Finance to Franchise: Woodhouse Day Spa Franchisee Alla Shapiro
FranchiseHelp interviewed Alla Shapiro, a Woodhouse Day Spa franchisee with a corporate financial background. Alla emigrated from Ukraine to pursue professional success in the US. After receiving her MBA from the NYU Stern School of Business in 2003, she worked as a portfolio manager for Bank of America before making the decision to leave the corporate world and go into business for herself. In 2008, Shapiro and her husband, a former Morgan Stanley executive, opened The Woodhouse Day Spa. She speaks to FranchiseHelp about her transition from finance to franchise, choosing the business opportunity, and how she's made her business a success with the right advertising and marketing.
FranchiseHelp: Tell me about your decision to leave finance and open a spa? What aspects of the spa industry attracted you to the opportunity?
Alla Shapiro: I loved working in financial services but I always wanted to own and operate my own business. When I started the process of researching different business opportunities, I looked at different franchise systems and decided that I wanted to own a spa. One of the major contributing factors was meeting the CEO of the Woodhouse Corporation, Jeni Garrett, who is very passionate about this business and the Woodhouse franchise. I loved the upscale, holistic concept of the spa, which creates a great experience for its guests, and I wanted to be a part of it.
FH: Did your finance background and MBA experience help you in opening your own franchise? If so, how?
AS: The finance background is helpful but absolutely not necessary in opening the franchise. It was helpful that I knew how to read the financial statements, but it is not a skill that cannot be learned quickly. In retrospect, any experience that one has is helpful in opening and running your own business. You are faced with so many different challenges on daily basis, therefore the more experience you have with Marketing, Operations and Finance, the more tools you have to solve these problems the best possible way.
FH: Why did you decide to open a spa as a franchisee as opposed to an independent business?
AS: I did not have enough business knowledge to open an independent business. A good franchise system provides the support you need in the aspects of the business you have no experience in. The Woodhouse franchise has tremendous support and helped me to come up to speed very quickly.
FH: What were some of the most important elements you analyzed when deciding which franchise/non-franchise business to run?
AS: I wanted to love what I do – that was the major factor. I looked at how the current business owners in the franchise system perform and I asked many questions about their experience with their businesses and the franchisor support.
FH: How much of a challenge was it to get your business off the ground (financing, location scouting, getting clientele, etc.)?
AS: I had a difficult time, initially, starting the business. I had no problem with finding financing, but the major difficulty was finding the appropriate space, and the build-out process was very difficult and unpredictable. It was very challenging to stay in my budget and to finish the build-out on time. Getting clientele was not difficult! I followed the franchise system and it worked pretty easily.
FH: What do you do in terms of marketing and advertising for your customers?
AS: The major portion of our advertising is online through Google and Facebook. We also advertise through local magazines, participate in SpaWeek and SpaFinder Wellness week. But most of our guests come through word of mouth referrals.
FH: How is the economy affecting your spa and the overall industry?
AS: The business opened in summer 2008, right before the last recession. To be honest, it was a difficult first year. However, since then, we’ve been steadily growing every year and even though the economy is not at its best we are performing really well.
FH: What new trends are you noticing with customers and offerings? What are some new developments you've affected to keepup?
AS: I notice that more and more guests use our online gift card system and many book their services online. We used to mail many more gift cards and now a significant number of people opt to receive electronic gift cards. I also believe that in terms of advertising, it is becoming more important to have a significant presence online and to do social marketing through Facebook and Twitter.
FH: What advice can you offer to others who are thinking of leaving one career path to embark on another?
AS: The most important thing is to find what you love to do. That will allow you to persevere in difficult times and to become successful. Also, it is very important to not give up. As a business owner, you will find yourself in very difficult situations in which it is too easy to give up. Do not become emotional when solving difficult problems as that prevents you from finding the best solution possible. And there is always a solution to every problem. At least in my experience!
WAYBACK BURGERS OFFICIALLY OPENS IN LAWRENCEVILLE AND BUFORD
Wayback Burgers offers delicious, cooked-to-order burgers, available as a single, classic double, triple and triple triple (nine) patty, and rich, thick milkshakes made the old-fashioned way by hand, using only fresh milk and hand- dipped ice cream, served in an environment that hearkens back to a simpler place and time – when “customer service” meant something and everyone felt the warmth of the community. Going “way” beyond the burger, Wayback Burgers offers crispy and grilled chicken sandwiches, veggie burgers, turkey burgers, fresh salads and delicious sides, including fries, onion rings and House-Made Chips.
GRANITE TRANSFORMATIONS ANNOUNCES FRANCHISE OPPORTUNITIES IN THE RAPIDLY EXPANDING HOME REMODELING SPACE
MIAMI, FL (March 10, 2016) – Granite Transformations, a global full-service residential and commercial remodeling franchise known for their revolutionary, proprietary resurfacing process, is pleased to announce that franchise opportunities are now available throughout North America. With more than 20 years of franchising experience, the company offers a unique and thriving business model that has made its presence known in eight countries on four continents across the globe, with more than 150 franchise locations worldwide, including 74 North American locations.The home improvement business has seen continued growth and success over the past several years, and with a moderate entry-level investment, the opportunity proves to be an enticing venture for prospective franchise owners with a significant potential for profit and future growth.The Granite Transformations story is a rich, centuries-old Italian heritage turned global entrepreneurial dream. The company presents time-challenged and quality-conscious homeowners a premium surface design solution without the demolition hassle of traditional kitchen and bath remodeling. Using an exclusive selection of the highest-quality granite, recycled glass and quartz counter tops and mosaic tiles – all offering a lifetime warranty – its "over-the-top"installation process virtually eliminates the need for demolition, shortening a project timeline and easing the stress and mess of typical home renovations. The product’s versatility allows for a wide range of uses and brings added value and growth potential, appealing to both homeowners and commercial businesses alike looking to renovate or build new.“Granite Transformations offers one of the most dynamic and fulfilling franchise opportunities in the rapidly expanding home remodeling space,” says Andrea Di Giuseppe, International Chief Executive Officer. “Customers are looking to spend wisely and make a smart investment – they want the most attractive, quality, sustainable product, which is exactly what we offer coupled with the fastest install process available to immediately increase home value.”With renovations continually on the rise, franchise owners enjoy minimal risk and consistent demand no matter the state of the economy. Homeowners are choosing to renovate the key areas of their homes – kitchens and bathrooms– rather than build or buy new, and their recognition of the value of this important, long-term investment is an undeniable owner benefit.Di Giuseppe continues, “From the very beginning, Granite Transformations has stayed true to its artistic tradition,respect for natural resources and commitment to innovation, and the company is committed to the continuing expansion, growth and success of our franchise system.”
IFPG Launches A CRM Designed Specifically for Franchise Sales
Parlin, NJ - The International Franchise Professionals Group (IFPG) is set to launch its new CRM designed specifically for franchise sales on May 1, 2016. IFPG’s Franchise sales CRM is an essential tool for any Franchise professional that wants to eliminate the unnecessary steps traditional CRM’s provide.