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The Masterminds Behind Drybar are Transforming the Massage Industry with the Tech-Driven Franchise, Squeeze, on its Path to Developing 500 Units by 2027

The founders of the ultra popular Drybar franchise have turned their attention to the world of massages, with an app-driven, people-focused business model set to disrupt an outdated industry that generates over $17 billion annually.

By Luca Piacentini1851 Franchise Managing Editor
SPONSOREDUpdated 8:08AM 03/30/23

Burger chains, pizza restaurants, home improvement businesses — it seems today that most new franchisors are only interested in treading the same old ground. It's not everyday that a franchise comes along that is set to completely change the way consumers experience a service and usher in a new era of self-care. But for the masterminds behind Drybar, the undisputed leader in the blowout category, doing anything less would be a waste of time. It is that revolutionary mindset that convinced Drybar founders Alli Webb and Michael Landau, along with their former VP of marketing, Brittany Driscoll, to get the band back together to disrupt another outdated industry. This time? Everyone’s favorite self-care experience: Massage. 

Together, they created Squeeze, a tech-driven, people-focused massage franchise designed with current and future franchisees in mind — a way better franchising experience

“We strive to deliver a feel-good experience for our guests, team members, and operating partners,” said Driscoll. “By joining our growing brand as we expand nationwide, our operating partners are at the forefront of disrupting an outdated, but highly sought after industry. As an emerging brand with a seasoned leadership team, we have desired territories available as well as turnkey guidance and support for each functional area of our business. We’re most excited to support people’s desire to offer a meaningful experience in their communities.” 

Since launching in 2019, the franchise has opened three locations in California, Tennessee and Arizona, and has awarded an additional 60+ units across 14 states. Now, with plans to add 300 to 500 units in the next five to seven years, the time has never been better to join Squeeze at the ground floor as it continues its trajectory towards Drybar-level success, and beyond.

Through its industry-leading technology platform, the first-of-its-kind in the retail service space bridges the seamlessness of an on-demand mobile experience with beautiful, sophisticated brick-and-mortar destinations. 

With this innovative business model, the Squeeze franchise provides a path for those who are looking to start their own business, take their life into their own hands and provide a feel-good experience for both guests and team members in their community.

The History of Squeeze Massage

Prior to launching Squeeze, Driscoll spent four years running marketing for Drybar, where she helped take the company from $30 million to more than $100 million. She also opened more than 50 new shops and launched the Drybar product line internationally, as well as in Sephora, Ulta and Nordstrom. Before that, she lent her marketing skills to massive companies like Disney, Coca-Cola and Hot Wheels.

In addition to Driscoll, Squeeze is the brainchild of Drybar founders Landau and Webb. Webb transformed the beauty industry when she opened her first Drybar in 2010. Today, Drybar has more than 150 locations and over 3,000 stylists nationwide. Webb has become a beauty icon, industry mogul, best-selling author and Shark Tank’s latest Guest Shark. Landau is Drybar’s co-founder and has a plethora of experience building and growing world-class brands, including Yahoo.

Just like they did with Drybar — making blowouts simple, affordable and easy — the trio set out to find an innovative way to make massages more accessible and enjoyable. 

“We found ourselves frustrated with the options out there: either mediocre discount establishments or overpriced spas,” said Driscoll. “Not to mention hard-to-book appointments, awkward checkout counters and massages that were never the right pressure. So, we set out to build the brand and massage experience we longed for.”

The million dollar idea? Everything outside of the actual massage will be done digitally. With a revolutionary app and personalized massage experience, the brand is set to close the gap between expensive high-end luxury spas and discount chains.

The Squeeze concept is built around its end-to-end platform and proprietary app. Guests book, pay and tip on the app, which creates a completely contactless and streamlined experience where they don’t have to worry about dealing with anyone behind the counter. 

The app is also designed to create an experience catered to each individual's preferences. It saves customers’ massage preferences to their profile, so therapists know exactly what they want, and guests can even adjust the music playlists and lighting in their rooms. Plus, extras don’t cost extra — each massage includes a choice of deep tissue, heat therapy, percussion therapy and aromatherapy at no additional charge. 

“Our app is really what sets Squeeze apart and provides a way better massage experience for our guests,” said Driscoll. “Memberships are transferable across locations, and there is no physical point-of-sale in our shops, eliminating clunky, frustrating transaction-based interactions.”

