Like any other vain, self-obsessed millennial, visiting aesthetic clinics has become the norm for me. The deal-loving junkie in me has driven me to begin my hunt for places that can give me the best services for the lowest price. But time and time again, hidden costs, hard selling and poor results always end up kicking my butt—some months, I just resort to the good ol’ DIY grooming.
Enter Wellaholic, an unassuming beauty clinic chain that has two simple, but essential priorities—transparency and excellent customer service. Unlike many others of its kind, the folks at Wellaholic believe in being upfront with their customers, so that we know exactly what we’re paying for. Which is why you’ll find a full, comprehensive price list of their services on their website, with no hidden fees.
Wellaholic is best known for their four signature services—Teeth Whitening (TeethWhite), Fat Freeze and Radio Frequency Body Sculpting (WellaShape), Technology Facials, (WellaFacial) and Permanent Hair Removal (WellaSmooth). I sat down with their founder, Willie Chan, to find out more about how the brand plays by a different set of rules, and finds success and longevity in the beauty industry through honesty and a dedication to customer service.
Vera Leng: What inspired you to start Wellaholic?
Willie Chan: I told myself that I wanted to start a business before I hit 40; otherwise, I’d probably be stuck in the corporate world. I also teach management science, project management, and Customer Relationship Management at a local University. So I thought I could apply some of these skills into my business. But as a frequent patron of beauty services myself, the most significant driving factor arose from certain processes that I didn’t quite agree with in the beauty industry.
Most salons had inefficient queueing systems that worked on a first-come-first-served basis—you couldn’t book a slot in advance. More often than not, the system was exploited by housewives or others who had a lot of free time on their hands—overselling became an issue. People like me found it impossible to land ourselves a slot for the service we wanted, and so that became frustrating and a huge waste of money.
“All treatments we provide are backed by science, and all our prices are published online.”
I wanted to do something better for the industry. I was compelled to come up with a model that was more user-friendly and transparent. That’s how I birthed the idea of a one-stop, fuss-free beauty destination. All the treatments we provide are backed by science, and all our prices are published online.
It wasn’t easy in the first year because we were a new brand, and acquiring customers was a challenge. But, we pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service, which over time saw customers returning and actively recommending Wellaholic to their friends and family members.
“Our customer service is constantly at a high level across all outlets.”
What was the strategy behind publishing your prices in full online?
This has always been our unique selling point, and while the competition is stiff, there are a couple of things we offer that are hard to match by any other aesthetic beauty joints. For example, we have unlimited super hair removal packages on unlimited body parts. Here, we keep our costs low so as to pass the savings on to our customers with no impact on the quality of treatments.
Another thing that we do to maintain comfort for our customers is to have Wellaholic-themed treatment rooms that look the same across all Wellaholic outlets, regardless of which outlet the customer goes to. There’s a sense of familiarity, and as always, our customer service is constantly at a high level across all outlets.
Our CRM is also consistent throughout, so no matter which outlet our customers go to, the therapists will be aware of their needs, their treatment history, and who has attended to them previously. We place a high emphasis on safety and efficacy of our treatments as customers who have seen good results will continue to support Wellaholic and also recommend us to their friends. We make it a point to constantly innovate—our latest innovation is the interest-free instalment plans that are undertaken by us and not banks. We want to ensure that beauty is affordable for all.
How about Lifetime Maintain Mode? Why do you think competitors have yet to offer this service as well?
Lifetime Maintain Mode is our dedication in continuing to take care of our customers even after the course of the treatment has ended. What that means is that, after completing 12 months of treatment, the customers (for the rest of their lifetime) will be able to come back to Wellaholic for maintenance treatments at more than 50% off the retail price. This is part of our Brand Promise to take care of our customers for life.
“We want to ensure that beauty is affordable for all.”
Our competitors most probably find it hard to compete with us on this level due to their cost structure. It’s a bold move, promising a lifetime of maintenance. But I do believe in the art of management science—creating a sustainable model for both the customers and us. It is in this respect that we focus more on nurturing a long-term relationship with our customers rather than short term gains.
Something that I observed is the balance between female and male therapists in your treatment centres. It’s not often that you see an abundance of male therapists at aesthetic treatment places.
Yes, the ratio of female to male therapists now is about 60:40. This might be difficult, I presume, for our competitors because it’s not easy acquiring male therapists for their aesthetic clinics, or to create an environment that both males and females feel comfortable to visit. For us, we ensure that there’s always a male therapist at every Wellaholic outlet.
It does make the place very couple-friendly, as well. There have been occasions where our female customers would bring their husbands or boyfriends after seeing how suitable our services are for men as well.
Additionally, our therapists play the role of skilled consultants for our customers. Choosing the right areas to freeze fat, for example, such that the body looks aesthetically pleasing is an art in itself.
We also have a book now, pay later service. What this means is that customers can book an appointment online, and then come to the outlet for a free consultation, and if it’s not to their liking, we’re okay with them walking away. We want to make sure that we remain honest, trustworthy and that these intentions are conveyed to the customers.
“If you’re going to start a business, I’d say just go for it.”
What are some new products or services you’re hoping to push out in 2020?
2020 will be an exciting year as we have started research into several new categories of treatments that would improve the portfolio of beauty services that Wellaholic can provide. Wellaholic’s aim is to help our customers look and feel better. This will be our ethos as we continue to innovate, not only in the type of services provided but also the customer journey process.
As with any service, I will learn the methods personally first, and then teach it to the staff after.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs in Singapore?
I would advise any aspiring entrepreneurs to proceed with caution because as an SME, it’s not easy to start a business and lead it to success in Singapore. There are many hidden costs, and if we were to go in blindly without proper planning and preparation, it’s going to be challenging. As a new business, it will take a while to establish a firm footing and to gain confidence from customers. It will take a lot of drive, grit, and determination—and not forgetting an adequate amount of capital, to sustain the initial months of cashflows. Always prepare a detailed business plan and pitch it to as many people as possible, so that the feedback received can help you improve your business plan further.
And of course, if you have done your planning and prepared your sums, I’d say just go for it—it would be all worth it!