BEHIND. CLOSED. DOORS.
There has been an explosion of massage business openings – particularly in the suburbs where real estate prices are typically better. Impressively, Jeff and Cindy McGinty had astute instincts back in 2004 when the Massage Envy Spa concept was pioneered, opening the first location in metro Atlanta (company actually launched in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2002 by John Leonesio). The McGintys subsequently opened 4 of Atlanta’s 28 Massage Envy Spa locales as well as 7 of Atlanta’s 25 Joint chiropractic clinics. There are 1000+ Massage Envy Spas and 260+ Joint clinics nationwide. The initial success of Massage Envy Spa was simply being the first to offer affordable, professional and conveniently located spa centers for therapeutic massage services. The current burst is due to the wellness craze in American culture which has embraced holistic approaches to improved health, the addition of facial services, combined with the powerful experience of touch.
Q1 – Jeff, you have an extensive background with Proctor & Gamble and the Coca-Cola Company. How did corporate guy turn Entrepreneur?
A1 – “At Coca-Cola, I worked primarily with franchise companies which piqued my interest, especially the idea of working on it rather than in it. But I didn’t want to be in the restaurant business. When I established Pinnacle Franchise Consultants, a company matching corporate individuals with franchise investments, I was able to research concepts which fit Cindy’s and my criteria as we considered becoming ‘frantrepreneurs.’”
Q2 – Cindy, what was that criteria and how did you zero in on Massage Envy?
A2 – “We prioritized businesses that were service related, cash/credit oriented, and one that the internet could not eventually destroy. Previously, Jeff and I were spa junkies while on vacations, but we hadn’t incorporated it into our regular routines. We loved the wellness aspect of massage and the ability to provide massage services with more regularity and affordability. So we pulled the trigger.”
Q3 – Medical studies show direct correlations between massage and improved health, in fact, there are discussions of insurance coverage one day soon. Any insight?
A3 – “The correlation is accurate. Massage Envy does not bill insurance companies although some patients are able to submit costs to their carrier if a doctor prescribes massage. In addition to pure enjoyment and emotional relaxation, massage improves circulation, posture and flexibility, relieves headaches, strengthens immune systems, lowers blood pressure, and enhances post-operative and rehab recovery after injuries.”
Q4 – All businesses have their own unique challenges. Massage Envy along with other reputable massage establishments have experienced occasional sexual misconduct issues – let’s face it, naked bodies, individual therapists, vulnerable situations. What do you do to eliminate such possibilities?
A4 – “It has happened, fortunately not in any of our owned locations, but it’s a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the time. We have a zero tolerance policy. All therapists are state licensed and accredited with a 500 hour minimum curriculum and exam, undergo background checks, plus must take and pass a yearly course Behind Closed Doors, which is an additional online class and test. There is special training on draping, the manipulation of sheet covers throughout massage. We go above and beyond with such disciplines to make our guests comfortable and worry-free of anything inappropriate. Period.”
Q5 – In 2012 you added The Joint to your franchise repertoire. Good decision?
A5 – “Absolutely. It was a natural complement to our business. Where Massage Envy Spa impacts muscles, The Joint impacts spine and joint dysfunctions. Similarly, The Joint provides affordable, professional and convenient chiropractic services. Our niche is wellness relative to misalignments of the joints which put pressure on the nerves connecting the brain to the body. Physical, emotional and chemical stress causes these issues and that is our focus– as opposed to acute personal injury or insurance based chiropractic care. Whereas 28% of the general public uses massage regularly, only 5% uses chiropractic services. Clearly, lots of education and growth opportunities.”
Q6 – The umbrella company name for your franchise businesses is Mon Reve, which means “my dream” in French. So, what is your dream?
A6 – “Our dream has been to provide truly affordable wellness programs which help others, and doing it in a way to earn a comfortable income for ourselves. That dream has come true.”
Elaine LaMontagne, Hot Seat Interviewer
A few further intriguing notes from my interview with the McGintys … When asked about the dynamic of being husband and wife dual Entrepreneurs, they noted the importance of segmenting their responsibilities – with Managing Partner Jeff focusing on development and marketing, and Operating Partner Cindy focusing on daily operations of Massage Envy. Ironically, Cindy thought the working partnership easier than expected, while Jeff found it harder because of the difficulty of turning work conversation off at night. They agreed getting together with friends has been a saving grace in that regard – Amen! I also found it fascinating that Massage Envy is virtually recession-proof due to the inexpensive medical and emotional value of massage and facials. And that their biggest hurdle is the human resource part of filling massage therapist positions – bringing back full circle the very real popularity and explosion of this “touching” business.
Elaine LaMontagne is a former award-winning publicist who represented Macy’s, Pano Karatassos and the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, Spa Sydell and the March of Dimes during her 20 year public relations career. Chosen one of Cosmopolitan Magazine’s “Top 10 PR Women”, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “PR All Star” and SOS Taste of the Nation’s “National Community Business Leader of the Year”, she now freelance writes and consults for miscellaneous publications and companies and serves on non-profit boards.