With Mother’s Day on the horizon, spa owners know that now’s a crucial time for their bottom lines. Not only can your spa’s gift card sales skyrocket with the right marketing campaign, but you can also use the holiday to secure some happy new regulars. In particular, reaching out to new mothers—pregnant clients and those who have just welcomed bundles of joy into the world—has become an essential element of running a successful spa. “The pregnancy market is significant,” says Stacy Denney, founder of marketing/education outfit Belly Friendly. “More than 16,000 pregnant moms enter the market every day in the United States.”
These women seek healing, calming and nurturing experiences to help them weather the ups and downs of pregnancy and new motherhood. Plus, most women become increasingly aware during their pregnancies of the need to take care of themselves. “Pregnancy involves a changing body every single week, and massage therapy can do much to relieve the stress and strain,” Denney explains. “Also, women are waiting to have children later in life, and these clients are more wellness-focused, and have more disposable income.”
Answering the call for care is what day spas do best. But doing it right is key. Spa-going mamas know the difference between a truly targeted treatment—not to mention a properly trained therapist—and a mere facsimile. They need something beyond a so-called “prenatal” service that offers little more than a gentle touch.
“The two most common complaints we hear [from pregnant clients] about massage from a non-specializing spa are: ‘They barely touched me, when I really needed relief,’ and, ‘I left the spa in more pain than when I started,’” Denney says. “Smart spa owners should make sure their entire staff is trained to meet the specific needs of pregnant clients.”
Beyond specialized treatment, these clients also seek comfort—physical, mental and emotional. Denney stresses the importance of developing a comforting ambiance as well as a staff that’s equipped to offer emotional support in addition to treatment. “Pregnant women, especially first-timers, are full of questions and fears that need to be addressed and relieved,” she says.
In an effort to help all spa owners benefit from expert strategies, DAYSPA investigated several maternity-focused business operations. Here are three that shine.
Every expectant parent anxiously awaits the moment when she can finally view her baby in utero; it’s the picture that validates the miracle. Oftentimes, however, this takes place in a sterile, chilly and fluorescent-lit doctor’s office. This is why spa owner Patti Justice sought to create a relaxing, warm environment for parents and family members experiencing this unforgettable moment.
After years as a massage therapist specializing in prenatal treatments, Justice ventured out on her own to more fully serve the mom-to-be demographic—she opened Blooming Pregnancy Spa & Imaging Center in 2010 to “answer a calling,” she says. “Pregnancy is such a special and sacred time. I wanted to honor it.”
In addition to pre- and postnatal spa services—including massage, facials and nontoxic nail care—Blooming offers 3D/4D ultrasound imaging. Trained sonographers perform the procedure, reveal the sex of the baby (if requested), and send parents packing with CD-ROMs and color prints featuring their newest addition. The whole family can relax on couches and sip spa water while viewing ultrasound images on a big screen!
There’s much more than massage on the treatment menu, too. Blooming offers pre-conception massage (aimed at boosting fertility), as well as postpartum services such as doula counseling; breastfeeding support groups; and “baby-friendly Tuesdays,” during which clients can bring their pre-crawling infants into the spa. And here’s an add-on any expectant mom would die for: For $25, a 30-minute nap can be tacked on to the end of any treatment.
Blooming’s environment is so relaxing, that the staff braces itself for the possibility of a full-term mother going into labor on-site! “We’ve never had an emergency in the spa,” Justice says. “But we have helped jump-start labor for past-due clients with our specialized acupressure treatment—and then had them be wheeled into delivery 12 hours later.”
Opening year: 2010
Square footage: 2,100
Facilities: Ultrasound screening room, acupuncture studio, pedicure area, 2 treatment rooms
No. of employees: 9
Average service ticket: $115
Product lines: Mama Mio, Naturopathica
Targeted retail: Stretch mark cream, belly support systems, compression support for post-partum moms, aromatherapy stuffed animals for baby
Most popular treatments: Prenatal Massage (60 min./$79), Signature Hot Stone Pedicure (40 min./$60), 3D/4D Ultrasound Package (20 min./$139)
Annee Ingala knew when she opened her maternity spa in 2006 that, with the right business plan, she’d secure a steady stream of clients. Simply put, women will always have babies. “There is no other local spa that specializes in these services, yet there will always be women in need of us,” she says.
