**Newsletter Client Profile**

Jessica Skop – Owner/ Manager/ Nail Technician, Serendipity Day Spa, Linden, MI and Frankenmouth, MI.
Inspiring Champions Client since 2008
Opened first location on September 27, 2004

Jessica’s Background:
Jessica knew she wanted to own her own business after working in her mother’s business starting at age 11.  She went to Michigan State University and got her degree in Hospitality Business knowing that one day she wanted to own a spa.  After college, she joined a restaurant company to learn about marketing, payroll, HR and scheduling, along with successful customer service practices so that she would be prepared for the opportunity to open her spa.  While she did not go to school for Cosmetology, her plan was to learn as much about running the back end of the business so she could hire her team to provide the front end customer services.  After opening her spa in 2004, Jessica eventually got her Nail Bed License so that she could jump on and support customer overflow at the spa.

IC:            Jessica, you clearly put a lot of planning and preparation into understanding the business skills needed to run your spa.  When you had the opportunity to bring your dream to life and open your first spa, what was that experience like?
Jessica:  Scary, particularly looking back on the different setbacks that I encountered.  When I first opened I had a small location that was 1200 square feet and there was a lot that I didn’t know, I had a brand new 8-month old baby boy, and my husband and I separated at that time, leaving me with all the bills and expenses in my name.  I had a brand new business and an 8-month old baby and had to figure out how to balance the pressure of both.  When I first opened my business, I thought it was my dream that quickly became almost a desperation story because I had my baby to take care of, an overwhelming number of bills to pay, and I had to figure out how to make it all work. 

IC:            How were you able to overcome the initial setbacks?
Jessica: When I opened the business, I had a private investor that had provided $38,000 in funding and I knew I had to make it work with that initial investment.  I knew that success would come from customer service, customer service, customer service.  I worked my tail off and did everything I could to make sure the spa provided exceptional customer service and that the guests were taken care of and started building from there.  Also, quitting was not an option.  And the practice of focusing on the desired outcome through adverse times was excellent training for some of the additional setbacks that came my way further down the line.

IC:            What were some of the additional setbacks and how did you overcome them?
Jessica: Within a year and a half of opening the business, things were going well.  The spa was profitable…..not by much though. The first year I made $15, 000.  Never-the-less because I like growing and building businesses, I was considering how to open a second location.  I found a spot that was about 25- minutes away from my first location and was working on a plan to figure out how to make both locations work, when I had my team walkout and open a spa in that exact same space.  What I didn’t know was that they were archiving our guest information so when they opened their place they could get a hold of all of our guests.  So I dealt with the walkout, telling the remaining team, “Either you are on board or you’re not and we are moving forward.”  I replaced the people that left.  Within two years from that point were doing so well that we needed to expand because we were limited on space.  I had the opportunity to buy the building and expand the space we were in.  Two days after the sale closed and we began reconstruction, a fire wiped out the entire city block.  I lost my whole business!  So I had to start back up, and yes the insurance would cover the physical loss, but I had to figure out how get the spa back up and running in the middle of May during one of our busiest times without any computers, guest records or a location to provide services.  We were back up and running in ten days at a location with makeshift hair stations, some big chairs and tubs for doing pedicures, card tables for manicure stations, and the team brought in their personal massage tables.  My team was great they made it work as well as our guest who sought us out and blessed us with their loyalty and patronage.

IC:            Did you have a profitable business model from the outset?
Jessica: I did, the spa was profitable in the second year, but not by much.  The first year I made $15,000 and that is what funded myself with for that first year.

IC:            How do you describe your role in your business?
Jessica: I have Spa Directors that run each location, and they have assistants below them, then we have our Front Desk, and then we have our Service Providers and I oversee it all.  I am not an owner operator that is in the spa working a shift.  With my current responsibilities and accountabilities for managing the overall business, I would not have the time to provide services.  If I worked behind the chair I would never have the time to take a vacation and have limited time with my family.  But because of the structure of my business and the growth process that Inspiring Champions taught me, I am able to do those things.  Most salon owners trying to run their business and work behind the chair and can’t understand why they are struggling just to match their overhead.  When I hear that, I want to shake them and let them know that they are paying their people too much.  That is the biggest problem and I wish more people knew that.

IC:            Share with us what you did to put a plan in place to make your business grow?
Jessica:  In 2008, I began working with Inspiring Champions.  I went to Champ Camp, Cash Flow Camp, and I started working with a coach.  In the beginning, I was just trying my best to learn the systems and how to implement them.  Unfortunately I implemented the systems but I didn’t do the accountability that I should have.  My biggest success in the beginning was the “Dream Team”.  I followed that model exactly and now my average tenured employee has been with the company for at least 5 years.  Also, getting my thumb on the figures and getting a cash flow statement, and keeping my thumb on those figures helped keep me in line and know where to focus the team’s energy.   For example when we began to focus on retail, we went from $11,000 in retail sales to $40,000.  After Cash Flow Camp I went back to my architect and told him to design a retail boutique at the entrance of the spa.  For $3000 we converted a 15’ x 20’ space at the front of the spa that contributed to $29,000 retail sales growth in the first year.  Currently we average $75,000 in retail sales per year overall for the company.

IC:            What part of the Dream Team System worked well for your business?
Jessica:  Almost every component! It started with the Ideal Dream Team Member Job posting, the job application itself, and listening to Lauren talk about what to look for in the interview and application process.  For example, if they don’t fill out the application all the way, don’t go any further with them. If they say anything negative about their previous employer, don’t go any further with them.  Implementing a 3-part team interview with team members, the manager, and me was great to share the hiring process with the responsibility with the team.

IC:            What other systems have you implemented in your business?
Jessica:  Our Front Desk Staff has participated now twice in the Top Gun Front Desk webinar, and the change was huge.  My front desk now upsells, they do confirmation calls, the way that the talk to the guests is more professional, and the overall customer service that started at a level 3 is now at an 8 or 9.  Our reviews are outstanding, the team seems to love their jobs and the front desk is so nice, and the level of professionalism is always mentioned.

IC:            What has been your greatest success so far in running your business?
Jessica:  My greatest success is adopting the concept of Connect: Constant and Never Ending Improvement.  Just all the challenges that kept popping up, and popping up, and popping up, and I think that the biggest success is being able to push forward and do better, and overcome the challenges and turn them into a learning experience.  My team has now adopted this concept as well and they are always coaching to be better.  We are constantly striving to keep growing and do better!  This has become a part of our culture that we coach to the entire team and it is contagious.  I attribute my personal success in this business to my drive and determination, pig-headed stubbornness not to give up, and Inspiring Champions systems that made it all work.

IC:            What advice do you have for other spa and salon owners?

Jessica:  Get a business coach, make a plan to systematize your business, and stand firm in your decisions.  Don’t be “wishy–washy” about the systems and the accountability that goes along with it, otherwise the changes you implement become that much more difficult.

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