Hand & Stone

Experience the Difference of Affordable Luxury

Gigi Harding, CEO of Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa, has worked in the franchising industry for 23 years. Seeing almost no franchising competition in the Canadian health segment of massage therapy and facial services, she wanted to use her experience and bring a new franchise concept to Canada. Today, this idea brings Canadians Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spas.

Hand & Stone launched its flagship store in Thornhill, Ont. in the fall of 2009. The concept behind Hand & Stone focuses on providing affordable registered massage therapy, facial, and waxing services. Harding says, “The massage and facial experience at Hand & Stone provides our guests a comfortable, relaxing, and affordable retreat from their busy and demanding lives.” The company slogan says it well — Experience the difference of affordable luxury.

By August of this year, Hand & Stone will have seven spa locations opened in the GTA, namely Aurora, Burlington, Oakville, Richmond Hill, Thornhill, Whitby, and Woodbridge, and the company has many more interested franchisees on the list. Harding told The Canadian Business Journal, “Our expansion plans are starting in Ontario and will move across Canada shortly thereafter. We estimate that the Canadian market can accommodate somewhere between 100 to 120 franchise units altogether.”

Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spas create a revitalizing experience for its guests, and the passionate spa professionals work harmoniously, applying simple, natural processes that promote personal wellbeing. Professional Registered Massage Therapists and Certified Estheticians work to improve quality of life with convenient, affordable, relaxing, and luxurious treatments that are delivered in a warm, inviting, and comfortable atmosphere.

Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa franchise provides affordable luxury by focusing solely on massage, facial, and waxing, and not diversifying with other services such as manicure/pedicure or haircuts as offered by some of the competition. The other upside for the client is that Hand & Stone only hires Registered Massage Therapists, which are covered by most extended healthcare benefit programs. Hand & Stone locations are open seven days a week with extended hours, working to accommodate their clients’ busy schedules. “What we found when we entered the marketplace was that customers couldn’t find Registered Massage Therapists, and they couldn’t find them in the hours during which they wanted to go.” To give clients exceptional service, Hand & Stone stays open late, closing its doors at 10 p.m. during weekdays, and 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

The public commonly assumes that massage and spa services generally fall under the umbrella of the ‘discretionary expenses’, however, to this Harding said, “This assumption does not apply to Hand & Stone, and the reason why is that we work to bring affordable massage to the masses so to speak, that’s why we offer registered massage therapy and facials at affordable pricing. For example, your neighbourhood day spa charges anywhere between $80 and $140 for a 50-minute massage. We contest this, and our Introductory Relaxation Massage starts at $54.95, and while we are affordable, we still provide the luxury setting you would expect from a day spa.”

“The Hand & Stone franchise system fully supports its franchisees. As a franchisor, Hand & Stone provides a turn-key operation and ongoing input, feedback, and direction to the franchisees, while the individual franchisees also have the opportunity to put their own entrepreneurial flair on the business. While reducing the risks that new businesses have to face, what attracts people to franchising is that, while there are no guarantees, franchisees have a higher success rate compared to independent startups. Franchisees also have the opportunity to talk to their peers and exchange ideas, creating a group that makes them stronger.”

The franchise location directly connects the franchisees with the communities in which they operate, and in order to succeed the franchisees establish themselves in their local communities, working to create relationships with the local associations, community events, schools, fire department, and even police to provide services within the community. “We urge our franchisees to work with their communities, and build connections to grow their business.”

While the company launched its flagship location in October 2009, right in the middle of the economic storm, the recession did not affect the company business in the least. Harding said, “While during the recession people tend to spend more money at home, people also tend to spend more money on smaller items. For example, people will reduce their vacation spending but will still spend on everyday pleasures such as makeup and other small items, so we did not see a reduction in our business; we actually saw a growth. People don’t want to cut wellness expenses — they just look for a more affordable option.

We were actually surprised how big the need for affordable massage and facial services in Canada was, and how well our business grew during this period.”

Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spas create a revitalizing experience and its Registered Massage Therapists and Certified Estheticians work hard to promote personal wellbeing and comfort. The luxury, convenience, and affordability of Hand & Stone compares second to none in Canada, and the company expects to grow its franchises across Canada and fill the void of affordable luxury in the Canadian market.