Ready for Medi Spa?
Will your business benefit from medi-spa treatments like laser and CoolSculpting? What you need to ask yourself
By Vivienne O’Keeffe
Published in Spa Inc. magazine’s Summer 2017 issue
Many spas have already added medical spa treatments to their existing list of services. The two most prominent ones – laser treatments and CoolSculpting® – require not only a significant capital outlay, but also staff and training to run them.
The first step in figuring out if they’re right for you is to look at your clients’ current and evolving needs. Will existing (and potential) clients accept medi-spa treatments from your facility as readily as from an established medi-spa business? Is there room for your new offerings? Can you excel at these treatments enough to lead the market?
Good equipment is expensive to buy new and maintain (anywhere from about $70-$150K). How about leasing? How many machines will you need? Are there consumables required, and what are their costs? What about physical changes to accommodate them – maybe new lighting and ventilation? How much will you need to spend on promotion?
Put everything on a spreadsheet to see if the numbers work.
Are you prepared to train new staff?
Every medi-spa treatment needs trained, certified and experienced staff. Do you have people qualified for laser or non-invasive treatments? Do they know skin’s anatomy and physiology? Can they identify skin types and do they have a sound understanding of the technology? Some spas are actually providing laser treatments after just one day of training.
Clear communication by a trained and experienced technician before and after a treatment lets clients know what to expect – keeping in mind that each person will react differently. Will your technician have the confidence and experience to refuse a treatment if necessary?
You’ll also need to allow time for delivery and set-up of equipment and training to deliver treatments without complications. And if you are planning to move staff away from their existing areas of expertise to perform the new treatments, how will this affect the quality of your service delivery and your revenue? Maintaining your high standards means keeping all your services top-notch.
Understanding and adhering to contraindications and post care, such as sun or tanning bed exposure, is compulsory. You will need to record your consultations and correctly document each treatment.
What are the risks?
Be wary of offshore companies advertising inexpensive IPL, laser and other knockoff machines. There may be customs requirements and fees involved, not to mention exchange rates and CSA certification fees. Getting imported equipment approved for use in Canada could cost more overall including insurance and certification. In fact, it may end up not being approved due to the classification it may fall into.
CoolSculpting treatments can be done by technicians – with licensed MDs standing by when their opinions are needed – about three in 10 times, according to one clinic source. Regulations can change overnight, so before you spend a nickel, check out the latest laws. And ask your insurer what your increased liability policy will cost (due to your increased exposure to risk).
Do one thing well
After all your research, you may decide that adding a medi-spa treatment will not enhance your business at all – and that’s fine. Far better to grow steadily and surely than to expand erratically without a strategy.
That said, keep in mind that specialization is a big trend today. If you can’t be a market leader with a new service, maybe you can be with one of your existing services. Being clear on your long-term strategy will make these important questions easier to answer.
Putting a spotlight on laser treatments
Like dandelions in the spring, lasers have been busting out all over – in salons, spas and other facilities across the country. Issues are largely preventable with adequate training, but the training many laser companies provide is woefully sparse. Most complications arise from inaccurate skin typing, choosing the wrong laser, treating inappropriate skin, not screening for contraindications, and equipment malfunction. Improperly performed laser hair removal can cause burns or permanent scarring or hyper or hypopigmentation. Lasers used wrongfully to treat suspicious skin lesions can leave harmful medical conditions including skin cancer undiagnosed.
Laser treatments can work well, of course. But the technology has been around for awhile and could easily be overshadowed by more recent innovations. Best you proceed with caution.
Vivienne O’Keeffe, AAD, PEA, CIBTAC, is President of Spa Profits Consulting Inc., and an expert in designing successful spa concepts. She is also an international consultant in developing product lines, treatment plans and training programs, a member of ISPA and Spa Industry Association of Canada (for which she won an Outstanding Industry Service Award in 2001, 2005 and 2012), and a member of International Management Consultants Inc.