The Powerhouse Team Behind the Hand & Stone Massage Franchise

Elegant simplicity and a powerhouse team

Previous: Part 3: How Hand & Stone Meets the Market Need

The best franchise concepts have what I call an elegant simplicity.

They are easy to describe, and quickly understood.

They appear to have relatively few moving parts.

Each major element – like Hand & Stone’s simple menu of services, its membership-based approach, or the gift-card program – seems to equally and effortlessly benefit both the customer and the franchise owner/operator.

Founder John Marco

And, like best-in-class athletes, the teams that design, fine-tune and operate these franchise concepts make it look deceptively easy. While the systems and strategies often look like they occurred naturally and effortlessly, they are almost always the result of a management team that is equally strong in right-brain creativity, innovation,passion, left-brain practicality, organization and bean-counting.

As was abundantly clear in the Discovery Day executive meetings, Hand & Stone Franchise Corp. has plenty of both.

Founder and COO John Marco [pictured, left] is the source of the vision and passion behind the Hand & Stone Massage concept. As a physical therapist with 25 years of experience, John perceived the increasing public acceptance of massage services – and along with it the need for an alternative that provided a convenience and value without sacrificing quality or ambiance. He opened the first Hand & Stone Massage concept in Toms River in 2005.

Todd Leff

From the start, he recognized the appeal of hot stone massage and hired a leading expert and trainer in hot stone technique, Colleen Bryan, to head up his training department. Having received numerous inquiries from entrepreneurs interested in opening their own Hand & Stone locations, John Marco began offering franchises in 2006.

The business and franchise development side of Hand & Stone Franchise Corporation was recently supercharged by the addition of franchise industry veteran Todd Leff who joined the organization as both President, CEO and stockholder.

Todd Leff’s track record and 20 years of experience building successful franchise organizations is formidable. From 1990 through 2006, Leff grew Cottman Transmission from a small regional chain of 120 stores to national powerhouse with 400 stores. Most recently, Leff served as the president and CEO of AAMCO Transmissions and Cottman Transmission who had combined sales of almost $600 million in 2008. Leff supervised all operations and management of the 1,100 franchised stores operating under both brands and was instrumental in bringing Cottman and AAMCO under common ownership in 2006.

In his lunchtime presentation, Todd Leff referred to himself as the “numbers guy” who’s obsessed with business metrics, keeping operating and investment costs low, and maximizing the franchisees’ bottom lines. One of his first initiatives was the addition of the facial services as a new potential revenue center, and rebranding the spas “Hand & Stone Massage & Facial Spa “to reflect the expanded product line. The line expansion has reportedly already made a significant positive impact on unit level financials.

In speaking with Todd Leff, it’s clear that the man who created one of the country’s largest complete car-care

Bob McQuillan

companies has his sights set on controlled but aggressive national growth and positioning of Hand & Stone Massage & Facial Spa as the industry leader. To that end, he has bolstered the existing management team with experienced industry executives, and together they are ready to take the Hand & Stone Massage & Facials Spa franchise system to the next level.

Shortly after taking the reins as CEO, Leff announced the appointment of respected industry veteran, Bob McQuillan as Vice President of Franchise Development.

McQuillan most recently served as Vice President of Franchise Development at tanworld® where he was responsible for both franchise sales and operational improvements. From 2002 through 2007, McQuillan served as VP of Franchise Development for Hollywood Tans where he helped develop hundreds of franchise locations and was himself a franchise owner and operator.

Industry and Hand & Stone veteran Colleen Bryan continues to head up the growing training department, and has recently been joined by other key management additions, including Debbi Worton & Tara Kelly.

Debbi Worton, Tara Kelly & Colleen Bryan

Hand & Stone Director of Operations Debbi Worton has an impressive professional background with such leading companies as Maybelline, Proctor & Gamble and the Lawn Doctor Franchise system. Debbi oversees implementation of the “Spa in a Box” development program that enables turnkey spa development typically in 4-6 months.

In 2009, Hand & Stone announced the addition of Tara Kelly as Director of HSM Advertising, the in-house advertising agency exclusively serving Hand and Stone franchisees.

Tara has 15 years of retail advertising and media buying experience, and previously headed up in-house ad agencies for both AAMCO and Cottman Transmission. Tara is highly experienced in developing content, media plans and promotions for franchise owners throughout the country.

Next: Part 5: Franchise Discovery Day at Hand & Stone Massage


Hand & Stone Massage Franchise: Discover the Potential

The demand for affordable spa services is booming… This powerhouse team is ready to seize it.


BrightStar CEO Shelly Sun Named IFA Entrepreneur of the Year

BrightStar Founder CEO Shelly Sun is definitely one of franchising’s rising stars.

Since she and her husband JD began franchising in 2005, the healthcare staffing company has grown from one company-owned store to over 160 locations in 31 states and plans to have 400 franchise locations sold by the end of 2011.

