Business Management

Pampering and Polishing His Way to the Top

With diligent attention to clients’ needs, Adam Broderick has created a day spa that delights the eye and dazzles the senses.

You can’t walk past the Adam Broderick Image Group day spa without being tempted to walk in and hand over your body for a “spa day.” Maybe it’s the scent of brewing coffee wafting out to the sidewalk. Or the fresh flowers peeking out from the elegantly curved front windows. Or the sight of pampered and polished clients leaving with their children, who’ve been entertained in the spa’s child-care facility while Mom spent a few hours being rejuvenated.

Whatever it is, the residents of Ridgefield, Conn., have decided that salon owner Adam Broderick is onto something. The former Manhattan hairstylist and colorist has owned his own business for eight years, but the Adam Broderick Image Group, which celebrated its second anniversary in September, is his newest endeavor. “The first six years, I owned a salon called Upper Cuts. What an awful name!” he says with a laugh. A keen business sense (both the salon and the day spa have grown at about 20% per year) and a desire to expand his horizons led him on a search for a perfect location for his new, much-expanded business.

The search brought him to Ridgefield, an upscale town of about 24,000 that’s about an hour from Manhattan. According to Broderick, the current facility barely resembles the old office building he found just two short years ago. It was so ugly when I bought it,” he says. “It was just an old wooden building. We completely knocked down the front of it.”

It didn’t take long for the Adam Broderick Image Group to evolve into the 70-employee, full-service day spa it is today. “We offer massage, body wraps, hydrotherapy, steam showers, salt rubs-all the wet treatments, because that’s really what spa means,” says Broderick. “We use European-style treatments,” he adds. “We don’t use conventional machines for scrubbing or vacuuming the skin. Everything is done by hand.”


What does all this luxury mean for nail clients? How about a pedicure combined with a half-hour reflexology massage? Or a glycolic hand treatment to top off a manicure? “We also use aromatherapy products with our soaking procedures,” Broderick adds. “That’s really popular with clients.”

In fact, he says, it’s the spirit of cooperation between the nail department and the massage department, combined with regular interdepartmental brainstorming sessions, that keeps the Adam Broderick Image Group at the top of the heap in a demanding market. “At this level, clients expect high-quality services,” he says. “Expectations are way, way up there, and we try to add little things to make the spa very user friendly.” Broderick knows, too, that clients are willing to pay premium prices for those little extras. The spa charges $15 for a basic manicure, $20 for a spa manicure (which includes a longer hand and arm massage plus a paraffin wax treatment), and $35 for a basic pedicure.

Manicures, pedicures, and special nail treatments are also creatively combined with other body treatments as part of the featured spa packages. “We have a Morning of Beauty for $140 and a deluxe package for about $300,” says Broderick. Marketing is very important, he adds, and the spa staff is always looking for ways to package services that will make perfect (and easy-to-shop-for) gifts.

“We have spa packages for new brides and new mothers, and we have a really great mother-daughter package,” Broderick says. But perhaps the most popular packages are those that allow clients to pick and put together their favorite services (for instance, a facial, manicure, pedicure, body wrap, and massage). “We let the client put together a package and then we discount the package 10% off the regular price for each service,” he explains. The packages are a great way to introduce nail clients to the joys of massage or to convince a hair client, who normally just pops in for a monthly trim, to treat herself to a pedicure.


As a result of his marketing efforts, Broderick is able to hire some of the best talent around. “We have six full-time nail technicians and they’re always busy. We’ve created an environment that stylists and nail technicians enjoy-and we’re one of the top salons in the state,” he says. “We have a great training program for new nail technicians, plus we have a buddy system, where we pair up a senior technician with a new person. That’s worked out very well.”

The success of the spa has also allowed Broderick to add to his employee benefits package, which has helped attract talented new people. “Good people expect benefits and the perks that come with working for a large business,” he says. “We offer profit sharing, we pay a percentage of the employee’s health insurance costs, we offer a 401K plan, plus we give two weeks’ vacation and a birthday bonus. The employees really appreciate the benefits.”

Having a large staff also allows for more flexible hours for the nail technicians, Broderick says. “With a staff like this, having one person out doesn’t put a kink in the operation. A few of our nail technicians are single parents, and they can alternate Saturdays off to spend with their kids.” Of course, he adds, such scheduling flexibility requires to the right attitude. “A good team spirit has to be in place for this to work.”

Because of the esprit de corps at the spa, most clients get to know several technicians and don’t mind “jumping chairs” occasionally when their regular technician is unavailable, Broderick says. “We also started standardizing our procedures, and that’s helped a great deal. When a new nail technician starts, we teach the protocol for soaking, massaging, everything.” Since everyone is doing things the same way, he explains, clients are more comfortable switching back and forth between two or three different technicians. “Doing it this way also helps to make sure that things aren’t that ‘catty’ here,” he says, nothing that nail technicians at the spa rarely argue over clients. “I know that’s a problem at some places. Plus it gives the front desk people an opportunity to keep everyone booked.”


It’s this spirit of constant improvement and teamwork that keeps the spa growing and the business healthy, Broderick says. “I don’t have a background in the nail process, but the spa managers do and we work as a team,” he explains. “The entire staff-all 70 of us –meets once a month for an hour.” The group discusses special promotions, brainstorms marketing ideas, and discusses particular challenges staff members may be facing. “After the meeting, the different departments break off and have their own meetings,” he says. “We get a lot of great ideas this way.”

