& Spa Buyers Guide
Our expert's answer some of your most
Quick reference guide to this page
I've heard there is a difference in UK and overseas
manufacturing that impacts on fire regulations. Can you explain
Our Experts Answer...
It is alarming that currently it is not
compulsory for therapy couches, massage tables and treatment
chairs sold in the UK to meet any safety standard. Responsible
manufacturers voluntarily produce couches and therapy equipment
to a minimum criterion.
Your client's safety is of the utmost importance; in the
compensation culture we live in today it is prudent for
professionals to ensure that their equipment is safe and it is
advisable and sensible to ensure that the furniture and
equipment you purchase meets
British Safety Standards
(e.g. BS3379) and the upholstery and foam
UK Fire Regulations
(e.g. Furniture & Furnishings Fire Safety Regulations S11324).
Ethical Manufacturers adopt the UK regulations laid down for
soft furnishings in order to meet stringent testing for
and they use foam and upholstery which has been rigorously
tested by an independent body for flammability, longevity and
quality. It is estimated that 75% of foreign imported foam and
upholstery will not meet BS3379/BS5852 regulations, and European
safety criteria is generally lower than those set in the UK. It
is advisable to establish where in the world your equipment is
there any laws or regulations that I have to comply with?
Our Experts Answer...
Our Experts Answer...
Every business or service provider needs to be aware of
the legal changes which came into force in October 2004,
to ensure that they not only meet their legal duties to
ensure that disabled people can use their services and
facilities but also don't ignore all those disabled
people who are potential customers.
According to the Act reasonable adjustments to physical
features does not only include steps, stairways,
entrances, wash rooms etc but it is important to realise
features that also need consideration include, for
example seating. For the therapy treatment room this has
implications for any equipment a client reclines or sits
on. Any UK business providing a service to the public,
such as a therapy treatment room or salon, needs to
ensure they can treat disabled customers and make every
service they offer available and accessible to disabled
customers. As a salon manager, the first step is to ask
yourself 'can disabled people use my services without
inconvenience, discomfort or loss of dignity?'¯. You may
need to ensure that at least one couch is 'disabled
friendly' to accommodate wheelchair clients and will
descend low enough to allow easy and safe transfer from
wheelchair to couch, we would suggest a lowest setting
of 19" will allow you easy wheelchair transfer. Staff
may need to be trained to treat clients with different
types of disabilities. If you are positive and helpful
in your approach and provide a service that is
accessible to all, you will attract more potential
clients. This will include not just the disabled client
but maybe the friends or family accompanying them/ their
carer as well as elderly clients who may not be disabled
but will appreciate easier access.
For more information on the DDA visit The Disability
Rights Commission web site at www.drc-gb.org
I'm just setting up my first salon. What are the key items I should look
Our Experts Answer...
In planning your first salon you should budget for the
best quality equipment you can possibly afford and that
major equipment items offer sufficient flexibility to
encompass the full range of therapies and treatments
that you envisage offering, both initially and as your
The design of your key equipment, a treatment couch or
chair should provide for client comfort and an effective
treatment; it should also afford a safe and comfortable
working environment for the therapist. The working
height of a couch is most important and couches may need
to be at varying heights to suit your staff. A flexible
alternative is the
- these can be quickly and easily adapted to suit
individual treatments. Correct posture for a seated
therapist is vital and
contributes to the welfare of
are multi-functional and will be suited to a variety of
treatments. If you are diversifying over a number of
therapies, you should know that beauty equipment
offering the comfort of thick padding may not be so well
suited to massage or manipulative work which requires
the firm support of higher density foam.
If space is at a premium a single major piece of
equipment can be adapted to many disciplines. A top
will be strong enough for heavy massage and sufficiently
flexible to convert to a
for foot and beauty work.
for manipulation treatment may be offered where
the design of the couch or
to provide both a positive and negative tilt facility
offering a wide variety of treatment positions for
therapy, medical application and also useful in
leg waxing and foot treatments.
Where you are buying from the manufacturer you may be
able to specify the dimensions of your major equipment
item so that it is customised to your needs.
Buying the least expensive couch may be a false economy.
Such items become shabby quite quickly and will not be
sufficiently robust to withstand the demands of a busy
salon. If your budget is tight then my advice is to buy
quality items that are relevant to your initial needs
and as your business prospers, you can gradually enhance
your facilities. You are offering a professional service
and the investment in equipment should reflect this
fact; a quality image will result in customer and
employee satisfaction which will give you the return on
At what point should salon owners start thinking about the
furniture which is going into a new salon?
