Courtesy of The Raithwaite Estate Spa, N Yorks

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Recruitment…What can we do?

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There are now almost 1,400 spas throughout the UK, a total of 6,927 treatment rooms and 33,684 therapists.  Our industry, only in its infancy, is booming.  With wellbeing and mindfulness being on the tip of everyone’s tongue, the top of everyone’s news feed and chattering away into our ears, before us lies the future of spa.

In the key note speech at last year’s Spa Life, we listened how we would soon change tack, from marketing to the well and on to the ‘unwell’ and eventually ‘the sick’.   Even with the most positive of outlooks, we do need to look at the way the population is evolving and how we market to it.

The national recognition… that ‘its ok’ not to be ok, has spearheaded the mindfulness and alternative therapy awareness into spas and wellbeing practitioners.  It’s now acceptable to delve into natural cures, coaching and therapeutic support, the everyday person is far more inquisitive as to what ‘we in the business’ can offer them as their ‘feel better, live better ticket’.

So, this is music to the spa industry’s ears, right?  More demand, more revenue for our booming industry… but what about the recruitment crisis we are having?

I operate Weavers’ House Spa in Suffolk.  A beautiful boutique and bijou day spa nestled into the idyllic village of Lavenham. The spa is busy with clients from far and wide, the team work together to provide a bespoke spa experience and the attention to detail and time we dedicate to our treatments mean that our clients fall in love with the spa.  However, running a small spa in a rural village is a far cry from the ‘big smoke’ and becomes impossible when illness strikes, or a therapist decides to jump jobs.  We are left juggling columns, and me rolling up my sleeves and performing treatments at the drop of a hat, to ensure we don’t disappoint.  This isn’t sustainable, and certainly not a long-term solution, so we needed to come up with a plan - what can we do?

This is what we did…

For the last three years we have been working with West Suffolk College - recently named one of the top three colleges in the country.  We primarily took on work experience students, and then this escalated to careers talks, and even assessing practical exams from an industry stand point.  Earlier on this year, having a strong relationship with the college, we agreed to endorse the Level 2 Technical Certificate in Beauty Therapy.  Much before the academic year began, we took part in enrolment, and even set a summer project for the group of student’s due to start in September.  Since then we were there for induction week, and we’ve taught them ‘the spa way’ of performing a pressure point facial massage. We will continue to provide ‘spa sessions’ on a monthly basis throughout the course, to incorporate industry standards and get key students ‘spa ready’ for Weavers’.

Picture this… work with the students and see who shines, teach them the ‘spa skills’ whilst they’re learning the basics, instil your spa standards, the spa know-how.  Invest your time with your key students over their level 2 and 3 studies, share your passion for the industry and ignite a fire in them.  Mould them, grow them and then at the end employ them.

Imagine if every spa in the UK applied this principle and dedicated their time to the future of this booming global industry?  Unless we begin to invest in future therapists, we could build another 2,000 spas and not have any therapists to provide treatments, we could have the most spectacular new fan-dangled products, with no one to apply them. 

This is what you can do too! Invest your time in the therapists of tomorrow, coach them, inspire them.  If we don’t take a different route, the recruitment issue will only worsen.  Make big plans, use your passion and experience to make a difference and contact your local college, propose to work closely with them and endorse them too.  Supporting your local community is key and current and future clients of your spas will be more likely to choose you to spa with, due to your investment and company values.

Written by Alex Hurt- Spa Director, Weavers’ House Spa, Suffolk

Skills and Levels within the Industry


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Friday, 18 September 2020