Nicole Alburger's Hand & Stone Story - October Employee Spotlight

How long have you been with Hand & Stone?

I've been with Hand & stone since May 2013, almost 10 years.

What is your exact title?

Vice President of Franchise Development.

What are some of the responsibilities that you have in that role?

I would say that the two most important responsibilities in my position would be bringing in new franchisees and growing with our existing franchisees.

What's your favorite part of your job?

I say this all the time, my favorite part is the initial introductions with potential franchisees. It almost feels like blind dating because you only get a name when they submit an inquiry online, and you never know who will be on the other end of the phone. Then you get to learn about this person, listen to them share their life story, and once they open a spa you get to see them fulfill a lifelong dream of owning a business. It's kind of cheesy, but they really can achieve the American dream of being their own entrepreneur. And then I get to see them continue to grow and employ people and be somebody who brings wellness to others. So just picking up the phone and making that first call is the most exciting part of my job.

Would you consider that to also be the most significant role that you have in your position?

I would say so, yes, because I often become the face or the voice of the company. Sometimes I am a person’s first impression of Hand & Stone, especially as we expand to other states. There might not be a location close to them for them to experience the business firsthand, so that phone call with me could be their first time learning about the company.

Do you think that saying yes to everything in your career has gotten you to where you are now? Is that something you try to live by?

One hundred percent. My philosophy is that if you want something, ask for it, and if you see an opportunity, say yes to it. You never know when an opportunity is going to present itself and being vulnerable in the workplace and saying yes will really get you far.

What do you think really motivates you to get up and come to this job every day?

This might sound funny being that I’m in sales, but money is not a motivator. I genuinely like helping people, so if one of the franchisees needs something, that's what pushes me forward. Getting people into the right place is motivating to me, whether that’s helping them start the process of business ownership, getting them into the right location, or even having to tell someone that I don’t think we’re the right fit for them. That might sound like an anti-sales pitch, but I genuinely want what is in peoples’ best interest and we want a franchise to be the best thing for everyone involved, so helping people get to where they want to be is what really drives me.

What kind of advice would you give to somebody going into the franchise industry?

When someone becomes a franchisee, they become everything to the business. They are the business owner, the HR department, the therapist to their employees, and the PR person. I would tell a prospective franchisee to learn all aspects of what goes into a franchise and really immerse yourself in that rather than just focusing on the business side of things because that is what makes a well-rounded franchise owner.

Is there anything else that you want to add that you feel is important to your story of working with Hand & Stone?

I’ve really gotten to see a lot of growth in this company. When I first interviewed back in 2013, the building was almost like a warehouse rather than an office. To see how far we’ve come even with our small corporate team is impressive. I interviewed with Todd Leff, the CEO at the time, and I was confused as to why the CEO was interviewing me for a coordinator position. I later realized his why and that bringing another person into franchise development was integral for the expansion of the company, so I’ve gotten to directly see and even influence a lot of growth and changes the company has made over the years.