Our Experts Answer...
Make sure you plan to purchase your equipment well enough in
advance, one of the most common statements made to our sales
consultants is 'i'm opening in 2 weeks time and I am looking for a
complete salon suite'¯!.
Ground work can be carried out well in advance, as long as you have
your treatment plans in place you can begin your search for the
right equipment to encompass the treatments your salon will be
offering, even before you have your premises. Also take into account
your longer term business plan and choose equipment that will grow
with your business and be able to adapt to perhaps more treatments
being introduced as you progress.
can also be planned well in advance so when you are ordering your
equipment you know what finish /colours will match your overall
design. e.g. wooden natural theme, clinical colours, or corporate
For your main equipment, such as electronic couches /tables/plinths,
treatments chairs you must allow at least 4-6 weeks for its
manufacture. If you having bespoke furniture made to your special
dimensions then 6 weeks is the absolute minimum you should allow for
your equipment to be made. Also if you are ordering from a company
who offers a
with their delivery you need to notify them well in advance of your
opening date to ensure that a delivery date is booked for you.
A common error is that more money is spent
on the aesthetics of the salon and the furniture takes 'back stage'.
Designers and architects are not necessarily the best authority to
give you advice on therapy equipment. They know about the things
they are qualified to do and that's design and plan buildings,
staircases, flooring, doors and perhaps can advise on plumbing and
electrics etc. In our experience they do not have working knowledge
of therapists and remember the business you are in is very, very
specialist. If you can be lucky enough to have the chance to talk to
an actual equipment manufacturer about your equipment needs they
have the business knowledge combined with an in depth-product
knowledge to best advise and give guidance. They will be well
experienced in dealing with salons and spas on a daily basis and
will know what will best works in your salon environment and, more
importantly, what doesn't work. They may highlight certain issues
that you may not have even considered and would certainly not be
considered by an architect.
Can you suggest some common oversights when planning new
Our Experts Answer...
most common omission (and electricians don't always think of this)
is plug sockets. If you are using electronic couches consider your
electrical wiring and have under floor sockets fitted so that leads
are kept at floor level. Also consider where your wall plugs are
fitted for the best access for magnification lamps etc.,
the equipment you are buying complies to fire regulations required
by your indemnity insurance. Remember they are no requisite
regulations governing equipment sold in the UK but there will be
regulations you may need to meet for your premises. Also ensure that
your equipment enables you to meet the Disability Laws.
c) Ensure there is enough room for a treatment couch to be accessed
both sides. If your therapist is having to constantly reach over
this will cause common posture problems such as bad backs and
possibly time off work.
d) Make sure you consult the therapists who are going to be using
the equipment. A big mistake many make is that the person
responsible to make the buying decision is not necessarily the
practicing therapist, or on many occasions has any knowledge of
therapy at all. What may appear value for money to the man with the
purse strings may not actually be a viable purchase when its in situ
if it doesn't stand up to the rigors of continuous use, meet all
your various treatment needs/ disciplines and may not be easy for
the therapist to use and assist their treatments. Remember don't be
led my your accountant... what's good value for him may be in the
long term false economy.
salon equipment and furnishing make a statement about your business
and rate highly in the overall impression a customer goes away with.
Remember that the ambience creates a good feel factor and impression
but the comfort of the treatment is paramount, e.g. you can have a
lovely vase in the corner of room but if the couch your client is
lying on for an hour is uncomfortable or unstable they wont come
back for another treatment !
Glossy brochures look great but how can I compare the technical
information between products and brands?
Our Experts Answer...
Technical information about products varies greatly between
brochures. Manufacturers (especially from the UK) should give
precise and detailed descriptions, specifications and
illustrations. A number of companies have websites that may be
more informative and up-to-date than a printed brochure.
Before you start it is a good idea to list your requirements.
Your priorities can then be compared with appropriate models in
each brochure and you can shortlist those that best suit your
needs. The final decision is an important one and should not be
The most reputable suppliers will give you further technical
information and provide advice on the applications of their
equipment and the suitability of different models to your
therapy discipline (s). Look for companies who employ qualified
therapists in their Customer Service function.
