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Opening your own business can be a stressful if rewarding experience, but potential franchisees might reduce the amount of pressure involved by investing in a company that has built its brand on reducing the stress levels of its customers. Massage Envy, which celebrated its 10th anniversary as an American brand in 2012, announced early last year that it had signed its 1,000th franchise agreement in the United States; and it continues to offer investors a program developed to ease them into the massage therapy business.
“I’ve been busy,” says Lori Merrall, national director of franchise sales for Massage Envy. Since the announcement of its 1,000th franchise in February 2012, the number of signed contracts has continued to climb to 1,108, she said.
“We’ve had a really strong year and a lot of it comes within our community,” she said “People are buying second and third operations.”
One of the Fastest-Growing Franchises
Indeed, Massage Envy is one of the fastest-growing franchises in the United States with more than 800 clinics opened in 44 states. The company entered 2012 with great momentum after seeing a 13 percent increase in the opening of new clinics in 2011. It is the largest system of franchised massage clinics in the industry and continues to grow.
Last year, Massage Envy was No. 29 (of 108) on Entrepreneur magazine’s list of Fastest Growing Franchises and it has consistently landed in the top 100 of the magazine’s annual Franchise 500 rankings, this year coming in at No. 81.
“We have a lot of strength in numbers and because of that, we have a lot of national visibility,” Merrall said.
While it does have competitors such as Elements Therapeutic Massage and Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa, Massage Envy is the pioneer of affordable massage and spa services, having created a completely new category in the wellness industry a decade ago. Its menu of services includes trigger point therapy, Swedish massage, deep-tissue massage, sports massage, reflexology, cranial sacral therapy, prenatal massage, and geriatric massage.
In 2007, the company launched Massage Envy Spa to augment its menu with affordable, healthy skincare beyond traditional massage therapy. It established an exclusive partnership with global skincare company Murad to offer four different facial treatments with Murad products specially designed to address different types of skin disorders or concerns.
Massage Envy Spa has now become the company’s banner with most of the early franchisees having converted their stores to offer the facials; all new agreements include the spa treatments in the franchise model. Of the 831 clinics opened nationwide, 571 of them are “spas,” Merrall said.
“For the most part, the ones that haven’t changed over, it’s either a space issue or a lease issue,” Merrall said. “There has been great adoption of it.”
The addition of the spa treatments required some changes in the Massage Envy logo and marketing messages, but it “was more an ease into the change rather than a full on re-branding,” she said.
Sales Experience is Important
One of the reasons Massage Envy may be attracting a legion of franchisees is the fact that its systems make opening an outlet fairly easy for a person who has some business experience. While the company estimates that it employs about 20,000 certified massage therapists nationwide, being a therapist doesn’t necessarily make someone an ideal candidate to be an owner/operator, Merrall said. In fact, holding a massage therapy license is not a prerequisite for being a franchisee. Because the franchise model is based upon building membership at a clinic, a background in sales may be more important for a new owner.
“We get massage therapists calling, but that’s not necessarily the profile of our ideal franchisee,” Merrall said. “For us, it’s somebody who’s got sales, business, and management experience.”
In its recruitment efforts, Massage Envy targets multi-unit owners through its website and by advertising in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur magazine, and SmartBrief, the International Franchise Association newsletter.
Franchising.com counts among its reasons to invest in Massage Envy the fact that recurring revenue is generated by a membership base, which Massage Envy reports is some 1.2 million strong. Merrall said she thinks new franchisees find Massage Envy appealing because of the systems in place that make the process of opening a new unit easy.