Jessica Dragan started Spa Massage on the Go to deliver massage services where she can bring convenience and much-needed relief. Spa Massage on the Go serves individuals with disabilities, the elderly, primarily in live-in care settings. Her service also brings chair massage to corporate events and private events.
The road to Spa Massage on the Go ran through Los Angeles, where Jessica moved after four years of service in the US Army. There, she learned the massage industry and discovered that a mobile business fit her personality. Jessica moved her mobile massage business to Milwaukee. Soon, she began to focus on employing others rather than delivering the service directly. “Even if you love it, it’s too demanding to do as you get older,” Jessica said. She owns and runs the business, relying on her massage therapists to deliver her company’s services.
Discovering an untapped market
Working with a client with a traumatic brain injury led Jessica to the idea of helping people in assisted living and nursing facilities, a target market she found was not being well-served. “The facilities have their own version of massage therapy, which is typically a spa room,” Jessica said, “but I find our elderly clients and those with disabilities like that we come directly to their room.” Her therapists give massages on a hospital bed or in a wheelchair for clients unable to use a traditional massage table. “Most of the time our clients are completely clothed. We work with them however they’d like,” she explained.
SBDC support led to financing
Jessica was considering buying a massage school, which would allow her to train her employees personally, and reached out to the SBDC at UW-Milwaukee. After filling out a screening questionnaire, she was contacted by consultant Rick Gorko. “By the time I sat down with Rick, I had decided I didn’t want a school,” she said, but “I had figured out that I needed to expand the business and needed the right people to get me where I wanted to go.” Rick helped Jessica write a business plan and prepare to approach lenders. “Rick held me accountable while I went through my business planning process,” Jessica said. Rick added, “She needed our expertise on the financial projections, and she carried it forward to get financing.” Jessica received a capital loan for $20,000 from Wisconsin Women’s’ Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC).
Accomplishments with the SBDC at UW-Milwaukee:
- Business plan
- Financing achieved with WWBIC
- Marketing assistance
Growing Spa Massage on the Go
The Milwaukee SBDC office provided Jessica with market research reports that helped her write a marketing plan and execute social media and SEO marketing. But the population she’s targeting can be hard to reach, as institutions that care for the ailing or elderly are understandably protective. “The children or guardians are our marketing audience,” Jessica said as they purchase her firm’s services as gifts. Spa Massage on the Go is an approved vendor for IRIS (Wisconsin’s program supporting adults with long-term care needs). Word of mouth through the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce added 17% to her bottom line in 2018, and Jessica is working on contracting with the Wisconsin Veterans Administration: “Vets are near and dear to my heart,” she said. “We love the people we serve. It’s an honor and a pleasure.” Spa Massage on the Go received the Veteran Business of the Year award from the Veterans Chamber of Commerce in 2017.
What’s next? Jessica is developing a product line, starting with a soap for sore muscles. She is working to increase sales and raise capital for expansion into more cities. Rick said, “She’s worked hard and met challenges, and it shows in her success.”