Two and a half years ago, Kansas City natives Troy and Sara Lovins signed on to bring the first Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa to the state of Kansas. As corporate professionals with backgrounds in engineering and human resources, respectively, Troy and Sara were eager to find a business they could be passionate about that had a positive impact on their community.
Troy spent 18 years as an engineer where he gained experience overseeing teams and leading people, leaving him with the urge to take it upon himself to be responsible for his own success. That desire led him to the franchise industry before it did Hand & Stone; in partnership with his brother, Troy first went into business for himself operating several Sport Clips franchise locations in the Houston area. After working simultaneously as an engineer and a franchisee for some time, Troy knew he wanted to commit to entrepreneurship full time and began seeking out available opportunities to bring to his home of Kansas City.
“There were no opportunities with Sport Clips in Kansas City, so I began searching for another service-based concept for my wife and me to eventually run together,” Troy said. “Based on my previous franchise experience, I looked for a market niche, and the opportunity to differentiate and rise above the competition. We kept coming back to the spa industry, so we used a consultant to help us narrow down our choices.”
When the consultant pointed Troy and Sara to Hand & Stone, they were unfamiliar with the brand because it hadn’t yet entered the Kansas City market. As they began exploring Hand & Stone’s franchise opportunity in depth, the Lovins’ quickly learned why it was different — a strong corporate culture, superior franchisee support and well-designed business practices.
“Because Hand & Stone’s competitors had left me uninspired as a customer, the brand intrigued me,” Troy said. “I couldn’t believe [members of Hand & Stone’s leadership team] owned their own spas and believe in the brand enough to invest themselves. The level of franchisee support and commitment of corporate leadership blew us away.”
Shortly thereafter, Troy and Sara brought Hand & Stone to Kansas City. Their first spa opened in the suburb of Leawood, Kansas in Fall 2016. Less than two years later, the two opened the brand’s first franchised location in Missouri, across the state line in Liberty.
Troy attributed their quick success in part to Kansas City’s demographics, noting the brand fits well as far as age, income and gender breakdown are concerned. Beyond the surface level, though, the leadership skills and industry knowledge they collectively gained from their previous experiences have been a clear difference maker. For Sara, who still works full-time, this means tapping into her well-established network to spread awareness through sponsoring community events and being active in the chamber of commerce. For Troy, his skills present themselves in the day-to-day operations of their businesses.
“I learned from engineering that you have to be able to motivate to create a positive, encouraging culture, but it’s a balance — you have to be firm and discipline when necessary, too,” he said. “A lot of the time, you have to lead from the front, back and side. There’s nothing I ask my staff to do that I'm not willing to do myself. I’m not there to micromanage; I’m there for support and help the team be successful.”
Having previous franchising experience hasn’t hurt either, Troy said, but working with a strong partner in Hand & Stone has allowed him and Sara to realize their dream of making a positive impact on their community with a business they were passionate about.
“Hand & Stone is the only concept in our market to offer a no-commitment membership. That month-to-month, cancel anytime model is something I’m comfortable offering in my community because I’d do it myself,” Troy said. “Hand & Stone treats customers as a priority. We’re not just getting people in and out the door as fast as possible; exceptional customer service is the standard. We want each and every guest to feel special in all aspects of our spas.”
As far as advice for prospective Hand & Stone franchisees is concerned, Troy was emphatic: “It is incumbent on each business owner to make sure that Hand & Stone’s customer service-focused culture pervades at the local level.”
To continue growing its national footprint, Hand & Stone is looking to partner with interested entrepreneurs in the Kansas City area. For more information on available opportunities, visit https://handandstonefranchise.com/.