Hand & Stone massage therapy center opens at Courtside Square in King of Prussia
By Gary Puleo May 14, 2014
With one successful location in Haverford, Dana Kline opened her second Hand & Stone in King of Prussia recently. Photo by Gary Puleo/Times Herald Staff.
UPPER MERTON — Judging by the roaring success of Hand & Stone’s opening weekend, folks in King of Prussia have been “kneading” a storefront massage therapy haven for quite some time.
“I know people have really been waiting for us to open here,” said owner Dana Kline.
It didn’t happen overnight, she added, but she found the perfect spot to launch Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa behind Panera Bread, in what used to be a religious bookstore.
“We did nearly 100 services our first weekend, so I’m confident about this location,” Kline said. “King of Prussia is very business-friendly; they worked really well with us in getting our building permits and certificate of occupancy, but it wasn’t easy finding a location.”
Kline’s initial inclination was to set up shop near Wegmans on North Gulph Road, but the location wouldn’t be available in time.
The Panera-anchored Courtside Square shopping center offered the high visibility the chain relishes, but was it necessarily ideal to be so close to the mall? Could the sometimes nutty traffic affect business, especially during the seemingly relentless construction?
Kline mulled over a lot of questions and ultimately made her decision, which was not quite as simple as her initial foray into the franchised relaxation business.
After 20 years as vice president of operations for the Goddard School franchise company, Kline left the world of early childhood education and bought an existing Hand & Stone franchise in Haverford in January 2013.
“The motto of this business model is similar to Goddard,” she said. “The actual services are different, but the business model is really similar to what I did for 20 years. They’re both sales businesses. At Goddard we have to sell parents on coming to our school, and at Hand & Stone we have to sell people memberships to be members at our spa. I’ve been in franchising a long time; it’s just that I worked at the other end of it. Now I own my own company.”
Hand & Stone was the only mega massage chain she ever considered hooking up with, Kline allowed.
“I knew people who were involved with this company, so I kind of knew the direction it was growing in and the possibilities. And I definitely didn’t want to be around screaming children all day anymore,” she added, laughing.
Although walk-in customers are always treated to an introductory one-hour massage at $49.95, most people opt for a $59.95 membership, which brings down the cost of all services — which range from classic facials, hair removal and the H&S signature hot stone massage — considerably.
In less than a year under Kline’s ownership, the membership at Haverford soared from 300 to 1,000. Now she’s set to echo that feat, starting from scratch, in King of Prussia.
“When I decided to go with Hand & Stone I knew I wanted one in the Main Line area and I knew King of Prussia would be another good place to put one, and there’s no learning curve here for me,” Kline said. “You don’t really have to be an on-site owner, but I’ve just spent the last year managing
my Haverford location so I could really understand the business and how to run it. Now I have a manager here in King of Prussia.”
With a staff of nearly 20 — including 11 massage therapists, headed up by seasoned therapist Dave Teich — Kline is making the most of all the finer points she gathered by running her first H&S location as she builds a “customer-centric” operation from the ground up.
“Our goal is to make sure that the customer leaves happy and satisfied with the service we’ve provided,” she said. “The only way I could figure that out was to be in the spa to see what little things we should be doing, making sure the massage therapists and aestheticians and the front desk have the tools to be able to provide my philosophy. We have a fairly large staff for a new spa because we’re expecting to be extremely busy. ”
Massage therapists stick to certain protocols, but here’s the rub: They’re all free to tweak and pummel the rubdown to the client’s specs at Hand & Stone.
“Every aspect is customizable, and the therapist is always assessing you to make sure your massage is the best that you can get when you come in every time,” Teich explained. “You should never be getting the same massage twice. Your body is always different and the massage needs to be different too.”
Too often the “massagee” just lies on the table in silence, he allowed.
“They don’t say, ‘That’s a little too hard’ or ‘This is really bothering me.’ So the massage therapists have to be really in tune with their body language. But it’s a fine line between asking you questions the perfect number of times,” he added, smiling, “and one too many times.”
*Introductory Offers valid for first visits. Not valid for gift cards. Services include 50 minute hands-on service and time allotted for dressing and consultation. Prices and services are subject to change and may vary by location. Offers may not be combined. Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spas are independently owned and operated franchise locations.