With a very carefully thought out and onboarding business plan, your spa venture should yield profits. However, this may only occur in a few months after your staff understands the spa operations and are well trained in how each part of the business runs in order to understand their role within it.
If executed well, a startup spa can earn you up to Sh150,000 per month on average, so yes, it is profitable. Nonetheless, bear in mind that your spa is all about the services offered and image when clients are seeking services.
Customize your service business in such a manner that attracts and keeps customers that will appeal to them. The spa business is profitable with an enormous potential only if you put your commitment, determination, and great managerial and marketing skills to practice. Present yourself as a professional and it entails attributes like positive attitude, sanitation, and appearance.
A ‘spa’ is a service providing establishment from the Health and Wellness industry offering a range of services that focuses on the overall well-being of the body, mind, and spirit. Some of the important aspects a client benefits from while visiting a spa may include care/beauty, nutrition, weight management, massages, aromatherapy, fitness, preventive or personalized medicine, among others. While spas remain havens of luxury and relaxation, there is very little information on how to run and operate the business, especially in Kenya.
If you intend to venture into your own luxury spa business, this may be the perfect time to get started and while running a new and successful spa can be challenging and intimidating, you will get an intense appreciation from observing your clients visiting the establishment and walking out satisfied as they are able to disconnect and recharge their social batteries.
There is a variant of wellness spas across the country especially within urban centers but none of them hold a dominant position in the industry. Since the business requires a handful of practical and managerial skills, you can begin the spa business by working under an apprenticeship program thus guaranteeing a good reputation from the jump.
Additionally, practical experience from an already established wellness spa will provide you with extensive traditional and digital marketing tools i.e. advertising campaigns. According to the majority of Kenyans, a spa is a relaxation area where people go to receive massages, get manicure and pedicure services, and a place with an additional sauna. Presently, a spa means a place devoted to giving massages, facials, body scrubs, and other services in either a day spa or overnight setting.
Apart from being a skilled practitioner, the requirements of launching a spa in Kenya demands a solid business plan to give guidance on the costs you are likely to incur and this will create a detailed roadmap you can follow by taking the time to carefully follow through your service offerings as it will help you stand out from your competitors.
Below are some of the key decisions to consider when getting into the spa business which in turn helps people unwind from their busy schedules to reduce stress and anxiety, rehabilitate injured areas of their body, or other various health benefits associated with the luxurious treatments you are set to offer. The target market for the wellness services you are offering is mostly the middle class and the lower-middle-class individuals.
Your business plan should cover these important key points as you get started;
- Brand image, goals, and prospects
- Estimated running costs services, equipment sources, pricing strategy, and revenue streams
- Target market and their preferences
- Marketing strategy and positioning
- Uniqueness strategies compared to your competitors
- Financial goals
Spas can be divided into many categories including:
Day Spas –They mostly provide facials, massages, and other beauty treatments that are usually offered in salons for instance waxing, manicures, and pedicures. Day spas are usually centered around city centers and across residential areas.
Resorts and hotel spas- As the name suggests, they are found around many up-market establishments where treatment menus similar to Day spas are offered inside the hotel. Notably, their facilities are more extensive in terms of access to swimming pools and other offers that are part of the hotel’s leisure center. Additionally, some spas partner with already established hotels and share profits.
Mineral Springs Spas-These wellness establishments are usually developed around naturally occurring mineral springs where clients soak for some time to ease physical ailments like joint pain, arthritis, depression, and rheumatism. Each water contains various mineral elements considered beneficial for different ailments.
Medical spas- Popularly known as Medi- Spas, their services range within cosmetic treatments like chemical peels, microdermabrasion, laser treatments, and when supervised with a medical practitioner minimally invasive procedures like Botox and cool sculpting for body fat reduction are offered. Although medical spas aren’t common like day and hotel spas, their presence is steadily growing.
Destination spas- Unlike hotel and resort spas, destination spas offer accommodation by giving an all-rounded experience by offering a serene, calm, and relaxed environment where guests explore rooms, cuisine, and activities. Guests within the venture are usually lounging in robes and slippers to boost their health and meditate.
