How to Start a Spa Business: 8 Tips to Get You Started

Last Updated: 

October 3, 2023

Since the stresses and strains that the pandemic brought about, spa treatment facilities have had no shortage of business. Spa treatments provide much needed relaxation and therapeutic benefits to millions across the world, with differences in cultural practices adding to the wonderful variety available to those who indulge.

The health and well-being space is experiencing phenomenal growth as the relationship between lowering stress and investing in our well-being becomes more deeply understood as the key to a happier, more fulfilling life.

If you’re thinking about setting up a successful spa business, here are 8 tips to get you started.

Key Takeaways on Starting a Spa Business:

  • Research Your Target Market: Before diving into branding, invest time in understanding your target audience, local competitors, and current market trends. This includes analysing competitors' setups, online presence, and customer reviews.
  • Set Clear Goals: Establish long-term objectives and then identify the short-term goals that will lead you there. These can range from client numbers to expansion plans.
  • Perfect Location: The location of your spa is crucial. Consider factors like accessibility, foot traffic, nearby competition, and the property's size and layout.
  • Estimate Start-Up Costs: List all potential expenses, from business premise rental to marketing costs, to ensure you have adequate funding.
  • Financing Options: Determine how you'll fund your spa business. Options include personal savings, loans, or partnering with investors.
  • Hiring Staff: Choose quality staff who can represent your brand well and provide exceptional care and customer service.
  • Design a Unique Spa Menu: Create a service menu that stands out, offering personalised treatments and packages. Ensure the design aligns with your brand.
  • Attracting Customers: Use various strategies to draw in your first clients, such as building an online presence, partnering with local businesses, and running targeted ads.
  • Potential for Success: With a well-planned approach and a clear vision, there's a high demand for health, wellness, and beauty services, making the spa business a promising venture.

Starting a spa business requires careful planning, research, and a clear understanding of the market. By following these tips and staying committed to your vision, you can establish a successful spa that caters to the needs of your target audience.

Discover Real-World Success Stories

1. Researching (and understanding) your target market

Before you start doing all the fun, creative things, like picking a name and designing your brand aesthetic, it’s vital to put some serious time into researching your market. By gaining a clear, in-depth understanding of your target audience, your local competitors, and the trends that are currently dominating the market, you will put yourself in a much better position for success.

Researching the market

One of the simplest ways to gain a good insight into your market is to get first-hand experience with one of your competitors. Analyse their setup, marketing practices, online presence, etc., book an appointment, and indulge in one of their treatments as you get a good insight into how they run many aspects of their business.

Other than that, list your local competitors, research their popularity and consider how they engage their customers online. Another good practice is to review the reviews to find out what your competition is doing to please, wow, and/or disappoint their clientele.

Knowing your target audience

It’s important to know who your target demographic is to maximise your marketing opportunities. A great example of this being Contour Clinics, an Australian cosmetic beauty specialist that has carved out a niche by specialising in cosmetic procedures that leverage the heightened awareness from social media. Target audience demographics could include women (age-range specific), teens, pregnant women, or men - it’s fair to say that the spa industry has traditionally been considered woman-centric, although now more than ever, many men also frequent spas for a range of treatments.

Reviews of local spa facilities are one great way to get an idea of the current demographics that frequently make use of them, while your vision and particular services offered will also play a part in determining who you focus on.

What about a niche?

Niching is a great way to stand out from the crowd, and while it can feel daunting to close yourself off to a wider audience, businesses can thrive significantly by specialising in one particular aspect of a broader field. Spa industry niches include focusing on male-only clients, seasonal treatments, mobile servicing (great for bridal parties, etc.), and much more.

Before you commit to a niche, it’s even more important to do your research to establish the current competition and local demand.

Understanding Your Niche for a Spa Business
Photo by The Anam on Unsplash

2. Setting clear, realistic goals

Setting goals is a great way to get clear on your outcomes and create a starting point from which to plan your approach. Brainstorm long-term goals first, then work backward to identify the shorter-term goals necessary to lead you there.

Common spa business start-up goals include:

  • X number of clients and regular bookings
  • X number of massage (or other treatment) hours worked per week
  • Expanding to X number of staff by [date]
  • Achieving X positive reviews by [date]

Longer-term goals could even include franchising or otherwise expanding to multiple premises, bringing out a line of brand products, etc. So long as shorter, actionable goals can be tracked back from each goal, they can be as lofty as you can dream them to be - just make sure that you keep your expectations in check and your goals realistic in terms of timeframes, etc. By all means, shoot for the stars; just make the incremental steps measurable and doable.

