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As Spas Begin to Reopen Across the Country, One Franchise is Already Finding Success

Hand & Stone Massage and Facial spa has already opened 116 locations across its network, and the franchise’s VP of Franchise Development says the brand is well positioned for growth.

As states slowly start to reopen, franchisors and franchisees alike are implementing new strategies to make sure that franchisees, team members and customers are supported through a complex reopening process. 

1851 Franchise publisher Nick Powills and Charles Internicola spoke with Hand & Stone VP of Franchise Development Bob McQuillan and franchisee Patrick Burton about how the spa industry has been navigating this crisis and how the reopening process has been playing out for their brand so far.

Here are some of the key insights from their discussion.

The Reopening Process

Hand & Stone has begun to reopen spas where allowed. Patrick Burton, a franchisee in Utah, recently reopened his Hand & Stone spa and he says he has already seen a great deal of success thanks to the support of the franchisor, the help of his staff and a thorough plan in place.

For any business looking to reopen, it is important to have an in-depth plan that covers capacity, sanitation protocols, staffing and more. Sharing best practices and thoughts with other business owners who have already opened can also help franchisees succeed through the process. 

We have all learned so much during this first wave of COVID-19, and that knowledge will equip business owners to handle a complex reopening process. Plus, now that business owners are starting to reopen, it will give more confidence to everyone that emerging from this crisis is possible.

The Roles of the Franchisor and Franchisee

Now, the role of the franchisor is to ensure that franchisees are ready to reopen. It is important for franchisors to provide support for franchisees navigating this reopening process, including help with PPE loans, sanitation protocols, thermometers and other support and safety protocols. The leadership team needs to get ahead of problems and ensure that the network is completely prepared. 

From a franchisee perspective, motivating staff is going to be very important moving forward as well. Franchisees need to be compassionate and understanding of what employees are going through, communicating heavily one-on-one with staff to make sure everyone is on the same page and feels safe. Some employees may not feel comfortable coming back to work right away.

Pent-up demand may result in a quicker ramp up than many business owners expect — it is important to be prepared for new consumer behavior. For example, Burton was operating at full speed after only a week, signing 20 new members since reopening.

Future Growth

Now that franchisees are starting to see some success, brands can return to an optimistic plan for future growth. Teams will be stronger and franchisee validation will be higher as new candidates begin looking for franchise opportunities. 

Available real estate, an increased labor pool and easier financing are the three main areas that franchisors are starting to see as potential for opportunity moving forward. For example, Hand & Stone has seen an increase in conversions as they take over former spa competitor locations that have closed, creating an easier and more streamlined opening process for franchisees. 

The value of a franchise network will likely become more apparent, especially as independent owners start to realize the lack of resources that they have access to in comparison to franchisees. Investors may be more category-conscious moving forward as they look for sustainability and the ability to appeal to a changing consumer demand.