Jim Wallace | Crain's Houston

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Jim Wallace


Launched by physical therapist John Marco in 2004 and currently led by former AAMCO Transmissions CEO Todd Leff, Hand & Stone is a massage and facial spa franchise with more than 250 locations across 28 states and Canada. Jim and Melodie Wallace operate two Hand & Stone locations in San Antonio.

The Mistake:

The mistake was getting into a new business with a level of arrogance.

Though I hadn’t owned a business prior to becoming a Hand & Stone franchise owner, I jumped into it with a certain level of confidence that I probably shouldn’t have had. I’d generally been in business for a long time — particularly, on the sales side — so I thought, “I’ve got this.”

I ended up spending way more than I had anticipated to build out and invest in our first location. Though they didn’t have big numbers attached to them, many of the smaller things added up to several thousands of dollars.

It hurt.

If you’re just starting out, assume you know nothing, and go from there.

The Lesson:

If you’re just starting out, assume you know nothing, and go from there.

I wish I had spent more time talking with other franchise owners earlier in the process — even if it was just a week of my time. Many of the other franchise owners actually have different backgrounds in business, each of which is valuable in its own way. I could have had a mentor and saved myself thousands of dollars on things like construction and equipment purchases.

Franchisors aren’t as concerned about spending your money as you are because they don’t have as much skin in the game. Hand & Stone is a great franchisor; this is just a general rule.

A franchisor’s solution to a problem will usually involve you buying or investing in something else. You have to do the research and be the moral compass for your own checkbook.

Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa is on Twitter: @HandAndStoneUSA.

​Photo courtesy of Jim Wallace