Requirements for a spa Business Capital
For a regular day spa, you’ll need to invest about Ksh.300,000 to start and run the business for a few months. Small spa owners can use sh. 150,000 to get off the ground. Opening a business banking account is also advisable so as to separate your personal finances from your business expenses.
Because a big portion of the funds will go into setting up the spa and buying the necessary equipment, entrepreneurs get their business projects funded by Kenya’s local banks or SACCOS after they demonstrate concrete business plans, and deep comprehension of the industry.
If setting up a physical location is overwhelming to your budget, you can start by providing mobile spa services like massage, skincare, or body treatments. This ensures minimal startup costs are incurred. Once the spa business is established and running, you will then be in the position to tap more traditional resources with time.
Some financial institutions also have lending programs that provide loans specifically for startups only if you have the necessary collateral, credit history, and business stability evidence.
The advantage of having a steady cash flow while launching the business includes; buying spa equipment, balancing out the cash flow between seasonal peaks in the business, adding more services, hiring staff, and marketing to promote the business and attract new clientele.
Following legal procedures is essential in starting a spa business in Kenya. The permits are used for the legal identification, registration, and operation of the venture.
Averagely, a single business permit will cost you about Ksh. 15,000 and this ensures a smooth run without encountering possible harassment from the local county government and public health officials.
Registering a business name is part of the process via the E-citizen portal alongside a lawyer’s signature is a requirement on the business registration certificate. A local government license is another requirement.
Naturally, prospective customers expect a luxurious experience, and setting the spa in urban centers provides better growth opportunities.While scouting for a rental space in an unfamiliar location, a realtor will come in handy by giving insights about the area plus emerging trends that you may be unaware of.
Choose an establishment that provides easy access to cars or public transit with ample parking space, water supply, stable electricity, security, and sufficient natural lighting that will attract a lot of traffic.
Surrounding buildings or areas should be equally attractive and the neighboring ventures ought to consist of retail businesses that will attract customers to your business as well. Wellness spas can be done from anywhere in the country. In Nairobi, upscale urban locations such as South C, Westlands or Parklands, propagate an easy capture of new prospective clients.
The other potential spaces include but are not limited to urban centers like Kajiado, Nakuru, Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret, and Machakos. If you’re launching the spa in a rural setup, we recommend locating the business in a busy market center. Once you have settled on a conducive rental space with sufficient square footage, make sure the new spa establishment will accommodate the reception and retail area, spa services rooms, treatment rooms, consultation space to discuss treatment options, and post-care treatment.
For smaller rental spaces you can combine functions like the changing rooms, locker rooms, and washrooms. The storage area and waiting bay could be combined into a single space. This is achieved by discussing your layout ideas with a professional interior designer for a colorful, beautiful, and well-decorated ambiance that attracts.
The key factors to consider in locating the business are foot traffic, available parking, competitors, and the surrounding businesses.
Skills, training, and equipment
In an efficient spa setup, every service requires specialized skills and this can be acquired by enrolling in short courses in skin and body care, hair removal services, and make-up services. Having the required certifications will increase your pool of clients. As a successful business owner, the luxury and wellness establishment cannot be solely operated by an individual since the health and wellness business naturally involves training and managing the employees as each possesses various skill sets, experiences, and personalities.
To help maintain a consistent experience for your guests, ensure your new staff has undergone intensive training programs in their areas of specialization as the industry is subject to very high turnover if the working environment is not conducive. The employees should also demonstrate the willingness to work on flexible business hours and still remain inconvenienced by the late schedules at times.
A great idea in hiring competent and trained staff is getting recommendations from a cosmetology college instructor who will bring onboard qualified students and alumni into your team. Apart from the pool of therapists, technicians, and beauty gurus who provide hands-on experience for your guests an administrative assistant is needed for daily tasks like; Ordering supplies, booking appointments, coming up and revising work schedules to accommodate employees’ scheduled time off and personal needs, monitoring expenses, crafting daily or weekly specials, mentoring young or inexperienced staff and troubleshooting problems between staff members or guests.
