One Texas-based massage franchise is looking for people who not only have strong business acumen, but also who share the values of a family-owned company.
When franchisees and employees join Massage Heights, they are effectively joining a family, one that supports each other in times of need.
Shane Evans, president of Massage Heights, describes the company as a high-value, membership-based, therapeutic massage and skin care company that treats everyone they interact with as part of their extended family, from customers to franchisees to team members.
Perhaps the best example of Massage Heights’ commitment to its familial nature is the Heights Family Fund, which was set up about a year-and-a-half ago.
“Heights Family Fund is a crisis relief fund for the team members of Massage Heights franchise locations,” Evans explained during a recent interview.
When team members find themselves facing a crisis, like an unforeseen emergency, and they are short on money to deal with that crisis, they can tap into the fund to assist them. The company has been able to use the fund to help team members who have needed brain surgery and team members who have had to pay for unexpected funeral arrangements.
“It’s important for Massage Heights to take care of the people who take care of our guests”, Evans said. “Happy team members mean happy customers.”
Aside from being served by dedicated team members who are the beneficiaries of the Heights Family Fund, guests are kept happy by Massage Heights’ affordable membership plan that makes getting massages and skin care on a regular basis a reality for everyone.
In the Beginning
Founded in April 2004, Massage Heights began franchising in 2007 and now has 70 franchisees that own and operate more than 135 locations.
Back in December 2003, Evans and her husband, Wayne, were visiting friends in Sedona, AZ and had been in the car driving for hours between Texas and Arizona. Evans woke up the next morning with an aching back and, much to her delight, her husband had booked her a massage at the resort hotel where they were staying.
At a cost of over $200, she was expecting an amazing massage experience. What she got instead was a tepid back rub that she described as not-at-all-therapeutic and a huge waste of money.
But while that massage may not have helped her aching back that particular day, it was the impetus to found Massage Heights.
“The idea of making massage more affordable was the first aspect,” she said, “and then providing it in an atmosphere that was comfortable for both men and women so it didn’t seem like a spa was the next idea.”
Things came together quickly for the budding entrepreneurs.
“Within four months, we opened the first location in Alamo Heights, which is part of San Antonio,” the company president recalled.
With brisk business coming in from all over, people began asking when they were opening more sites and some customers even started asking how they could get involved in what they recognized as a good business opportunity.
The couple opened another store in San Antonio nine months after the first one, and then one of the first team members they had hired wanted to open a Massage Heights location. That’s when they decided to explore franchising as a growth option for the company.
Focus on Well-being
Evans believes Massage Heights took off in popularity because health and wellness is more of a focus for people with the rising cost of health care.
“People are looking to take their health into their own hands,” she said. “They’re looking for alternative ways to look after themselves instead of medicine for stress and pain.”
In the past, massage therapy was seen as a luxury that was just plain unaffordable for most people. However, with Massage Heights making it affordable and convenient, now everyone can enjoy the benefits of massage.
Evans said the company generally likes franchisees that have a sales and marketing background, but most importantly, they should find commonalities in Massage Heights’ core values: loyal, passionate, diligent and authentic. Additionally, prospective franchisees should have exceptional people management skills and should want to be involved in the business. Some multiple location owners choose not to be involved in the day-to-day running of the business, she added, but they always make sure to hire a great management team for their locations, which is key.
New franchisees undergo five weeks of on-boarding. The first week is called Base Camp and new franchisees are introduced to the brand and what to look for in a site. The second week is about marketing and how to hire the right people. Subsequent weeks go over every aspect of running the business with the final week of training done in the franchisee’s store during their opening week of business.
Ongoing support includes regional training sessions an annual convention and multiple phone conferences throughout the year. Plus, each franchisee is assigned a franchise business consultant to walk the new franchisee through the whole process of opening their location and provide guidance when they need it. The franchise business consultant continues to provide support in business planning throughout the life of the relationship.
Looking to Expand
With a presence in 15 states, Massage Heights has a high concentration in Texas with 30 locations in Houston, 10 in Dallas and 12 in San Antonio.
Evans identified several key markets for expansion, including Denver, Kansas City, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Nashville, Knoxville and Las Vegas. Additionally, Massage Heights is seeking area developers to grow the brand in Sacramento, Los Angeles, Northern Virginia, Nashville, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Salt Lake City.
The Massage Heights Difference
What sets Massage Heights apart from its competition is the greater value the franchise offers to guests and members. Referring to their locations as retreats, Evans said the franchise aims to appeal to both men and women and touch all of their guests’ senses, from the relaxing music, to the scent of the essential oils they use to the high-quality massage tables and linens.
All massage therapists go through rigorous training, so they don’t just massage guests, but give them a Massage Heights experience. A proprietary line of retail products allows guests to take the experience home with them.
“We hear all the time from customers and franchise candidates that, hands down, Massage Heights is the elevated brand,” Evans said.
While the franchise may offer an elevated massage experience, the affordable prices and obvious concern for its employees’ well-being speak to its familial roots and values.