Health and wellness franchise Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa has ranked on Franchise Times’ “Fast & Serious” List for 2019, coming in at No. 13. The annual “Fast & Serious” compilation ranks the smartest-growing franchises over a three-year period across 10 data points including dollar sales growth, percentage unit growth, percentage sales growth and other factors.
Bob McQuillan, Hand & Stone’s VP of Franchise Development, pointed to a number of factors he attributes to the brand’s inclusion on the list, including an outstanding leadership team, operational excellence and a powerful in-house advertising agency.
“Our organization has an outstanding leadership team that has put a plan in place, not only for marketing, advertising and sales in order to bring business in, but also on the operational side,” McQuillan said.
Hand & Stone’s leadership team, which includes CEO Todd Leff, Chief Marketing OfficerJack Bachinsky, Vice President of Real Estate Development Kris Smith and McQuillan, brings “over 250 combined years in the franchising business” to the brand, according to McQuillan.
“The greatest fear for a franchisee is that they invest a ton of money and then don’t know if they’ll be able to drive a ton of traffic to their location,” McQuillan said. “Our ad agency, HSM (Hand & Stone Marketing), means we have them covered. The agency can do anything we need on any medium—anything that’s needed to drive traffic to a retail site like ours. That’s our gold standard; that’s what helps our franchisees sleep at night.”
Since McQuillan started with the company in 2010, marketing has expanded to include targeted social media campaigns, which has had the intended effect of bolstering interest from a primarily female demographic.
“Marketing on social media makes sense for our target client because a high percentage of our clients are females who follow female influencers, so we knew having brand ambassadors and spokespeople would be important to reaching that target market,” McQuillan explained. As of early 2019, the brand has engaged Carli Lloyd, United States Olympic soccer player and FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year (2016–2017) as a spokesperson and Lindsay Arnold, one of the premier dancers on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, as social media brand ambassador.
With all this at play, McQuillan says the company “has the infrastructure to take this from 400 units to 600 or 700 and beyond.”
Despite these proven-successful dimensions to Hand & Stone’s business, it’s no secret that the spa industry is a popular space. How does Hand & Stone distinguish itself to pull ahead from competitors time and again, as reflected on its “Fast and Serious” ranking?
“Ten years ago, we saw that there was a need on the facial esthetic side of the business,” McQuillan said. “Now, we do massage, facials, hair removal and offer two skincare lines.”
Hand & Stone has found that offering skincare services drives more traffic to their locations, assuring their continued success. To spotlight that point of differentiation, the brand changed names, from Hand & Stone, to Hand & Stone Spa, to the Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa that we know today.
“We wanted to be top provider in facials in the industry, and we’ve done that. There isn’t a franchise in America that does what we do at our level,” said McQuillan.
In terms of franchisee validation, McQuillan—who owns several Hand & Stone locations with his wife, Denise—felt that the No. 13 ranking on the “Fast & Serious” List spoke directly to the benefits of franchising with the brand.
“When I came to Hand & Stone, I came wanting to be a multi-unit franchisee. When I was doing my due diligence, I wanted to know, ‘What kind of notoriety do they have?’,” McQuillan explained. “Todd Leff, our CEO then and now, had been on Franchise 500 lists. I could see that. As a franchisee, you’re looking for credibility beyond what the company tells you. If you can find that, it definitely lends credibility to brand—it makes you feel you’re with an organization that knows what it’s doing. So that third-party validation [from an industry publication] provides the brand the credibility and backing that prospective candidates are looking for.”
Buoyed by strong sales and consistent operations—the brand “hasn’t closed a location in more than two years” according to Franchise Times—Hand & Stone is poised for strong growth in 2019.
“We’re focusing on the franchisee and making sure that we bring the right people into the organization,” McQuillan explained. “And then we’re targeting regional growth with corresponding regional marketing campaigns. From a product perspective, we’re continuing to focus a lot of our energy on the facial side of the business because it provides such a great opportunity to expand organically. And clients can also look forward to more modalities we’re introducing, like light therapy, hydrafacials and decompression therapy to name a few.”
As of the time of publication, the brand had 400-plus franchises in North America, across 30states.
While the 2020 “Fast & Serious” list still remains a year out, it’s safe to say that Hand & Stone will make a strong showing.