spavia Owner Spotlight: Dawn Porter in Sandy, Utah

spvia owner spotlight with Dawn porter


In a recent interview with one of our new spavia owners, Dawn Porter opened up to us about her life before spavia; what lead her to the spa/massage industry; her process from signing day to opening day; and all the rewarding, and sometimes rough moments along the way.

 Q: What did you do before owning a spavia day spa franchise?

A: Nothing to do with the spa industry, actually. I have a Bachelor's in Biology and a Masters in Geology--so mostly I studied in the environment fields. Within that, my focus has been on large project management, as well as grant writing. But I knew I wanted to own my own business. I thought a lot about it and came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to own a food base franchise—it just didn’t appeal to me. Instead, I wanted something in the service industry that would benefit others. That’s how I decided on spa/massage.

Q: How long have you been in the spa franchise industry? 

A: We opened in June. So, six months.

Q: What were some alternatives you were looking at, regarding opening a franchise?

A: I looked into some competitors—ones that have waterfalls, etc.; you know, those really high-end spas. But they are expensive—to start up AND for the customers. I just saw a lack of repeat customers, and really, Utah has a lot of these types of spas already. But spavia is much more affordable for customers, and that allows for more clientele to have access to us and for more repeat customers. That was far more appealing to me and guided much of my decision in choosing the spavia day spa franchise.

 Q: What made you choose spavia day spa?

A: Outside of what I already mentioned, I very much liked the atmosphere that spavia days spas provide. The retreat area where guests can relax before or after a treatment adds to the overall positive experience for our guests. Each guest is given a robe and slippers, which makes for a comfortable/relaxed experience for guests, but also allows for a seamless transition for practitioners—there is no waiting for the guest to undress/dress, allowing more treatment time. And lastly, it’s not clinical. The experience is intended to be relaxing for our guests.

Q: Where/how did you first hear about spavia day spa?

A: I did a lot of research for about a year. During that time, spavia ads kept popping up. After a while I just decided to look up the brand. And that’s where it all began.

Q: Where did you start your initial journey?

A: Online. Heavy online research. I found that the state of California had a publicly provided FDD, which I ended up downloading on my own and reading through. I actually did the same for a competitor brand, but spavia stood out as a better choice. I did contact a broker at one point, but they only ever sent me information on hair and nail salons. It just wasn’t what I was looking for, so I abandoned that route.

Q: What was your experiences during the onboarding process of getting started?

A:  It was great! I signed in February, and that’s when I was given all the information for moving forward. They basically provided me with a list of what to do, when to do it, and who to contact—It was fantastic! Working with CBRE was wonderful. They put our contract out to bid. We received 6 contractor quotes, and they pulled all of them together in one document that was easy to weed through and compare. Because of this we were able to identify a bid that was unusually low, and would probably mean a lot of change-orders in the build process. We eventually chose our contractor—who was equally as wonderful—and began the build process. We initially had an issue with the location being next to a gym-like business. When I expressed this concern to the builder, they went ahead and built in additional soundproofing on all the adjoining walls. And on top of that, they stayed on budget. It was an excellent experience.

Q: Memorable Moments?

A: Oh boy, there are many. For instance, just yesterday a younger man came in for his first ever massage. From the moment he walked in he came off as rather crabby; he was very much on edge. After his massage however, he came out a whole different person. His demeanor changed, he was smiling, and you could tell he was considerably more relaxed. It was at this point that he confided in us that his doctor had sent him here due to his resting heart rate of 85 beats per minute. He then looked down at his AppleWatch and saw that his heart rate was at 65. It was amazing to see his transformation, and to know that his overall health improved by the service we provided him. It’s moments like this that keep me going during the rough times; these are the moments that confirm in my mind that I made the right choice.

Q: Advice to individuals who are researching opening a spavia day spa?


  1. Take advantage of the resources. And there are a lot of them. Sometimes you feel like you’re all alone—but you’re really not. Other franchisees are always willing to help. Franworth is a great resource. Go to Discovery Day. I’ve always been able to reach out when I need assistance, and I strongly encourage others to do the same.
  2. Building your team is important. Making sure there is good communication, in both the front and back of house, and that the personalities mesh well together. But understand it takes time to establish a great team; one that collaborates and communicates well. We are six months in and our team is evolving and growing, but I can see we are making great strides in that direction.
  3. Don’t expect to be checking out, and sitting on the beach and drinking a Pina Colada. Building your business is hard work. I am in the spa all day, plus doing payroll and office task, etc.; 12+ hour work days are not unusual. But I love my business, and I want to see it succeed so I’m doing what needs to be done. You WILL work harder than you ever have—I can guarantee you.

 Q: Overall experience of owning a spavia day spa franchise?

A: My overall experience has been positive. In just six months we have seen growth, our team is coming together, and ultimately, we are making an impact. I can say nothing but good things about this experience and am looking forward to the future with spavia.

A special thanks Dawn Porter for taking the time to share her story with us. We love to share the first-hand experiences of our franchise owners!

Please note: This interview has been condensed and summarized for length.