An interview with Mike Lieske, co-owner of Hand & Stone in Carol Stream.
Q: Describe your business.
Hand and Stone Massage and Facial SpaAddress: 792 W. Army Trail Road, Carol Stream, IL 60188
Owners: Michael and Kathryn Lieske
Year business started: 2013
A: Hand and Stone is a spa offering massage, facial and hair removal services. We offer services in Carol Stream in the Heritage Plaza Shopping center located at the corner of Army Trail and County Farm Road.
Q: What made you start your business?
A: After early retirement from IBM. I researched various industries and businesses and eventually focused on the growing health and wellness industry. Additional evaluation led me to the Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa franchise. I saw the opportunity to be an early part of their growing success and an early developer of this market.
Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?
A: As I told our CEO, Todd Leff when I first visited him in the spring as I was evaluating the Hand and Stone franchise. There are a lot of moving pieces to this business. Little did I know how true that was. I would not say these have been obstacles but everything from location selection, lease negotiation, vendor selection, attention to all the details in the build out, IT deployment, development of marketing campaigns and most importantly selection and training of our staff have been very challenging and rewarding.
Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young?
A: I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and have always wanted to develop my own business. The specific industry (health and wellness) and specific business (Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa) have given me that opportunity.
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: Enjoy the journey.
From Todd Leff, CEO of Hand & Stone:
Q: What are the development and growth goals?
A: With Carol Stream opening we now have three locations in the Chicago area. We plan to open three more locations there in the next 6 months, all of which are under construction or development.
Nationally, we opened 45 new locations in 2013 and plan to open another 55 in the US and Canada in 2014.
Q: How does the business plan to achieve these goals?
A: We select markets for growth based on a strategic plan. Our goal is to become the largest chain in each of the markets we operate in but we will not open in every market.
We recruit experienced business people as franchisees and then seek out the best retail locations in the market.
Q: How many jobs does each location bring?
A: Each location will start with approximately 15 staff members but then grow to 25 as the location becomes more developed.
Q: What key characteristics do you look for in a franchisee?
A: We look for experienced business people who have great people skills. Our franchisees must be able to motivate staff and also have a fine attention to detail on the customer service side so we assure ourselves we are delivering the highest level consumer experience.
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