At the core of what they do each day at the Wake Foot Sanctuary, Melissa Long and her husband Brian believe they are offering the ultimate relaxation and pampering experience to help people escape from the daily stress of life. Based on the enthusiastic response of visitors to the luxurious foot soaking spa based in Asheville, NC, many others agree.
Since opening the Wake Foot Sanctuary in Asheville, NC in 2013, the Longs have experienced a 50 percent year-over-year growth and an industry leading sales-per-square-foot performance. Perhaps the only drawback is that customer demand has created some business challenges along the way. Wake is currently adding staff members to meet the overwhelming interest from visitors to the spa, as it is frequently turns away more than 20 people per day. The sanctuary has received over 200 reviews on TripAdvisor.com, with 93 percent of the respondents rating it as “excellent”.
The positive reviews and word of mouth have spread throughout the community as well as visitors to the popular tourist area of the Grove Arcade in downtown Asheville. So many of the guests from all over the country were so drawn to Wake’s unique offerings that they often asked when it would be coming to their hometown.
The Relaxation Process
Wake Foot Sanctuary’s spa service concept is simple, yet can be customized to fit the individual’s preferences. Once customers enter the communal sanctuary through a heavy curtain, they are seated in cozy chairs and take off their shoes and socks. They then place their feet in a large copper bowl filled with a luxurious foot soak of their choosing.
Customers have a complete menu of handmade foot soak options with proprietary blends of soaps, oils and salts. The relaxing soaks last 45 minutes and include a warm-up, and powdering and drying of the feet, while a heated lavender wrap is placed around their neck. They are surrounded by peaceful music and soothing aromas while enjoying herbal tea and various refreshments.
Each session includes the option of a simultaneous massage of the feet and lower legs, hand and lower arm, or head, neck and shoulders in 20 or 40-minute increments. The Longs estimate about 75 percent of their visitors add a massage as part of the experience.
A foot soak has many physical benefits such as soothing muscles, hydrating and moisturizing skin and reducing swelling. Combining a soak along with a signature massage can help improve posture, circulation and flexibility, strengthen the immune system and offer relief from pain and headaches. Just as important, the sessions provide much-needed mental break by relieving stress and encouraging relaxation.
In addition to providing the unique spa experience, Wake Foot Sanctuary also features a profitable retail area located in the front of the store. It sells an array of popular locally made items such as artisan crafted jewelry, natural hand-poured candles, bath and beauty supplies, and sensuous body care products.
One of the keys to Wake’s consistent success is the widespread appeal it has to so many groups. It has profited from first-time visitors intrigued by the pampering experience as well as loyal customers who are hooked from the outset and return on a regular basis. Wake regularly hosts a wide array of groups such as a girls’ night out, romantic couples’ dates or gift packages that can include a day of indulgence.
Due to the tremendous success of the individual spa in western North Carolina and the widespread desire from customers to add it to their markets, the Longs felt this was the right time to franchise the concept. After doing some research, they discovered Wake compared favorably to other spa franchises on both total revenue and revenue per square foot. When they announced plans to start franchising via their newsletter of more than 6,000 subscribers in April, they received the first response within 20 minutes.
“We’ve proven the model and now we want others to experience the creativity and the freedom that Wake can bring to them,” said Melissa Long. “I see Wake fitting into a lot of towns and cities around the country. It is something you can plug-and-play anywhere.”
The Longs want to add two to three to six franchise locations this year, with the ultimate goal of having between 50 and 70 Wake Foot Sanctuaries across the country. They would like to start off with regional franchising to be able to have greater interaction with owners to help establish operations. They have received interest from potential franchisees in 10 states, including cities such as Atlanta, Chapel Hill, Nashville and Louisville.
The Longs believe there are several required traits potential franchisees need to possess if they would like to own a Wake Foot Sanctuary. Prospects should have a strong leadership drive and proven business acumen regardless of what field they have worked. It is also important that they have a passion to serve others, as it is a core philosophy of what Wake does each day.
If you’re interested in owning your very own Wake Foot Sanctuary franchise, please visit http://wakespa.com/franchise/.