Spa Manager Exercises Her Options

Charisse Banner found her dream job at a brand new Lasik spa – but it wasn’t opening for another year. Undeterred, she moved to her parents’ home to be closer to the spa’s headquarters and win the job.


Moving back in with your parents after you’ve lost a job might signal defeat for some people. For 36-year-old Charisse Banner, it was a sign that she’d won over her new employer as she staked out a job that she knew was a perfect fit.

The OpsLadder member had been manager of a spa in Northern California last December when the chain decided to close all its California locations. Banner, who loved working in the spa industry and the region, was determined to find another job in her industry and stay in the San Francisco Bay area. So she did what most Northern Californians do when they are looking for a job.

“I went to Craigslist,” she said. “Anyone who lives in San Francisco does that.” But the listings service, which advertises everything from free couches to tech services, didn’t really deliver the personal touch that she was hoping for.

“I did end up finding a few jobs that interested me, but when I got a call back, I felt the people who were doing the preliminary interviews were very rushed; I didn’t feel I could get across who I was,” Banner said. “One reason I’m in the spa business is I like accommodating people and giving great service. I know they were trying to weed through 500 applicants. But there was no personal connection.”

After about a month of searching through Craigslist, Banner started looking for other sites and signed up for Ladders.
“What I loved about Ladders is that they would send you an e-mail, matching jobs with what you were looking for,” she said. “It’s almost like a dating site. They do the work, they tell you what’s right for you. You’re not looking through pages and pages of stuff that isn’t right for you.”

Banner said the job postings that she received were jobs she was interested, but nothing was located in the Bay area.

Determined to stay put, she didn’t apply to any of them. Still, those kept her spirits up as she entered the second month of unemployment. “There were a lot of great jobs, just not in the area where I wanted to live,” she said. “But it kept my hope alive. I saw there were good jobs out there, and I saw that Ladders knew the kind of job that I wanted.”

The perfect job

In February, Banner saw a job on Ladders that she knew was the perfect job for her. Except for one thing. “The job was based in Los Angeles,” she said. “But I looked at it, and I rewrote my cover letter, because I was willing to make some changes for this perfect job. I spent a few hours rewriting my cover letter. Then, when I went back to the site to actually apply for the job, the location of the job had changed to San Francisco.”

What Banner later found out was that the company, which had spas in other locations, was looking to expand. It had determined that the Los Angeles area was saturated and decided to move the spa to the Bay area. The position, a center director for a new location that was being built, required someone who could also talk about site selection and help with construction and build-out decisions. Banner, who had worked in condominium sales before coming to the spa industry, felt she was the perfect candidate for the job.

“Who would have thought that spa and real estate would go together?” she said. “I couldn’t have been more excited, and I think one of the reasons they responded to me was because I was able to express that excitement in my cover letter.”

Two hours after sending her resume, Banner received a call from the founder of the company, a doctor who owned several Lasik eye centers with medical spas attached. Banner spoke to him for over an hour; she learned that he was based in south Florida, where she had gone to college and her parents now live, and shared her interest in his project. “It was a real personal connection; he was interested in hearing about me, and I think he was happy to talk to someone who was as excited about his project as he was.”

It was early February, and because the job had just been listed, the doctor was cautious as he moved ahead. He mentioned he’d be in San Francisco in April and suggested they set up a meeting. Banner had another idea. “I bought a plane ticket to visit my parents and suggested we get together and talk while I was in Florida,” she said.

In early March, she met with him as well as the company’s national manager. At the conclusion of those meetings, she felt even more sure the job could be hers. But the company was still moving slowly. Like any new project, deadlines kept changing, and they didn’t expect to need anyone in the position until at least June. “And I was thinking, what would I do until June?” she said.

A new move

Disappointed but still determined, she made sure they had plans to meet when the doctor came to San Francisco in April. At that meeting, said Banner, as they discussed plans for the spa, “I asked him something about the business, and he said, ‘That’s not my job, that’s your job.’ It was sounding more and more like it was my job. At the end of our two-hour conversation, when he asked me if I could recommend someone to help in the call center in Florida, I said, ‘Why don’t I just come and do it? If you can assure me that the director job is mine, this would give me an opportunity to learn about the business and get to know the national director. It would be a good way to know one another.’ ”

He agreed. Banner put her belongings in storage, gave up her San Francisco apartment and moved in with her parents.
She is now the center director for the Viso Lasik Medspa, which will open in San Jose in January. She expects to be in Florida until at least the end of October and will then head back to the Bay area to supervise the opening of the spa, which is planned for January.

In on the ground floor

Despite the long wait and the moves, Banner is very happy with the way things have gone. “It’s an opportunity for this to be my baby from the beginning. How often do you get the opportunity to be with something from the get-go? I’ll be selecting the staff on the spa side and working to set up the spa.”

Banner said she felt that this job was perfect for her, so she said convincing the owners of the spa that she was the right person was not so much a sales pitch as convincing them of the truth. “You have to have the confidence that this is the right job for you. If you do, then you shouldn’t be afraid to put yourself in front of the people you need to.”

As for living with her parents, she said, “Most people move back in with their parents because they don’t have a job. I was lucky enough to have them to move in with to help me get this job.” Besides, she adds, “They are snowbirds, so they are gone during the summer. So I’m basically on my own here.”