Balancing Acts: Sonal Patel on Starting a Franchising as a Mompreneur

Sonal Patel

Franchising has emerged as a silver lining for many women looking to mesh the demands of motherhood with ambitious business ventures. Sonal Patel, a seasoned franchisee and a bustling mom in Raleigh, North Carolina, is no stranger to the unique challenges and rewards this model offers.

With an impressive track record of managing multiple franchises across various sectors, she brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. Sonal’s journey is especially relevant now, when the balance between professional and personal life is coming sharply into focus for many.

Having successfully opened and managed the renowned Woodhouse Spa, she stands as a testament to how franchising can harmonize work-life balance. From the reasons why opening a franchise is perfect for moms to how franchising empowers a mother’s schedule, we had the opportunity to chat with Sonal about the intersection of motherhood and entrepreneurship.

Check out our interview with Sonal Patel, Franchise Owner of Woodhouse Spa in Raleigh, North Carolina, below.

Can you describe your initial motivation for entering the franchising space, especially as a mom?

Sonal Patel: I was a stay-at-home mom before entering the franchise space. When my kids got older, I decided to fulfill my passion to open several businesses in North Carolina. With over two decades of experience as a business entrepreneur, I’ve established numerous franchises across North Carolina within the QSR, education, and eventually, the health and wellness space, opening a Woodhouse Spa in North Hills.

Woodhouse Spa is the largest premium day spa brand with over 85 locations in the U.S. that offers guests a variety of luxury treatments that are fully customized to meet a guest’s unique needs, from skin treatments to massage therapies.

A combination of fascination and passion for health and wellness drew me into the industry, eventually leading me to open a Woodhouse Spa. Being involved in the wellness industry has exposed me to endless innovation and business opportunities. I fell in love with the overall industry and envisioned myself providing exceptional services to guests as a Woodhouse franchisee.

How has owning a franchise enabled you to maintain a work-life balance, and what flexibility does it offer that other business models might not?

Sonal Patel: Owning a Woodhouse franchise has empowered me to maintain a healthy work-life balance through its unique franchise system, flexible business model, scalability, and endless growth opportunities.

With streamlined processes and overwhelming support from the franchisor, I can efficiently manage the business while still having time for personal commitments, including my loving family. The flexibility of the Woodhouse franchise model allows me to adapt my schedule to fit my busy lifestyle, while expansion opportunities provide financial security without overwhelming my workload.

Additionally, the supportive network of other Woodhouse franchisees offers valuable resources for me, further enhancing my work-life balance and overall well-being.

How does the support system provided by a franchise model assist in managing both business and parental responsibilities?

Sonal Patel: The support system offered by Woodhouse Spa’s corporate team has been instrumental in helping me balance my business and parental responsibilities. Our franchisor does an amazing job guiding us through every aspect involved in establishing and operating a spa, through training programs and operational support. They provide us with a comprehensive and practical system to ensure we have a transparent budget and a solid operational model right from the start.

Additionally, the flexibility in this unique business model has allowed me to adjust my schedule as needed to accommodate my family life while continuing to build on the success of my business.

Can you share insights on the comprehensive training you received from the franchise and how it prepared you for success?

Sonal Patel: Since opening my Woodhouse Spa in November 2022, every day feels successful to me. Seeing the community’s positive response and overwhelming support from the Woodhouse team has been the most rewarding part of opening this business.

The comprehensive training provided by Woodhouse was pivotal in preparing me for success as a franchise owner. Covering various essential aspects of business operations, the training equipped me with the knowledge and skills necessary to manage the day-to-day activities of the business effectively. Emphasizing the exceptional customer service that drew me into the business from the start, the training for building rapport with clients and exceeding their expectations laid the groundwork for long-term client satisfaction and retention.

Overall, my training not only prepared me for the challenges of franchise ownership within the beauty space, but it also instilled the confidence and expertise needed to thrive in the competitive spa industry – setting the stage for long-term success and growth.

What have been the biggest operational challenges you’ve faced in the wellness sector, particularly in a franchise model, and how have you addressed them?

Sonal Patel: In the wellness sector, especially in a franchise model, one of the biggest operational challenges has been finding employees whose philosophy aligns with the spa. Hiring and training have always been ongoing processes in operations, but post-COVID, it has become even more challenging.

