Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cebu Pacific Dancing FA's, Price Wars and the Gaya Gaya Mentality: What does it have to do with the Spa, Massage Clinic and Wellness Center Business/ Profession?

Cebu Pacific Dancing FA's, Price Wars and the Gaya Gaya Mentality: What does it have to do with the Spa, Massage Clinic and Wellness Center Business/ Profession?
by Eunice
Whenever I travel, I would first window shop: I log online and shop for airline tickets, accommodations and tours. I shop from one travel agent to another, from airlines through their website, through their offices at the malls and compare them with two of my miles membership cards. It takes a week or so to finally come up with something that fits my needs. I found out that whatever you do, there will always be someone who will be willing to cut their price to gain business from us (the consumers). The irony of it is that once we have already bought something, we will find out that there will always be a cheaper alternative or a promo somewhere. That goes the same in almost all industry types and the spa, massage centers, fitness centers and wellness center business is not an exception. Nung hindi pa nauuso ang pag-pa-pa-spa, it was only for the elite and the socialites, while massage therapy naman was seen in a bad light and a not so wholesome or healthy connotation and the wellness centers are just for health freaks. Noon yun- iba na ngayon (That was before, now it’s different). Ever since spas sprouted like mushrooms, the spa owners and the people in the industry were taken aback by the rampant cost cutting of clients therefore more and more spas joined the band wagon of cutting their prices- and as you well know, maraming spas, massage clinics and wellness centers na nag slash ng kanilang service and retail prices. Pababaan ng presyo. As a result, maraming spas na nagsara. Hindi naging lucrative para sa marami ang negosyo but let’s take a look at the deeper aspect of price wars. The unseen, the invisible side to price wars and the Gaya-gaya system and how we can come up with some solutions.

Bakit ba may gaya-gaya system? At price wars? Ang sabi ng Wikipedia and I quote: “Price war is a term used in economic sector to indicate a state of intense competitive rivalry accompanied by a multi-lateral series of price reduction. One competitor will lower its price, then others will lower their prices to match. If one of them reduces their price again, a new round of reductions starts. In the short-term, price wars are good for consumers, who can take advantage of lower prices. Often they are not good for the companies involved. The lower prices reduce profit margins and can threaten their survival. In the medium to long term, they can be good for the dominant firms in the industry. Typically, the smaller, more marginal, firms cannot compete and must close. The remaining firms absorb the market share of those that have closed. The real losers then, are the marginal firms and their investors. In the long term, the consumer may lose too. With fewer firms in the industry, prices tend to increase, sometimes higher than before the price war started.”

There are several business and economic causes of price wars and gaya-gaya system. One deeply rooted cause is that one wants a market share that the other business has. One business wants what the other business (the competitor) has. People jump to the bandwagon because of money, profits and a share of the pie without real knowledge of the business. Basta hilig lang but it’s not enough. Passion is not enough to sustain a business operation. It takes wise business decisions, amongst other things. Last year, in one of my speaking engagements, I was invited to speak to a group of spa owners and students of massage and wellness about spa operations and management in the beautiful province of Tarlac and one of the questions a spa owner asked me was: what is the solution for price wars and the gaya-gaya mentality of Filipinos? I honestly told them that there is no silver bullet to this problem. There’s only the option to choose the ways that are much less damaging to spa, massage clinics and wellness centers owners than dropping their prices. If price is the problem, the first choice is to add value before dropping price. Anong ibig sabihin ng adding value? Instead of giving a discount, give them a free add-on or an additional time for a certain service. Halimbawa, they purchased a service equal to $100 or 5,000 Pesos give them a free 15-minute trial back and head massage. They have had the experience, and they might avail of the back and head massage next time. Sa spa business kasi dapat you have to sell the experience do not sell the price lagi. The next is to ensure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, any promotional rate is fenced properly. What are fences? Fences are tactics applied to rates to prevent one segment of demand from buying down into the next. In broad terms, there are four types of fences:

1. Product fences: Limit the offer to certain retail types.

2. Availability fences: Offer better deals on high end services and products. We see these promotions constantly. e.g. pay for five massage, get seven, et cetera.

3. Customer fences: Limit the offer to repeat/loyal clients as a reward.

4. Transaction fences: Provide a restricted booking window for a service over a specific period of time. e.g. pro-bono services should be done on slow time slots and not on weekends.

