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Team building

Posted by on August 31, 2004 in Articles

Team building

By Vivienne O’Keeffe, A.A.D., P.E.A., C.I.B.T.A. 

Published in Spa Management magazine’s August 2004 issue  

The spa industry is compose of a vast number of individuals from all different walks of life, cultural backgrounds, education and standards which can form a volcanic eruption if not skillfully harnessed by a dynamic leader. Considering the largest operating expense expressed as a % to any spa operation is labour, and labour is not only the largest expense but also the largest risk factor for your spa operation.

How dose a facility manage the diversity of its workforce while minimizing risk is an important consideration for every spa director/owner/operator.

It is important to have concise job descriptions, contracts and detailed policies and procedure manuals with through orientation training combined with ongoing assessments to keep individuals focused on the objectives of the facility. However this can be quiet a process if the individual’s fundamental building blocks are different from those communicated and understood.

Investing the time upfront in what is acceptable and what is not acceptable can go a long way towards bridging the gap of understanding and comprehension, with the added benefit of instilling peer group monitoring.

The first most fundamental aspect to team building is to have a very clear context or foundation of understanding between all members of the team, where each individual member’s contributions are welcomed and may be used to form fundamental building blocks of the team context. In the case of an established facility team member contributions can fortify the fundamental building blocks of the team context.

Let us discuss two examples;

We have all had the experience of visiting a spa and anticipating the relaxing experience, only to have our bubble burst by the constant details of the therapist’s personal life and experience.

We have all had the client who says “it was the therapists who is getting married in the Bahamas”!

The avid repeat consumers of the spa experiences are yearning for some down time where they do not have to engage in constant communication and can so to speak check out for a brief period of time. This can be very challenging to achieve if the service provider or therapist is not picking up on the clues and body language of the client.

Some consumers of spa experience want to be inspired and motivated by their service provider by been educated on the benefits of various aspects of the spa experience.

Example # 2 is where a service provider or therapist will not provide proper professional recommendations for a variety of reasons i.e. She dose not like the product herself, he dislikes the management, she would never spend $95.00 on a body cream, preferring to suggest to the customer to use yogurt on her skin, or tea bags on her eyes.

Quiet frankly the consumer is seeking to encapsulate and fortify the experience she/he has received at the spa/wellness facility. The consumer is seeking tools to support his/hers desire for wellness not necessarily home made remedies.

Essential it is a lack of understanding on behalf of the service provider/therapist of the client’s lifestyle and the demands of the time starved spa consumer of to-day.

How do we achieve a solid team structure with in the spa facility?

In essence a team context within a spa environment is firstly a working team as opposed to a committee style decision making team.


A healthy spa team would be committed to achieving the spa’s mission and vision with each individual supporting each others activities. For example a specific therapist is running behind in an effectively functioning team environment the spa front line people would bridge this current gap in the experience for the client/guest with assisting the individual therapist by having the spa attendant change/sanitize/refresh the treatment room in preparation for the next guest.

Building a solid team today is certainly not achieved by using a vertical hierarchy with a stiff job description, in today’s work environment the spa service provider / therapist is in many cases choosing the spa path in an individual desire for personal wellness, contribution and prosperity.

Some fundamental building blocks:

Team building and team spirit is not a process to be quickly completed and ticked off you to-do list or a yearly event. In is a way of being where you are committed to implement team building practices on ongoing consistent bases.

Take the time to ensure the employees understand will in turn leads to buy in and empowerment, setting in action the dynamic synergy of the team environment catalysts.

Jack Kemp
Every team requires unity. A team has to move as one unit, one force, with each person understanding and assisting the roles of his team-mates. If your team doesn’t do this, whatever the reason, it goes down in defeat. You win or lose as a team, as a family.

Helen Keller
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.

Henry Ford
coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.

  • Hire people who are looking to assume responsibility and ownership.
  • Trust the people you hire
  • Empower your team to make decisions that uphold your objectives
  • Teach team members ; empowerment comes with responsibility and accountability.


Vivienne O’Keeffe, A.A.D., P.E.A., C.I.B.T.A., President and CEO of Spa Profits Consulting Inc., has earned an international reputation as an expert in designing successful spa concepts. She specializes in working with owners to create profitable spas. As an international consultant she is highly skilled in developing unique product and treatment lines, as well as training programs. Vivienne has studied and trained extensively in the beauty and well-being arena and is a member of ISPA, Leading Spas of Canada (for which she won an Outstanding Achievement Award in 2012) and the Institute of Management Consultants USA (IMC USA). She is also a published author, having written a wide range of articles on developing and running a successful spa. Spa Profits Consulting Inc. is the only SpaExcellence certified consultancy in North America, and is committed to setting the standard for quality, successful spas on a global level. For more information call 604.921.6245 or email


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