Spa CEO Dishes Advice to Relax Small Business Owners
Started in 1998, the Oasis Day Spa has expanded from their original location in Union Square to add three more locations in Westchester and New York City. In that time, the spa has also received numerous awards for their services, being named the best day spa in New York City and Westchester. Today, the company has more than 100 employees. BusinessNewsDaily spoke with CEO Bruce Schoenberg about the origins of the spa, how he has handled expansion and what other businesses can learn from the Oasis model.
BusinessNewsDaily: Tell us about your business.
Bruce Schoenberg: Oasis Day Spa is a multisite beauty and wellness business. We were named the "Best Day Spa" by Allure, Time Out New York and SpaFinder. In 2001, we opened a second location at what is now the flagship location at One Park Avenue — the largest spa in terms of treatment rooms in the city. Oasis is also the largest provider of pop-up spas to the trade show and event industry, servicing 15 cities. Corporate partners include Victoria's Secret, Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, New York Yankees and Cirque de Soleil.
BND: Why did you start your business? What opportunity did you see that you thought you could take advantage of?
B.S.: My wife and partner, Marti, and I realized that there was a real lack of personal customer service in the spa and beauty industry — not just at the boutique level, but at the larger spas that seemed to just churn people in and out. We felt that a real mom-and-pop-style operation that put the customer first would be very successful in the "in a New York minute" type of lifestyle, which consumers demand.
BND: Can you speak a bit about the challenges you faced when trying to start your business and how you overcame those challenges?
B.S.: The biggest challenge, after making sure we could financially handle such an undertaking, was creating awareness and buzz about Oasis Day Spa. There is no substitute for hard work, and we went the traditional route with print advertising and hiring a PR firm. But we also went outside the box and did the untraditional by going out and doing pop-up spa events everywhere and as often as possible to introduce our company to consumers.
BND: What are your plans for the future and how do you plan to handle growth?
B.S.: Right now, we are cautiously evaluating the landscape to see what spas might be up for acquisition. Since we just expanded about four years ago into Westchester County, we know the challenges of opening a new business in a tough economy. We look at any opportunity that will expose us to new clients in an untapped or under-serviced area that can support our services.
BND: What can other businesses learn from your story?
B.S.: That it takes a tremendous amount of planning to start any type of business, and be prepared for that to be your entire focus 24/7 for quite a while. Capitalization is critical, and no one should ever consider starting a business without sitting with professionals both legally and financially before moving forward.
BND: What advice do you have for other businesses or entrepreneurs?
B.S.: Write your business plan and plan on rewriting it four or five more times before you even consider a venture. Move forward only if the math works, and never let your heart rule your head. Have the smarts to hire professionals inside the field you are looking at to help you decide if your plan is sound. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, worse than losing all your hard-earned savings, not to mention any loans you may take out with family, friends or the bank which you will be personally liable for.