Current Issue November/December 2022

Wonderful Waxes and a World of Opportunity

Four salon and spa franchises share their plans for growth in 2023 and beyond

By Georgie Binks

After two-and-a-half years of openings and closings, Canada’s salons and spas are back in the game. Not only are their customers ecstatic, but franchisees are also happy to welcome back their employees and clientele in need of pampering. For franchisees with the magic touch, here are four salon and spa franchises ready with opportunity.

Fuzz Wax Bar   

Some things were meant to be, and the creation of Fuzz Wax Bar is one of them. Florence Gaven Rossavik, co-founder of Fuzz Wax Bar, met Jessie Frampton within one week of landing in Canada from France in 2010. The two began commiserating about the sorry state of Canadian wax bars and from there, a great idea was born. “We saw an opportunity to start something super new, fresh, [and] probably very successful because the concept was completely proven already in the States and Europe,” says Rossavik.

Fuzz Wax Bar is a membership-based waxing-only salon. The pair opened the first location in 2012 and started franchising in 2016. The franchise now has 16 locations, with two opening soon in Vaughan, Ontario and Edmonton, Alberta.

“The biggest benefit to franchisees is entering into a niche business,” says Rossavik. “There’s one type of service, one type of training, and a small inventory. The franchisee and their team can quickly master all the processes.”

Building and retaining staff are constant challenges, as was the pandemic. Rossavik says, “It was devastating. Apart from shutting us down, making supplies [and] the cost of building and opening stores more expensive, it made us focus on what really matters. We’ve tightened those systems – a lot of positive came out of that negative.”

Rossavik says despite the challenges, she loves being a franchisor. “It’s a very female-oriented industry, female led, female staffed. There’s a big sense of community in the industry.”

Right now, Rossavik says Fuzz Wax Bar is focusing on growing the brand in Canada and bringing on the right people slowly and steadily. She says the franchise offers strong support both pre-opening and through the introduction stages.

An ideal Fuzz franchisee needs to be positive, open-minded and growth oriented. Rossavik advises, “as a franchisee you’re opening your own business, but you’re not opening it yourself. Take advantage of the support.”

Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa

When John Marco, a physical therapist with a passion for health and wellness, started Hand & Stone in 2004, he saw an opportunity to bring spa and massage services to the masses in a retail shopping environment, at an affordable price point, with convenient hours. The name, Hand & Stone, and logo were the brainstorm of his 14-year-old son Nicholas.

“The name represents the tools of our trade for our signature service, the hot stone massage,” says Anita Wells, senior vice president, division general manager Canada. “Our logo [the Stoney character] honours Indigenous people with their deep history of working with healing modalities.”

Wells says the franchise offers guests and membership clients massage, facial, and hair removal services, all under one roof. The biggest benefit for franchisees, she says, is that they’re invested in a growing industry. “Consumers have increasingly recognized the importance of health and wellness, particularly over the past two challenging years.”

The biggest challenge that the franchisees face, says Wells, is staff recruitment, which is a common theme among most business owners.

During the pandemic, massage therapy was considered an essential service, which allowed the spas to reopen quickly, and stay open. The franchise took a partial hit during the pandemic, when esthetic services weren’t allowed to be performed. Wells says they offered clients virtual facials, home delivery of skincare products, and at-home facial tips, all examples of the many ways the brand pivoted to address the business challenges of the pandemic.  

Going forward, Wells says, “We will continue to target the middle market with wellness services – massage and facials, with a goal of making skincare 35 per cent of our service mix.”

Wells believes that customer service and employee management skills are key attributes to run a successful franchise. An ideal franchisee should possess ambition, drive, and passion to own a business of their own and to help others in their wellness journey.

DermaEnvy Skincare

Since DermaEnvy Skincare started in Dieppe, New Brunswick in 2016, the franchise has been growing. With 10 locations in five different provinces (the majority being in Atlantic Canada), it now plans to conquer Ontario and Western Canada next.

“The franchise is a medical aesthetics, laser, and skincare franchise with a smaller-than-industry-average clinic footprint, specializing in affordable mid-market solutions,” says Cohen MacInnis, president and director of franchise development for DermaEnvy Skincare.

Just like other franchises in the industry, he says, “The biggest challenges we’ve faced have been navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and associated closures and restrictions.”

However, Alicia Apesteguy, director of marketing and operations, says the franchise’s rigorous protocols and sanitary procedures served it well, as did the fact that its clinics are smaller and more personal, reducing the risk of potential exposures. The franchise also adapted its website so clients could pre-purchase treatment packages and additional products from the comfort of their home.  

When it comes to potential franchisees, MacInnis says, “Our franchisees share a desire to provide great service to their clients and what I refer to as ‘driven independence,’ while following the franchise system. We have franchisees successfully operating as multi-unit operators and other franchisees working as both the franchisee and solo service provider with the goal of expanding to additional service providers. With a passion for good customer service and a general understanding of good business practices, our franchise system is a great option both for aspiring and experienced franchisees.”

He notes that training involves everything from business planning before the clinic opens to one-on-one franchisee training.

To be successful, MacInnis advises that potential franchisees “be passionate and driven about your willingness to learn. Most anxiety or individual fears caused by a lack of industry knowledge or even business experience can be overcome by a driven individual with a willingness to learn.” 

THE TEN SPOT

It wasn’t just the smooth bodies and pretty nails everyone was missing when the pandemic hit. Kristen Gale, CEO and creator of THE TEN SPOT, says it was also the fun. “We started out doing hair removal and nail services in a peppy and fun social environment – lots of high-energy music and movies playing.”

When stringent pandemic restrictions hit, locations were shut down. The franchise helped franchisees deal with landlords and get government support before restrictions were eased. “For franchise owners, it was a relief to have staff back at their bars and have guests coming in,” says Gale. “Having human contact was a huge thing.”

“Our strategy was [to] do whatever we could, hold tight, and make sure when we opened, we could maximize getting as much revenue back in the door as possible. To that end, it was making sure our staff and customers felt really safe. We had a lot of PPE and reconfigured our stations,” adds Gale.

THE TEN TPOT started 16 years ago with one corporate location, then four more corporate locations. In 2012, the brand started franchising and now has 43 locations in Canada and four American states.

The franchise originally offered ongoing beauty services – manicures, pedicures, and waxing – and has recently launched laser services.

“We really look for female entrepreneurs to get into this industry, candidates who are as passionate about the brand as we are,” says Gale.

The franchise offers great support and a robust training program. She notes that staffing is always an issue, but franchisees benefit from access to a really strong operational support team, as well as a marketing team for brand and local promotion.

Gale says for success, follow the system. “Our best-performing locations are those where they want a system created and they want to follow it. They want to find success.”

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