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Advice From a Multi-Unit Franchisee: Sonal Patel, Woodhouse Spas

1851 Franchise spoke with Patel about her journey in multi-unit franchising and her advice for the next great multi-unit owners.

By Erica InmanStaff Writer
8:08AM 06/17/24

Multi-Unit Franchisee: Sonal Patel

Franchise: Woodhouse Spas

Sonal Patel has over two decades of experience in franchising, including education and international quick-service restaurant (QSR) brands. Now, she has found her way into the wellness industry with Woodhouse Spas. With every venture, Patel successfully scaled her business from one unit to multiple. 

1851 Franchise talked with Patel about her journey in franchising, her accomplishments in the industry and her advice for other entrepreneurs interested in becoming multi-unit franchisees.

“Being part of a growing company like Woodhouse, where you feel supported and motivated, makes a huge difference in your success,” Patel said.

Watch the interview above or on YouTube.

A summarized transcript of 1851’s interview with Patel appears below. It has been edited for clarity, style and brevity.

1851 Franchise: Can you tell me your story and how you found your way into franchising?

Sonal Patel: I have been in franchising for over two decades now. It started as an opportunity that came out of nowhere. I was at home with my firstborn, having worked in clinical research before. My husband went to an open house for a QSR international brand franchise restaurant with a friend, and that was it. We thought it would give us more flexibility. That was around 2003 or 2004. From there, I moved into education with two locations of an educational franchise brand. Now, I am with Woodhouse.

1851: Did you consider scaling your business from the start?

Patel: Always. With Woodhouse, scaling was always the plan. For my [QSR] franchises, we expanded from one restaurant to six over ten years. With my educational franchise, I went from one to two locations. With Woodhouse, I have one location in Raleigh, North Carolina, and we are looking to expand to the Durham, Chapel Hill and West Cary areas.

1851: How do you evaluate a franchisor when considering a franchise opportunity?

Patel: It's important to do thorough research. I always meet the corporate team to understand their vision. With Woodhouse, the experience has been fabulous. They are a growing company, very supportive and help franchisees grow with them. I find that being part of a growing sector gives you more motivation and makes you feel more successful.

1851: What roadblocks or challenges have you faced in expanding from one unit to multiple?

Patel: The biggest challenge is finding the right location, which can make or break your venture. It's crucial to take your time to figure out the best location. In today's market, construction is also a significant issue. However, Woodhouse helps with their national builder team, which supports us every step of the way. Managing construction costs and aligning decisions between the franchisee and corporate can be challenging.

1851: What advice would you give to first-time franchisees interested in becoming successful multi-unit franchisees?

Patel: First, have a genuine interest and passion for what you're doing. My passion for wellness, health and beauty trends motivated me. Second, do thorough research and ensure your financial goals align with the franchisor's. Lastly, spend a lot of time on location research — demographics and other factors that will make the business successful. Location is 90% of the business.

1851: Is there anything else you'd like our audience to know?

Patel: Believe in yourself and enjoy what you do. When you enjoy your work, success usually follows. Work hard, have fun and everything else will fall into place.

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