If you’re already familiar with the rudiments of spa management, you know the right location, business plan, branding and space are vital to success. Yet if you’re venturing into the arena of a medical spa, that success depends on additional factors--including a thorough understanding of what your clientele expects, what your facility will entail, and what’s needed to present an enhanced menu of professional services credibly and effectively.
Officially, the International Spa Association defines a medical spa as an institution whose primary purpose is to provide comprehensive medical and wellness care in an environment that integrates spa services and conventional therapies and treatments. Quite a tall order! But to cut to the chase: In branding and design, a medical spa needs to be a judicious blend of graciousness and gravitas. Your goal is to offer clients the kind of luxury and pampering they’d encounter in a deluxe spa, all within an environment that reflects the highest standards of medical expertise.
So where to begin? First, clarify your vision: Decide where and how large your facility will be, and what breakdown you’ll offer of both medical and conventional cosmetic services. Will your medi-spa menu include skin rejuvenation therapies, laser hair removal, body sculpting? Those decisions impact not just your budget projections but also your design plans: A standard spa treatment room is usually 90 to 110 square feet, but you’ll need to up that to 120-140 square footage in order to comfortably accommodate a laser or other medical devices. Similarly, consult rooms--typically 70 to 80 square feet--might need to be a bit larger if they will house diagnostic tools such as a skin digital analysis camera like the Visia.
As with any spa, starting up a medical spa requires savvy business strategies. When negotiating a lease, you might arrange a financial contribution from your landlord toward the build-out of the spaor else try for a set number of ‘free rent’ months to get your facility up and running (do the math, and see which option works best). In selecting an architect, designer and development team, you can opt for those who specialize in spa design (since only a handful do, costs may run high) or else go with well-credentialed local professionals. If you choose the latter, ask some key questions: Have you ever built a spa? What is your success rate for bringing a project in on time and within budget? How many clients do you take on at a time? Who will I work with, and who is responsible for decisions?
Once you’ve hired your team of construction professionals, be sure to let them know not only your design vision, but also pertinent facts about the equipment. Medical devices often have very specific electrical, plumbing and ventilation needs. So the dimensions and placement of these tools should be considered early in the design phase to assure everything goes smoothly. One common mistake is to select equipment after the architect has completed construction documents and sent them out for bidding. If changes need to be made once construction begins, you’re likely to rack up extra costs and unforeseen delays--exactly what you don’t want.
Finally, there are the aesthetics to consider. Impressions count--especially first impressions--and clients will judge your medical spa’s level of excellence by the design of three areas: reception, spa lounge and dressing/locker rooms. Soothing colors, clean lines, ambient lighting, and inviting furnishings all create an alluring ambiance. Yet medical spas also call for a certain brand of minimalism: To evoke a state-of-the-art clinical tone, don’t overwhelm the surrounding with decorative accessories, plants, floral arrangements and artwork.
View your medical spa as ever-evolving; invest your money in areas of the facility that will be costliest to change--such as electrical, plumbing and HVAC--and plan a budget that can accommodate occasional updates on furnishings, window treatments, and equipment; that will help your spa always look and feel fresh. This blend of graciousness and gravitas can help guide your medical spa to greatness!