Expanding your franchise network internationally is a decision that should be made at board level, then planned and resourced to maximise the likelihood of success. International expansion is not just about recruiting masters and leaving them to it! You need to focus on finding the right people who you can guide and support to successfully grow your network abroad, whilst protecting your brand.
At Massage Heights, we have an established network in the USA and a master in Canada. Our business model has taken the successful gym membership structure and applied it to the spa experience, creating a network of high street wellness retreats. This part of the sector has developed into a multi-billion dollar market in North America over the past decade. Massage Heights retreats generate more dollars per square foot than our competitors and we have developed a reputation for providing among the best experience in the massage industry, offering professional, affordable and convenient therapeutic services.
With the USA many years ahead in this sector, we are ready to expand through a structured, rapid roll out of our proven business model in similar economies with a more traditional spa industry. Leading the commodification of a sector provides a well-financed first mover with the opportunity to dominate in their country.
Following Massage Heights’ success crossing into Canada, we are now working to bridge the Atlantic. The current focus is on promoting to attract an appropriate individual or corporate organisation to take on the UK and Ireland.
According to the Spa Creators 2014 UK Spa Market Analysis report; ‘UK consumers currently make an estimated six million visits per annum to spas throughout the UK.’ The report also concluded that: • Hotel spas account for 41 percent of the total number of spas and attract around 12,600 consumers per annum • Spas within fitness clubs account for 27 percent of the market and attract 10,900 consumers • Local ‘day spas’ only account for 12percent, but attract 20,400 consumers
We know, therefore that the UK and Ireland are good countries for expansion.
Our approach has been to employ the services of proven experts in international expansion with specific experience in the UK market, to guide and support us. Overall coordination is undertaken by the team at Edwards Global Services, which specialises in helping franchise networks reach their global potential. In the UK our recruitment is coordinated by our agent Iain Martin, a seasoned expert in guiding and supporting expanding US franchise networks. Our marketing planning and promotions are being driven and coordinated by the team from Chantry Marketing. Both our UK contacts are accredited professional advisors with the British Franchise Association (BFA).
Our recruitment campaign is aiming to attract a partner who really understands the opportunity and is appropriately resourced and financed to drive the rapid roll-out of a Massage Heights franchise network in the UK. How often does an opportunity arise to commodify an industry sector in a developed economy? There is both money and kudos to be enjoyed in the UK.
We have targeted various sectors to gain interest with a varied mix of marketing activities to attract enquiries. The Massage Heights franchise recruitment website also has additional UK focused content to support a prospect’s initial due diligence.
Aside from the actual promotional activities, the most important element of the UK campaign was the crafting of our recruitment promotional message. The team at Chantry structured a strategy to communicate with our target audience, a message that also aims to filter leads. This has formed the base for all of our UK content marketing activity too.
We have a structured plan in place to showcase the ‘behind the scenes’ of the business model as prospective partners progress along our recruitment process. This will involve spending time with the team in the UK as well as both our US and Canadian operations.
Our strategy and promotions are all created and coordinated locally in the UK by Iain and the team from Chantry, which is also overseen by myself and Bill at Edwards Global Services. Management is generally through a mixture of conference calls and collaborative documents, which have meant we feel in control of the activities, the messages and the budget. With the number of parties involved and the time difference, it is good that we have such a clear and open system to work from, otherwise it could get very complicated very quickly!
The campaign appears to be working; we have regular strong enquiries and a progressing pipeline, which Iain is managing in the UK. As Bill from Edwards Global Services points out, “Recruiting a master is not like signing up unit franchisees; it can take between six months and several years to find the right person.”
We are not only attracting enquiries from potential masters.Some of the leads are not financed or resourced to run an entire franchise network, but would be perfect for single or multi-unit operations. Iain and the team at Chantry are keeping this database warm, ready to pass on to the UK master to help them off to a flying start when rolling out the network.
In summary, I believe marketing for international expansion needs to be driven from the board, appropriately resourced and coordinated by a trustworthy and experienced team. We have found that targeting our market with carefully crafted promotional messaging through a mix of activities is generating a steady flow of appropriate candidates, whilst also raising awareness for the eventual roll out of the units.
If you are interested in becoming part of Massage Heights’ UK expansion, contact: Iain Martin on 01562 261 162
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