Soon-to-be 26-year-old Ayesha Patel grew up in the franchising industry. She has her father, a multi-unit franchisee with nine different brands in his portfolio, to thank for the introduction. Spending time around her family’s businesses developed Patel’s skills and familiarity with systems and operations and allowed her to begin her own journey in unit ownership, successfully opening three Nothing Bundt Cakes locations in the Huntsville, Alabama area. As she continues to build her franchise portfolio, Patel’s experience has honed her ability to recognize an exemplary franchise brand when she sees one, which is precisely what led her to Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa.
“Our family has always been involved with food concepts, so I was looking for something different to expand with,” Patel said. A friend of her father introduced her to Hand and Stone and Patel immediately recognized the opportunity the brand presented because there wasn’t yet a location in the market where she was already established and familiar with.
“Based on my experiences, Nothing Bundt Cakes is a product that fosters happiness in its customer base,” Patel said. “I wanted to get involved with a similar happy brand, and what’s better than a massage and facial business for that? Based on my research, Hand and Stone felt like a good fit,” she added.
To assess the brand before signing on, Patel took a number of steps that included visiting a Hand and Stone on a trip to Nashville, Tennessee to experience the brand from the customer side. “I really felt the emphasis they put on getting me to relax,” she said. “I made a connection with a welcoming massage therapist, who focused on the service instead of sales as I’d experienced at competing spas. I left pretty in awe of the service as a customer.”
This same focus on service extends outside of the spa into the corporate side of Hand and Stone, Patel pointed out. “The franchise development team’s punctuality with information and follow up was something I’d never seen,” she said. “The franchise sales director was there every day to answer my questions, which made the sales process streamlined and easy.”
The brand’s attentiveness wasn’t the only standout quality for Patel. “Hand and Stone is the best spa out there for mass-market America, which made it more attractive than other brands,” she said. “The company has a great model in place that is contributing to its growth, and the more I talked to other franchisees, the more I was intrigued.”
Patel said her exposure to multiple other franchise systems led her to recognize the quality of what Hand and Stone had to offer. “When you have experience with another franchise, you know Hand and Stone has done all the research and legwork to develop and tailor their model for success,” Patel said. She signed a franchise agreement for two Hand and Stone locations in the Huntsville, Alabama area currently in development.
The time spent around her parents’ businesses growing up is what motivated Patel to pursue franchising on her own and why she believes she is well-positioned to succeed with the Hand and Stone brand. “I have an undergraduate degree in biology, so I really had to develop the managerial and marketing skills needed to help my business operate efficiently and grow along the way,” Patel said. “With Hand and Stone, I’m confident I’m going to be following a footprint for success.”