Monday, August 20, 2007

Ouch! This email depressed me for days.

I got an email last week that I am still not quite over. My feelings were so hurt that I actually almost cried. Okay, I'll admit it - I DID cry. Before I paste it here, though, I should give a little background: recently, I decided to try a different pricing structure at my spa...a very pioneering one, I might add. I decided to separate pricing into "Peak" and "Off-Peak," to reflect the difference in demand for services during traditionally slow times like Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays before 5pm (these I designated as OFF-PEAK). All other times are considered PEAK times, because people want to come after work and on weekends.

So, in order to arrive at the prices, I took most massage prices up by $5, and all waxing services up by $1-2. I left body treatments, facials, advanced massages, nails, make-up, and soul therapies all the same (and some services, like advanced massage and nails, don't have an off-peak option because they are performed by only 1 or 2 people on my staff). These were the peak prices. Off-peak is actually 20% off the peak prices. With that said, here is the malevolent email from D.S. that I got, and I am not censoring it, so be forewarned that he drops a couple of F-bombs:

"You guys are a fucking joke. "off peak"...So you keep your prices the same call then "off peak" then raise the price on everything 30% during the only times NORMAL fucking people go, and call yourself a business....

You can consider yourself a rip off and just lost a half dozen customers."

My first reaction was, "Holy cow, what did I do to deserve your wrath?" My second reaction was, "Wow, I am completely underwhelmed by the quality of your upbringing, as evidenced in your imaginative use of the English language." And my third reaction was, "If you're going to cuss at me, then at least get your facts straight! What you're saying is simply not true, not even the smallest bit." And then finally, "You are not fit to lick the spittle and scum off the bottom of my shoes."

But of course, none of these things can be said to a "customer." I wrote him back and very politely explained what I had actually done with the pricing structure, and offered to send him pricing lists from last year and this year so he could make a more accurate assessment. And then I was still so bothered that I wrote him again and actually attached two .pdf versions of my price list from 2006 and 2007 so he could "compare for himself." What do you know, I got no response.

But my goodness, the tone and hostility in the email still has me smarting. Generally our customers are extremely happy, and even when they call to complain, they don't use any vulgar language. But this guy, who has set foot in my spa exactly ONE TIME, to buy a measly $55 gift certificate, has the nerve to blow up at me for trying to revamp my pricing structure so more price-sensitive clients can come visit us???? Give me a break!!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Evolution of the Pavia Logo

Ha! Want to see something cool? I was cleaning out files from my computer and found our initial logo illustrations...I had told my AWESOME graphics designer that I was looking for an image of a Roman-looking woman, in profile, on a Roman-looking coin. These were the illustrations that he sent me initially.

I liked the hair on A, the nose on B, nothing much about C, the hair and eyes on D, E was strange all around, ditto on F, I liked the eyes on G, and the nose and mouth on H. Cool, huh? When done, we finally ended up with the last, right?

Well, I loved it (and still do)! It's even nicer in color, which you can see on the Pavia web site, in the upper left-hand corner.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Alarming reaction to Chamomile...

On Wednesday I did a customized Aromatherapy consultation and blend for one of the spa's really good clients. Her concerns were wrinkles, increasing dryness, and aging (age spots, hyperpigmentation, and tonus). She told me her skin was sensitive, and that she was starting to see thread veins.

My first thought for a blend was to use Carrot Seed (for its beta-carotene precursors), Rosemary verbenone (for its stimulation of the dermal layer), Blue Chamomile (for sensitive skin that has inflammation and thread veins), and Niaouli (for firming and for its anti-bacterial properties).

Before I make up the blend, I always test the client for sensitivity by putting a drop of each essential oil I am planning to use on their inner elbow and having them hold the elbow closed for 5 minutes. This way, I can be sure that the blend does not irritate them, and that it is always specific to their concerns and needs. In fact, I've had really good testimonials so far on my personalized skin blends.

