guide to managing multiple spa stores

Many Locations, One Business: A Guide to Managing Multiple Spa Stores

What is the most important thing spa owners and managers need to remember when managing multiple spa stores? They need to remember that no matter how many stores they have, they are operating a single business. Yes, different demographic and geographic areas have their own quirks, but by and large, the same management principles apply across the board.

As Rick Liskow of Minnesota Hot Tubs points out, you have to be committed when it comes to running several stores, especially with today’s competitive economy and resulting labor shortages. Despite its challenges though, Liskow is one among many dealerships out there who’s realized the returns are worth the extra effort.

What does it take to manage multiple store locations effectively? Responses from the field came down to three keys to success: good communication, quality staff, and a clear company culture. In this article, we’ll look at some of the important “dos and don’ts” in each of these areas.

 

Make Communication a Priority

One of the hardest parts of managing multiple spa store locations is maintaining communication. It’s much easier to communicate with personnel when you work in the same building and have face-to-face contact every day. With more than one store, that face-to-face contact becomes more difficult. Managers can facilitate communication with multiple locations these ways:

Do make regularly scheduled physical visits. These visits should be more than a check up on numbers and showroom inspection–ask about problems or situations you might be able to help with. Open conversation is important to building relationships that endure the distance factor between visits. Depending on the distance between stores, these visits may be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.

Video conferencing has enhanced the relationship between stores and management {leading to} smoother operation at the individual store and with our service center. ~Kelly King, Mountain Hot Tub

 

Don’t neglect existing stores to focus on newer ones. While the newer ones may need extra support, communication with other locations needn’t be compromised. Keeping communications and meetings regular and consistent will help in finding that balance.

Do use technology. In an interview with SpaRetailer, Kelly King of At Mountain Hot Tub, which owns three locations that are three hours apart says, “video conferencing, especially, has been a very useful tool for us.” Physical visits are still important, but “video conferencing has enhanced the relationship between stores and management” which has led to “smoother operation at the individual store and with our service center,” King reports.

Don’t fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” trap. In other words, avoid getting so caught up in running the store where you have your office that you neglect the needs of your other locations. Visit, delegate, and conduct regular audits of satellite stores to make sure they are operating to your standards.

Instituting effective methods of communication between stores is possible in a variety of ways:

  • Facetime
  • Skype
  • Conference calls
  • Email
  • Telephone
  • Text
  • Chat
  • Google Hangouts
  • Company Facebook Forums

 

Key Takeaway: No matter what platform you choose, making communication a priority lets you see the big picture in terms of business performance so you can provide the right guidance to individual locations for the overall benefit of the company.

 

Hire the Right Management Staff

Managing multiple stores is simpler when you have the right people in the right places. If you’re hiring new staff to run a new store, hire them several months in advance and train them at an existing store to prepare them for the new location opening. Finding good people who’ll stay for the long haul is important. You want to hire staff you feel comfortable, empowering them to make decisions. Here’s how:

Do promote from within. Be open to promoting top employees in existing stores to managerial positions in other locations. These people already know how your business model and how you like your stores to operate, so they are the logical choice to bring other locations into the fold. You’ll also find it more cost effective to give an existing employee a raise than to hire from the outside.

Do look to the competition. In Liskow’s case, a tight labor market meant hiring someone who had been working for a competitor. With specific industry experience and proven skills, this minimized a good chunk of the onboarding process.

Do mentor your store managers. Developing managerial strengths in others by providing consistent training and ongoing support ensures they will run your stores the way you want them run, so you can feel confident leaving everyday operational details to them.

Be open to promoting top employees in existing stores to managerial positions in other locations.

 

Don’t micromanage your satellite store managers and staff. It’s good to be detail-oriented and to expect the same of your management team; however, constantly looking over their shoulders will eat away at your time and undermine their effectiveness. In short, delegate work, but stay in touch. Relinquishing control is okay.

Don’t get caught up in doing the store’s job. When you operate a single location, you are naturally involved in the day-to-day operations like inventory, sales, merchandising, etc. However, managing multiple locations means strategically leading from afar. Let the staff focus on running the individual stores while you focus on running the business.

According to SpaRetailer, successful multi-store managing comes down to “selecting the right staff and giving them the tools and latitude to manage and serve your customers well.” If you have the right management staff, you can trust them to keep you up to speed on what’s going on at their location.

 

Insider Tip: Set up a system of weekly reports and quarterly training where you all sit down together for a company-wide business overview. It will keep you informed and keep them on their toes.

 

Create a Clear Company Culture

One part of implementing a clear corporate culture is making sure staff knows why the company exists, where it’s going and what difference you want your company to make. Another part is creating a good work environment by building relationships among staff at each location and between staff from different locations. How is this accomplished? In a few ways:

Do keep overall business goals and objectives on everyone’s radar. Individual stores should have a clear understanding of what they’re contributing to in terms of the overall business.

Do encourage healthy competition between locations. Friendly sales contests with the winning team getting bragging rights or a reward of some kind are great ways to boost productivity and profits.

Don’t allow “Us vs Them” attitudes. It’s never good when on location sees another as “the enemy” instead of as part of the same business team.

Hosting annual or bi-annual company-wide functions brings employees from all locations together to celebrate company-wide wins and fosters a company-wide team attitude.

 

Do facilitate relationship building. Host annual or bi-annual company-wide functions to bring employees from all locations together to celebrate company-wide wins and foster a company-wide team attitude.

Don’t make company-wide activities mandatory. Make them desirable, make them something people want to attend. Telling your employees that they have to attend, or rewarding them for attending (and not rewarding those who choose not to), creates a negative culture.

 

Key Takeaway: The goal is to create a culture of teamwork and mutual respect in which your employees’ character and performance positively reflect on the company.

 

A Final Word on the Role of Technology

Technology is a key part of successfully managing multiple spa store locations. Platforms like Microsoft Office 365 and Google Docs are great for document sharing while sites like GoToMeeting, TeamViewer, and Skype for Business (which has Office 365 integration) offer top video conferencing capabilities. One application spa dealers with multiple stores are looking at closely is EVOSUS, an integrative software designed specifically with the spa industry in mind. The software includes POS, inventory, accounting, employee management, and cloud hosting.

Whatever technology you incorporate to manage multiple locations, the dos and don’ts of good communication, quality staff, and company culture are the essential components in successfully managing multiple spa stores. Just remember, even though you have several stores, you’re managing a single business.

 

Lisa Garnier
Lisa Garnier
lgarnier@h2insider.com

Lisa Garnier is a freelance writer and research expert. She writes articles, blogs and web content for a variety of businesses and industries. A graduate of UCM in Warrensburg Missouri, Lisa holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in English Composition and has previously taught English Composition at the university level. Since 2015, Lisa has been a contributing writer for BKA Content.

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