is highly skilled in developing unique product and treatment lines, as well as training programs. Vivienne has studied and trained extensively in the beauty and well-being arena and is a member of ISPA, Leading Spas of Canada (for which she won an Outstanding Industry Service Award in 2001, 2005 and 2012) and the Institute of Management Consultants USA (IMC USA). She is also a published author, having written a wide range of articles on developing and running a successful spa. Spa Profits Consulting Inc. is the only SpaExcellence certified consultancy in North America, and is committed to setting the standard for quality, successful spas on a global level. For more information call 604.921.6245 or email


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