Hand & Stone is already off to an exciting start to 2022. We have officially signed on a new franchisee to bring our concept to Hawaii with two new spas set to open this year. We have promoted many of our corporate team members for their hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm to advance our brand and business. In the same sense, we have added new positions and team members to help us grow in the new year, but one is a familiar face. Don Williams, a long-time multi-unit owner in our system, sold his Florida spas late last year in order to bring the Hand & Stone experience to a brand-new market: Knoxville, Tennessee. While he is building his three spas in the area, he is also the new Area Developer of the state of Tennessee in order to welcome other franchisees to the area. Get to know our newest corporate team member.
ST: What line of work were you in prior to Hand & Stone?
DW: Before discovering and joining Hand & Stone, I was Partner in a hybrid travel agency that specialized in providing marketing and tour to the timeshare industry. We were full service and worked through both phone and online sales channels. It might not sound like much, but we were a big deal in our market niche topping $10M a year at our peak and servicing a database of tens of thousands of customers. My executive role was designing and executing marketing campaigns and securing new resort fulfillment contracts while also overseeing the entire company’s finances.
ST: How did your Hand & Stone story begin?
DW: I am arriving home with the mail in my hand and my phone rings. My wife, Maria, is on the line and it has been a heck of a challenging day at the travel agency. Maria proceeds to tell me that the knots in her shoulders are unbearable and I will be giving her a massage when she gets home. I look down at the mail in my hand there is a postcard for the Winter Springs, FL Hand & Stone location’s grand opening. Trying to be a good husband I call to book Maria an appointment and to my surprise, they are completely booked up. This struck me as odd given how most businesses at the time were struggling. We wound up booking a couples massage for a few days later and the experience was wonderful. When we were checking out from the services the young lady at the desk offered us memberships and the blissful massage brain fog lifted as my business mind stood up and shouted, “reoccurring revenue”. While we did not end up buying the memberships, we did purchase six spas and have been with the brand ever since.
ST: What persuaded you to stay with our brand for as long as you have?
DW: I have chosen to stay with the H&S brand because of a rare mix of opportunity, leadership, and relationships. First and foremost, the business opportunity is unique in and of itself. I have looked for years to diversify our portfolio of businesses and it is just really hard to find much of anything that compares to Hand & Stone. But as we all know money is really only part of the equation when it comes to success, and the leadership displayed within the brand is second to none. I was fortunate enough to join the brand while John Marco, the founder of Hand & Stone, was active in the business. John, to this day, is still the foundation for the culture of the business and if it were not for him, I would not be here today. And to John’s credit, he was wise and surrounded himself with highly skilled professionals who shared his passion for the industry. Todd Leff began leading H&S just a few months before I joined the brand, and his leadership produced phenomenal incremental growth. The breadth and depth of the current executive team is Todd’s ongoing legacy. John Teza, Todd's successor, furthers the streak of outstanding leaders for the brand. Finally, at the end of the day when the opportunity is successful and the leaders are on point, you look around and you see the relationships that form from operating in this environment of high caliber people. From franchisees to vendors to the support teams at corporate, every single person adds value to your life and it makes it hard to leave and quite easy to stay. I feel very fortunate that these remarkable people have welcomed me to stay.
ST: What attracted you to the Knoxville/Tennessee area?
DW: Tennessee has been on our radar for a few years now. Our daughter investigated the opportunities available for her nursing education with Vanderbilt which allowed us to spend some time in and around Nashville. Around the same time, the Hand & Stone National Conference was held in Nashville and we just really enjoyed the area and the people. But as things worked out, we never pulled the trigger on expansion into Tennessee.
Having grown up in Michigan, I enjoy the change of the seasons with autumn being my favorite time of the year. Well, fall in Orlando is nothing like fall in Michigan. But in Tennessee, the seasons very much reminded me of my upbringing, and this kept Tennessee always in the back of my mind for my future. Fortunately for me, it has all come together with this most recent opportunity to further the H&S brand and grow my personal spa holdings. I very much look forward to being able to make Tennessee my new home away from home.
ST: What are you most excited about in your new role of Area Developer of Tennessee? What can you specifically offer prospective owners as a franchisee yourself?
DW: The role of Area Developer represents an opportunity for me to share my experience and wisdom with aspiring entrepreneurs. I relish the chance to vicariously participate in the excitement of building something new. It is an honor and privilege that the leaders at Hand & Stone would trust me to assist them in growing the brand. Having been a franchisee for 12 years which included opening, relocating, purchasing, and selling locations I believe I am uniquely qualified to assist others as they begin their journey with the brand. It is my goal to offer prospective franchisees leadership similar to the leadership I have been afforded through my career with HS. The vision is to provide experienced guidance that can lessen the learning curve and assist in navigating the obstacles that inevitably arise along the way.
If you are interested in spa ownership in the Tennessee area, reach out to Don via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.