Saturday, October 20, 2012

Customers for Life: Catering to Those Affected by Disabilities

Recently, I came across an astounding statistic:  According to the ADA, more than 50 million Americans are affected by disabilities   That is nearly 1/5 of the population of the United States.  Why does this information matter to you as a spa or salon owner?  It is essential to make sure that you are reaching out to and accommodating as many clients as possible.  Having your place of business be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant will help garner a portion of their $175 billion disposable income, thus improving business and your bottom line.

The message here is not to narrow your focus, but rather, to broaden it.  It is essential to make everyone feel welcome in your establishment.  Here are some suggestions, courtesy of Ron Pettit of Royal Caribbean Cruises, for making your space accommodating for those affected by disabilities:

  1. The first and last impression your clients have of your business is provided by your staff.  You can start making drastic changes simply by educating yourself and your employees on how to communicate effectively.  You can take a course locally or online that will explain disability etiquette, interaction, language and sensitivity awareness.
  2. Make sure that your furniture is disability accessible.  Massage and waxing tables that can be lowered to at least 17 inches are extremely helpful.  
  3. It can be difficult to understand how your facility is not designed for those affected by disabilities when you yourself are not affected.  You can best understand how to make changes by contacting an advocacy group and having a member walk around your location to make suggestions for changes.
  4. If apropos, affix a wheelchair sign to your entrance so that you can advertise the fact you are disability accessible.

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