In 2005 we recognized the need to re-position the franchise
as a "contempo spa"
Upon graduating from Ole Miss, Mr Smith began his business
career by opening a gym in Oxford, Mississippi. Mr Smith is a
former licensee of three Gold's Gyms and recipient of the
International Gold's Gym Marketing Award. He is a former arena
football player and national bodybuilding champion and has been
involved in the wellness and fitness industry since age 18. He
opened the original Planet Beach location in New Orleans in 1995;
he still owns this store today. He recruited his partner,
Nancy Price and began franchising in 1996. The brand has grown
into the world's largest fully automated spa franchise with over
250 locations operating in 7 countries. To further his education,
Mr Smith received the Certified Franchise Executive designation
from the IFA for his work in the franchise industry and obtained
his Masters Degree in Organizational Management in 2002.
- Tell us about the Planet Beach concept.
We started the business in 1995 with one location in New
Orleans that had proven a membership "tanning salon"
model. From that one location we began franchising in
April of 1996. In 2005 we recognized the need to
re-position the franchise as a "contempo spa". From that
point we experienced dramatic increases in same store sales and
new location revenues. The "contempo" spa model is an
automated neighborhood spa. This means that all of our
services are touch of a button. Our customers experience
spa services like massages and facials in a fraction of the
time it would take at a traditional spa for the same
results. In addition to all of the expected spa services
and products, we also offer an array of wildly popular spray
tanning products and services.
- How and when did you become involved with Planet Beach?
I founded the company in 1995 with the first location and
then recruited my partner, Nancy Price from Gold's Gym to come
on board to begin the recruitment of franchisees in 1996.
- What was your background prior to joining Planet Beach?
I was a licensee of three Gold's Gym locations.
- What are some of the advantages in being a Planet Beach
The uniqueness of the brand offering is the largest
advantage. The many years of franchising experience of
our staff is another advantage. We have grown through
difficult times and emerged a much stronger brand as a
- Who is your ideal franchisee?
We are looking for franchisees who can understand that one
of the best indicators of success is when a franchise location
has many customers who want to open a business just like theirs
because they love the brand and the location that much!
- Tell us a little about the beauty and wellness Market?
The spa and sunless tanning industries represent a growing
segment. The spa industry continues to experience an
increase in demand from customers and we are positioned very
well with moderately priced services with unlimited use based
on a membership model. As for sunless, or spray tanning,
according to statistics provided to us by Sunless, Inc. the
maker of Mystic spray tanning booths, the sunless industry
doubled throughout the recession in the years 2007-2011.
- What are some of the greatest lessons you've learned in
growing this franchise?
You must be willing, and then have the courage to change the
business model when necessary to continue to drive
revenues. A very smart technologist once told a group of
us "If you don't like change, you will really hate
- Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for
I am driven by the words of two Californians, Steve Jobs and
Gen. George S. Patton, Jobs for creative inspiration and Patton
for guts and determination.
- What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a
Don't buy a franchise unless you are willing to become a
brand fanatic and follow the franchise system as this is how
you will make the most amount of money.
- In your opinion, why do you think that Planet Beach would
be a great opportunity for someone?
Now is a great time for Planet Beach because we are about to
introduce a new spa interior design. I can tell you that
it looks awesome and is almost ready to roll out. Our new
locations are experiencing some really incredible pre-opening
marketing campaigns, as we are simply getting even better at
what we do. Our re-positioning efforts to move away from the
old "tanning salon" image to the new "contempo" spa image are
gaining serious momentum in the marketplace!