DAYSPA Diamond: Faces DaySpa in Hilton Head Island, SC

Faces DaySpa owner Patricia Owen

Nestled among the rolling greens of golf courses, luxury boutiques and the white, sandy beaches of the Atlantic, Faces DaySpa is up against stiff competition to lure—and keep—its tourist-heavy clientele. So how does it win the race against the myriad hotel and resort spas in the area? Owner Patricia Owen’s modus operandi is: in order to receive, you must give, give, give.

“I believe it is our comprehensive rewards program that keeps our clients loyal,” Owen says. And the rewards are plentiful: discounts to first-timers; a top-100 club; birthday gift certificates; seasonal specials; and credits for referrals and retail purchases keep clients happy and coming back. “We want them to know how much we value them,” Owen says.

The personal approach has paid off. Faces is one of the largest and most successful day spas in the Southeast, boasting more than $1 million in annual gross revenue, with a quarter of those profits from retail sales. And while the majority of Faces’ clients are tourists, Owen successfully recruits locals through a relentless gift-certificate campaign. Faces sold more than $130,000 in gift certificates during the 2010 holiday season alone. “Not only are gift certificates an infusion of cash flow,” Owen says, “they serve as a guarantee of future business.”

Faces’ growth has been steady since its opening in 1983. Once relocating and twice expanding, it now boasts 3,000 square feet of treatment and retail space, with plans to open an additional location in the near future. But Owen isn’t one to take her success without a grain of salt. “In many ways it’s been a double-edged sword,” she says. “We are judged by a much higher standard. Our clientele have visited the best spas around the globe; we have to be willing and able to deliver world-class service in everything we do.”

How she does that while maintaining an intimate, cozy day spa environment comes down to flexibility. “I believe the most successful people are good at plan B,” Owen says. Which is why she constantly re-evaluates her business, challenges her staff and rethinks her marketing techniques.

Some of the things that have helped her keep a competitive edge include launching an aggressive social media campaign, working closely with local tourist organizations and hotels to boost referrals, requiring frequent continuing education for employees, and even keeping therapists on their toes by subjecting them to occasional visits from secret shoppers. “The goal of having secret shoppers is to ensure that each and every client gets treated to the ultimate spa experience,” Owen explains, “even if it is the very last client of the day.”

And her rigorous standards haven’t diminished staff loyalty. Owen says it’s just as important to keep her therapists and managers happy as it is her clients. In the spa’s 28 years, she hasn’t had to lay off a single employee. “Faces has a culture much like a close family. We not only work together but frequently play together,” she says. “Our staff understands the importance of sharing responsibility for their success.”

They also understand the importance of giving back. Owen rarely says no to a charity that knocks on her door. “When we donate to a local charity or participate in a charitable event, we are able to connect with the heartbeat of the community,” Owen says. “What we get in return is priceless.” —Heather Wood Rudúlph