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Navigating Family Dynamics Is Part of Massage Heights' Story


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Shane Evans is president and founder of Massage Heights.

“Some of the biggest hurdles we’ve faced is just being the family brand that we are.”

Shane Evans, president and co-founder of Massage Heights, said while going to work every day with your husband and multiple family members is “awesome,” that dynamic “can make it very, very difficult to get things done” as you work to grow a brand.

Speaking Monday during a panel on balancing heritage and innovation at the IFA Convention in Las Vegas, Evans, who launched Massage Heights in 2004 with her husband, Wayne, and eventually brought in two brothers and her mom, said she was forced to reevaluate the structure in order to expand. San Antonio-based Massage Heights also had to contend with some missteps in its early recruiting and franchise sales efforts, when it was bringing in family and friends “without really know who they were as business owners.”

“We had this thing that had evolved that really wasn’t what we’d envisioned,” said Evans, who ultimately hired an executive coach to help redefine the brand and create four core values—loyal, authentic, passionate, diligent—that serve to guide leadership and inform future franchise growth.

Through that process, “we found there were some people who really didn’t fit in and they sort of weeded themselves out,” she said.

On the franchisor leadership side, Evans noted the importance of defining clear roles so franchisees know who is responsible for what. An obstacle with the family ownership was, “Everybody in the brand thinks they run the company,” she said.

Massage Heights addressed that confusion by ultimately removing some family members from the company and restructuring other roles. Brother Glenn Franson is now CEO of The Elevated Brands, the umbrella company formed in 2016 as a platform to seek and acquire more brands to bring into the fold. Evans is president of Massage Heights Franchising, while her husband shifted to president of company-owned stores and her youngest brother, Bret Franson, became president of Summit Franchise Supply, which procures and supplies equipment. The changes have proved fruitful and Massage Heights now has more than 145 locations and Evans said those four values continue to guide every decision.

“You can balance the culture and heritage as long as you have a way of balancing accountability and sales and getting the job done,” she said. As family, “We love each other to death, but we have to have our key roles.”

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Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@franchisetimes.com.
 
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
 
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
 
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
 
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