Through Sun’s leadership, BrightStar opens 7-12 territories each month and has experienced 811% system-wide revenue growth between 2006 and 2008.  In August 2005, they launched BrightStar’s franchising efforts, becoming the first franchising company in the United States to specialize in both medical and non-medical care and healthcare staffing.

And now, Shelly Sun can add IFA Entrepreneur of the Year to her accomplishments.  Here’s an excerpt from the company news release:

International Franchise Association Names Shelly Sun ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’

CHICAGO – BrightStar Co-Founder and CEO Shelly Sun received one of the franchising industry’s highest honors yesterday by the International Franchise Association as its Entrepreneur of the Year during its 50th Annual Convention in San Antonio, TX….

“It is a tremendous honor to receive this recognition from my peers,” said Sun, addressing the more than 2,000 attendees at the convention. “This award is a result of our franchisees relentless daily efforts in providing our clients quality of life, and providing peace of mind to families across the country.”

Working as a CPA in 2001, Sun, along with her husband and co-founder of BrightStar, JD, found themselves looking for quality care for JD’s grandmother who was suffering from cancer in Florida. The experience inspired Sun, a 13 year veteran of corporate America, to develop a healthcare staffing business that would provide reliable care to those in need and who wanted to remain in the comfort of their own home.

Founded in 2002, BrightStar is a full-service healthcare staffing agency that provides the full continuum of care, from homecare to supplemental staffing for corporate clients such as hospitals, nursing homes, and doctors offices. In August 2005, they launched BrightStar’s franchising efforts, becoming the first franchising company in the United States to specialize in both medical and non-medical care and healthcare staffing.

Today, BrightStar has grown from one company-owned store to over 160 locations in 31 states and will reach 400 franchise locations sold by the end of 2011.  Through Sun’s leadership, BrightStar opens 7-12 territories each month and has experienced 811% system-wide revenue growth between 2006 and 2008.

“I am truly humbled to be receiving it after just a few short years franchising,” Sun added. Sun thanked her mentors, peers and staff and went on to say, “We are blessed to be in the business of providing peace of mind to our clients by providing the highest quality, compassionate care and service; and we look forward to entering new cities and new markets where we’ll be able to bring that service to families giving them dependability and comfort knowing their family is well cared for.”

Sun is a member of the IFA Finance, Audit and Budget, Membership and FranPAC committees. She was selected as the Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Association of Women of Business Owners in 2006, was on the 50 fastest-growing woman-owned companies listed in Entrepreneur magazine in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and was honored as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist in 2008 and 2009.

Join us in congratulating Shelly Sun and the BrightStar franchise team.


Baker Bros Grants 5 Unit Franchise Agreement for Iowa

Congratulations to Baker Bros, Baker Bros Director of Franchising Ralph Kinder and the newest Baker Bros franchise owners who will be developing the first Baker Bros franchise locations in Iowa.

The newest franchisees of Baker Bros have secured the exclusive rights to develop a minimum of 5 Baker Bros restaurants in the Quad Cities and Cedar Rapids & Dubuque, Iowa over the next 4 years.

Here’s the fresh, piping hot company news release:


New Franchisees to Develop 5 Baker Bros Restaurants

Dallas, Texas- January 22, 2010 – Baker Bros American Deli, a fast-casual concept headquartered in Dallas, has executed an exclusive Area Development Agreement with a new franchisee to open at least 5 Baker Bros American Deli restaurants combined in the Quad Cities and Cedar Rapids & Dubuque, Iowa.  The newest franchisees of Baker Bros have secured the exclusive rights to develop a minimum of 5 Baker Bros restaurants over 4 years.

This is the second Area Development Agreement in the Midwest that Baker Bros has signed.  A different Area Developer is also actively searching for 3 locations in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Current Baker Bros franchisees include multi-unit retailers and current or former multi-unit operators of McDonald’s, Popeye’s and Texas Roadhouse.

Founded in 1999 by Ken Reimer and Tom Dahl, two well-respected industry veterans, Baker Bros currently operates eight stores in Dallas, Texas with additional franchised locations open or in development in West Texas, East Texas, South Carolina, Kentucky and Indiana.  “We think Iowa will be a terrific market for Baker Bros.” said Ken Reimer, Baker Bros’ CEO.  “Baker Bros was created with the Midwest consumer in mind – hard-working Americans expect and deserve hearty portions, tremendous value and great flavor.”

Not to be confused with typical sandwich chains, Baker Bros American Deli ( is an upscale, fast-casual deli featuring Specialty Sandwiches, Specialty Salads, Gourmet Pizzas and more.  All entrees are prepared fresh to order using the freshest available breads, ingredients and produce. The restaurants typically operate in high visibility strip centers and occupy 2500-3500 SF with seating for 120-160.


Oxi Fresh Supports Franchisees With Central Scheduling Center

Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning books jobs, maintains schedules for fast-growing franchise chain.