The brochure should give you standard dimensions although
manufacturers may offer the option of customised sizes. But size
is not the only criteria, what about quality, strength and
durability? You do not need to know the 'ins and outs' of
aluminium thickness, wood density, electric motor reliability
etc, instead you can ask operational questions such as what is
the maximum patient weight? How much weight will an electric
couch lift? How stable is the item? What about durability? How
quickly and easily can damage be repaired? What therapies do you
recommend this equipment for? If a company cannot give you
informed, considered and credible answers to your questions then
As people are getting heavier, how do I establish that the couch
I buy will stand up to the rigours of everyday use and will hold
my patients safely?
As a British manufacturer that regularly has experiences of
'picking up the pieces' of other brands of imported couches that
have failed a salon or spa our advice would be to buy couches
that clearly meet British Standards and be very careful not to
be fooled by the aesthetics of a couch. Couches can be cheapened
in many ways not apparent to the naked eye e.g. by thinning the
under board and the aluminium box frame, by using cheaper
upholstery, etc, and although they may appear similar to other
models on the market their good value may be deceptive. They may
not stand up to the rigors of day to day spa and salon work and
you may find yourself re-purchasing equipment a lot sooner than
you bargained for.
Full details of our
Ask pertinent operational questions such as what is the maximum
patient weight? How much weight will an electric couch lift? How
stable is the product? How durable is the couch? ...this will
help you establish the quality of the couches' construction. In
particular look for couches that are specifically manufactured
to meet demanding applications. In addition think about after
sales and how a break down may affect you business...if you
choose a British made product from a reputable manufacturer, you
can be confident in the quality of your product and have the
technical support & backup on hand to provide specialist
technical assistance during the life of your couch- look out for
companies who offer maintenance and servicing and offer an
engineer call out service that can be with you within 48hours,
so that your business is not disrupted in the unlikely event of
breakdown and parts for your couch are available here in the UK,
not from abroad.
What would you highlight as key points to remember when
refurbishing? &... Whom/where is the best place to get advice on
refurbishing/ a new fit?
Our Experts Answer...
Use the knowledge you have
gained from customers comments and consult your staff before buying new
equipment. Evaluate what equipment brings you in the most money and spend
your budget accordingly. Work out what £ per square meter you earn form your
different work areas. Versatile equipment that can be used regularly
throughout the day pays for itself more quickly and can aid your growth.
Time is money, for instance, utilize your equipment to save your staff time,
e.g. well stocked trolleys dedicated to each room it will quicken the
turnaround time for the next treatment as apposed to several therapists
sharing a trolley and constantly having to take time between treatment to
re-stock. Utilise every inch of your salon, clever use of partitions or
can perhaps provide an extra work area thus giving you more income per
Designers and architects are
not necessarily the best authority to give you advice on therapy equipment.
They know about the things they are qualified to do and that's design and
plan buildings, staircases, flooring, doors and perhaps can advise on
plumbing and electrics etc. They do not have working knowledge of therapists
and remember the business you are in is very, very specialist. If you can be
lucky enough to have the chance to talk to an actual equipment manufacturer
about your equipment needs they have the business knowledge combined with an
in depth-product knowledge to best advise and give guidance. They will be
well experienced in dealing with salons and spas on a daily basis and will
know what will best works in your salon environment and, more importantly,
what doesn't work. They can also help with sizes and colours and may
highlight certain issues that you may not have even considered.
how your salon order is manufactured
More and more couches seem to be available in colours. Should I
invest in a really funky shade of furniture or is this just a
Our Experts Answer...
While your equipment needs to be
functional the overall appearance should provide an appropriate
ambiance and enhance your professional image. The therapy
industry operates in a sophisticated and highly competitive
market where customer expectations are high. Your business
success will depend on your professional skills and on creating
a clear identity, attracting and retaining a clientele. Your
premises need to be inviting and welcoming generating a feeling
of confidence and well-being in the client. The decor, equipment
and furnishing of your salon make a statement about your
vinyl colour palette
Sensible equipment manufacturers do not introduce novelty on a
whim; they monitor and reflect general trends in furnishing and
decoration and identify the needs and demands of the therapy
industry. Manufacturers respond to this demand with a choice of
Where the full range of equipment and accessories is available
from a single supplier you may coordinate items in terms of
giving an overall effect of harmony and uniformity. Major
manufacturers should offer you an extensive range of choice.
Complimentary and colour co-ordinated equipment will give your
salon a professional image and will integrate with your colour
scheme or salon theme. Corporate colours can endorse your brand
opinions expressed in this guide are that of Beautelle
and are intended to be used as a reference guide only.
Reproduction is with express permission of BT.
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