The purchased equipment depends on the square footage of your venture and the amount of capital invested and of course, the types of services you will be offering.
For Day Spas, showers and locker rooms may be installed and soundproof rooms to offer body therapy services to prospective clients.
The items you many needs include; Massage tables/chairs, linens, washers and dryers for linens, hot towel warmers, storage, eye and face masks, shower supplies (soap, shampoo, conditioners), massage oils, incense, candles, essential oils, wax warmers, hair removal lasers, exfoliating substances and materials, staff uniform and hydrotherapy tubs i.e. Jacuzzi.
The office space will require equipment, like a front desk, chairs, and point-of-sale devices, reception area furniture, and pedicure storage units. Before the business opens, make a list of the most important items you need to launch, and as the spa expands, you may add more items when space and finances allow.
Decide on the spa services to offer in Kenya
It is vital to determine the range of services your spa will offer to prospective clients by presenting to them a “Spa Menu”. The services offered at spas are cut across three categories as follows; skin and body care, hair removal, and makeup.
The Skin and body care spa services are facials, massages, acupuncture, reflexology, and body exfoliation that may involve the use of salt glows, body polish, enzyme peels, and body masks like mud or paraffin, massage services like body massage, facial massage, and hand or foot massages, body wrapping, and packs which are used to reduce cellulite and water retention, hydrotherapy sessions like whirlpool baths and hot tub treatments.
Hair-removal services can include Electrolysis and waxing (face, legs, arms, bikini, back, and underarms) whereas make-up services range from cosmetics application, eyelash & eyebrow tinting, eyelash extensions, ear piercings, facials, manicures, and pedicures.
Creating a great user experience and value addition
Another important aspect of opening a spa business in Kenya is putting yourself in the customer’s shoes while crafting the physical location, website, and social media pages.
Managerial qualities like attention to detail are essential in running your spa brand, both offline and online as these are some of the observations your customers will make when they are seeking a luxurious experience. Design a website and social media profiles that are informative, useful, and visually appealing.
When your online service portfolio sets the right tone, curious customers will understand that the advertised services are consistent with your physical spa’s services. You should want to make it easy for online visitors to learn about your services and book appointments.
You also want to consider offering services designed to attract corporate clients looking for relaxing ways to hold company events depending on the locality of your spa. Arranging your retail merchandise to enhance sales builds an overall elegant image for your spa and the stocked products should preferably be with great scents, health benefits, gift cards, and packaging.
Offering the high-quality products with your business logo reinforces the experience your clients have received from the spa. Treats like tea, lemon water, dried fruit, and nuts from the reception also leave a lasting impression on your guests.
Satisfied spa guests are most likely to purchase products that will remind them of their wonderful “spacation” as they call it. If, for example, your spa will specialize in services like massage, skincare, or body treatments, providing lockers with adequate space makes sense as your clientele will securely and comfortably keep their belongings while relaxing. Soundproofing the rooms will make your business stand out and customers are unlikely to unwind at full potential without any interruptions when the area is free from external sounds.
Another component of unique servicing incorporates well-padded treatment beds mounted at the right height and width to comfortably accommodate your clients.
Such details help set a calm, relaxing tone not forgetting a softly diffuse overhead lighting ambiance that fosters a soothing atmosphere of relaxation and tranquility. Enhancing such effects further can be added by adding sounding systems in each room to play soft music in the background. When cards are played well, with time, a great guest experience ultimately attracts referrals from your clients, customers, friends, colleagues among others and this means growth. Satisfying one customer means getting others.
Opening the spa, pricing, and working hours
After laying out what kind of services our competitors are offering, it’s pretty common knowledge to put into consideration the hours of operation that will accommodate the maximum number of clientele during business days at your spa. Given the beauty business is not the typical 9-5 kind of job, come up with some flexible service hours that guarantee special offers are given to the customers.
