Massage Envy to Open Soon
New clinic makes regular massage affordable, just in time for the holidays.
Massage Envy co-owners Joann and Doug Hess have been overseeing efforts to transform a former Hallmark store at Festival at Riva into a place of inviting, serene tranquility. The trademark deep-tan-and-plum color scheme, a "quiet room" with comfy seating, heated massage tables, and low lighting are all in place. Installing the phone system and taking care of a few loose ends are all that remain before the Nov. 22 opening of the clinic tucked in between Franklin's Toys and the Beauty First Color Salon.
The drill is becoming routine for the Hesses. They already own two other Massage Envy stores: one in Severna Park and the other in Bel Air.
The Massage Envy franchising company got its start in Scottsdale, AZ, in 2001 when John Leonesio and Shawn Haycock put together a business plan to open the first Massage Envy. Rather than open a standard massage clinic, the two came up with a new model: marrying the membership concept of a gym with traditional massage.
When the men were developing their business model, they recognized that many people regard regular massages as a luxury. To combat high costs, they encourage their franchisees to open in high-traffic shopping centers with reasonable rents.
Since wages and rent are the stores' two biggest expenses, keeping therapists busy and not shelling out excessive sums for rents allows the franchisees to offer massages at reasonable rates. And, the membership concept keeps many clients coming back time and time again.
The business plan worked incredibly well. Massage Envy now operates 640 clinics in the United States, giving about half a million massages a month, with 200 more clinics on tap. The company has now set its sights on Canada and Europe. It has also reached out to the community with an annual fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, most recently bringing in close to $500,000 nationwide in one day.
In their business model, Leonesio and Haycock focused primarily on the wellness benefits of massage.
Although one massage might feel good at the time, it doesn't do much for you in the long term, says Joann Hess. However, with regular massage, Hess explains "you have less anxiety, better sleep quality, and are more productive at work."
She notes that about half her clients at the Severna Park and Bel Air locations come in purely to relax and reduce stress. The other half have a specific problem that requires attention such as an injury, recent surgery or stress-related back and neck issues. Fifteen percent of them have never had a massage before their first visit.
With Massage Envy's Wellness Plan, customers pay $59 a month to become members. The fee includes one massage per month, with additional massages costing $49. Family members can become part of the plan for $49 a month. The store also offers a $49 introductory massage so that potential clients can give the clinic a test drive. All Massage Envy clinics cater to the needs of the individual.
"It's all about customer service and helping the clients figure out what they need," says Hess. "Athletes need a different type of massage than desk jockeys."
The clinic at Festival at Riva houses 11 customizable massage rooms. In several of the rooms, clients can receive both massages and facials. A couple's room allows spouses, friends or mothers and daughters to receive simultaneous massages or facials.
"A lot of people have anxiety about massage and having a friend or spouse in the room with them helps ease them into the experience," says Hess.
Even men have come to embrace both massages and facials, she says, even though the Hesses initially worried that offering facials might alienate their male customers.
Some of the therapists will also treat special-needs children, including those with autism, using touch therapy.
Hess envisions success for the new Annapolis store, given the promising demographics of the region, lots of potential customers living close by, reasonable pricing and the ease of scheduling a same-day massage.
"Our whole goal is to give a $100 experience for $49," she says.