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Keith Larson | CEO | Zen Massage

Zen Massage – A Better Way in the Retail Professional Massage Category

The explosion of the “Wellness” consumer retail category, and licensed professional massage in particular, is well-documented. People crave the relaxation, and relief of muscle pain and mental stress. Doctors are embracing massage as part of a comprehensive “wellness journey” which is increasingly becoming a part of health care plans. Zen Massage Franchising, Incorporated, franchisor of Zen Massage Centers, provides a high quality professional massage in a comfortable environment with several Advantages for Consumers.
Zen Massage offers promising massage business opportunities with a successful, growing system with locations in six states. The company is led by franchise business veterans from TCBY and McDonald’s.

“Close your eyes and count to Zen!®”

Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between Insights Success and Zen Massage CEO Keith Larson:
Give a brief overview of the company and its vision.
We offer difference-making, competitive advantages that both consumers and franchisees prefer. We offer consumers resort-quality professional massage and skin care services in a comfortable environment at everyday low prices – with NO contracts or membership fees. And we offer franchisees a simple, proven business system at lower costs and fees than our competitors.
What are the cutting-edge products/services offered by Zen Massage?
Honestly, we aren’t re-inventing the wheel on massage therapy as much as we’ve reinvented the retail massage business model. Consumers hate massage contracts and membership fees just like they hate cell phone and cable TV contracts and fees. We’re the first system to be structured to not lay those hassles on consumers. And for our franchisees, we’ve structured our Zen business system to be able to deliver the No Contracts-No Membership Fees-Low everyday prices promise.
Give a detailed description of the Founder/CEO/Management’s contribution over the company and the industry.
We are franchise system veterans who understand what it takes to succeed in that arena. Randall Scribner was a long time, very successful, multi-location TCBY franchisee and head of its national franchisee association. He was also CEO of Just Fresh restaurants and CFO/COO of Swisher International. I was Regional Director of Franchised Operations for McDonald’s Corporation in its headquarters market of Chicago, and also spent several years in McDonald’s marketing before shifting into operations. I was also Senior VP of one of McDonald’s largest ad agencies. I was operating my own advertising consultancy in Charlotte when Randall brought me in to lead the Zen Massage® rebranding and marketing effort.
What are the distinctive features/foundations that make Zen Massage unique from its competitors?
Number one is the No Contracts – No Membership fees combined with our everyday low pricing. Over 80% of our new clients come to us from competitors who hate being “sold” and pressured when all they want is a no-hassle massage escape. For franchisees, the fact that we have so much experience in franchise systems, and know that a franchisor only succeeds if its franchisees succeeds, is vastly different from most other approaches.
Describe the experiences, achievements or lessons learn that has shaped the journey of the company.
I’d say the key thing is learning to view the industry from the customer point of view, first and foremost. And similarly, to view the business from the standpoint of, “What does it take for a franchisee to succeed?”
Where does Zen Massage see itself in the long run and what are its future goals?
There’s a Japanese saying I learned in my McDonald’s days: To go fast, you must first go slow. Randall inherently knew this, and spent several years after acquiring the company fine-tuning its operations and reshaping it as a franchise system. When I joined, we took a similar go-slow approach to get all of our marketing positioned just right. In the last two or three years we’ve reached the place where we’re really poised for growth – and it’s happening!