To accommodate as many clients as possible, cast your services in a time frame that accommodates everyone’s busy schedule for instance 8 am to 10 pm. A willing client seeking relaxation and wellness therapy will most likely make an appointment that can reward them with an enjoyable experience despite the opening hours.
Oftentimes, late evenings, weekends, and holidays are the ideal times busy mothers or working professionals can get away in pursuit of wellness and personal care, and most Kenyan beauty centers are open from 8 A.M. to 9 P.M, six days a week exclusive of personal bookings. Since the spa industry is primarily dominated by customer satisfaction, keep the appropriate business hours in mind while recruiting staff.
To stand out as a new spa entrepreneur, you have to create a pre-opening buzz while launching the business by welcoming your customers with affordable package pricing on some services rendered. Respond quickly and enthusiastically to online price and service queries keeping in mind if the services are too expensive, you may limit the number of people who can afford them. On the other hand, if the price points are too low, your profit and growth potential will end up limiting and risking the spa business.
The demographics and location of your spa business will also affect the prices of each service. In leafy suburbs like Lavington, Runda, Karen, or Muthaiga where individuals are regarded as high-earning families in high-end homes with plenty of disposable income, prices can be on the higher side depending on the equipment costs, labor, supplies, and profit margins.
If your spa consists primarily of a low to middle-class demographic like Kitengela, South C, and Embakasi, be ready with a spectrum of high to moderate prices packed with special offers with the hopes of bringing in more customers. The money you will earn from the business will cover the salary and benefits of your employees, maintenance, regular upgrades, bills, and your salary.
Along with the rent, your spa employees’ payroll is one of the biggest expenses you’ll have. Make sure they have comfortable uniforms, a work-life balance, and good compensation to keep them motivated.
Marketing and managing a spa business
In the service industry, the cheapest form of advertising is the word of mouth referrals as treatments, customer service, reception and other details evoke positive emotions by creating a unique experience that is different from your competitors.
On an ongoing basis, do everything within your budget and skills to provide excellent service to your spa customers and it is achieved by making sure that the general appeal is consistent across all your digital-driven platforms. Ensure a steady stream of customers, both new and recurring and this involves the use of marketing tactics like promotional discounts, social media tools, and a SEO-friendly website to bait new customers where they can seamlessly make bookings.
Taking the time to carefully offer monthly or weekly specials and drafting a preferred client mail list also helps your team quickly keep tabs with your loyal customers. Posters, brochures, flyers, and word of mouth help your spa reach a good demographic and generate pre-opening buzz and thereafter your wellness business.
Another key component in making customers fall in love with your brand is rewarding them occasionally as it provokes them to positively attach to your business hence amplifying their trust, loyalty, and overall appreciation for your company. It might be tempting to start the spa business with continuous discounts to attract all price-conscious clients and while it’s appropriate to give discounts and implement a referral program, know your value as a service provider and don’t discount all of your services.
In Kenya day spas include places like Saffron Day Spa and Salon, Wild Earth Day Spa, Serenity Spa, Aromatics Spa, Devarana Spa, Kaya Spa, Entim Sidai wellness sanctuary among others. Hotel and resort spas in the country are the Villarosa Kempiski, Entim Sidai Wellness Sanctuary, Hemingways Nairobi, and Azure Hotel Nairobi.
How the spa business has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic
When the COVID-19 crisis branched into the Kenyan borders, the spa and wellness industry was forced to shut down in adherence to strict hygiene standards and regulations for the safety of employees and guests.
Presently, spa businesses in Kenya are streamlining their customer’s experience and operations by minimizing physical contact through digital features like online booking, to accommodate cleaning time between bookings. Spas with retail businesses are fully operational online and still dispatching deliveries to their clients for products like massage oil, shampoo, or essential oils when visiting in person becomes difficult.
Because tight operational structures have been put in place by the government thanks to the pandemic, the wellness and spa industry has experienced immense transformation and the venture now requires additional hygiene and cleanliness standards to stay afloat.