The spa is seperated into the more upbeat nail section in the front with the reception area shown here and the relaxing spa section toward the back.

Visage wants people to look to them for the complete Knoxville beauty experience,
and with four popular locations and counting, they’re well on the way. The Visage group, consisting of Salon, Spa, and Studio, began in 1985 when Frank and Belinda Gambuzza, both hair professionals and educators, opened a salon that has since expanded.

“Our goal was to be more things to more people in Knoxville,” says Monty Howard, general manager of all the Tennessee-based locations. “When they think beauty, we want them to think Salon and Spa Visage.”

Howard joined the team in 2000 for the opening of Spa Visage, a 6,500-square-foot day spa located in a shopping center just across the parking lot from the salon.

Two separate pedicure rooms with four stations each are ideal for groups and small parties. 

The Spa Encounter

One of the first things clients will notice is the Spa facade protruding from the shopping center. Walking through the archway, there are two large water features on each side, both with stones inside.

Being greeted by the sound of rushing water is only the beginning of Belinda Gambuzza’s idea of transition from the outside world to the tranquil atmosphere of the salon. “The idea was to transition from the high-energy outside world in stages, ultimately to their relaxing experience in the back, as opposed to walking in the door, and boom, all of a sudden, you’re in a dark spa room,” Howard explains.

What they decided on is a division of the salon into two sections, with the front more high energy and dedicated to nails. The back becomes a peaceful sanctuary with a locker room, a gathering room, and finally, 11 treatment rooms — all working to slowly transition the client from high energy to total relaxation through increasingly dimmed lights and a change of music.

The manicure section holds three common tables with three stations each, which allow clients to interact with one another. There are an additional two rooms with four massage pedicure chairs in each room, ideal for groups.

Long tables with three manicure stations each allow clients to chat with each other. 

Dealing With the Downturn

There are currently three locations with nail services: Spa Visage, Salon Visage, and a new hair-and-nails location catering to men, Frank’s Barbershop, which opened in April. At the Spa, nails account for 40% of the business.

The most popular nail services are The Spa manicure and pedicure. Prices are comparable to other salons, but as the recession got worse, clients started to cut back.

“We needed to add in another layer to give people the opportunity to continue to get nail services, but a slightly different service for a lower price,” Howard says. The solution was The Express manicure and pedicure, a 30-minute service that includes nail maintenance and polish change, allowing clients who have become more price-conscious or who are time-strapped to continue getting their nail services. This has also been a good add-on for those clients coming in for other spa services.

Just across the parking lot from the salon, Spa Visage’s protruding facade helps it stand out in its shopping center location.

In response to clients stretching out their services for a longer period of time, they began to strongly encourage pre-bookings at the regular interval. “We believe pre-booking is the answer to getting the client to return more often,” Howard says. Employees are rewarded for pre-booking clients through better performance evaluations and getting new and non-request clients first. Howard explains that the ability to pre-book is an indication of better performance and higher
client retention.

To entice clients, those who pre-book are entered in a raffle, where once a month, a winner is chosen to get a free haircut and color makeover (also an effective form of cross-promotion) or a spa service.

The spa currently uses OPI polish and LCN for gel nails. It previously offered odorless acrylics, but Howard found they didn’t last as long as other acrylics. Gels have been the answer to that, combining an odorless spa experience with long-lasting nails. Started in February, it’s been a popular change.

Spa Visage’s most popular pedicure treatment is The Spa, which includes light exfoliation and massage. 

Gotta Love Working There

Management at Visage works hard to make sure employees are happy. They ask staff to get services done on a regular basis. “We close down and have employee night, so they can experience the services,” Howard says. This happens once or twice a year and he says it’s the biggest form of cross-promotion between the salon and spa. Hairstylists who have enjoyed spa services can more convincingly and effectively sell it to their clients, and spa employees can do the same for hair services.

New staff orientations include a mandatory spa and hair service, and free hair care, skin care, and makeup products. “We definitely believe our staff is a sales force,” Howard says.

In addition, they’ve created a career path for employees through a tiered pricing system so that those who get better performance evaluations charge more for their services, and hence receive a higher commission.

“One of the reasons I think people leave is they don’t feel like they have opportunities,” Howard says. “Creating career paths for people and giving them an opportunity to grow has addressed a lot of the issues of employees getting restless,” Howard says. This incentive has helped with retention, and about half of the nail techs at the Spa have been there more than five years, some more than 10. 




Salon Name: Spa Visage

Location: Knoxville, Tenn. (3 of 4 Visage locations have nail services)

Owners: Frank and Belinda Gambuzza

Square Footage: 6,500

Opened: 2000

Number of Nail Techs/Total Staff: 15/40

Compensation: Commission


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