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NJ Day Spa Owner Comments On The Industry’s Struggle With Customer Service


The Spa Industry has long struggled with finding good customer service for the front desk. If you ask any salon or spa owner what position is the most important in their business, most will say it’s the front desk. Why then is finding qualified individuals to work the front desk in a salon or spa such a struggle?

Valentina Chistova, owner of Aquamedica Salon and Day Spa in Long Branch, NJ shares her thoughts on the day spa industry’s struggle to hire professional help for the front desk.

Chistova starts off by saying, “In Russia we say: At the theater, the experience starts at the coat check. At the spa, it starts with front desk. Many salons and spas across the country continue to struggle with their front desk. Finding good, qualified front desk support is not as easy as it may seem.”

The Salon and Spa industry is a very unique business. It’s an extremely personal industry, one that heavily relies on person to person interaction, body language, voice, tone and even inflection. Sensitivity weighs heavily on guests visiting a salon or spa for personal services.

There are many different types of spa clients. One is the client who is insecure, and is coming to a salon or spa to help improve his or her looks. Another on the other hand, is extremely confident with their appearance and enjoys the attention and pampering of being ‘beautified’. Each client is exceptionally opposite in feelings and comfort, and therefore, front desk representatives must draw on their inner abilities to be in sync with each client’s energy. It’s difficult to find individuals with such professionalism, and such keen awareness, especially because the front desk position is not typically the highest paid position. This creates a struggle for the spa owner who needs to satisfy their client’s needs and while being mindful of their own salary limitations.

Chistova says of her own experience, “When I analyze how the spa functions, I found that for myself, front desk is the most important position. Everything starts and ends with the front desk. When I ask people how their experience was or even when I read reviews about other spas, the most common complaints are not about the actual service, but are about the way they were treated by the front desk.”

Chistova says that most consumers who complain about the front desk said they didn’t feel comfortable interacting with the front desk, or that the people were not sincere and did not pay attention to them.

“The front desk employees need to have the ability to immediately re-tune themselves to whatever client is walking through the door. If you don’t, you will be contrasting with them. You need people who can ‘mirror and match’. I try to be at the front desk as much as I can. I see a lot of things up there that upsets me. For example, the employee at the front desk will say in front of the client, ‘Valentina, your wax is here’. Or ‘ Dan, your massage is here’, referring to our clients as ‘appointments’ not as people with names. How the front desk speaks to people, or even how they speak about people in front of others makes a big difference.”

Chistova also believes that the problem is not necessarily how much you pay or don’t pay your front desk employees, rather, she feels that the initial training and outlining of expectations is what defines how that employee will serve your business.

“Some people you can train and some people you cannot. You can
hire someone for $20 an hour because they were a former manager in a successful corporate business, and they still may fail behind the desk of a salon or spa. It’s a unique industry, the position requires employees who are well trained in hospitality.” Chistova says having new hires practice addressing clients with a mirror in front of their face is good practice. “Let them see how their facial expressions can change the tone of their voice, without them even knowing it. It’s all about tone, more so than words.”

Chistova also recommends having an ‘always hiring’ mindset, saying
that anyone who walks through the door with a resume should be hired. “You never know what you are missing out on if you don’t at least sit down for 5 minutes with someone who is interested in working for your business. Anyone who walks through your door could be your golden ticket to front desk fame!”

There are many companies that offer voice and speech training. For salons and spas, businesses that rely so heavily on good front desk help, this is an excellent investment. A money-saving idea is to have one to three of your top front desk employees be trained in the art of voice and speech. Then, these leaders become the trainers for all new hires that follow. Rewarding your leaders with higher compensation is a great way to ensure their loyalty to your business and its success.

Valentina Chistova and Stacey Berlin, President of TCR-Marketing (, a marketing and management consulting firm, offer customer service training on all levels for front desk help at salons and spas. If you would like to learn more about their Salon-Spa specific program send an email to Valentina at or Stacey at

About Valentina
Valentina Chistova is the owner of Aquamedica Salon and Spa and is a world-renowned aesthetician and beauty expert whose experience encompasses all facets of skin care and body treatments. Internationally trained, educated and certified, Valentina has devoted more than twenty years to her profession.

Valentina is a member of the National Cosmetology Association and a CIDESCO candidate (Comite International Desthetique et de Cosmetologie Desthetique), which is the highest degree of beauty therapy certification available in the United States and worldwide.

For more information about Aquamedica Salon and Day Spa, please visit


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