We’re told from a young age to chase our dreams, do what we love, work hard and climb the ladder – but what happens if that ladder is missing a few critical rungs? Do you fall through the gap or do you take that giant leap?
To succeed in any career takes dedication, hard work, focus and opportunity – and the means to develop those qualities so as to ascend the career ladder.
Spa and aesthetics industry veteran Vanessa Main has long been concerned at what she sees as critical gaps in spa and beauty management training in Australia.
To that end she has started her own consultancy, The Loft Studio, which is launching a series of Business MasterClasses in September that offer a variety of educational courses to deliver relevant and tangible content to various levels of industry.
Vanessa is among Australia’s (and the world’s) most experienced industry advisors, spa operators and strategists.
Having spent the majority of the last decade living and working overseas she has first-hand experience of the challenges faced by business owners and operators in today’s uncertain economic climate and has her finger on the pulse of global industry trends.
As a specialist in commercial spa operations and creation of signature spa brands for hospitality groups, she has worked extensively across Asia Pacific, Australia and the Middle East overseeing new spa developments and ensuring that the spa discipline performs commercially within the broader hotel framework. Key to her focus has been to ensure that spas deliver a solid ROI for investors and operators.
Now having returned to Australia, she has brought to reality a long-awaited dream of starting her own business, The Loft Studio, a boutique consultancy service specialising in spa, beauty and wellness brand development, education and commercial solutions.
‘The spa and beauty industry is bursting with passionate individuals who remain dedicated, hard-working and focused,’ says Vanessa.
‘However, as a global industry, I believe career progression, succession planning and opportunity has been severely lacking.
‘Since its inception, our industry has been driven by trade qualifications with a heavy emphasis on educating and training people for entry-level positions such as beauty and massage therapists, hairdressers and nail technicians.
‘The focus and consistent development approach has been from the bottom up with little attention being paid to development from the top down.
‘The predicament this situation presents to industry is an abundance of trained therapists with a complete lack of opportunity for clear career progression.
‘I have spoken to many therapists who have actually left the industry because of this exact problem.
‘Due to a significant lack of external education and training opportunities, individuals must rely on operating businesses and employers to provide internal training, up-skilling and development of management abilities.
‘More often than not this is not sustainable for business operators as it is time-intensive and detracts from a therapist’s revenue generation.
‘Add to this a low level of staff loyalty and commitment, plus the possibility that smaller businesses do not need to groom managers as the owner holds this role, and we have a serious predicament indeed.’
A typical career progression within the spa, beauty, and now clinical aesthetics landscape looks like this:
- Senior therapist
- Spa/salon trainer
- Supervisor/assistant manager
- Muti-unit manager
- Business owner
In an ideal world this career path provides six opportunities for promotion or change for an individual to move from being a therapist to manager or to business owner.
However, the reality is that these positions don’t exist in every business. Often the senior therapist and trainer roles are combined.
The supervisor and assistant manager roles do not exist in all operations in this industry. There is only a handful of multi- unit manager roles available within the Australian market and not everyone wishes to become an owner.
‘If we factor in all these things it significantly decreases the available career opportunities,’ says Vanessa.
‘Additionally, we also need to consider non-therapist roles in this mix: important roles such as reception, administration, customer service, sales and marketing. This approach applies to everyone.
‘Spa, clinic and salon operations are a business just like any other and need to be managed effectively in order to deliver sound commercial returns.
‘In order to do this well in the future we must provide development opportunities to people so they can become competent professionals with a mature outlook on business.
‘I am exceptionally passionate about growing relevant education solutions, and closing the gaps that currently exist. By doing this, we are supporting not just the growth of the industry but career development opportunities for individuals.’
The Loft Studio’s Business MasterClass series comprises two streams:
D.E.V.E.L.O.P. is being held in Melbourne on September 8 and 9; in Sydney, September 22 and 23. This master class is perfect for assistant managers, supervisors or people looking to enter the spa and beauty industry. The content focuses on spa as business, plus management skills, understanding financial performance, leadership skills, innovation and developing professional maturity. It is perfect for anyone looking to develop a career into a supervisor, management or leadership role.
T.H.R.I.V.E. is being held in Melbourne on September 10 and 11; in Sydney, on September 24 and 25. It focuses on commercial performance, business and consumer trends, tactical strategy, benchmarking, leadership and innovation. This class is ideal for business owners, spa/clinic managers and anyone in a leadership role.
The Loft Studio will also be presenting a series of short courses targeting various topics including Professional Development, Building and Managing Teams, Succession Planning and Business Management.