Company ProfilesCover StoryMay/June 2023Previous Issues

Healthy Opportunity

Canadians’ passion for health and wellness creates enduring franchise opportunities

by Stefanie Ucci

Staying healthy is about more than a yearly check-up. More and more Canadians are investing in preventative care for their mental and physical health, and franchisees are helping them through exercise and wellness. Discover four health and wellness franchises making a difference in their communities in unique ways by keeping their clients, moving, relaxed, and feeling great.

Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa

Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa has 35 franchise locations spanning four provinces, and a whopping 500 units in the U.S. The spa franchise is on a mission to bring massage and facial services to everyone across North America.

In today’s society, the health and wellness spa concept is exceptionally appealing to those who understand the full value of taking care of both their physical and mental well-being, explains Anita Wells, senior vice president and division general manager for Hand & Stone Canada. “We’re unique in that we don’t just offer massage services, but also esthetics. Our facials are performed by our expert estheticians and tailored to provide our customers healthy, radiant, younger-looking skin.”

Wells says that with franchisee success being top of mind, the Hand & Stone corporate team has developed a five-year strategic plan they’ve christened the Core Operating Pillars. She notes these pillars are part and parcel of the Hand & Stone package that franchisees benefit from when they join the ever-growing franchise in an industry that’s projected to experience double-digit growth within the next decade.

“We are always looking to improve and to grow,” says Wells. “Our franchise offers three different revenue streams: massage, facials, and gift cards. Our membership model allows for predictable and recurring cash flow into the business. And for the client, they’re able to experience a massage or facial each month at discounted pricing.”

Hand & Stone looks for business owners who share the brand’s beliefs and are driven and passionate entrepreneurs who can benefit from feeling empowered, supported, and motivated by head office, says Wells.

She notes that training is offered both in person and online, and franchisees can participate in the organization’s annual conference, quarterly webinars, and one-on-one evaluations. Marketing support is provided on both a national and local level. New franchisees receive training on all aspects of the business as well as weekly support for however long they’d like.

Wells’ advice for helping franchise owners find success is short and sweet: “Love what you do and have a passion for it. You need to love people—building a strong culture is key to success.”

LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic

The LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic concept was born from a friendship between Sara Hodson, its founder and CEO, and Tasha McRae, director of brand and culture. The duo, both clinical exercise physiologists, met working in a cardiac rehabilitation program and knew there was an opportunity to create a medical exercise facility to help people with chronic health conditions not only manage their health, but thrive to lead long and happy lives. After launching LIVE WELL in 2011 in White Rock, B.C., they quickly began expanding. Today, franchise locations can be found in B.C., Alberta, and Ontario.

The “ultra-private gym” currently has over 300 members. The small group sessions are led by a trained exercise physiologist who designs customized plans and provides ongoing support to members of any age or ability.

“I wake up every day grateful to get to do the work I do,” says Hodson. “Investing in a LIVE WELL clinic is a unique opportunity—you’re stepping into an exploding market, and are able to run a business that has an impact.”

As a health and wellness franchise, LIVE WELL serves the 80 per cent of Canadians who are non-gym goers, including older adults in the baby boomer market, and those looking to transition from “no fit to low fit”—moving from an inactive or sedentary lifestyle to embrace the power of exercise to change their lives. The brand isn’t a gym driven by performance or physique-building—it’s a powerful healthcare business.

Hodson notes that the ideal franchise partner shares the brand’s passion for running a business with purpose and heart. “We are a perfect business fit for kinesiologists or those with a healthcare background who want to make a difference in the lives of the people they work with.”

Training includes a finely tuned health coaching program, and comes with programming and marketing materials from head office. Hodson and the corporate team have developed LIVE WELL’s systems and support over the past 12 years.

