Hady Wenham was an accounting student drop out at 17, managing a multi-million dollar turnover in the travel industry at 21, and by her early 30s was reaching the top of the advertising game as an Account Director.
Then, after the birth of her first child, her rocketing career took off on a completely different trajectory.
“My long-term goal was to own my own business,” says Wenham. “The beauty industry appealed because of the “feel-good” factor. I loved the fact that clients walked out feeling happier and less stressed. Much of the competition consisted of single site, owner operated beauty clinics, and I felt there was potential for a more strategic approach to the business of beauty.”
She bought a local salon where she was already a customer. “Initially it was a lifestyle decision, giving me the flexibility to work part time.” She rebranded and renovated the premises, resulting in outstanding growth. So Wenham opened a second spa in Parnell.
Within 12 months the business was turning a profit. “The plan changed when I recognised the size of the opportunity.”
A decade later, Forme has grown into New Zealand’s leading day spa group, with 10 award-winning day spas in Auckland, Wellington and Hamilton. These are not franchises, as many assume – Wenham has self-funded the entire expansion through retained earnings and by leveraging personal assets. Each spa is consistently achieving double digit growth year on year, with some increases as high as 30% annually. Combined turnover is more than $5 million a year.
Wenham credits the ongoing success of her company to change, and lots of it. “One of my key drivers is stopping to consider that if someone else took over running my company tomorrow, what would they change? What would they do better? Then figuring out a way to make it happen myself. We are always, always pushing to do better.”
That change includes ongoing refurbishment of the spas, regularly introducing innovative new products and treatment, running a staff development programme with post-graduate training at the Forme Spa College, and a culture that is passionate about delivering a world class experience with no compromise.
Satisfied customers are equally important. “This is an industry where we are able to build very close relationships with our clients based on trust and respect, and they tend to become long term customers. We have tens of thousands of customers and a very high retention rate. Over 75% of our regulars visit our spas again within 90 days, and the average spend per client is significantly over $100 a time. So if we’re looking after our clients well, we have a solid revenue stream.”
Forme’s continued expansion reflects the rise in the global spa industry, which has grown by an estimated US$13 billion to US$73 billion in the last five years.1
It’s a trend that Wenham predicts will continue. “Women now consider de-stressing and rejuvenating their skin as more of a need than a want, and are making spa treatments more of a priority. The men’s market is small, but growing. Combatting ageing is a major driver, with demand for Forme’s anti-ageing treatments and products increasing by 50% in the last seven years.”
The newest Forme day spa opened in the Auckland CBD in January.