The Small Town Dazzler
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Small towns, simple people and their simpler lifestyle! The zing of beauty that adds that special touch of grace and class is not given much heed to in a small town, especially in the middle class families. But, with the rise of India's urban middle class society, their aspirational needs have now grown stronger which sadly aren't met with the adequate facilities available in a small town. Vadodara-based Mitalie Mange is among the very few wellness managers in the city who are trying to make that difference.
Founder of five-year old premium brand - Zoe Spa & Salon (Zoe) with two centres in Vadodara, Mange isn't a newbie bitten by the instant passion for salons and spas, neither it was a new found opportunity for her. Having learnt the tricks of the trade from her nine years of job at cosmetics brand Lakme and healthcare company VLCC, Mange decided to eventually quit it in 2011.
"I started what I wanted to. At the job I got a sense of the wellness business and knowledge about the industry that helped me take baby steps towards my first venture. My family stood by my side, a little worried though, as it was my first experience." Mange invested Rs 40 lakh to bootstrap the business. The brand derives its name from the Greek word Zoe that means life. And that's how the brand positions itself - giving new life to its customers.
"In Gujarat there is a trend, where everyone launches salon or parlour by his/her name. Zoe is not such a project. It is a unique project in a city like Vadodara," claims Mange.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE
Zoe has kept things simple and basic at both the centres that she believes makes the brand very special. A case in point is that a foot massage is given to every customer irrespective of the service he/she takes. In fact that's what makes Zoe unique among its peers.
"Other salons offer such services only for customers coming for a massage or a scrub but that's among the basics. We always train our technicians in Swedish, Aroma and Sport massage that very few spas deliver correctly," she maintains. Moreover, customers are also treated with a complementary head or foot massage if they have to wait for the service requested. What validates Zoe's customer service which Mange cherishes is the fact that a lot of its customers have returned to Zoe after leaving it for its competitors in last the two years, when there was a sudden surge of 38 salon and spa businesses setting up their shops.
"My customers tried all of them and came back to me. So it ensures that our customer service has been significantly better than others," she affirms. The brand has scaled up with 500 new customers annually and expanded to business to-business vertical as well. Zoe offers operational support to other spas as well in the form of straight forward consultancy, management agreement, revenue share as well as a joint venture.
Currently it has 60 per cent returning customers but that's due to a significant number of them being tourists. Mange has her eyes set firmly on her vision for Zoe. From two centres, she wants to scale it up to five centres next year, do few acquisitions, and eventually make it a 100-centre brand through franchising before going global. The focus, however, in India will remain on the tier-2 cities as "Metros are already too crowded," concludes Mange.
(This article was first published in the May issue of Entrepreneur Magazine. To subscribe, click here)