Chain Effect

Spa franchises are flourishing, as established brands like Massage Envy, Massage Heights, and The Woodhouse Day Spa continue to expand. Massage Envy has even gone global, expanding this past year with the debut of its first international location in Sydney. Health and wellness continues to be a priority in spa-goers’ lives, so franchises that cater to such concerns are poised to continue to thrive and play a significant role in the spa industry. “This market is hungry for body-maintenance products and services, and in response, we’ve built a business model that makes them accessible and affordable,” says Joe Magnacca, CEO of Massage Envy. “As consumers become more aware of the long-term benefits of total-body care, we believe demand for our services will continue to increase.”

Not surprisingly, that’s exactly what is happening. There are now franchises specializing in massage, facials, waxing, cryotherapy, flotation therapy, and IV therapy, just to name a few. Of course, for the industry, franchises aren’t always welcome, as they serve as competition for both staff and clientele, since franchises often offer lower prices than stand-alone spas. However, what makes these franchises so attractive to spa-goers is consistency. “Our members know the experience they have at a Massage Envy location in Scottsdale will be very similar to the experience they would have at a Massage Envy location in Atlanta or New York City,” says Magnacca. “Because our massage therapists and estheticians all go through our best-in-class education and training, they can give the customer a consistent experience across all our locations.” Accessibility and affordability also add to their appeal. “We created the membership model to give consumers easy and affordable access to customized massage and skincare as part of their wellness plans,” says Magnacca.

Franchises also offer a turnkey solution to those wanting to enter into the market. For example, Marilyn Monroe Spas, a company built around the iconic star, offers a range of beauty, grooming, and body-maintenance services. In addition to providing a consistent-user experience, the locations also benefit from being part of a larger operation. “Spa franchises tend to operate at a larger corporate scale, enabling greater investment in spa environment design and construction, development of unique signature services, and in some cases, development and marketing of exclusive resort spa-grade beauty products,” says CEO Jim Lewis. Recently, the company expanded its franchising offerings so spa operators could convert their existing spas to a Marilyn Monroe-branded spa. Lavande Spa (Lafayette, CA) was the first to be converted. The fact that even existing brands are jumping on the franchising bandwagon is proof of its growing relevance in the industry.

For many, franchises just make good economic sense. That’s true for those frequenting them, as well as those who operate them. “The spa industry is continuing to outpace the overall growth of the U.S. economy, and we expect this trend to continue,” says Lewis. “Franchising is a strong option for entrepreneurs looking to enter this large and growing field, as well as for operators of existing, independent spas and salons that are seeking to grow their business through up-to-date, fresh approaches to everything from their spa’s physical environment, its services, and a strong brand.” The collective marketing advantages certainly provide a coveted support system for franchisees, who benefit from strong brand awareness. Says Magnacca, “I predict we’ll see significant growth in the coming years as the trend toward wellness and total body care continues.”