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Firm readies for more Gulf Coast rubs

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  • | 3:56 p.m. January 8, 2014
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Massage Heights, a national franchise chain of massage retreat centers, seeks to reach new peaks in store locations, with much of the growth coming in Florida.

The San Antonio-based company, built on a monthly membership model, has nearly 100 locations, from Phoenix to Pittsburgh. Now the firm, according to co-founder and COO Shane Evans, will specifically look for franchisees in two parts of the Sunshine State: Jacksonville and the Gulf Coast. On the latter, the markets the company wants to enter over the next few years include Dunedin, Oldsmar, St. Petersburg, South Tampa, Fort Myers and Naples. The chain currently has Gulf Coast locations in Brandon, east Manatee County and Sarasota.

“Florida is a big market for us,” Evans tells Coffee Talk, “It's where the focus of our money and resources are going.”

That's because many Florida markets fit the company's core demographic. The focus includes households with at least $60,000 in annual income; pet owners; people involved in charities; and people with children. The typical Massage Heights customer, says Evans, skews 60% female.

Another reason the firm will chase Florida market share, says Evans, is it tends to do well, somewhat ironically, in areas slammed by the recession and high unemployment. Evans says Massage Heights locations in Sacramento, Calif., and Las Vegas, for example, two hard-hit markets, have outperformed many other stores. The average Massage Heights location does about $800,000 a year in revenues, the company says, though top stores have hit $1.3 million.

“People are looking for a way to relieve stress,” says Evans, “and this is one of the least expensive ways to do it.”

Evans, who co-founded the company with her husband in 2004, recently put the Massage Heights spotlight on Florida in another context, beyond chatting up potential franchise growth: She starred on an episode of Undercover Boss, the CBS TV show where executives go “undercover” at various locations in a variety of roles. One of the four Massage Heights locations Evans worked at on the show was the east Manatee County retreat.

“This experience was incredible,” Evans says in a release, “and I was humbled to work alongside some of our team members.”



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