Each year, Hand & Stone invites all of its franchisees, their general managers and its vendors to come together to celebrate their accomplishments over the last year. The three days of fun and learning give franchisees the opportunity to network with one another to share best practices and discuss strategy in a communal setting through interactive workshops and informational sessions.
“At this year’s conference, we achieved an over 90 percent franchisee attendance rate, which is unheard of for a franchisor of our size,” said Bob McQuillan, VP of Franchise Development for Hand & Stone.
Held at the Green Valley Ranch in Las Vegas, the conference drew over 600 attendees, from new operators to established owners and everyone in between. Hand & Stone held a golf event the Saturday before the conference kicked off as an added opportunity for teambuilding among leadership and franchisees. The next day, the conference began with a community project to benefit national non-profit Blessings in a Backpack, a charity organization that mobilizes communities, individuals and resources to provide food for elementary school children across America who might otherwise go hungry. Over 80 Hand & Stone participants packed 2,000 backpacks for children in need at the event.
Over the next few days, Hand & Stone franchisees and their GMs attended a number of workshops and panel discussions geared toward professional development and different aspects of the Hand & Stone business, from Facebook marketing to employee retention and more. The conference’s keynote speaker was Adam Spacke, a senior strategist for Omnichannel at Google who works with various brands on digital marketing and media technology integration.
“One of the best parts about our conference is that no matter where you are in the business, there is something to be gained from these sessions,” McQuillan said. “Whether you just became a Hand & Stone franchisee the month prior or are a multi-unit owner with a decade under your belt with our brand, we ensure your time is spent valuably by breaking franchisees into different groups and catering session content based on these experience levels.”
One of the conference's events was a vendor meet and greet, set up so that franchisees could learn more about Hand & Stone’s partner brands to better serve their clients. On the product side, Dermalogica and ClarityRx attended to provide information about the lines available in Hand & Stone spas, while professional service partners like management software company ADP, commercial real estate group Morrow-Hill and print services provider Alcom were in attendance to educate franchisees about of their roles on the business side of the brand.
In perhaps the most significant event of the conference, the Hand & Stone leadership team honored franchisees who went above and beyond over the last year in their commitment to the brand with several awards. Hand & Stone recognized franchisees with eight different awards.
The Rookie of the Year Award, given to a franchisee that overachieved in their first year of operation, was awarded to Mark Reisinger and Chad Foster of Charlotte-Waverly, North Carolina. The Front Runner Award, given to the franchise location leading the system in sales, was awarded to Heather and Richard Sanchez of Carmel, Indiana. Windermere, Florida-based franchisees Kirk Sorenson and Andrew Mellen won the Fast Track award for biggest year-over-year growth, while Mike and Wendy Gensler of Parker, Colorado won this year’s Founders Award.
Mike and Kathy Hendershott of Wheaton and Naperville, Illinois were rewarded for their marketing efforts with the Marketing Rainmaker award and Nick Marco & Tara Bogota of Toms River, New Jersey received the Face Forward award for selling the most facials over the course of a year. And finally, Eric and Christiana Anthony of Greensboro, North Carolina not only took home the Spa of the Year Award, but also won the Stony Award for selling the most hot stone massages in a year’s span.
To punctuate the conference with fun, Hand & Stone held a Halloween-themed costume ball where attendees gathered for an evening of celebration. At the event, Hand & Stone held a costume contest, a tight battle that saw nature painter Bob Ross and his accompanying tree narrowly edge out a charcuterie ensemble to win a trip to attend a TV show broadcast.
“Overall, the event was a resounding success and I couldn’t be happier about attendance and engagement,” McQuillan said. “We’re riding the wave of excitement to begin gearing up for next year’s event.”