So I went to test the oils, and believe it or not, the BLUE CHAMOMILE created a burning sensation and huge red welts on the inside of her arm! She looked like she had been bitten 7-8 times by a mosquito. I asked her if she had a Ragweed allergy, or was allergic to Chamomiles, and she said that she drank Chamomile tea and had never had a problem. Well, the thing is, the constituents in the Chamomile herb are not exactly the same as are in the essential oil, because during steam distillation, chamazulene is created.

So I tried another route: Blue Tansy. Another member of the Asteraceae family, also with high amounts of chamazulene (and also blue), and also good for sensitivity and thread veins, etc. This time I used her other elbow, and after 5 minutes, she felt no irritation. But when her arm was unbent, several little red pustules were although she felt no irritation, they were still there. I've never seen someone so allergic to such gentle oils.

Well, I've definitely learned something, and hopefully she did, too. I think she has an allergy to the Asteraceae family...I had to keep coming up with different oils and testing them, such that the final blend was completely different than what I had envisioned! We ended up using Geranium, Lavender, Cistus, and Niaouli in a base of Evening Primrose oil. A very interesting learning experience!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Exhausted, but Happy

It's 10:43pm and I've just gotten home from the 4th annual Healing Touch Spa Party, which Preston Wynne Spa puts on at their Hotel Los Gatos location. The purpose of the evening is to raise money and awareness for Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence, a group that aids victims of domestic abuse. Theresa and I did Tarot Readings all night long...I think each of us saw about 10 clients.

Phew, what a whirlwind! I'm exhausted, but happy. It's that really satisfying feeling of knowing that I spent my time well, volunteering for a good cause. Many of the Tarot readings I did tonight were right on, too, which always makes for a good feeling. One client even seemed to tear up a bit, because the cards said she had to let go of something that wasn't serving her, that she was being pushed to the point of exhaustion, and that she needed to start from scratch. It really resonated with her, and I could tell it was a painful topic and she shied away from sharing too much.

But there were a couple clients for whom it wasn't that apropos...those are always hard, because I always feel like I've done a bad job. Usually the cards are not wrong though, so perhaps it is simply that the person I'm reading for doesn't want to admit to their truth, or is not yet aware of their truth.

In any case, I was glad to see several Pavia clients there...apparently they had seen my newsletter and decided to join in on the fun. I know our goal was to raise $50,000 in one night, but this year they took the ticket prices up so attendance was much lower. Of course, that meant we could do 15-minute readings instead of just 10, so we were able to delve further into a topic. Overall, I am satisfyingly tired - reading for clients like that takes a huge amount of energy - I just hope I don't get sick because I'm covering the front desk for one of my staff tomorrow. Off to bed!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pedicure Towels = Facial Towels? Yuck.

I bought a day spa with my best friend nearly 4 years ago. We were armed with Stanford MBAs, a lot of hubris, more than enough arrogance, but not nearly enough working capital. 4 years later, I am still struggling to make our spa profitable (my partner has long since gone back to working in "the real world"). With so much competition surfacing daily, it is harder and harder to stand out in the crowd. As a low-margin business to begin with, there is not a lot left over for the spa owner to take home, let alone to re-invest for marketing. In my case, I simply choose to take home a pittance and put everything else back in for marketing and other loyalty programs.

The thing that strikes me the most is the number of things that go on behind the scenes to make our customers' experience better, but which the customer doesn't even know about! A case in point is this: two representatives from Cintas came to visit me yesterday. They wanted to offer me a towel service, in which they would make weekly deliveries of white hand towels so that we would not have to launder them on-premises.

Well, I asked them if they could offer us 4-colors...they appeared to look blank and were even a little surprised. I explained that we used color-coded towels at Pavia: white for facials, brown for pedicures, green for body treatments, and beige for massages. This is so that a towel that was used on someone's feet isn't subsequently used on someone else's face...I mean, isn't that gross? Even if the towels are laundered and dried, it still just me. Well, they ended up agreeing that their service would not be a fit with our needs, but their extreme surprise made me think that other day spas don't take this into account. Anyway, that is my revelation of the day: that not every spa out there separates their towels so that different body parts aren't "mixed up!" It may be cheaper to just use all white towels than to launder and replace 4 different colors consistently, but I feel much better knowing that my clients are given this small consideration behind the scenes.