What types of ideas? “We started sending the staff to salons and spas at our expense. They go in just as regular customers, and they pick up ideas about things we can do in our spa. They also talk about negative things that perhaps we’re doing here, too, “he says. “That really helps us to improve our service.

“We’ve also learned a lot about promotions, “he says.”I think you do want to use promotions to build your business. But you should do promotions on your most popular services, not the odd, bizarre things.” Also, Broderick emphasizes, salon owners should make it easy for clients to take advantage of the promotion. “Don’t pull all these limitations on your promotion – ‘Valid only with Jenny,’ ‘Valid only on Thursdays, ‘You must have a coupon’- Keep it simple!”

It also pays to keep the client’s needs in mind when planning your promotion, he says. “So many salon owners get caught up in our side of the business. But it’s really important to put yourself in the client’s position.”

Broderick certainly had his clients in mind when he recently got together with several of the area’s country inns to create luscious-sounding weekend packages. “First, the inn serves a spa breakfast. Then the client comes to us for a spa morning, which includes lunch. Then they can go antiquing in the afternoon,” he says.”We also offer a choice of a few different restaurants that will serve a spa dinner as part of the country inn (with a newly rejuvenated body, a fresh manicure, and perhaps a perfect antique lamp for a favorite desk back home), where the lucky participants is tucked in with quilts and treated like royalty. The cost? About $400 per person.


Another result of this client-oriented approach was the creation of the spa’s child-care facility. “We did a lot of research before we added it,” Broderick says. Because of legal implications and for insurance reasons he explains, the facility is used strictly for supervising children while the parent remains on the premises-not for day care for clients’ or employees’ children.

“Everything was carefully thought out, “he says. “It’s not a big profit center, but it creates a lot of goodwill. “The child-care facility is great for clients who will be at the spa for two or three hours, he says. “We provide a snack for the kids if they will be here during the lunch hour. We have a licensed nursery school teacher on staff, and we provide videos and arts and crafts for the kids. The children want to come back!”

Associating a trip to the spa with games, videos, and treats goes a long way toward removing the fear little ones may have when it comes to that first haircut, Broderick says. “Normally, they don’t differentiate the hair salon from the dentist at that age,” he explains. “We try to make it fun for them. “While the high-tech, busy salon floor upstairs can intimidate a child facing that first trim, Broderick’s tiniest clients have their own “kids’ haircutting area” downstairs near the child-care facility. “I think the primary colors of the kids’ area make it more fun and more familiar for them, too,” Broderick says.

Parents soon find that there’s a promotion for clients of every age at Adam Broderick Image Group. “We have a special promotion for baby’s first haircut,” Broderick says. “We also take a Polaroid picture to send home with the parents.”


Has it all been easy? Broderick laughs. “Probably the biggest thing I had to learn was that you can’t be all things to all people. We can’t compete on price. We don’t try to,” he says. “I know there’s a lot of talk about the discount nail salons,” he adds. “But we don’t try to compete with them. That’s not our market. We concentrate on creating a certain environment. For example, we serve Perrier, wine, and fresh juices. We always have fresh flowers in the spa. Environment goes with service.”

What advice does Broderick have for salon owners who would like to follow in his quite successful footsteps? “I think it’s important to realize, when marketing your services, that a spa is not only a very different environment, it’s a different attitude. It’s conducive to wellness. I don’t think that can be created in the back room of a salon.”

Creating this special environment isn’t cheap, Broderick admits. “It requires a tremendous cash outlay. Before someone gets started, I’d suggest talking with a business consultant and also learning a lot about the demographics in the area.” Fortunately for upscale establishments like Broderick’s baby boomers are helping to create a greater demand for more high-end salons and spas. “Our business is 20% men now. The baby boomers are realizing that their body is the only one they’re ever going to have, and it’s important to take care of it. That’s why things like massage are so popular.”

 Knowing your demographics also means knowing what type of nail client you’ll be catering to, Broderick says. “Nail styles, like hair styles, vary greatly geographically. Different areas of the country go for different styles. For instance, we don’t do a lot of nail art. Our customers prefer French manicures soft polish colors, and shorter styles. We do amore classic style of nail.”

But, says Broderick, no matter what nail style your customers prefer, or whether you serve fresh juice and imported water, there’s one thing no salon can afford to ignore: sanitation. “We have sanitizers right at the tables, and the client sees the sanitation happening right at the nail station. We also use heat sterilization. We’re real sticklers for cleanliness, “he says. “I feel that seating a client at a dirty nail station, even if you intend to clean up before starting, is like seating a customer at a dirty table at a restaurant. We never seat a client at a station until a full cleaning is done.”


Once a salon is off and running successfully, Broderick says, keeping employees happy and motivated is a full-time-and critical-job. “That’s where the hard work comes in, “he says. “It’s really important to make sure the staff maintains its enthusiasm and excitement all the time. Creative people need to be energized.” Broderick uses lots of techniques to keep the enthusiasm pumping. “I bring in educators from other industries. We’ve had speakers on motivation and customer service. We’ve even done exercises in identifying different personality types. When you combine that with the excitement of sending people out to other spas to learn from other environments, you can create a great atmosphere.”

Just talking with different people all day sparks creativity, if you make the most of the situation, Broderick says. “Get advice from your clients,” he suggests. “Ask them about their business. There’s so much to learn! “Don’t bore them with a 45-minute monologue about your personal problems, he says. Instead, focus on what you can learn from them. “Don’t tell them about the movie you just saw or talk about the news. Ask questions. Concentrate on them. “When you’re a nail technician, says Broderick, “If you do it right, it’s like having company all day long.”              

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