How to Open a Spa: 10 Things You Need to Do Before Starting

For many spa professionals, opening your own spa is the ultimate dream. To help you get started on the right foot, we put together a step-by-step guide of ten things you need to do to open a spa, from planning the services you’ll offer and equipment you’ll need to getting an all-in-one business management solution and marketing your spa.

How to Open a Spa In 10 Steps

Here are the steps to starting a Spa business:

  1. Design Your Spa’s Service Menu
  2. Define Your Target Market
  3. Itemize Your Equipment and Materials
  4. Choose Your Ideal Location
  5. Plan Your Team
  6. Secure Your Financing
  7. Obtain Permits and Insurance
  8. Design the Client Experience
  9. Set up a Spa Point of Sale System
  10. Market and Promote Your Spa

Okay, let's dive into each one.

1. Design Your Spa’s Service Menu

Before opening a spa, or thinking of what your name should be, the first thing to decide is what spa services you’ll offer. Most spas offer some combination of massages, steam rooms and saunas, body scrubs and polishes, and aromatherapy, and some have specialty offerings like hot stone massages, Reiki treatments, or acupuncture.

Spa menu ideas

Consider your area of expertise, as well as complimentary services that can make for a more complete spa experience. If you’re planning to add specialty services, consider how that might impact your location and staffing needs as well.

2. Define Your Target Market

Having decided on the services you will offer, it’s important to understand your target market before you open your spa. Identify who you plan to serve, and likewise, who would most likely seek out your services. Think about it from the perspective of your average customer:

  • What is their gender?
  • How old are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • How much money do they make a year?

Some additional factors to consider are whether you’ll serve couples (like couples massages or spa treatments), groups, or only individuals. All of these things can greatly impact how you design, lay out, and market your spa.

3. Itemize Your Equipment and Materials

To start making your dream of opening a spa a reality, the next step is to identify what equipment and materials you’ll need to set the vibe in your spa. This (partial) list can help you get started:

  • Waiting room and lounge furniture
  • Practical furniture, equipment, and fittings (massage tables, hydraulic chairs, towel warmers, and sinks)
  • Lockers and safes
  • Lighting (fixtures, candles – anything to set the right ambiance)
  • Audio systems

Consider making a list of what spa equipment or tools each service you plan to offer requires. Some suggestions to get started include:

  • Towels and linens
  • Massage oils
  • Beauty products
  • Facial steamers
  • Skin care systems

4. Choose Your Ideal Location

The next step is to find the perfect location that can support your dream spa. When evaluating rentals, consider the square footage and the layout. You’ll want some sort of entryway and waiting area, as well as sufficient private space for your services. If you’re planning to offer communal spaces or couples treatments, make sure that’s practical to achieve in your space. You should also be mindful of the utilities available and any costs or fees associated with using them, since you’ll likely be using a lot of water and electricity to keep things nice and toasty.

5. Plan Your Team

Opening your own spa means being the boss, and that means managing and growing a team of people to support and share in your vision. But it can be tough to think about exactly who you want and how many professionals to hire. Learn all about being a boss and managing a team in a beauty business.

Start with requirements: what staff do you need to function, and what kind of skills do they need to be successful? Then think about compensation: how much will each position be paid, and how does that compare to the average hourly or salary rate in your area? With those facts in place, you should have a good starting point to understand what people you’ll need and how you can find them.

GlossGenius Teams

When it comes to managing your team, our all-in-one beauty business hub offers deeply customizable options for each employee or contractor, so you can easily grant as much or as little access as you wish. And with GlossGenius Teams, you can invite unlimited professionals to your account, with everyone included in your $24/month subscription!

GlossGenius mobile app

6. Secure Your Financing

Dreaming of opening a spa is great, but securing adequate financing is the way to unlock your potential. Whether you’re seeking a loan, a line of credit, or an equity partner, getting financing can help you raise the startup money you need to build the spa you’ve always wanted. Start by figuring out what kind of financing options you have available, and compare that to how much you project you’ll need to open up your spa doors.

