Regardless of gender, our feet take a beating every day. Although men still make up a small portion of salon customers, their numbers are growing, especially in the 18-34 age group, a global market research group said. We sat down with Canada’s first spa just for men, Bodé Spa. We got their take on the industry today and asked them to offer their best advice for the aspiring nail technicians and salon professionals in a niche market. Read to learn what owners Daniel Francoeur and Aharon Trottier have to say.
How did you get into the industry? What inspired you to be involved?
Daniel: I was in a completely different field before, but I had a piece of property that was way out in the country in Ottawa. A log house on 80 acres and I knew somebody who was in the business who was very interested in trying to set something up on the property. Thinking people should see this place and being somebody who's not a great silent partner, I took a couple of courses so before I knew it, I ended up opening my own spa on the property and it was just history since then. I love it! I just always love being in this business. It's fantastic.!
Aharon: For me, I was also in something else before. When I ran into Dan, I approached him asking - I’d like to learn the industry and get into the treatment room. Slowly I was working with Bodé part-time and then my clientele grew, and I really enjoyed it. There’s just something very satisfying about giving a service that has immediate, tangible results and getting that immediate feedback of appreciation, so I stuck around.
What inspired you to create a men’s only spa?
Daniel: It all came out of the fact that the spa that I ran over 20 something years ago out in the country was basically on 80 acres, log house, was predominantly for women and what ended up happening was women felt very comfortable bringing their male counterparts, brothers, friends and so on and so forth. Average spas usually range between 4-8% male clientele, mine within about 6 months grew to over 40% male clientele.
They liked the way the things were set up. Because the spa was in a house, there were no open pedicure stations, no open areas to manicure nails, etc. Men felt very, very comfortable. We created an area called the men's zone. They had their own waiting section, and they had their own rooms. From there, I had the opportunity to buy a small business that was just a one-person show called Bodé. That was predominantly for men, and it gave me the opportunity to separate the two spas again and just have one that was running specifically for men. Everything I learnt was from all those clients coming to us and asking about male services.
How do you advertise your business?
Aharon: Nowadays it's a lot of word of mouth and the internet, particularly Google. Because we are a niche business, if you type in pedicure men, wax men, the second you put the word man, we are kind of the only game in town.
Daniel: It comes down to knowing your clientele. When you think about it, most men are very quiet about selfcare. They don't go around chatting up with their buddies, or even asking their partners questions, so it is a lot of self looking. They go online, so you must know how your clientele already thinks.
Aharon: We post on social every 2-3 days. We post regularly so that if someone comes across our social media page, they can see that we are alive, we are active, that is a huge thing.
You offer a very curated foot care service menu, why?
Daniel: Men have a lot of foot problems. I don't know how many times I will do a massage and you get somewhere, and you see the feet and you are like “oh my god” I have to touch those? Even in our massage believe it or not, when it comes down to doing their legs and feet the first thing that I teach my staff is already grab a can of DD Cream Mousse and you put it on the feet while you’re working on the legs. By the time you get to the foot it is nice and soft and you don’t have to go over that roughness as you go over their foot. You see the feet and guys are very shy about their feet, and almost every guy that comes in says, “I have the most horrible feet” but usually, it’s just calluses. It’s a simple thing to fix and when you start educating and teaching them it becomes a whole other thing.
Foot care is the last service that most men will book, but it’s the first service they rebook. Once they understand it and feel it, they’re just blown away by not just the feeling, but the health benefits of having proper foot care.
Aharon: When people call in asking ‘I want to treat my guy to a spa, or treat my dad to something, they’ve never been to a spa, what should I book them?’ The pedicure is usually the first thing we recommend because it’s immediate results, and like Dan said there often are problems and then they see and feel the difference immediately, so they are already happy, and likely to want to come back.
How did you learn or hear about Footlogix?
Daniel: That was years and years ago and I can’t even remember. When it comes down to looking for anything for a spa, I sort of have a fictitious client in my head who is 6’4” and 300 and some pounds. I picture them sitting in a chair, lying on a table…I picture them using our product, and in the beginning so many products came out in skincare in tiny little bottles. I took my fictitious client in my head, and I saw them holding a can of shaving foam, putting on shaving foam, reaching, and putting it on their feet. It’s something they understand, but the nice thing about it is as soon as it’s done it's dry. I can sell that to a guy, that’s not a problem. I can recommend it; I don’t even have to sell it. They can walk across the floor right away. They are not slipping and sliding. And the other thing I joke about is the Tincture Spray. When you talk about it with men, anything to do with nail fungus comes in a bottle of nail polish and you’re painting it on top of the nail to get under the nail. Now, I just turn around and tell a guy it’s a mini bottle of WD40, it’s just missing the straw, and all the sudden they get it, and they understand. It’s something that almost anybody can do and it’s not embarrassing. A lot of the products out there haven’t factored in that everybody has fungus, it’s not just women.
Why Footlogix exclusively for Bodé?
Daniel: It simply comes down to it works. We sell because it makes sense. A part of that is encouraging your staff on why you would recommend these products. It’s easy to recommend anything that works. Everything that we carry, works! I don’t carry stuff that doesn't work because it’s just going to sit on my shelf, and I just wasted money.
What are your best selling Footlogix product(s)?
Aharon: Tincture is number one. And then Rough Skin Formula would be number two because fungus is very common in men, and then I would say Cracked Heel Formula is our number three best seller.
A lot of guys don’t paddle their own feet at home, they don’t do a lot of pedicure work. They wear bad shoes, or they only wear sandals and flip flops in the summertime, work boots, etc. so they end up getting a lot of cracking.
What tips do you have for someone opening their own spa business?
Aharon: We have lots!
Daniel: I think the biggest one is knowing who the clients are that you are going after. And then every question after that you must always bring it back to that one. What area of town are you going to be in? How are you going to market yourself? What kind of services are you going to be offering? It all comes back to who the client is that you are going after. I think the biggest one, and one of the reasons why we ended up opening in Toronto, coming from Ottawa after so many years, is the fact that every time I came down here and I taught other staff or other businesses how to do it, they closed within a year and a half. No spa for men has lasted in Toronto for more than two years. They bite off more than they can chew.
When we started here in Toronto, I know it sounds funny, but we started with a studio which is one room, moved to two rooms, and now we have our own space. The way things are going we’ll probably have different locations down here in Toronto as well.
Aharon: You asked earlier what BODE stands for… Nowadays it stands as an acronym.
The B in Bodé, which the first and most important letter for us is building relationships. If you’re not building relationships, you don’t have a successful long-term business.