To attract clients to Zenana, Ingala advertises in local parenting publications and makes personal impressions by attending events targeted at expectant parents. In the process, she has built close relationships with OB/GYNs, midwives and pediatricians, who advise her on the latest safety procedures and provide referrals that keep her business thriving. “Word-of-mouth has been our best source of marketing,” Ingala says. “It’s extremely important, because women want to know they’ll be treated with extra-special care and attention while they’re pregnant.”
Zenana offers more than the average lineup of maternity services, although prenatal massage remains a top-seller. Wellness options include prenatal yoga classes, hypnotherapy, acupuncture, and lactation and midwife consultations. Spa packages were designed to encourage repeat visits throughout a client’s pregnancy. For example, the Mama’s Dream ($515) includes three prenatal and one postnatal massage, as well as a facial, pedicure and plaster cast of the client’s “baby bump,” created just before delivery.
And once these women give birth, Ingala and her staff—all of whom are specially trained in prenatal therapies and contraindications—continue to encourage new parents to take time for themselves. “These clients have the least amount of free time, yet need spa services the most,” Ingala says. “We try to personally connect after their baby is born to remind mothers how important spa and wellness services are.”
Opening year: 2006
Square footage: 3,000
Facilities: 5 massage rooms, facial room, nail area, studio space for fitness and education classes
No. of employees: 35
Average service ticket: $70
Product lines: Éminence Organic Skin Care, Zoya
Targeted retail: Breast pumps, nursing bras, diaper bags
Most popular treatments: Prenatal Massage (90 min./$120),
Serenity Pedicure (60 min./$55), Flourish Facial (60 min./$80)
Here’s a mantra all spa owners should adopt: Happy employees make happier clients. And Baby Belly owner Crystal Nichols committed it to memory early on. “Satisfied employees treat clients well and go above and beyond because they strive to be their best,” she says. This extra effort is especially important when catering to prenatal and postnatal clients, whose senses, sensitivity and emotions are on high alert. “I take extra time and attention to find the right staff to fit into this unique environment,” says Nichols, who also regularly sends out staff for continuing education training to keep their skills razor-sharp.
To draw clients to the spa, Nichols makes good use of direct marketing methods. “We advertise in a variety of print publications, cross-market with businesses that have similar clienteles, and get the word out via social media, referral reward systems and direct mail.” Maintaining steady Facebook and Twitter presences, in particular, has been a boon for business. “Expectant women love to talk to other moms online about their unique experiences,” Nichols says.
She also pushes Baby Belly’s membership program—which offers discounts and rewards on prenatal massage, couples’ fertility massage, infant massage instruction, leg and foot treatments, facials, nontoxic nail services, postnatal therapies and more—to encourage clients to visit the facility throughout and beyond pregnancy. Belly castings and 3D ultrasounds are also available.
Nichols places emphasis on easing the fears of first-time mothers—namely, quelling myths about the dangers of spa services during pregnancy. “There are only risks if the therapists are not certified and qualified in the correct protocols, or if unsafe product or equipment is used,” she says. The spa’s back bar and retail area are stocked with chemical-free, maternity-targeted products only. “That is why I opened Baby Belly, so that expectant women would no longer have to worry about these issues,” Nichols says. “We make it clear we’ve done all the due diligence to make spa-ing completely safe and beneficial for them.”
Opening year: 2008
Facilities: 2 treatment rooms, 2 nail areas, relaxation room, retail area, waiting area
No. of employees: 10
Average service ticket: $69
Product lines: Mama Mio, Naturopathica, Zoya
Targeted retail: Infant carriers, maternity support belts, nursing covers, diaper bags
Most popular treatments: Perfect Pregnancy Massage (60 min./$79), Signature Hot Stone Pedicure (60 min./$59)
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