To address this, we have implemented more rigorous screening processes during the hiring phase to ensure candidates have the necessary skills and resonate with the spa’s core values and philosophy.

Additionally, we have enhanced our training programs to emphasize the importance of our spa’s unique culture and values, helping employees understand and embody them fully. These efforts have helped us maintain a cohesive team that is dedicated to delivering exceptional experiences to our clients.

Can you share your experience with managing staff in a spa setting, including hiring practices, training, and maintaining morale?

Sonal Patel: At Woodhouse, I instill a very collaborative work culture across my whole team. I care about my employees’ overall health, and my goal is to foster a supportive and inclusive culture that promotes work-life balance, facilitates growth, and nurtures teamwork.

When hiring new members to the team, I vet countless referrals to select only the best candidates that will be the perfect fit for my Woodhouse. My management approach integrates leadership and empathy and I ensure each employee is equipped with the best training services to provide the perfect customer service and offer ongoing professional development opportunities for my staff to grow.

Overall, my management philosophy at Woodhouse Spa is proactive and centered on ensuring staff are motivated, engaged, and empowered to deliver exceptional service to our clients.

In the highly competitive spa industry, how do you differentiate Woodhouse Spa to attract and retain clientele?

Sonal Patel: In the competitive spa industry, Woodhouse Spa sets itself apart from others by prioritizing a truly luxurious and immersive experience for its clients. It transforms the ordinary spa experience, serving as a sanctuary that offers unparalleled wellness journeys to guests seeking unique and personalized treatments.

Through exceptional service, we ensure that every guest feels valued and pampered throughout their visit. Woodhouse caters to a wide spectrum of spa services, designed to address individual needs, from personalized massages and facials, we tailor each service to meet individual needs and preferences.

Our commitment to personalized experiences extends to understanding each client’s unique goals, ensuring maximum relaxation and satisfaction to promote positive overall health and well-being.

What advice would you give to moms considering franchising as a pathway to entrepreneurship?

Sonal Patel: If you’re considering owning a franchise as a pathway to entrepreneurship, I’d highly recommend ensuring you have a genuine interest and passion for the industry you’re entering. When you love what you do, it becomes a fulfilling endeavor.

As a new franchisee, conducting thorough research into the various franchise opportunities you’re looking to invest in is crucial to understanding their business models, financial requirements, and growth potential. It is also crucial to understand the flexibility the franchise has when balancing work and your time with family.

Location selection is pivotal when opening a franchise and determining its success. Take the time to select the perfect spot, as finding the right location can significantly impact the success of the venture.

Reflecting on your career, what has been the most rewarding part of being a franchisee and a mom?

Sonal Patel: As a franchisee and a mom, the most rewarding part has been the ability to find a balance between professional success and personal fulfillment that brings me enjoyment every day.

Owning a Woodhouse Spa has provided me with the opportunity to build something that I am passionate about, which is health and wellness, contribute to my community, and create a legacy for my family.

At the same time, being a mom has allowed me to experience the joys of parenthood, to nurture and guide my children, and to witness their growth and development firsthand while being an entrepreneur juggling multiple facets of the business industry.

Balancing these two roles has been challenging at times but ultimately incredibly rewarding as I’ve been able to see the positive impact I can have both in my business and in my family’s lives.

What’s next on the horizon for you?

Sonal Patel: This year, I am excited about the next phase of expansion: opening a second Woodhouse Spa location in the Durham—Chapel Hill—West Cary Area. In May, we are partnering with Dress for Success Triangle to sponsor a modeling success fashion show fundraiser.

At our Woodhouse Spa, we will also be promoting a Mother’s Day special from now until May 12. Guests who purchase a $250 gift card will receive a complimentary Woodhouse Apotheke Candle, and those who purchase a $500 gift card will receive a complimentary robe.

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Emily Sprinkle, also known as Emma Loggins, is a designer, marketer, blogger, and speaker. She is the Editor-In-Chief for Women's Business Daily where she pulls from her experience as the CEO and Director of Strategy for Excite Creative Studios, where she specializes in web development, UI/UX design, social media marketing, and overall strategy for her clients.

Emily has also written for CNN, Autotrader, The Guardian, and is also the Editor-In-Chief for the geek lifestyle site


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