When she was 20 years old, Shane Evans injured her back. She tried many different pain-management solutions until she finally found relief in massage therapy.
But it was expensive. On a holiday trip in Arizona, Evans paid $200 for a lack-luster massage, and decided that enough was enough. She started brainstorming ways to make massage more accessible for more people, and landed on a membership concept.
“Two days later on the ride home, I brought it up again, pulled over, got a legal pad and literally wrote my business plan,” she said.Four months later she opened her first location and called it Massage Heights.Evans wasn’t a stranger to entrepreneurship. “My parents were very entrepreneurial and had several different kinds of businesses,” she said. “It’s just kind of in our family blood.”
So she knew she had to understand the market before she jumped in. Evans spent a lot of time talking to massage therapists and industry experts to figure out how she could use a membership model to make massage more cost-accessible.
“Basically what we did is we said, ‘It’s going to be 50% of the normal rate,’” she said.
The membership model allowed customers to cut down on costs while giving massage therapists consistent clients. The business was very successful and they had high demand from customers.
“We knew we had something really special pretty quickly,” Evans said. “We opened the second location nine months after the first.”
As the business grew, Evans started licensing friends, family and customers to open their own location of the business in her area. A few years later, Massage Heights began to offer franchises. There are now franchises in 22 states and in Canada.
Throughout this process, Evans found it important to be grounded in the original value of the company. When she brought on franchise owners, she made sure that there was an alignment of values.
“We figure out, how are we going to live together the next 10 or 20 years?”
Looking forward, Evans plans to keep expanding Massage Heights into new cities and markets, and keep chasing her entrepreneurial passion.
“There’s never been a time when I didn’t love it. There’s been times where it’s been very very difficult,” she said. “But there’s never been a time when I just went, ‘Ugh I can’t do this anymore.’”
With years of experience under her belt, Evans has some advice for new entrepreneurs.
First, she said, “Don’t be too proud to take on partners that can bring a background that you don’t have, capital and experience.” If she was starting back at the beginning, she said, she would be less afraid of giving away equity.
She also recommends reaching out to prospective mentors early on and building those relationships. She suggests joining associations and groups, “where you can get that benefit of people who have experienced things that you haven’t done yet.”