Of course, there are a lot of things naman (aside from those mentioned above) that we can do to reduce the effect of price wars and the gaya-gaya system. But there is something that we can personally do in order to minimize price wars and the gaya-gaya system. Let us now go into the invisible causes, effects and probable solution/s to the price wars and gaya-gaya system.
I think the basic thing one should ask oneself BEFORE one would enter the spa, massage or wellness industry is: if this is the kind of job that I’m going to be satisfied with and be really good at? Is this something I want to be doing five or ten years or even twenty years from now? If you are a massage or spa therapist who longs to start your own business, you have to be certain that this is the job that fits the way God has designed you to function and in the same fundamental way, it should satisfy your desire for contribution that God has planted in your head through your talents and skills and cultivated in your heart through your passion and interest. If you dream of becoming a spa owner someday: You have to know how to be a good worker before becoming a great boss. You have to know your numbers. You have to know how to read financial statements. You have to know how to carve your own niche in the sea of competitors. And a whole lot of things. Maraming dapat matutunan. Hindi yung basta basta na lang magtatayo ng negosyo na walang kaalam- alam sa pagpapa takbo nito.

It’s a tragedy when I hear about several business people who have already put up their own spa, massage clinic or wellness center tapos walang nangyari after three years. It’s equally disastrous for a person who wants to go into business and loves to do what they are doing yet, they do not want to earn from it. Bakit? God wants to bless you through your talents. Of course, not everything can have monetary value but consider the possibility of earning from what you love to do. God is a productive God, He wants us to earn from what we love to do. Hindi masama yun. Even God sent His Son to pay for our debt and He paid for us to be free from hell. Lahat may bayad. Everything has a trade-off maybe not always with monetary value but in some other thing. Tragic din if you are trapped (for whatever reason) in a work that you are not interested in. I had a former staff in a European hotel destination spa, we will just call her Aileen and back home in the Philippines, she told her parents that she was working in a hospital as a physical therapist. IN reality, she’s not she’s working in a spa as a spa therapist. Although she is a PTRP, Physical Therapist Republic of the Philippines, a designation for Registered Physical Therapist Licensed by our government. So, for the whole contract year she was rumbling how she does not like her job and how she does not enjoy it. Several ways to know that you are really not called for what you are doing are: you do not have interest in it, you do not enjoy what you are doing, you are bored to death, you feel like you are a prisoner and that work is a daily grind, your soul is searching for the feeling of freedom, you do not take pride in what you do and somehow, you do not feel satisfied. Imagine investing 8 hours a day, 5 days a week or 50 weeks a year- 80 thousand hours over a working life span of 40 years or so. All in a job that you do not enjoy nor care for or that does not fit you. That’s a big waste of life! And it’s not a good advertising for the originator of the whole idea of work either. This is lack of stewardship of being who God made you to be and accomplished what He’s put in your heart to accomplish. Importante rin that you discover your own calling in this wonderful industry of spa, massage, beauty and wellness, hindi pwedeng lahat spa manager, hindi puwedeng lahat maging spa owner, hindi pwedeng lahat maging massage therapist. We all have special gifts and no one is an exception. I was in a struggle a lot of times because I am torn by several lovers: the love for teaching, the love for writing, sharing my thoughts, travel and the love for the practice. I always have to think that there are people who are really gifted with their hands at saludo ako sa kanila dahil mas magagaling sila kaysa sa akin in that area. Come to think of it, there are a lot of gifted hands that are better than mine that is why I did not concentrate on something that I am not excellent at. Alam kong mas maraming magagaling na trainers, massage therapists and spa therapists kaysa sa akin. I have colleagues and friends in the industry who are excellent in what they do including Rommel Martinez, Hadjii Crespo, Alex Bulaton, Faye Rapio and many others. It’s important that we discover our own calling, the place of work in which your design: talents, skills, abilities, background, etc. comes together with your desire to form a motivated platform: school, pulpit, office, internet, online, etc. from which you represent the values of your Creator.

First and foremost, realize that our pursuit for the right type of business, profession, work or career will be empty without God. But when we turn to Him, when we make the fundamental decision to center our existence in a relationship with our loving Creator, then and only then does our life take on Purpose and our work have the potential to bring joy and satisfaction. Finding the right business or profession begins with a vital relationship with God, our Maker. Then make it your purpose to be God’s person in this world.

