When Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa franchisee Roxanne Power goes to work in the morning, the scent of lemongrass greets her as she walks in the door, relaxing music plays, and the gentle trickle of running water ushers in another day at the spa. This quiet atmosphere is a stark contrast to her previous career working in advertising sales at the Toronto Sun and owning her own daycare business.
Power opened up her Hand & Stone location in Ajax, Ontario on Jan. 15, 2018. The franchise, which provides massage therapy, facials, hair removal, and various relaxation and therapeutic packages, was a perfect fit for Power. ”I love the health and wellness industry. I love seeing smiles on people’s faces,” she says. While she also loved her work in advertising, at this point in her life she wanted more flexibility from her job.
In the beginning, Power recalls, “I was there seven days a week, 12 hours a day, every day.” But, she says, “It’s a bit better now once you get on your feet a little bit.” Now, she typically works five days a week, starting at 8:30 or 9 a.m., after she drops her three kids off at school. “I’m there until basically I have to be,” she explains. “Some days I have to leave early to pick up my kids from school, and then if I have to go back, I’ll go back.”
Now that she’s got trained staff in place, she finds that they can handle things after she leaves. With a full office in her home and security cameras monitoring everything remotely, she’s able to be on call if her employees need her or if she has to finish something up after hours. “That’s the thing when you own your business – when it’s a franchise or a different kind of business – you’re working 24/7, whether you’re physically there or not,” describes Power. “You know that when you start. If you’re not willing to put that time in, you’re doing the wrong thing.”
Even with the busy routine, the choice to open the franchise was a change for the better. “The best part of it is the flexibility, that I can go in there or I can stay home to work,” Power conveys. For example, when the kids are sick or when it’s month-end and she just needs to be productive without being interrupted by the spa’s day-to-day concerns, she is able to work from home. Also, one of the biggest highlights of owning the spa is knowing that she makes people happy and getting positive reviews.
Before deciding to invest in Hand & Stone, Power did a lot of research. She met with Brett Harding, President of Hand & Stone master franchise in Canada. The team at corporate gave her the time and resources to complete her due diligence. She called up current franchisees and spoke with them about their experiences. “It’s like family there,” she says.
Along with the family atmosphere, Power loves the franchise system’s ongoing support. “I can pick the phone up at any time of day and call any of them and ask then a question and they are there for me,” she says. “I’ll send an email and I’ll get a response within five minutes.” The biggest difference between running her own business and running a franchise is that with the support of corporate, as well as the other franchisees, she isn’t in it alone.
The rewards don’t come without hurdles to overcome. The biggest challenge for Power comes when a client is unhappy with their experience. “When someone is upset, you need to fix it on the spot, you can’t just leave it,” advises Power. Despite the spa’s calm environs, “When you go to the spa in the morning, you don’t know until you set foot in the door what your day is going to be like,” she says. “I don’t have a routine, I don’t have a plan.” With all of the various personalities of the clients and staff “Everybody needs something different,” she says. “So you need to be flexible, you need to be attentive and you need to have customer service – if you don’t have that you’re in the wrong business.”
Another challenge with the health and wellness industry (as with many others) is staffing. To make sure that her staff are happy, Power asks them how she can make the workplace better. “I have an open door policy, staff can just walk in, and you have to make time for them.” However, she notes that “It’s one thing doing that, but you have to follow through on it.”
She recognizes that while some staff don’t mind coming forward about issues, some want to be behind the scenes, so she has a suggestion box. She reads all of the suggestions and tries to implement them whenever possible. She also interjects some levity into the job with contests and seasonal celebrations. “It’s got to be fun, and they have to enjoy it, but they also have to know that it’s a workplace,” she cautions. It takes time to find good staff, but Power now has a great team that she can trust to run the spa when she has to leave for a few days for occasions like conferences.
Power says that the ideal Hand & Stone franchisee is someone who wants to be very hands-on with the running of the franchise. “You’ve got to want to be there,” she states. To succeed she says that you have to put the time and be involved. “I don’t believe that going into work and sitting in my office with a closed door all day is going to help anybody.” Above all, adds Power, a Hand & Stone franchise needs flexibility, an open mind, and should be dedicated to excellent customer service.
Prospective Hand & Stone franchisees don’t necessarily need a business or health and wellness background, according to Power. While business knowledge definitely helps, she says that the success of a particular franchise is more about the franchisee’s personality and drive. Power doesn’t have a background in business herself, so she’s made it a priority to learn what she needs to know over the years. “I don’t know everything, but I know where to go to get what I need, and I’m not afraid to ask questions,” she explains. “There’s always room for improvement and you can never know too much. I love a challenge and I’m constantly learning new things.” For example, she reads massage magazines to understand the point of view of her therapists so that she can better understand their viewpoint and keep up with the industry.
Indeed, Power herself is not short on drive, and while she may only have been in business for a short time she’s already looking into opening another Hand & Stone location soon.
By Karen Stevens