Death to the common, the average, the standard! As the spa industry evolves more and more consumers will want the impossible. They will want to go to a spa for an hour, at a competitive rate and expect to be transformed into (some personal goal here) and feel better than ever immediately. The good news…?  If your spa can accomplish that (fill in the feeling here) you win!

What is a Dream?

The Simon and Schuster second edition of Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines “dream” as: a state of abstraction or reverie in which a day dream occurs, a sequence of sensations, images or thoughts passing through a sleeping person’s mind. To imagine as possible, to conceive of, imagine, or devise by giving free reign to the imagination. Shadowy, vague, inconceivable and misty are also terms used when speaking of the definition of “dream.”  How does management and operations deal with such an undefined, transitory, personal list of requirements?

Former Ferrari North America CEO Gian Luigi Longinotti-Buitoni says, “A dream is a complete moment in the lifetime of a client. The lure of important experiences tempts the client to commit substantial resources to become what they want to be.”  Isn’t that what marketing has always been about, after all?  Selling a lifestyle; creating a vision; extending an experience?  However, the spa industry has taken the experience past the ad and spas are now being asked to be the dream fulfillment department. Consumers have latched on to the marketing and are now asking for the dream—in an hour.

Where do you fit in?

What this really means is that as spa owners you need to figure out whom you are and specifically identify your target market.  It is no longer acceptable to say, “I want to service the affluent in our community…” That is so old and tired anyway, but in today’s market that is a ticket to bankruptcy. The new paradigm is, “We service 20-25 year olds who prefer an hour long lunchtime service that averages $70.” It is essential that you know each detail of their routine including what they want beyond what you offer.  Most consumers at the high end of the market will pay more to get more. They want value-added and that doesn’t mean more fries it means better fries. So, are you a drive through fast food spa or a five-star? It is fine to be a drive through.  There is a market for reasonably priced, convenient and average. If you are going to go five-star, however, you need to change your way of doing business immediately.

Think about it. If you made a million or more dollars a year, which isn’t as atypical as you might guess, would you go to Starbucks or drink instant coffee?  Would you drive a Hyundai or a BMW?  Would you go to Big Lots or to Talbot’s? In fact, wouldn’t you prefer something better than the high end options?  For many affluent consumers time is money. Why settle for less?

Go Beyond Your Brand

When you meet up with a great friend of many years what do you do?  You express, you emote, you exclaim, you evoke!  When you are in a comfortable spot doing something you love you become one with the experience. A close relationship is many things but one thing experienced in a good relationship is comfort. You know what to expect. A brand is exactly the same thing—it is an old friend, something that you can always count on.  Like any good relationship a brand will change and evolve and yet its essence stays in tact. A brand is a way of life. In fact, great brands become a part of society. What is the essence of your brand? What do your old friends, or your target market, love about your spa? What do you keep and what do you refine?

How do “dreams” feel?

It has been an adage that the spa experience and a client are akin to a bride on her wedding day.  There must be zero defects, zero tolerance, every aspect of the spa exchange must be flawless or you will lose the client and probably be forced to offer a refund no matter how slight the error. We are entering a new realm. Think about the small Italian eatery that isn’t that amazing but where the Ziti is divine. Think about the old methodology of Nike to build a better shoe; an ugly but “better shoe.” Think about Graeters ice cream produced in Cincinnati: for just under $10 per pint you can experience Oprah endorsed ice cream. Just under $10 a pint!  The message is, do something better than anyone else on the planet. Your spa doesn’t need to be the Taj Mahal. You don’t need to have a gigantic facility. Speak in CAPITAL LETTERS! Be very clear about what you are extraordinary at delivering. Be extremely focused. Make your customers fall in love with you at first sight. Be intoxicating! Create their dream-state.

Dramatically Alter your Organization’s Reality

First of all your spa should be running smoothly before you begin tinkering with anything.  Raise the bar and then ask yourself, “How do we rate?” From 1 to 10 you should already be very close to a 10.  Then look at your spa through the eyes of the client you want to have. What specifically is your spa doing right and what are you doing poorly? Maximize your value added by fulfilling the dreams of your target audience. Invest in creating a better experience for what those consumers are begging for. Invest in the long term vision of your brand. It isn’t enough to have had a good week. As a forward-thinking spa owner or director you must be managing the clients experience not only in the next day but for the lifetime of your brand.

Moreover, share the wealth among your employees. What are their dreams? I can guarantee that if you manage your employees’ dreams as much as you manage them you are going to see performance like you have never imagined possible. In fact, I would advise that you either select a cult leader or become the visionary that takes your team to the next level. Either way, develop a position for a “cultural” leader who lives and breathes the mission of the spa. Allow your employees to take risks in the name of giving better than great customer service. Get creative in how your spa will be changing for the better and encourage your clan of spa technicians to help you build the new way of winning. Lead emotionally: by assigning more responsibility, freedom and leadership roles to employees you will build an eclectic team that is passionate and dedicated to your spa. Don’t simply extend the dreamtime experience to clients; grow it into your employees. Don’t simply be content to offer spa services. Become a dream fulfillment center.