Secondly, if you have already committed your business/ profession to Jesus Christ, then trust the desires, the blue print of your personality that God has given you. I believe that no one on this Earth was born identical (not even twins have the same DNA), we all have different calling. A different gift for each of us. Some have similarities but all are different in some way. Because we are acting on what is natural for us, God will also move in our lives. Kung natural sa iyong magaling kang magmasahe eh di aralin mo ang ating katutubong masahe hindi lang ang Swedish massage. Ibahagi mo iyon sa iba sa pamamagitan ng pagmamasahe sa kanila. Ibahagi mo rin ito sa iyong kapwa na walang pagmamalaki o pagdadamot. Look for your natural abilities and cultivate on them, learn as much as you could and be a general in your field. Meaning, be very good at it. Know yourself, ika nga. To know yourself, is the process of discovering who you are and what you have to offer that will benefit others. So you can be a better steward of the way God has made us. Dapat alamin mo saan ka magaling at lalo mo pang pagalingin ang sarili mo sa paggawa ng mga bagay na natural na magaling ka. Saan ba magaling ang iyong spa? Depende yan sa galing ng spa staff mo. Ano ba ang unique sa spa services mo? What can you offer that others cannot? Kasi pag alam natin ito, hindi na natin kailangan pang mag copy cat or mag price wars kasi ang isang spa ay iba sa isa at iba-iba ang mga ino-offer ng isang spa kaysa sa iyo. Of course, hindi naman masama if we copy whatever is good from what we have learned from others BUT do not lose sight of your own gifts na ginagaya mo na ang lahat sa iba at wala ng self-identity and sariling branding ang iyong spa, massage clinic or wellness center. Remember that the more people that offers your type of services or product, the lower the value and the lower the price points. If you are offering Swedish, Thai and Shiatsu massage which are common in more than a thousand spas all over your area, do not expect to get paid a premium price for it. The more rare your service or product is, the better it is for you because you create value for what you do. Isang recent example ay yung ginagawa ng SM malls with their sales staff have implemented ways to make shopping more enjoyable like dancing, clapping and attentive sales ladies. Pati yung ginagawa ngayon ng Cebu Pacific with their dancing flight attendants. I am not saying it is right or wrong. Hindi natin pinaguusapan yun. Ang pinaguusapan natin dito is yung uniqueness of your service and the value you create. If it’s fun then it’s fun. We all have different tastes, likes and dislikes. But, those passengers who are already bored with the usual routine of safety features (which only a few listens to) can also enjoy the ride.

Third, we have to offer our true self to God and to others. Only in offering our true self, do we have anything to offer. You cannot give or sell what you do not have. All you can actually give is who you are created to be. Kung gaya-gaya ka sa iba na hindi naman yun ang talent mo, magiging second class lang ang gagawin mo. Kaya kung mag nenegosyo ka at gagaya-gaya ka lang sa iba, magiging second class lang ang negosyo mo. Mananatiling maliit. Mananatili kang nag-iisa. Whatever else you try to offer, will not, in the long run, be much of a contribution. Kasi nga hindi natural sa iyo yun. Plus, in giving out a false image of yourself will result in burnout, boredom and will drain you and dwarf others. Kaya napaka raming boss, amo, manager na hindi effective dahil hindi nila calling yun. They are draining themselves while dwarfing others. Can we not realize that if we are not in our rightful position then our rightful place is empty? If you would always aim at someone else’s target market, you will lose sight of your own. Let your business and profession be a product of yourself. Be yourself and those who notice would want some of it. Eventually, there will be a ripple of effect.

How do we know that we are in our rightful position? We have peace of mind and we have joy even if we encounter problems and discouragements. God has a mission for all of us: we simply have different platforms and areas for which we can grow.

Last but not the least, we should decide, plan and take action. That may mean starting and completing that business plan, taking that examination you need, reading more books about your area, mingling with others, asking for help from those who came before you, setting a deadline, baguhin ang mga spa services mo at maghanap ng mga services na different sa iba, etc. Do not just hear, read and do nothing, act on something one day at a time towards your dream. On the other side of the coin, study, learn from where you are right now. It only means you have common sense and are serious about it. It does not mean you are weak or intimidated. It just means you’re smart. So take your time, but don’t take too long.

Finally, Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men."

If God directs you to put up that spa, start that massage clinic or build that wellness center, however small- will be grand in the eyes of God. You are unique, you can be brilliant in what you do if you would only offer what you are (really) good at, who needs a gaya-gaya system and who needs to cut prices?

Beyond the Usual Tasks

By yunesa

Our usual tasks are light and its results beautiful

If we have eyes to see their shining ministry

The owner investor with his finances twined in the business

The contractor, carpenter, architect and engineer

Whose skilled hands built the infrastructure

Building a home for the business

The janitors and housekeeping staff

Working with brooms and vacuum cleaners

The manager who watches over and tends the needs of the business

The staff who performs hands-on, faces the clients everyday

Faithful to their partnership with God

These are the artisans of a business

And oh, the client,

with their needs and requests we should fulfill and satisfy

from which we draw the fuel for the business

For these are all great ministries and calling

They are all beautiful

If only one can see beyond the usual task.

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