The espresso machine whirred while I sipped coffee and checked in with one of Hand & Stone’s first-time franchisees. He was celebrating his one year anniversary of spa ownership. This particular franchisee did exceptionally well in his first year as an owner and just opened a second location.
Greater Detroit Area Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa owner Sumit Bansal left a career in software sales to fulfill a dream of opening his own business. He started out in the franchise industry in 2005 with one hair salon, and his franchisee career skyrocketed from there. Sumit’s secret to success with franchise businesses? It’s simple. He followed the business model instructions to a T every time.
Sumit celebrated the first year of ownership of his Hand & Stone location in Troy, MI in February while simultaneously opening another spa in nearby Northville, MI. He’s currently considering spots for potential Hand & Stone locations in Rochester Hills and Bloomfield Hills, MI.
The married father of two talked to me about how his multiple franchises are like children he raises and how the recipe for franchisee success is written in the business models he so closely follows as guidance. He sees each franchise location as a newborn baby to nurture and grow using the instructions the franchisors provide.
Sumit’s franchise “family” grew considerably as he opened 12 salon franchise locations in 12 years. Sumit still operates all the salons while operating the Hand & Stone spas in Troy and Northville. How did he do it? Sumit attributes his success in the franchise industry to great teams, hard work, and dedication to following franchise business models.
As we sipped our coffee, Sumit and I settled in for a Q&A about what to expect as a potential Hand & Stone franchise owner. Let’s explore how this businessman with several years of franchising experience decided to buy a Hand & Stone franchise and how he found success.
Q: How did you realize you wanted to own both massage and hair salon franchises?
A: The last hair salon franchise I opened was in 2013, and there was no more ability to expand in my area of Michigan, so I was looking for another successful company and business model. It just so happened that Hand & Stone was what I was looking for, and I was also extremely happy that it was linked to health and wellness. For me, the biggest criteria was a proven business model that worked. Hand & Stone showed me how successful they already were, and now it’s my job as an owner to expand on that success by opening and operating new locations.
Q: How did you find out about the Hand & Stone franchise opportunity?
A: I learned about Hand & Stone from a company called FranChoice, which was the same way I learned about the salon locations I purchased years ago. I then met the Hand & Stone Franchise Development Team at a Discovery Day event at their headquarters in Trevose, Pennsylvania. The execution from Hand & Stone was great from the start. The corporate team was amazing, and I saw in person how much passion they had. I also spoke firsthand to franchisees across the country. I truly loved everyone I met and saw how successful Hand & Stone had been in multiple states. It was on me to replicate the model, and I ended up signing agreements with Hand & Stone to open four locations in Michigan with a goal of opening one location per year.
Q: How did you determine that Hand & Stone franchise ownership was for you?
A: The room for growth was a big deciding point. I think the biggest key factor was that Hand & Stone had been quite successful in multiple states throughout the United States. In Michigan there were significant franchise opportunities available to open new locations, and I liked that I was able to take on the opportunity to open multiple stores in Michigan over the next four to five years.
Q: How did you decide to become a Hand & Stone franchisee and buy a massage franchise?
A: Before saying yes to Hand & Stone ownership, my mindset was to find a franchise model I liked in a local area that would allow me to expand with new nearby locations. After 12 years of salon franchise ownership, I knew what franchise opportunities I was searching for and really enjoyed the Hand & Stone franchising model. I wanted a company that was successful in multiple states where I could leverage that success and expand a brand locally in Michigan. I found that with Hand & Stone.
Q: What franchisor support offerings helped you make a decision to become an owner?
A: Hand & Stone has an ongoing support model with a dedicated operations appointee who helps you as needed. They stay in touch with us. When it comes to marketing, Hand & Stone has an extremely dedicated marketing company that works closely with us as well. In addition, the real estate support was outstanding as they did research and provided criteria for locations like mileage and population level. The last big piece for me was talking to actual franchisees who have multiple Hand & Stone locations open to see how they feel. It was helpful to hear from them about their experiences to get an idea of how my own experience would go.
