Spa Faux Pas – Avoid Embarrassment

It’s time to consider codes of conduct for staff and clients alike, writes Ashleigh Sharman.

You know the story. The client who didn’t take any clothes off for a massage or the one who took everything off for a brow wax; the client whose tampon shot across the room during a Brazilian or the client who didn’t know how to shower properly after a body scrub.

Amusing stories and client dramas are often shared with other therapists but what are you actively doing to ensure this doesn’t happen in your workplace?

Professional knowledge can mean therapists assume too much, agrees co-owner of Mineral Lifestyle Hair Spa, Kristy Hines, who says it is up to salons and spas to set the house rules for staff and clients.

“Don’t assume anything when it comes to clients,” she says. “Always treat them as a first-time guest and make this part of your spa culture. We have long-time clients who continue to stand and wait for instructions in the treatment room every single time. It’s quite beautiful.”

“We could mock this but it’s actually very sweet and respectful in that they are completely giving themselves to you. You need to see it like that.

“If you notice a common faux pas from your clients you have to assume that this is not the common view of those outside the industry – and you have to remedy it. Embrace it, and build a culture around educating your guest.”

Kristy communicates client etiquette on her website, treatment menu, consultation forms, over the phone and in person, between therapist and client – stressing again that neither she nor her staff can ever assume the client has read and understood everything.

Kristy supports this culture through training and strict internal processes. In such a structured environment, no matter what the experience of the therapist, there is a script designed for every situation. From the moment the therapist meets their client, Kristy stresses the importance of ‘flow’, not only for the client and their journey but also for the business.

spa-etiquette“While every therapist is allowed to be themselves, we need to cover certain topics consistently to avoid miscommunication and also deal with inappropriate behaviour,” she says. “Our induction and training program takes a big commitment.”

“You have to be constantly mentoring and coaching your team in order the make the script, and hence protocol, part of what they do. My mantra here, the hardest part of what we do, is being consistent with every guest 100 percent of the time; and that comes from script.”

The reality then is that both staff and clients need to feel supported at every step of the way, in protocols that affect their behaviour. Define your house rules, mentor your team, show off your professionalism, listen, watch, turn the amusing stories into lessons and don’t forget to stay in touch with the client experience. By stepping into their shoes you’ll understand that you are the master of your treatment room. The ‘flow’  is you.

Kristy Hines, Mineral Lifestyle Hair Spa

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