How to Build Your Own Skin Care Clinic and Spa from the Ground up Even if this is Your First Business

For newly licensed estheticians, the path is pretty straightforward: start your own practice or apply for a job in a clinic or spa.

Working in a spa or clinic, however, is by far the safer choice for people with no experience or contacts in this field. Going solo is risky so you may not last long enough to build a steady client base if you don’t have enough capital. Equipment lease, rent, and utility expenses will quickly run you dry.

Still, building your own skin care spa from the ground up can be financially rewarding. There’s huge potential in the market.

After the last recession in 2008, the spa industry finally experienced a steady improvement in revenue in 2013. The International Spa Industry Association’s (ISPA) 2013 Spa Industry Study revealed the average client visit increased to 160 million, and spending increased to $87 per visit.

Profit margins for spas and skin care clinics are also huge, sometimes reaching up to 96% for some services. If you’re dead set on it, however, here’s your complete guide to starting your own skin care practice.

The Lowdown on Starting Your Own Business

The first two years of running your own business will be challenging as heck. Since you’re just starting out, you’re a one women (or man) show. You’re the reception, marketer, janitor, supply manager, bookkeeper and everything.

But even before you assume any of those roles, there’s a lot of legwork involved to build the foundation. Here’s a partial to-do list of what you need to get started:

  • Get a business license. This is different from your license as an esthetician.
  • Negotiate a lease with a property owner (if you're going to rent a place)
  • Get liability insurance
  • Buy supplies for the treatments
  • But or rent equipment
  • Market your spa or clinic

The Do or Die Challenge of All New Spas  

Once your clinic is licensed and ready to accept clients, the next you’ll face is building a client base.

If you’ve worked in any clinic or spa before, there’s a good chance you already have regular clients -- people who only trust you with their treatments. You’re lucky if that’s the case because you’ll at least have a chance to convince them to follow you in a new clinic.

Not all will follow you though. Expect some clients will remain loyal to the establishment you currently work for. Sometimes, it’s not about brand loyalty but the location that makes a huge difference. So unless your business’s new location is closer to them, don’t get your hopes up.

Guerilla Marketing Tactics for New Spa and Clinic Owners

As a small and relatively new business owner with a new budget, you’ll have to look for creative ways to advertise your spa. Traditional TV, radio and print adverts are out of your budget right now.

To generate a buzz around your launch, you can invite beauty bloggers, relatives and friends for a free treatment in exchange for a review or recommendation. Word-of-mouth advertising can go a long way, so make sure you do an excellent job with their treatments. Don’t rush it just because it’s free.  

Your job is to pamper people, remember? If your main reason for becoming an esthetician is to make a boatload of money, you’re in the wrong line of business.

Providing Value for Money in the Beauty Business

Clients look to you for their skin and beauty needs.  Don’t be skimpy when buying new equipment and newly released beauty products; this is one of fastest ways you can keep clients coming back to you.

More importantly, you must present yourself as an experienced esthetician, preferably one with a specialty in facial care, spa services, or some other in-demand service. Targeting a specific market, like brides, debutants, or expectant mothers can also set you apart from competitors.

Don’t underestimate the value of “little extras,” a little shoulder and neck massage can go a long way, as is the case with small freebies and sample products. Clients come back -- and refer you to others -- when they feel that they’re getting more than they paid for.

Now that you know what challenges new skin clinic and spa owners face, are you up for the challenge?

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