Spa-tacular success story – meet Belinda and Melanie from endota spa

In the 12 years since endota spa founders Belinda Fraser and Melanie Gleeson opened their first spa in Mount Martha, the pair have built a dream business. From small beginnings at their first fully integrated day spa on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula, to today’s 65 endota spa franchises around Australia, the business partners and friends today head up Australia’s most successful day spa franchise.

More than 350,000 customers visit endota spas each year. The company employs in excess of 500 people. There are endota spas in every state, and revenue has grown by an average of 37 per cent per financial year, for the past six years. endota’s long term goal is to operate 130 spas within five years.

endota spa network is by far the largest day spa network in Australia and aim to become the largest in both the spa and beauty sector in the next two years.

The endota success story is a remarkable accomplishment considering the first endota spa opened in 2000 on the back of a $5,000 credit card and the high hopes of two best friends.

Belinda and Melanie met in secondary school on the Mornington Peninsula. To this day, they uphold their school’s motto: ‘respect for yourself, respect for others and respect for the environment’. This mantra has become the underlying ethos of endota spa, and shapes everything the pair accomplishes.

After meeting again as young women at a barbeque they decided they wanted to open a spa together. Melanie was managing one of Victoria’s first day spas and Belinda was working in real estate.

As word of mouth about the first endota spa spread around the Peninsula, Melanie and Belinda recognised an opportunity for growth. “We had a vision; we wanted to help women like ourselves to open, own and operate their own businesses, across Australia. There were no other spas like ours – offering organic treatments and products; down to earth therapists and welcoming both men and women,” said Melanie.

Many of the Australian day spas of today owe much to the endota model for spa business success. endota spa – with its modern, eco-stylish shopfits and a menu offering both spa treatments and beauty services such as waxing, facials and manicures/pedicures was well ahead of its time. Belinda and Melanie drafted up an endota spa operations manual, envisioning endota as the all-Australian franchise model of the future. This vision was soon realised as the endota spa name began appearing in cities across Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland.

endota spa’s success is driven by three unique factors:
1. Gift certificates that can be redeemed at ALL endota spas throughout the country, not just at the spa of issue. This encourages a greater community of support and referrals. Gift vouchers are an important revenue stream for endota spa and make up 31per cent of sales.

2. Organically certified endota spa skincare products (also sold through David Jones) provide an additional revenue stream for spa operators and contribute 17per cent to endota’s overall revenue.

3. endota spa head office support is freely available to all franchisees in the form of advice on operations, marketing tips and tools, and guidance on perfecting the endota spa environment.

In 2011, endota spa’s group turnover was more than $40 million, and a further 15 endota spas are scheduled to open before the end of the 2013.
The endota founders have good reason to be confident that these lofty goals will come to fruition. Despite near-daily reports of Australia’s retail sector woes, revenue in endota spas has continued to grow every month since the franchise system’s inception in 2003. And the past two years have been no exception.

Globally, spa industry growth is supported by a growing modern focus on maintaining wellness, and by consumers favouring ‘experiences’ over ‘things’ in a new age of austerity. There are currently 72,000 spas open worldwide and global spa industry turnover is expected to tip $US77 billion by 2015.

Despite the increasingly corporate nature and structure of their company, Melanie and Belinda remain committed to the business philosophies they aspired to when they set up their very first endota spa.

“We care and we understand,” explains Melanie. “And that care and understanding does not just apply to our customers Australia-wide, but to our franchisees and employees as well. We schedule our meetings around school drop offs, and we are always available for our spa franchisees.”

“80 per cent of our clients are women”, adds Belinda. “Melanie and I know first hand what it is like to be mums, and to be working women. We know how important it is – when we as women finally do get a moment to ourselves at a spa the experience is everything we’ve been looking forward to… We are driven to ensure that we do not let our customers down. Basically, we exist to make our customers feel better”.

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