The word “spa” has Latin origin meaning health through water thereby making the core of your spa business water treatments otherwise rather focus on opening or starting a skin and body salon.  So whilst water treatments or hydro therapy are the starting point in terms of treatment offering for spas there are a wide variety of services that the spa business can offer.

The Spa business is still a GROWING INDUSTRY so make sure that when you embark on this exciting journey of starting a spa business that you ensure you are positioning yourself where the consumer needs are currently and take into account any industry trends that are emerging.

Two factors that determine the success of your business are:  Cash flow and planning.  Having set up many spas in and around South Africa, our experience is that you should double the budget from the start.  This does not mean spend more on the actual development of the spa but it means have access to double the cash to run the business for a full 12 months without relying on turnover to break even.  When it comes to planning, my suggestion here is to allow an additional 2 – 3 months just to plan and make changes and research etc. You get ONE chance to set this business up so take your time.

Below is a simple step by step process to starting your own Spa

  1. Funding requirements.  Start by knowing where your funding is coming from and how promptly you will have access to the money.  Only once your funding is in place and you have access to the cash then move on with the project.  It is absolutely pointless to do all the work and research that follows if you don’t have guaranteed access to cash.
  2.  Location.  This is probably one of your biggest challenges so I would get this sorted as quickly as possible.  Once again I don’t recommend going to the next steps of the project if you don’t have a secured location.  When looking for a location take into consideration a few very important factors:  easy to find when giving directions, i.e., not tricky to find.  Easy access from main roads and main highways, signage opportunities, proximity to businesses where you can draw clientele, parking space (ensure plenty as this is always an afterthought and could affect your business negatively if not sufficient safe parking).  Then of course once you have a secure location you need to have a clear understanding of the costs that come with the location i.e., rent, lease period, escalation, parking, etc
  3. Spa Consultant.  A must in your journey of developing your spa!  An experienced and efficient spa consultant can save you money and time in the process.
  4. Concept.  A unique selling point is really what you are after here.  Since there are so many spas now this is more of a challenge but still very possible and once again don’t even go down the path of spending money until you have a solid concept that is unique.
  5. Research competition.  This means know exactly how many spas and salons are in a 10km radius and also visit them and have treatments and get to know exactly what their point of difference is.  Take note of what you did not like during your treatment and ensure to make a point of improving on that in your project.  Take special note of the things that blew you away and develop that further in your spa
  6. Business plan.  Once you have researched the competition thoroughly and are still convinced that your concept is sound and will be unique, then begin a business plan.  Whether you have funding available that does not require a business plan or not, I highly recommend that you still draw up a precise and detailed business plan so you have an outline by which to run your business.  I recommend that spas re-do their business plan every second year as the industry is changing and evolving so much that in order to keep current you need to re look at your plan and strategy.
  7. Determine services to be offered.  Since is it spa that you are opening, at least 2 to 3 water treatments should be offered in your business to be a true spa otherwise rather call  yourself a beauty salon or skincare centre.  With these water services, make sure that they will be used on a daily basis and don’t just have them there for the sake of being able to say that you have water treatments.  For example, don’t build a Vichy shower if you are not going to be able to book guests on it every single day.  So be clever in your plan and choice of water treatments as they can be such a powerful tool in your business.  Decide and be clear on what additional services you will offer and please don’t try and be all things to everyone as this will be a costly mistake.
  8. Choosing a name.  Your choice of name must be easy to repeat, easy to read, clear and concise.  Research the meaning of your name of choice and be comfortable to convey this meaning in your marketing efforts.
  9. Registering the business.  You will need to register the name of your business and set up a company in which to run this business.  Now is also a good time to choose an accountant and attorney to walk the road with you on your venture.
  10. Interior Design.  See 2 or 3 different designers and let them pitch for the business.  Have a look at any previous work they have done and ask to speak to one or two clients.  Give them a clear and precise interior budget so there are no surprises later.
  11. Equipment requirements.  An equipment schedule per room and space in your spa should be drawn up and together with your spa consultant research and get different quotes.
  12. Product requirements. Be open to hearing about all products and set up product house presentations with your spa consultant so that you are able to see at least 10 or 12 suppliers and only after you have seen them begin to narrow your decision on which product houses to partner with.  Make sure that you research all different aspects of the product such as delivery lead times, training policy, will you have a sales representative call on you, promotions, profitability and so many others to consider.


The above 12 points are really just a starting point.  Welcome to the most amazing industry in the world, an Industry where you get to make people feel and look better.  

The above article was compiled by The Spa Consultants on behalf of the South African Spa Association.

For more information please contact:

The Spa Consultants visit:

The South African Spa Association on Tel: 083 267 2773 or visit: