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By Benetrends • March 14, 2013

Benetrends Client Spotlight: Denise Vizzini - Hand & Stone

Name: Denise Vizzini

Opening Date: Dec. 9, 2013

Company: Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa

Location: 1844 E. Ridge Pike, Royersford, PA 19468

WHAT WAS YOUR CAREER BEFORE FRANCHISING?

I have been a Massage Therapist for 16 years. I owned my own Massage Therapy business in New Jersey for 11 years. My husband works in the corporate world and always wanted to be involved in a franchise.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO OPEN YOUR OWN BUSINESS?

I was phasing out my Massage Therapy practice in New Jersey because we moved to PA. I still wanted to remain in this industry but not at the physical level I had been for the last 16 years, and thats when I decided to open Hand & Stone.
When we first moved to Pennsylvania we were looking at franchises and originally looked at Doggie Daycare. I just happened to stop by the Glen Mills shopping plaza at Home Goods, I looked up and there was Hand & Stone. I didnt realize that it was a franchise business. My first thought was, "Is this the McDonalds of massage?" When I told my husband about it he looked up Hand & Stone on the internet and found that it was a franchise and we were both very excited. I made an appointment and went in as a "secret shopper." While I was there, I asked a million questions. I had a great service and was shocked because I didnt expect that! Thats when I called and talked to Bob McQuillan, VP of Franchise Development and signed up for Discovery Day.

WHAT WAS THE PROCESS OF OPENING?

We became part of the franchise October 2011. We started calling local Hand & Stone owners and asked them questions about the business model and how the business was growing, profitability and/or challenges. It took us over 6 months to find the location; the whole process took about a year.

WHAT WAS THE APPEAL IN JOINING A FRANCHISE SYSTEM?

We checked out another massage franchise first, that was more about the business model then the process of massage, thats not the background that I come from. They didnt want to educate the consumer about the process of health and wellness. When we spoke with the people at Hand & Stone, it was very obvious they were all about customer service and educating the consumer about why they should take care of themselves. We looked into Todd Leffs background and he was CEO of Aamco, so we knew his leadership, in combination with Hand & Stones philosophy of massage, health and wellness, was closer to our philosophy. The founder of H&S, John Marco, wanted to make massages and facials affordable for everyone, without taking away from the quality of the service, and that went hand and hand with my philosophy of this industry. They share the same vision for healthcare as well. The best part is there is a support system that comes with being a member of this franchise. Having trainers, marketing experts and an IT team at our disposal minimized the risk of opening a business.

WHAT MAKES YOUR BUSINESS DIFFERENT?

I see my business through 2 different perspectives; as an owner and as a therapist. As an owner, I see this as a great investment. As a therapist, I get to use my years of experience in this industry to help educate new therapists just out of school and to share my passion of the massage and facial industry with them as well.

HOW DID YOU FINANCE YOUR BUSINESS?

We financed with a combination of 401(k) rollover and SBA loan. Once we had our location we looked into funding options. When we were at Discovery Day, Hand & Stone mentioned Benetrends and let us know that we could use the savings in our 401(k) to fund the business. We had enough money initially with my 401(k) to purchase the franchise rights of $40,000. I quickly learned that the SBA Loan I was looking into also required a 30% down payment, so we went back into my 401(k) for funds to use as a down payment for the SBA loan. My husband handled all of the financials for opening our business. We were looking into an SBA Loan and need collateral to put down on the loan, so we decided to rollover our 401(k) funds.

HOW IS BUSINESS TODAY?

Today, 3 months later, we have 20+ employees and we still growing. We had 91 members at the time of our Grand Opening and are growing every day. We are now 200 members strong!

WHAT'S THE BEST BIT OF BUSINESS ADVICE YOUVE EVER RECEIVED?

Once the build out phase is complete, you MUST turn your attention on reducing wasteful spending that takes away from the much needed advertising and marketing. Also, try to go on vacation the week before you open. You will need to relax before all the "fun" begins.


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