How to make it as a…
1. Industry experience is a must
“After working as a therapist, I joined skincare brand Decléor 20 years ago as an assistant training manager and worked my way up to education director, which encompasses a lot of treatment development. I designed my first treatments in 2001, refreshing the brand’s facial protocols, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
“I also work independently, creating signature rituals for places such as Ragdale Hall in Melton Mowbray, Titanic Spa in Yorkshire and the Center Parcs spas. To be a treatment developer, you need to have a minimum of five years’ experience in lots of environments – large spas and high-street salons – and ideally have your teacher training qualification.”
2. Partner with a brand
“I’d advise partnering with a brand you trust and have seen results with, joining them from an educational point of view as this is where treatment development happens. There are therapists not connected to brands who design treatments but it’s a much harder route because it means going out there as a solo consultant, and unless you’re well known or have a loyal celebrity following, it’s tough getting jobs.”
3. Ask for a clear brief
“It’s easier to create treatments when spas give you a concept because you can hone in on their vision. For example, if the owner wants a 60-minute body treatment that’s relaxing or a 75-minute facial that’s really lifting, it gives you a framework to build on. It’s harder when there’s no vision because then you’ve got no direction about the type of experience they want for their customer.”
4. Protocols should tick several boxes
“You need to be patient as it takes a minimum of three months to create a treatment and put the protocol through its paces, ensuring it hits all targets. This is the part of the process where you can get creative, practising moves and creating different techniques. One of the key things is to make sure it’s doable in the allotted time. If therapists feel rushed then they won’t engage with the client, resulting in the customer feeling rushed too.”
5. You have to gather feedback
“You need to practise the treatment a lot, making sure the result on the brief is what clients are getting in the treatment room. Use a mix of models – marketers tell you whether it meets the brief, end-consumers give good critique of the experience and results, and therapists tell you if it was interesting to perform.
“Therapists’ feedback is very important. When you’re in a room doing treatment after treatment there’s nothing worse than performing something that’s not engaging.”
6. Be detail-orientated
“My biggest frustration is when people design protocols that say the therapist can do their own massage in a facial because that’s not helpful for those new to the industry. For seasoned therapists it’s fine because they know what techniques work and why, but younger therapists want guidance and expertise, otherwise they just default to the massage they learned at college.”