3. Finding the perfect location

Of course, location is crucial to the successful running of a business that relies on customers visiting the premises. Aspects to consider include:

  • Accessibility/parking availability
  • Foot traffic
  • Nearby competition
  • Other businesses close by
  • Neighbourhood demographics
  • Zoning - make sure you choose a property zoned for your venture
  • Size - enough room for the anticipated number of staff/customers?
  • Floorplan - is the space conducive to running a spa, i.e., reception area, treatment rooms, etc.

Make sure that the landlord is open to you making cosmetic or other building changes, such as redecoration, adding branding decor, and sectioning off treatment areas, or adding protective measures like security cameras for stores if necessary.

4. Estimating your start-up costs

Businesses can differ significantly when it comes to start-up costs. Unless you are embarking on a business with little-to-no setup and overhead costs, it’s imperative that you carefully estimate what it will cost to get your business off the ground.

Common spa start-up costs include:

  • Business premise rental
  • Business registration, certifications, and other licences
  • Fit-out costs, such as furniture and room dividing
  • Spa treatment equipment
  • Supplies, such as beauty products, oils, candles, etc.
  • Website design and hosting
  • Legal fees
  • Marketing costs
  • Staff wages
  • Utilities

Listing costs can be overwhelming, but finding yourself short is a stress you don’t need, so be thorough, and include a decent margin for unexpected expenses.

5. Financing your spa business

Deciding how to finance your spa business is as much about strategising as it is about figuring out whether it’s even possible. That said, you can’t go far without the necessary funds.

Options for funding your spa business could include:

  • Personal savings
  • Help from family and friends
  • Partnering up with an investor/silent partner
  • SBA loans - the U.S. Small Business Administration may be able to assist you with financing your start-up. For more information, visit
  • Bank loans - loans such as equipment financing can be available through a bank - you can research options online or talk to a broker for more in

6. Employing staff

Depending on the size of your start-up, the funding available, and how quickly you intend to scale, you may need to consider employing staff from the get-go.

Initially, your team will likely be small, and you will handle as much of the work yourself to save money as you grow. Still, it’s important to factor in the necessary staffing expenses from the outset to ensure that you don’t leave yourself short, and that you focus on choosing the best people for the job.

Don’t underestimate the importance of selecting quality staff - they are often the face of your brand, and the way they conduct themselves will form the impressions and experiences your clients have. The spa industry is one that routinely provides treatments that can make people feel particularly vulnerable, so it’s vital that the people you employ are excellent at giving exceptional care and customer service.

7. Creating your spa service menu

In accordance with your vision and any niching you decide upon, you will need to consider exactly what services you intend to offer. Cookie-cutter spa menus are out, and unique treatments and menu packages are trending - think personalised treatments with a custom-picked spa playlist - so it’s a good idea to put a lot of thought into how you can get your services and menu to really stand out.

Tips for creating your spa menu include:

  • Categorising treatments - i.e., skincare, beauty, massage, etc.
  • Describing each treatment in an appealing way to draw new customers in
  • Offering combo packages for a variety of options and deals, such as stress-busting, ultimate indulgence, or immune support packages
  • Price thoughtfully off the back of in-depth research (and target-specific)
  • Keep the design on-brand

8. Attracting your first customers

Aside from any foot traffic you may be lucky to attract depending on your location, there are a variety of ways to get your first customers through the door. These include:

  • Contacting old clients - especially if they are old spa clients, but go for it and market to any email list you have
  • Build an online presence and offer some great opening deals to new clients
  • Partner with local businesses like gyms, hairdressers, and other complementary professionals and promote each other’s offerings for extended reach
  • List your business everywhere and anywhere - Google My Business, Facebook Places, Yelp, etc. to make it easy for local clientele to find you
  • Consider running targeted Facebook ads 
  • Hire a business development coach if you're unsure about how to market your business
Attracting Customers into a Spa Business
Photo by Karolina Grabowska

The sky's the limit

With a carefully thought-out approach, a clear vision, and plenty of tenacity, you can run a phenomenally successful spa business. In today’s market, there’s no shortage of demand for health, wellness, beauty, and pampering services; you just have to know your market and take smart action.

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