Hand & Stone Canada
Interview With Hand & Stone Canada President Gigi Harding
Hand & Stone Canada President Gigi Harding shares the history, milestones and future goals of the massage, facial and hair removal services franchise.
1851 Franchise: What void does your brand fill? How did you identify that gap, and what inspired you to start?
Gigi Harding, President of Hand & Stone Canada: Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa fills an untapped segment in Canada. Before Hand & Stone, Ontario customers could only receive massage services from either a high-end massage spa or in a chiropractic / physiotherapy clinic setting. There were no immediate massage and facial services available — clients had to make an appointment and wait.
Also, massage therapists were having trouble finding financial success in the massage therapy field because there wasn’t consistent work in one location. Massage therapists would serve the client and then sit around for hours. They were working at multiple locations to make ends meet. Since Hand & Stone was able to fill the need for both the consumer and for the therapists, it was clear there was a real opportunity for us to succeed in Canada.
Hand & Stone is a leading franchise opportunity thanks to our four revenue streams: massage, facials, skin care products and hair removal. Our membership model and spa atmosphere create an unparalleled work environment.
1851: What are you doing well right now? What are your brand’s differentiators?
Harding: The first Canadian Hand & Stone location opened in 2009. Since then, we’ve had long-term success and opened more than 30 spas. Our customers love the membership model and the fact that they are able to take advantage of their employer’s health insurance benefits.
1851: What are your growth goals? What is your vision for the brand??
Harding: Hand & Stone is in the position now to really expand throughout Canada. We’ve established our brand in Ontario and started our expansion plans beginning with our location in Saskatoon. Now, we plan to continue expanding west.
1851: What were some learning opportunities that the brand leveraged to get where it is now?
Harding: There have been a million learning experiences, and we have developed a much stronger understanding of the market. When a franchise first comes to a new market, they are still learning about the industry, employment rates and needs of the client. We’ve made a ton of investment into understanding all of those areas of the Canadian market.
Since 2009, Hand & Stone has really shaped the Canadian massage, facial and hair removal services market. When we first came to the country, there were no examples of membership-based services in massage and facials and we have since pioneered that model.
1851: What are some of the brand’s most important milestones over the past five years?
Harding: One of our most notable milestones has been the development of our brand recognition. It has been amazing having people and clients come to our spas, participate in events and show their love for the brand.
Three years ago, we expanded into Saskatoon, which was the very first time we stepped out of the Ontario territory. Every market is slightly different when it comes to regulations for massage therapists and estheticians, employment rates and the real estate market, and we make sure to do our research to ensure that we can successfully launch in each area.
1851: What does your ideal franchisee look like?
Harding: Hand & Stone is first and foremost a customer-service business. Franchisees are dealing with the public, so they need to be able to build a culture of top-quality service and care in their spa. Hand & Stone franchise owners also need people skills in order to manage a full team of employees.
1851: How active are your franchisees in the day-to-day business? Are they semi-absentee, passive investors or active owner-operators?
Harding: In the first year, Hand & Stone owners should be hands-on in order to put their own stamp on the business and build up the culture and team. After a year, franchisees can back off a little bit depending on the success of the spa. If they are running a quality operation, the Hand & Stone model provides all of the necessary tools so owners don’t need a daily presence.
For example, we have the tools in place to provide weekly KPIs, analytics, customer surveys, etcetera. Franchisees can use that information to communicate with their managers and improve their business.
1851: How does Hand & Stone Canada support franchisees?
Harding: Hand & Stone Canada leverages the expertise of both its Canadian and US team members to ensure its franchisees get all the support and knowledge they need to be successful. Our support infrastructure includes expert team members that are available to help in all aspects of business, whether it be marketing, sales, administration, technology and more.
1851: What growth plans does the brand have in the coming years?
Harding: Hand & Stone’s long-term goal is to expand our Canadian footprint as fast and as successfully as we can, with the specific target markets of Saskatchewan and Alberta.
1851: What does Hand & Stone offer Canadian consumers that they can’t already find?
Harding: There are no competitors out there — Canadian or otherwise — that are capable of matching Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa’s services. Our niche offering of affordable, membership-based massage, facials and hair removal in a spa environment truly sets us apart.
To receive a breakdown of fees, estimated initial investment costs, contracts, corporate financial statements, and other valuable information that are included in the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD), visit https://handandstonemassagefranchise.ca/