How do you cure years of debilitating, recurring back pain? For Shane Evans, it was therapeutic massage. She liked the results so much that she started a franchise to offer that same experience to others. "I haven't had a back problem since I started Massage Heights," says Evans who co-founded the company with her husband Wayne in 2004.
When they opened their first unit in San Antonio and found customers clamoring for more--as well as asking about how they could open one themselves--they knew they were on to something. After 3 years of perfecting the model, they began expanding nationally through franchising. Today they have 140 open and are looking to hit the 300 mark by the end of 2018.
Their success--and appeal--has not gone unnoticed. In 2013, she appeared on "Undercover Boss," wearing glasses and a red, big-hair wig straight out of 1962. Viewers responded positively: in the first week it aired, 3,500 people submitted job applications. "In our industry, our product is our people. We can't supply those services without them," she says.
The experience gave her a newfound respect for the massage therapists. "It seems like every boss that goes undercover says 'I gained a new perspective,' but I really did! They are skilled professionals, and until you've tried performing a massage on someone, you really don't get it."
After meeting and learning about the backstories of the therapists she met, she was genuinely awed by how they are able put aside their often serious problems and provide a comfortable, healing experience for customers. "You never know what people are dealing with, yet they have to let go and serve the customer," she says. "Our therapists do so much for our guests and members. I began thinking, 'What would it be like to help them?'"
Her answer was to create the Heights Family Fund, a non-profit that helps employees in crisis situations by providing emergency relief. It's funded by corporate employee contributions and voluntary contributions from team members the company matches. Recipients do not have to contribute to benefit.