Franchise ambitions lure entrepreneur from retirement

Franchise ambitions lure entrepreneur from retirement

January 15th, 2011 by Brittany Cofer in Businesstopstory

Massage Heights owner Alan Reimann, left, and Allison Hillis, retreat director, put the finishing touches on one of the client rooms at the Gunbarrel Road business.

Three years into retirement, Alan Reimann got bored.

So bored that he realized the dream of playing golf every day just wasn't going to cut it. He had to find something to do with his time, and fast.

For 20 years Reimann worked with patients who were getting pacemakers and defibrillators, and during that time found that he liked helping people. He said it was that work that led him to open a massage franchise in East Brainerd.

"I looked at different businesses and saw this was one we didn't have in the eastern part of the city, and it was a way I could still work with people and help them achieve a better quality of life," said Reimann, who will be opening his first Massage Heights franchise within the next few weeks.

Work is in progress on the 2,800-square-foot facility on Gunbarrel Road, which Reimann is calling his flagship facility. He signed a franchise agreement with the San Antonio, Texas-based company to open 10 to 14 Massage Heights "retreats" in the Chattanooga, Nashville and Knoxville areas within the next three years.

When the facility is finished, it will feature nine single massage rooms and one couples room, each with low lighting and soft colors that add to the retreat-like atmosphere, Reimann said.

"We want your mind already to start mellowing and melting into that status that you're going into a retreat, as if you're on vacation," he said.

Massage Heights works on a membership-based model, a method Reimann said allows for its prices to become affordable. Customers have three levels of membership to choose from, ranging in price from $49.99 to $79.99 a month.

Retreat Director Allison Hillis said affordability is key with the membership-based model.

MASSAGE HEIGHTS

Located at 1925 Gunbarrel Road, the membership-based massage "retreat" offers plans - from $49.99 to $79.99 a month - and several upgrade options, including hot stone therapy and a peppermint foot scrub. Local franchise owner Alan Reimann said the retreat should be open within the next few weeks and he plans to have a staff of about 15 to 20 people. He said he plans to open 10 to 14 retreats in the Chattanooga, Nashville and Knoxville areas within the next three years.

Source: Alan Reimann

"All of my friends are in their 20s and this is something they can afford," she said. "They can come in and relieve their stress and not have to pay a lot."

Hillis, who will be in charge of the day-to-day activities, said there will be at least four lifestyle consultants who work in the front of the center, and 12 to 14 massage therapists. With those numbers at each planned retreat, there's the opportunity to create a lot of jobs.

"We'll have a pretty good sized staff," Hillis said.

Though it was the tedium of retirement that pushed Reimann to open a business, it's also no small undertaking. The 10 to 14 centers he's planning take at least three months to build and don't come cheaply.

According to the Massage Heights 10-year franchise agreement, the total investment for starting a single franchise ranges between $228,000 and $446,000.

Reimann said since he's not owned a business before, he thought going with a company that has an aggressive plan to open more than 1,500 locations nationwide in the next two years was the right way to go.

He said he chose East Brainerd as the starting point for his franchises because of the high visibility along Gunbarrel Road, "where all the shopping happens." He's hoping the years he spent in the medical field will bring business success.

"I've taken that need that I have to help people from the medical industry to this industry," Reimann said. "It just kind of fit."