Your spa has a newly-installed management system with a depth of functionality – offering greater operational efficiency, alongside a plethora of business analytics. But how do spas access that breadth of functionality and what training and support is on offer to help achieve optimum business value?
The why, what and how
From 24/7 support teams, guided tutorials and bespoke educational programmes to training conferences, in-site walk-throughs and super-users, software companies offer a multitude of training scenarios, but with one goal in mind: to help businesses learn in the most efficient way possible.
Most software suppliers offer a basic training programme which is client-centric. Key to providing that tailor-made support is in understanding why a spa operator needs a business management system in the first place and the nature of their particular goals. As Frank Pitsikalis, founder and CEO of ResortSuite, says: “We always start with the ‘why’ before we begin explaining the ‘how’.”
Leonie Wileman, COO of Premier Software, agrees: “Prior to installation we work closely with the client to ascertain what main functions they’ll be using and by whom, and build this knowledge into the initial training programme.”
Premier’s bespoke training ethos resonates with client Helen Cain, group spa manager of 10-plus sites at Harbour Hotels, UK. “We spoke with Premier very early on to make sure all areas of the software were covered in the shortest amount of time taken out of the business,” she says. “Prior to training, team members found simple processes long-winded and often misunderstood or didn’t know the most efficient way to use the software. Premier’s training takes you through how to use Core, its flagship business management system, efficiently, saving time.”
ResortSuite delivers its training to clients in a variety of ways, with configuration training often undertaken online remotely, while go-live and end-user training is always conducted onsite: “Training topics are dependent on the property and the ResortSuite modules purchased,” says Pitsikalis. “Our implementations team takes a new customer through different types of training. It’s always tailored to the specific customer because each property is unique, whether it’s a day spa with 10 treatment areas or a destination spa with 30 treatment areas, dining, a membership programme, wellness activities and accommodations.”
Customisation and accessibility
The ability to tailor training, from topics covered to the way they’re delivered, is key. As ResortSuite client CJ Hartwell-Kelly, GM at Buttermilk Falls Inn and Spa, in New York state, testifies: “Prior to ResortSuite, none of the entities at Buttermilk Falls would interface with each other. ResortSuite offered us a single solution for property management, spa, food and beverage, and catering. Since training, my team is now able to provide a seamless guest experience. Productivity has gone up and communication logs and daily tasks are now in one central place.”
The Assistant Company (TAC) uses a modular structure within its TAC University programme to train spas, fitness clubs and thermal baths alike. MD Günther Pöllabauer explains: “The TAC University programme includes quarterly webinars comprising updates of the latest functions, management workshops with our partner consultants, basic or advanced user training, and individual training on request.”
But how do software companies make such an in-depth, technical subject accessible across multiple key roles on an ongoing basis? Delivered predominantly over the phone with online screen sharing, training by Mindbody covers topics such as service set-up, bookings and retail, branded web configuration, marketing features and business resources. Senior business education specialist Katie Philipp says: “We really try to customise the language and communication style. Mindbody offers a lot of different training resources like videos, articles, guided tutorials, webinars, in-site walk-throughs and staff certifications to help businesses learn in the most efficient way possible.”
Like many software companies, Mindbody also embraces super-users. Philipp explains: “Our team typically trains a single point (or two) of contact on a conference call.” It’s an approach which has proved popular with Mindbody client Jennalee Dahlen, owner of California-based Yoso Wellness Spa: “We spend approximately two weeks training new staff on how to use the Mindbody software. This includes shadowing time to observe someone who’s well versed in the software. We find this particularly helpful with trainees because they learn on the spot the most efficient ways to create a smooth client experience.”
Book4Time advocates a company champion too. With a training programme that’s delivered online, Book4Time offers six sessions as part of its onboarding process. But as Laura McLeod, director of client success, says: “It’s the ‘train the trainer’ approach which works best for us. Our go-to approach is to help individuals with specific skills/responsibilities develop the ability to manage and work with the product. They are our super-users who handle the training of other employees.”
Likewise, TAC acknowledges the power of a super-user. Pöllabauer explains: “In large corporations there’s always one TAC key user who’s received deep training. This person is the specialist who trains her/his colleagues.”
So, tasked with delivering such a diverse range of training scenarios to a broad range of clients with widely differing needs, how exactly do software training departments operate and what are the challenges?
According to Book4Time’s McLeod, knowing how to use the company’s product to optimise operational efficiency and draw business intelligence is the key to client success: “Our success depends largely on CLTV [customer life time value] and we can enhance that only by delivering value. The quickest way to start delivering value is during the training itself.”
And to deliver that training, the company has a team of 20 staff based in Toronto and Manila. “The goal is to account for the time difference and be accessible to clients irrespective of the hour in the day. In a lot of ways, they’re the backbone of what we do,” she adds.
Over at Mindbody, there’s an onboarding department comprising some 80 people. “They perform a critical function. They are the boots on the ground that help our customers develop a comfort level with our comprehensive software system,” says Philipp. With a global reach, complimentary onboarding is available in six languages.
Helping spas to continue to access the full breadth of functionality, and not revert back to working within their comfort zone, is another key consideration for software suppliers. ResortSuite offers a Customer Success Team to keep clients on track. Pitsikalis says: “We wanted to create a team dedicated to proactively reaching out to our customers to talk through how they’re using the software today, and how they could improve with the use of certain functionalities.”
At the end of the day, successful training – measured in both greater operational efficiencies at the spa and improved adoption rates by the software company – boils down to a process of continuous and open two-way communication. As Mindbody’s Philipp concludes: “We stay curious and ask lots of questions around our customers’ goals. By helping them achieve these, hopefully businesses find they can’t live without us!”