With so many spas and medical spas in business these days, it's hard to keep up with all the amazing menu offerings that are available on the market, including rejuvenating facials; chemical peels; dermalinfusion therapies; and treatments for the hands, neck and scalp. It's almost endless.

But as spa practitioners and owners, it's not only a good idea to offer incredible services at competitive prices, it's crucial to have the protocols for these services written down and recorded at your spa. A written protocol is the step-by-step procedure that includes information like the name of the service, price, the amount of time needed, the products used, supplies required, specific techniques or equipment incorporated, and the step-by-step breakdown of instructions to perform it.

Like a chef writes and follows carefully crafted recipes, spa owners and their staff must create and adhere to protocols.

1. Make your mark on the industry.

For starters, protocols are what bring your unique spa industry vision to the marketplace. The details of how and why you choose to generate a specific menu item is what makes you stand out.

You are creating a proprietary experience for your guests. This doesn't happen by chance, it happens with a well-thought-out plan for each service on offer. Yes, vendors and product lines have their own protocols but keep in mind that they are generic, dispensed to your competitors and biased towards their product line or equipment.

It's your job to use those as a road map but also to supplement them with professional touches like aromatherapy, arm and hand massage, a special mask and the ambiance of the room. Furthermore, you will want to type your protocols out, print them on your letterhead and have them in a notebook. You will need them on hand if reception has to answer questions about a service or you are training new staff members.

2. Consistency of client experience.

Another major reason that you must have written, standard spa protocols is that you want to ensure that your client has the same experience no matter which employee that they see for a treatment or which location they visit (if you have more than one).

Just like any major restaurant franchise or cafe wants you to have the same dish or latte every time you visit one of their locations, your estheticians should be providing services with precision and consistency as well. Creating a standard experience for your clients is what separates the mediocre spa facilities from the extraordinary ones. Clients are loyal when they know that their hard-earned money will guarantee them a great experience.

Clients also refer their friends and family members to your spa when they know that you will give their loved ones an exemplary treatment. If clients get the sense that services are constantly changing, products are different every visit and they regularly experience an "off day" at your spa, then it's time to get serious about your protocols before you lose business.

3. Uniformity of staff performance.

As a spa owner, the last thing you want is clients favoring one esthetician over another because they get a better service or result from one and not the other. Yes, skin care technicians and estheticians come from different educational backgrounds and have different personalities and idiosyncrasies that make them suited for some clients and not others.

However, one thing that cannot happen at your spa is that some estheticians are following protocols and some are not. This can cause some unique problems in terms of cost of service and quality of service.

As we know, protocols are designed in a certain way to maximize product and supply usage and standardize cost. If an esthetician is not aware or not following protocols, then you could be losing money on services instead of making a profit.

Moreover, if estheticians are performing protocols improperly then they run the risk of misusing product, mishandling equipment and possibly creating and undesirable outcome for your client.

4. A valuable tool when liability is in question.

Just like state regulations require spas to have their Material Safety Data Sheets readily available in case a client has a reaction to a product or product ingredient, it's equally important to have your written protocols at arm's reach. Unfortunately, clients can have less than ideal outcomes from a service or an allergic reaction or injury.

In these times of conflict, it is crucial that you have a written record of your treatment protocols. Not only does it show that you are upholding professional standards, it is a valuable tool in the case of medical malpractice or some other legal proceeding.

Follow my expert advice and make sure that your spa has a written protocol on file for every item on your menu. The importance of these documents is clear. From sharing your unique methodologies and vision in the industry; standardizing the client experience, regulating employee performance and protecting yourself in legal proceedings. The protocol is a powerful document and one that should not be forgotten.