With spa industry being expected to surpass one billion (USD) by 2015 The Palms Spa, the boutique luxury day spa with international trainers and exceptional treatments and services was launched. Karl Irani, Founder and Owner, The Palms Spa shares with the success journey so far.
Abha Garyali (AG): Share with us the conception and growth of The Palms Spa. How has been the journey so far?
Karl Irani (KI): Like every entrepreneur I too began by looking for the right business opportunity. After three years of thorough research and travel, mostly in South East Asia, I reached the conclusion that the business that met all of my criteria was the Spa business. My research showed that the spa industry in India was growing at a rate of 35 per cent annually. In times of economic prosperity, people go to a spa because they can easily afford it, and in times of an economic slump, they go because it’s a treat and they ‘deserve’ it. Either way, people do go.
Hence, I realised that the growth potential for a new spa was limitless. This led me to form relationships and partnerships with the very best in the wellness industry internationally. Three years later, with their support, knowledge and expertise I opened the first Palms Spa in Mumbai. My association with some of the best training institutes and associations in Thailand have provided a solid support structure and have ensured longevity of the brand and has ensured capable support to our future franchisee partners.
AG: What made you adopt the franchise route for expansion of The Palms Spa?
KI: Investors today realise the value in owning a spa due to the returns it provides and the opportunity for growth and expansion. These investors have two options, firstly, to either start a spa themselves, and face greater risks due to the lack of expertise or secondly, to become a part of an already established successful spa brand and grow alongside it. By choosing the second option and becoming franchise partners with us they still reap the benefits of owning a spa and seeing those healthy returns without having to face start-up risks involved in setting up a new spa.
In using our franchise model the financial barrier to entry is significantly lower, but the returns are the same. This not only works for the investor franchisee but allows our brand to reach parts of India where our franchisees have knowledge of the market. We bring our expertise and our franchises bring their understanding of the locality and their passion to succeed.
AG: What can you predict about the future success of The Palms Spa? Where do you see the brand in next five years?
KI: Our growth potential is very strong. We aim to be in all the major metros across India, as well as many tier-two cities that are just beginning to see the popularity of spa industry. In fact, these tier-two cities are important, we want to set the benchmark with our high standards and affordability of treatments from the very beginning.
People in smaller cities sometimes view the spa experience as a cost effective and less time-consuming alternative to holidays, since a two-hour spa experience can often leave you more relaxed than a hectic weekend drive to a resort.
Therefore the spa industry in India is expected to surpass one billion (USD) by 2015.
AG: How is The Palms Spa different from other spa brands? What is your success mantra?
KI: Our primary aim is to offer our guests the very best services by well-trained, skillful and experienced therapists. We are able to create a pool of exceptionally talented staff through our exclusive partnership with The Thai Spa Association, Bangkok. It is through this partnership with the Association that we have gained access to trainers, operational procedures and most importantly, knowledge of a customer service culture that the Thai Spa brand can bring to our franchisees. It is our ability to bring to our franchisees the fore mentioned that separates our spa from others in the industry offering franchises. We have ensured that every Palms Spa that opens will have this same level of expertise, due to the constant monitoring of each spa by one of our international trainers.
AG: What are the qualities and qualifications that you seek for in your franchisees? How much investment is required by aspiring franchisees?
KI: The Palms Spa provides a complete package ensuring our franchisees are provided with a ‘turn-key’ franchised unit. Our skilled trainers and managers are capable of running every aspect of the spa, and therefore, we can work equally well with franchise partners who are involved with daily spa operations, as well as pure investors looking to take advantage of the rapidly growing spa industry and wish to be part of a rapidly growing dynamic young company. The investment may vary from Rs 50 to 75 lakh.
AG: What sort of training and business support will you be offering to the aspiring franchisees for brand success?
KI: Our Thai trainers are on site at all times to ensure standards not only stay the same but are there to incorporate local trends and needs into the spa. For example, we opened our Colaba branch, and within a month we saw several guests from the Taj Mahal Hotel next door visit us asking about massages for travellers. I’m proud to say that today; it has become one of our most popular treatments amongst foreigners in the city. Regular audits ensure the Palms Spa brand stays true to its fundamental aim of offering its guests the very best services. In addition to the fore-mentioned we provide guidelines and requirements for location selection, entire detailed architectural drawings and interior design support, inventory and scheduling software, product supply as well as PR and marketing support to our franchisee partners.