It seems to be a global challenge within the spa industry with a lack of experienced spa therapists.
The answer is simple - because there is a lack of career development within the spa industry.
Many spa therapists would like to develop their skills to become an even better qualified therapist or a spa trainer or a spa manager but what career path are we setting out for our staff to enable them to grow and develop?
Only last month a spa I was consulting in lost a spa therapist to a popular supermarket chain because they were paying more money. How do you go from 2 or 3 years in college working at a career you are naturally gifted at and truly passionate about, to stacking shelves in a supermarket? What a waste of therapist skills and talent.
But I blame us as the managers/directors and owners of the companies for not setting a clear career development path for our staff to work towards so they feel they are progressing in their job.
Becoming a spa therapist is not easy like many seem to think. The education including anatomy and physiology is not for air heads, understanding the body so you can give the best most results driven massage is no easy job or understanding the facial skin conditions to truly get a working knowledge of what products to use to give the client the best results and not cause irritation to the skin.
For those therapists who have studied further with energy healing, aromatherapy, ayurveda and much more – these therapists know more about how the human body works than most out there.
So why do we give them a job, pay them a basic wages maybe with a little commission and not consider where they want to be in 10 years time or where the spa as a business is going to be in 10 years time?
It’s time for change.
It’s time for the management of the spa world to start making changes to the spa industry. Otherwise we will continue to struggle to get qualified therapists with experience; we will continue to have new spa managers who have only been promoted because they were the longest in their department or the best retailer – we need them to have the skills, knowledge and better still the experience and qualifications to take the next step in the career.
Some of your team may not want to go on the developmental path and we need those types of therapists too but in order for us to start reducing the cost of recruitment and new hire induction training we need to make a change now.
Create a career path that may take some of your therapists to another spa eventually, some will remain loyal and want to stay where they are regardless. They will become ambassadors for your business, you will become known for being ‘that spa who really carers about their staff and their professional progression’.
Back many moons ago I used to start my new hires as spa attendants, they would prove their worth at this level (usually starting as interns), while they took on this role I would give them the therapist training and induction training and give them an opportunity to show how committed they are to developing their skills. Once they had passed all the training and the practical trade tests they would be rewarded with a promotion to spa therapist. But they would already be aware that within 12 months there would be more developmental training to take them to the next skill level as a therapist and so on.
As Richard Branson said ‘Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to’.