Hitting the road with mobile spas
Are you trying to expand your spa business? Unsure how to tap into new markets and grow your demographic?
Spa Inc’s Alexander McLeave interviews Vivienne O’Keeffe
The solution may be to hit the road and start your very own mobile spa. “Most spas can’t accommodate 30 people and we can,” says Joanna Wright, co-owner of Wright Spa Mobile Service. “We bring everything to you, the entire spa experience, and make your office or home feel like a real spa.” Wright began her mobile spa business in 2010 with her twin sister, Juanita, with the intention of creating a unique service that would reach people far and wide. They originally began the business in Washington D.C., where Juanita was already an established celebrity make-up artist. Originally from Canada, the twins decided to start their business on familiar soil. Their company now reaches clients all over the Toronto area and they do everything from small events to larger corporate events. Once, they even did an event for Google.
Diana Strickland’s reasons for starting her own mobile spa were a bit different. The owner of Diana’s Divine Escape Mobile Spa says she wanted to reach seniors and those who did not have the means to get to a spa on their own. “I provide a needed service to seniors, clients with cancer, MS, ALS, Parkinson’s, dementia, new moms, and those who have had recent surgery,” Strickland says. “One of the main advantages to having a mobile spa is that clients don’t have to worry about little things, like finding a babysitter for a few hours or leaving the house looking like a mess, and this adds a level of comfort to the whole event.” Strickland’s mobile spa services clients all across the Waterloo, Ontario region, and is helping to bring spa treatments to those who would otherwise go without.
Operating a mobile spa gives spa owners the freedom to determine their own schedule and be flexible about when and where they book appointments. “Therapists love the freedom and the income, it is very attractive to them, especially part-time therapists,” says Vivenne O’Keeffe, President of Spa Profits Consulting Inc. “Employees enjoy the freedom and change of scenery mobile spas afford,” says Robert Cass, CEO of Spaformation. “You’re not tied the same place every day.” Working for a mobile spa operation allows employees to break away from the dreaded 9-5 schedule.
One of the keys to the success of the mobile spa operation is its ability to tap into populations of potential clients in rural and hard to reach areas. “Mobile spas are flexible with their timing and have the ability to adjust to a larger client population,” Joanna Wright says. “This broadens the reach of people that they can service.” Strickland says she travels about 500 to 1,000 kilometres a month for business. Considering the mobile nature of the business, the amount of services these spas provide are varied. “I offer manicures, pedicures, advanced foot care, nail art, waxing, facials, massage, reflexology, hair washing, cutting and styling, Reiki, henna and brow tinting,” Strickland says. Wright says that at Wright Mobile Spa they will also bring a caterer with them if the event they are attending calls for it. Wright says her mobile spa business can accommodate 100 people at corporate events and she has about 20 spa technicians working for her.
Another challenge mobile spas face is the variable quality of » facilities they have available to them as they go from client to client. Mobile spas need to think about how much equipment they can bring with them and what type of transportation they will use. “There are generally no pre-treatment areas,” O’Keeffe says. “There often aren’t any steam or sauna areas, laundry facilities, areas to sterilize equipment, and of course the therapist doesn’t have a lot of personal space.”
One of the greatest advantages of a mobile spa operation is the low start-up costs. Traditional spas have a lot of expenses associated with maintaining a permanent address, such as utilities, insurance, mortgage payments, or buying the land where the spa is located, Cass says. What mobile spas save on the initial expenses of getting a spa operation off the ground, they spend on making sure staff is well trained. “[Your staff] needs to be able to set up and operate the equipment properly, and some of the equipment is quite heavy too,” Cass says. “If you are mobile and you don’t have the right materials, you’re out of luck, you have no backup.”
With lower start-up costs and the potential to reach an untapped market, starting a mobile spa is a tempting prospect. Whether it involves packing up a traditional brick and mortar location and hitting the road or adding a mobile service to an already existing spa, moving to a mobile spa format is something to be carefully considered.
For Spa Clients
Too busy to go to the spa? Have the spa come to you! Check out these Canadian mobile spa services:
Diana’s Divine Escape Mobile Spa.
Based in Waterloo, Ontario, this mobile spa has experience working with seniors, cancer patients and others dealing with health issues. Diane Strickland will come to your home, office, nursing home or hospital.
Wright Spa Mobile Service.
This Toronto-based traveling day spa service employs a network of fully licensed estheticians, massage therapists, manicurists, hair stylists and make-up artists. They only use all-natural products with no preservatives or harsh chemicals.
Thyme Out Beauty Bus.
The Beauty Bus team drives around in a retrofitted Airstream mobile home, bringing spa and beauty services to the Calgary and Edmonton, regions. As an added bonus, they also make their own natural spa products.
Feel Fabulous Mobile Spa.
This mobile spa service specializes in parties for children and teens. It also offers customized party invitations, spa robes, slippers, spa decor, music, and goody bags. Feel Fabulous has three locations in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
Published in Spa Inc. May 2018 newsletter
Loved this article. It brings out some of the real challenges that mobile spas face that are usually not taken into consideration by our clients. We ensure they have the ultimate spa experience at home, and with that comes a huge coordination and organization effort on the business owner and the entire team. Every location is different and presents its own challenges. We must have all the necessary equipment, tools, linens, products, and supplies to provide the various treatments, and usually in very limited space. It requires hauling equipment up and down stairs, into elevators, or possibly through large facilities like conference centres and hotels. There is additional time that must be to accounted for travelling to and from the location, setting up and taking down spa stations, and finding parking in many cases. The team has to be flexible, able to work under constantly changing environments, and able to think quick on their feet, particularly at group events when scheduling changes occur if clients get preoccupied with mingling and socializing. We want to bring the convenience and luxury to our clients, so they are unaware of the orchestra of effort that is taking place behind the scene.
Thank you Trudy.