Facial spa Skoah has gone franchise.
The move should allow the company to expand its 17-location spa business to 100 doors in North America in the next five years, according to cofounder Andrea Scott. The business currently has locations in Canada, Seattle and Boston where customers can pay for individual facials or become members and receive monthly facials. Skoah started in 2001, when Scott and her now-husband Chris Scott went to a spa and found the experience intimidating.
“It was very serious,” Scott said. “It was a beautiful space, but I didn’t feel like I was somewhere I could fit in. I had my very first facial, and it was pleasant but it was uncomfortable. There was a lot of making me feel badly that I didn’t know about my skin.”
So the pair set out to change the concept of going to the spa — especially for younger people. “We just saw this wide open opportunity to have a totally different environment,” Scott said. The business opened its first location in Vancouver as a full spa, and eventually narrowed its field to just facials.
“Aestheticians love giving [facials] because they tap into all of their skill sets,” Scott said. “We can get to know people, we can talk to them. The other part of it is that it is a great opportunity to sell product to somebody because you’re teaching them.”
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Soon after the spa opened, it started its own product line, which started with five products and has since expanded to 75 products. And instead of product making up 10 percent to 20 percent of revenues, a more average figure for spas, for Skoah, it makes up 50 percent to 70 percent of revenues per location, according to Scott. The line is also sold in select hotels.
Franchising came into the equation after the couple opened three locations in Seattle, a completely new market. “We opened in Seattle about two years ago on our own,” said Scott, referring to the spa’s three locations. “We don’t know Seattle [and] we made the mistake of assuming [the customers] are just like people in Vancouver. But it was a very different customer.” But the couple thought back to a licensing deal they had with a salon owner in Boston who operates the only East Coast Skoah, Scott said. “[The owner] was so successful in Boston because he knew the market,” she said. “That’s where the [franchising] concept came from.”
Originally, the couple had hoped to open 50 stores in the next five years. But with the franchising option, “you can open in markets simultaneously,” Scott said.