Make sure you’re capturing all the different needs and operating costs that running a spa might incur, including:

  • Utilities
  • Rent
  • Equipment and materials
  • Salaries
  • Licenses and insurance

You want to make sure that you’re asking for enough money so that you’re comfortable in the early days. Maintaining a decent level of cash flow is important so you don’t have to wait for the money to start coming in to be able to pay your bills.

7. Obtain Permits and Insurance

Depending on the services you offer and the state you’re in, you may need a license to open a spa. Non-invasive, non-medical treatments are allowed in almost all states, but clinical treatments like Botox, laser hair removal, and dermal implants may require licensing. In some states, to open what’s considered a “medical spa,” a licensed physician needs to be a majority shareholder in the company. In others, you don’t need any kind of licensing. 

Regardless of the services you plan to offer, you should also look into liability insurance to protect yourself and your new business from risk. In the beauty industry, your clients put their aesthetics and health in your hands. Liability insurance can give you and your clients some much-needed peace of mind, so that if something does go wrong, you have protection.

8. Design the Client Experience

With financing, licenses, and insurance in place, it’s time to make your dream of opening a spa a reality and think about your customer experience. Think about how you want to do business with your clients, and what small beauty business software you’ll use to do it. How will they book appointments? How can they pay for services? What about cancellations? How can you keep track of your business analytics?

GlossGenius’ all-in-one beauty booking solution has you covered. GlossGenius is an easy-to-use booking and payments app that integrates with your social media accounts, offers low-cost payment processing, effortless appointment management, detailed reporting, and so much more. It also includes marketing tools like free email and text messaging and a customizable website builder to cover all your beauty business needs.

GlossGenius client experience

9. Set up a Spa Point of Sale System

One of the most important things to do before opening your spa is setting up a point of sale (POS) system. POS systems allow you to receive payments – and pay yourself. Your POS is a huge part of your client experience: when it comes time to pay, you want to make sure it’s smooth, seamless, and trustworthy to ensure your clients feel safe and respected. POS systems, unlike cash or digital wallets like Venmo or Zelle, allow you to simplify your cash flow, make your accounting more transparent, and look and feel like the professional you are.

GlossGenius' payment processor

GlossGenius payments integrates with our booking software so your booking and payment data is stored and processed in one place, meaning you can streamline your client experience and do it all in one easy-to-use app. You can send receipts to your clients from the same app you send booking confirmations, and customize the experience to match your branding. As you know, when providing a relaxing spa experience, the little things count for a lot. Consistent and simple payment experiences can help build long-term client loyalty, and show your community you’re a respectable business.

10. Market and Promote Your Spa

Marketing your spa with GlossGenius

The final piece of the puzzle is marketing and promotion. You’ll want to make a big splash when you open your spa, but the fun doesn’t stop there. Think about how you want to promote your business and what channels you’ll use to get to your target market. Your toolkit should include:

  • Social media accounts
  • Google Maps
  • Yelp
  • Groupon
  • Email
  • Text messages
  • Website

The best thing you can do is be discoverable, so potential clients can find you when they’re looking for a new spa. The next best thing is to be where your clients are, so you can be top of mind when they’re ready for you. Make sure your booking site is connected to your social media profiles, and be sure to share it widely to start getting eyes on your new spa.

You might also want to think about hosting an open house to introduce yourself to your community and drum up attention for your services. Using the tools above, you can get the word out and plant your flag as the next big thing in the neighborhood.

Next Steps: Opening the Doors to Your Dream Spa

While this step-by-step list isn’t exhaustive, it should hopefully help you outline what you need to do before you open your spa. Now that you’ve done the upfront work and it’s time to welcome the world into your dream, take a step back and reflect on how far you’ve come. Then think about what’s next: growing your business and your empire. GlossGenius can be the partner you need to grow your spa business to new heights.

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