Service is critical, but there is a small number whose league is growing slowly, who will tell you something completely different. What differentiates them, they say, is that they have built their business around the individual, providing an experience and customizing that experience to each client in every way possible.
Spas with a customization philosophy may not always be the hot spas of the moment because what they do is sometimes difficult to explain, and their menus often are sparse and maybe a little vague. The core of what they do is this: they transform clients. That is why they can value their customized services at a considerable premium, cut operating costs substantially, retain staff longer and acquire clients for life.
Many business owners are asking how to take their business to the next level, how to compete, and how to survive. The answer is simple: customize, personalize and provide experiences, not services.
Customizing services and proving the ultimate experience will necessitate breaking from the service myopia, demand interaction with your clients in very personal ways, require rebuilding infrastructure and processes, call for an empowerment of your team members and present some unique obstacles, say the pioneers.
More than service
One-size-fits-all no longer fits just anyone. There is a widespread consensus in the industry that clients are more educated than ever and an educated client is a demanding client. The only way to satisfy each and every client each and every time, is to customize services and create an experience for every client on the spot.
Creating a customization backbone might be difficult at first, but many who have gone through the process agree that in the end, what is constructed will seem so obvious and so simple that they ask themselves how it is they did not see this before.
Spas that are creating customized experiences are each unique in many ways, but all have the following processes in common in some form or another. These steps can be used as your guide to creating your own brand of customization.
1. Break down product services or both into individual modular components that can be comprised of the raw materials in the case of products or the individual actions that make up a service, for example.
2. Construct and utilize a tool that will recommend how the modular parts of the service are assembled to meet the needs of the individual client.
3. Create and guide a client’s level of expectation.
4. Provide the customized product or service according to the recommendation.
5. Solicit feedback.
Empowering team members
For any of this to be possible, it is necessary to empower your team members. They are, after all, on the front lines connecting with the client, making the analysis, delivering the experience and meeting the client’s needs. So from the client’s perspective it is all about the technicians, and this kind of power may cause concern for many a spa owner.
Some unusual obstacles come with customization, such as building a menu. If each service is customized, how do you explain the experience in words?
Customization and menus are not a natural fit. Services are static; customization is dynamic. However, some spas that customize have found various ways to address this problem. A common approach is to build the menu around the service category, the concept or philosophy, and the customization process itself instead of a product or service. If you could capture in words the dynamic nature of the process, clients will be intrigued.
Charging premium prices
Those who customize see their business model and the experiences they manufacture as constantly achieving that perfect fit. Perfection is readily identifiable by clients and they are very willing to pay more for it. Savvy clients know that shopping price usually costs more in the end.
Customization also has the advantage of allowing you to substantially cut costs. This is true because you are buying product components, not finished goods. Since common components will be purchased in bulk, you can obtain a better price. More importantly, you eliminate the cost of variety. In short you achieve economies of both scale and scope.
An added bonus is that the customization approach helps retain staff. If you empower your team members, they will stay and that saves money in the long run. This type of empowerment is not rewarding a good job or team effort. It is putting real responsibility and decision-making ability in their hands.
So, sometime in the very near future when asked what differentiates you from the competition, you just may be able to respond with one very simple word—everything.