The importance of caring for others within communities across Canada cannot be overstated when it comes to LIVE WELL—caring is just in the franchise’s blood. “We make sure a future franchise partner is given all the training and support they need to succeed. Ultimately, it’s their business and they have to believe not only in LIVE WELL, but in the knowledge that the work they do will help positively impact someone’s life.”

Massage Addict

As Canada’s first, largest, and fastest-growing membership-based provider of therapeutic services, Massage Addict is a proud leader in the health and wellness industry.

“We continue to see more and more Canadians prioritizing long-term health and wellness, which has contributed to the growth of this $3 billion industry,” says Caroline Kolompar, president of Massage Addict. “Our dedication to evolving our brand to meet the needs of our key stakeholders resulted in transforming from only massage therapy in 2018 to our current service offering.”

Those services include massage therapy, chiropractic care, custom orthotics, and acupuncture and reflexology. Today, Massage Addict operates more than 115 clinics nationwide and is continuing its rapid growth. The Canadian owned and -operated company has a proven membership-based model to ensure that franchises receive a predictable income stream each month, Kolompar explains. She adds that Massage Addict’s four therapeutic services are what help differentiate the franchise and offer a unique business opportunity. It also means that clients can receive help for an array of symptoms and conditions, all under one roof. And 83 per cent of customers are returning clients.

“We’re the largest membership-based health and wellness company in Canada, with 1,800 therapists and more than 900,000 annual treatments,” says Kolompar. “We’re proud of our growth, as we see it as a badge of trust and confidence that the brand has with its clients, therapists, and franchise partners.”

When seeking the ideal franchisee, Massage Addict looks for five main qualities for success, notes Kolompar. That includes: “Being a hands-on owner committed to creating a positive clinic culture; being an active member of the local business community; having a passion for customer satisfaction, health and wellness, and helping people; providing ongoing recruiting and actively networking within the health and wellness community; and having strong financial management principles.”

Above all, she advises that entrepreneurs make sure the business they choose to invest with is in an industry they love. And trust the business model of the company they choose to work with—especially ensuring that the brand provides excellent support for franchisees.

“On your path to success, you’ll work hard, long hours and passion for your industry will go a long way.”

Massage Experts

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2023, Massage Experts was founded by two best friends with a desire to do something great for their community. The first clinic opened its doors in Moncton, New Brunswick and has since expanded all the way from Alberta to Newfoundland.

Massage Experts provides a unique massage experience that has evolved to understand the comfort of its clients and Registered Massage Therapists (RMT), both of which are a valued and integral part of the company’s success, explains Melanie Holmden, co-founder and vice president of operations.

“Massage Experts offers a space that heightens the clinical experience but is more relaxed than a spa. We have a comfortable and appealing mix for everyone to enjoy,” says Holmden.

Over the next two years, Massage Experts expects rapid franchise growth from coast to coast. Franchise single locations and multi-unit locations are currently available. Holmden notes the demand for massage therapy is stronger than ever.

As for the ideal franchisee, Holmden explains that it’s someone who wants to help others and be part of the wellness of their community. They’ll own and operate the business, while embracing the brand’s mission and values. They’ll need to be a strong people person, the face of the clinic in their community, and have the outgoing personality to market their business at every opportunity.

By franchising with Massage Experts, entrepreneurs can reap many benefits, including a massage membership model which promotes clients to visit monthly (earning recurring income), as well as head office support in areas such as marketing, operations, recruitment, and training.

When it comes to marketing, the Massage Experts team “works with you on a national level and a local level to ensure your marketing spend is planned and maximized for continued success,” notes Holmden. “We use the key line ‘[your] optimal health is our absolute goal’ in numerous marketing items. It’s true to our overall goals. We’re in the business to help others, and to help our clients work towards a healthier lifestyle.”

Holmden adds that her advice for potential franchisees is all about the four Ps: “Product, price, place, promotion—make sure they all align to both your interest, and to your market’s interest. Would you go to your business? Once you decide, get to thoroughly know your competitors. Then, understand exactly what makes your business stand out.”