After humble beginnings —a Home Depot credit card with a $20,000 limit helped — an entrepreneurial couple in a fast-growing industry looks to build on some recent success.
Many businesses closed their doors during the past recession. One was the skincare and hair removal specialist Jonathan Sigg had been frequenting.
‘Treat others as you want to be treated. So whether it’s our staff, whether it is our customers, that’s what we try to live by.’ Jonathan Sigg, The Laser Lounge Spa
A physician assistant, Sigg had already been talking with his wife April (who at the time was getting a nursing degree) about finding a business venture they could embark on together that would tap into their medical experience. So they approached Jonathan’s former hair removal guy about taking over where he’d left off, in a sense. They knew his laser equipment was just sitting in a closet, so they suggested an arrangement.
“We ended up writing it up on a napkin,” says Jonathan Sigg, 49. “We’ll rent your laser for six months and give you $500, and if it works out, we’ll buy your laser from you. If not, no harm done.”
They found an open space in Estero and negotiated with the landlord for eight months of free rent, since it was 2009 and the recession had caused so many vacancies. The landlord was amenable, if the couple would put up a sign to help drive people to the empty shopping center. A Home Depot credit card with a $20,000 limit helped them build out the space.
Before those eight months were up, The Laser Lounge Spa had grown enough to need a bigger location, which they were able to get with a small loan. “So we never paid rent in that space that we started out in,” says Jonathan. “And that’s what got us going, a $500 laser and absolutely zero capital.”
Today, The Laser Lounge Spa and its sister brand, The Aesthetics Lounge & Spa, have a combined 11 locations nationwide offering anti-aging treatments, aesthetic enhancements and skincare services like laser hair removal, dermal fillers, lip enhancement and facials. Some are corporate owned, like locations in Estero and Sarasota. Others are franchises, like locations in Denver, Indianapolis and Plymouth, Massachusetts.
“The franchising came about from our need to expand,” says Jonathan. “We had a proven model, but we couldn’t do it [all] ourselves. We needed good people to join in on it with us. That’s when we decided, let’s go ahead and sell this model to other people.”
The Siggs decline to disclose revenue figures. But the couple says their numbers kept doubling for around the first six years of business, then leveled off to a growth that was still “way ahead of the curve,” Jonathan says, usually somewhere around 20% to 25% year over year.
The Siggs are part of a fast-growing industry. According to data from Statista, the spa industry is expected to have a global market size of $127.6 billion by 2022, up from around $94 billion in 2017. But they say there are plenty of other reasons contributing to their success, like their philosophy on how they treat staff and customers. “It’s been about trying to create a family-like environment,” says April Sigg, 48.
Jonathan says it comes down to practicing the Golden Rule. “Treat others as you want to be treated,” he says. “So whether it’s our staff, whether it is our customers, that’s what we try to live by.”
Happy staff leads to happy customers. “We have clients all the time that compliment left and right the staff,” says Jonathan. “Customers tell other customers that they’re getting a good service and, not only that, but [the staff are] really, really nice people.”
Creating in-house programs to train staff on skincare and laser techniques helps ensure consistency across locations. “We’ve found that to be very crucial in growing proficiently,” says Jonathan. The Estero location serves as the primary training facility where the company pilots new products.
Maintaining a narrow focus has also been important as the company has grown. The Siggs hear suggestions all the time about adding services like teeth whitening or hormone therapy. “But we don’t do that, because it really dilutes who you are,” says Jonathan. “Stay focused on what you’re good at, and people will recognize that.”
Further growth is expected down the line, and the Siggs think the company could have double the number of locations within a year or two. They haven’t done any kind of franchise marketing push yet; current franchisees have come to them through referrals or word of mouth. But as the company’s name gets out there more, the couple won’t work with just anyone. Franchisees need to be more than just investors.
“We’re looking for people who want to be a part of it, because that’s where the success has been,” says Jonathan. “We would say no to more people than we would say yes to, I can tell you now. Because we are really somewhat particular on who we want to be part of this team. It’s got to be the right fit.”