In 2019, Squeeze officially launched its first location in Studio City, California. Despite being open for just 11 months before the pandemic hit, Squeeze generated $1.5 million in revenue and had about 1,000 members, Driscoll said. Plus, they generated an impressive Net Promoter Score of 82, which is higher than Starbucks, Nordstrom, Apple and Southwest Airlines. 

After weathering the COVID-19 pandemic and coming out stronger than ever, Squeeze started to sell franchises in June of 2021. By the end of 2022, the brand had sold a whopping 59 franchise units across 23 operators. 

“The industry is well-established and proven which has allowed us to grow rapidly,” said Driscoll. “Our vision has always been to have 300 to 500 units over the next five to seven years.”

The Squeeze Franchise Offers Recurring Revenue, In-Depth Real Estate Support, Partner Exclusivity and More

It's not just the massage and wellness industry that Squeeze is looking to disrupt — it's also the traditional model of franchising. While Drybar was approximately 40% franchised and 60% corporate-owned, Driscoll says she took her learnings from that experience, as well as research of other franchise models, and decided to make Squeeze 100% franchise-owned-and-operated. 

But Driscoll says that isn’t the only lesson Squeeze is taking from Drybar. The leadership team that helped Drybar expand to 150 locations knows a thing or two about finding the right franchisees. Drybar was notoriously exclusive when it came to letting owners into the system, and Squeeze plans on doing the same. The brand’s current network of franchisees, referred to as “Operating Partners”, includes individuals with leadership experience from Amazon, Walmart, Disney, Coca-Cola, Target, Planet Fitness and more.

“As part of our first wave of franchise growth, Squeeze Operating Partners will have direct communication with our seasoned leadership team,” said David Werner, Squeeze’s chief operating officer.  “That support infrastructure,” Werner says, “includes access to a digital learning management system, in-person training at both our flagship in Studio City and on-site at their newly constructed location, a 550-page operating manual, customized online booking and POS systems, digital and PR marketing assistance, extensive direction from Squeeze's training team and much more. 

When it comes to the day-to-day operations, Werner says the Squeeze business model was designed with Operating Partners in mind. Along with their streamlined processes and contactless checkout, Squeeze even provides a centralized guest experience team as a first tier of support to Operating Partners and their teams, 7-days a week. 

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of franchising with Squeeze is the brand’s real estate and site selection process. Squeeze operating partners work alongside an expert real estate and construction project management team to optimize site selection, lease negotiations, space planning, design and construction project management from start to finish.

Why Now Is the Time to Invest in Squeeze

While the COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly created challenges for the massage industry, the Squeeze team is confident that the brand is well-positioned for the future. Not only is there a growing interest in self-care and wellness, but there is also a growing desire for personalized, stress-free experiences, something Squeeze was spearheading long before the pandemic.

“Throughout the pandemic, we used the down time to create efficiency and perfect the business model,” said Driscoll. “We believe more in what we’re doing now than we did when we started.” 

The ideal Squeeze franchisee has strong business acumen, a passion for doing good in their community and experience leading and managing teams. “We are looking for business owners who care about people’s experience and want to actively make a meaningful difference in their communities,” said Driscoll. “When we opened our flagship, I was in the shop everyday connecting with both guests and team members for the first year. It’s important that there be this type of hands-on presence from leadership.”

Incoming Squeeze Operating Partners will also need to be aligned with the company’s mission, vision and core values, affectionately called The Feels.” Squeeze’s commitment to doing good goes beyond their four walls - For every membership sold, Squeeze is helping to provide a day of canine support to a person with a disability through their philanthropic partnership Canine Companions, a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly-trained assistance dogs at no charge to the recipient. 

“Our vision for Squeeze is to transform communities for good,” said Driscoll. “At the end of the day, we are in the people business. We believe we all have the opportunity to change someone for the better. Massage is an incredible and undeniable way to help and heal people’s mind, body, and soul, but even the smallest interaction wrapped in kindness can turn someone’s day around. That’s really what we’re all about.”

Looking ahead, the Squeeze team aims to sign over 100 units by the end of 2023, with the long-term vision of growing to 300-500 units in the next five to seven years. Current target markets include Florida and Texas.

The investment ranges from $493,623 to $662,728 to open a Squeeze franchise, which includes working capital and initial franchise fees of $60,000. For more information on franchising with Squeeze, visit: https://www.squeezemassage.com/franchising

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