Q: How did the steps to Hand & Stone franchise ownership fall into place?
A: Hand & Stone provided me with the franchise disclosure document, which had a lot of information about the financial and services models. I also had a series of phone calls with Hand & Stone on different pieces of the business like real estate, marketing, and operations. We went into deep discussions about the pros and cons of becoming an owner, and all of my questions about buying a Hand & Stone franchise were answered.
Q: What feedback did you get from friends or family while going through the process of buying a franchise?
A: There was fear and at the same time, a lot of support. Since a lot of my friends and family are in software, they were unfamiliar with the franchising concept. As you can imagine, they were both excited and scared for me when I first started out in franchising. I took a chance and things truly turned out well because we stuck to the business model. We saw great success in our very first year, which was very encouraging for the future.
Q: How did it feel to get franchisee support from the franchisor during the Hand & Stone opening process?
A: For me, getting ready to open the first Hand & Stone store was kind of like getting ready for my first child. There are lots of fears and questions in your mind. Just like a doctor would tell you that by this date you should have something done, Hand & Stone corporate tells you to work towards milestones for an opening. They helped us by setting milestones before the opening date. As long as we continued to reach those milestones on time, we were on track. It’s a comforting feeling to know everything is going well and you have help for your opening. The support from corporate was significant in ensuring we reached milestones and met goals. They were even there the entire first week of the grand opening to help out.
Q: How has business been as a Hand & Stone franchise owner in your first year?
A: My first Hand & Stone location in Troy has been a dream run! I did not expect such outstanding results. We have been truly lucky to see the growth we have seen, and I am very grateful to my team for their hard work. Lots of kudos goes to corporate for their support and the franchise business model they’ve given us.
Q: How do you like working in and profiting from the health and wellness lifestyle?
A: I love the health and wellness industry. Massages and facials are so beneficial for a healthy lifestyle. Clients want to look and feel their best and are realizing themselves that massage helps them have a healthy lifestyle. The demand is huge, and it’s one of the best franchise opportunities to invest in right now. We have a lot of clients who want to come into the spa for both massages and facials on the same day. The beauty of being in a spa is the clients look forward to being there – and when they walk out, they can’t stop smiling. I love their smiles and happiness. We as a team are extremely satisfied seeing those smiles on a client’s face, and with Hand & Stone, we make enjoying a massage and facial extremely affordable. It’s an amazing industry to be in.
Q: Do you feel like you’ve found success as a massage franchise owner?
A: I love it. In the last year we have built a very strong team. To me, that is the key to success and the key to peace of mind as an owner. Even though I’m not in the spa all the time like I used to be when we opened, I know that my baby (the spa location) is in the right hands with my team. They’re outstanding and make sure every client is happy to the best of their ability. Because of this strong team in the spa, we continue to outperform.
Q: What are the benefits of becoming a franchisee and being your own boss?
A: The biggest thing I love about being a Hand & Stone franchisee is that you are working with a proven business model. You are not trying to come up with things from scratch. My job is to replicate the model. That’s my job as the owner and exactly how I look at it. My chances of success are significantly higher as a franchisee than if I was in a independent business myself. The grassroots work is already done! I truly enjoy being able to work on replicating the proven business model that corporate has developed over the years. I also enjoy the strong support that I get from Hand & Stone corporate. Whenever I have questions, help is just a phone call away. It’s so reassuring.
Q: Do you have any words of wisdom to share with potential franchisees?
A: When you’re considering buying a specific franchise, I strongly encourage you to talk to many of their franchisees. The franchisees that Hand & Stone has are amazing resources. Once you decide to become an owner, my advice is to follow the business model as it is. Don’t change the model or reinvent the wheel. All the answers are in the system, and if you follow it, you will be successful. It’s a proven model.
Do you have questions about becoming a Hand & Stone franchise owner? Please contact us for more information about the steps to spa ownership.