Tyler Jasper is an Army veteran and co-owner of the Woodhouse Day Spa in Somerset, Kentucky. We talked to Jasper about his transition to a civilian career and how his franchise business is going.
Can you briefly talk about your military background and the reasons you left the Army? Can you also talk about the paramedic work you do?
I graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1991 and was commissioned in the Armor branch as a Second Lieutenant. I spent approximately six years on active duty and held the job positions of platoon leader, company executive officer, battalion S-4, and assistant professor of military science. In May 1996, I was diagnosed with diabetes and was medically separated in May 1997. I worked as a project engineer for a wheel manufacturing plant for about one year and became the general manager of Jasper Entertainment Corp, a Blockbuster Video franchise, in Oct 2008. I am still employed in that position in addition to co-owner of the Woodhouse Day Spa. My father was a family doctor for 30 years and my mother a nurse for 20 years and I have always been interested in medicine, specifically emergency medicine. I became an EMT in May 2010 and began working part-time with the local ambulance service. I finished my paramedic certification and licensure in June 2012, and currently work part-time in 3 local EMS services.
What led you to make the decision to start your own business, and how did you decide on the Woodhouse Day Spa?
My wife, Cindy, has a degree in health education and spent several years working with the local health department after we moved back to Somerset, Ky. We found information on the Woodhouse Day Spa franchise late one evening in fall of 2003. I was familiar with the franchise concept from my years dealing with Blockbuster Video, so we looked into the company further. After months of research, we decided this would be a great fit for our community and our overall economic goals.
What aspects of your military experience were helpful as you started this new venture? What were some of the new challenges you faced, or new skills you had to learn?
I think my time at USMA definitely prepared me for the time management challenges in opening a new business while still working in another. I now manage both businesses and still have time for EMS and family. My leadership positions in the Army helped my management of personnel, which is not easy in the spa industry! Overall my military experience helped me identify the short and long term goals in opening a Woodhouse Day Spa franchise and developing and executing a plan to accomplish those goals. I did not have the financial and accounting background I felt that I needed, so I enlisted to help of friends and family that had accounting and budget management experience to help me learn these aspects.
Can you talk about the support you've received from Woodhouse Day Spa? Would you say it's a good organization to ally with if you're a veteran interested in this kind of business?
The Woodhouse Spa Corp is a great franchisor to be involved with. They are very helpful in deciding the area to place the spa and finding the real estate available. The spa design and layout, equipment, and products are all decided for you with your input. My wife and I could not have opened a spa on our own due to our lack of knowledge in the industry, and the chances of failure would have been greatly increased. For veterans interested in the spa business, Woodhouse is a great partner because you do not have to be a spa expert to get started. Most vets I know do not have any experience in spa operations, and I was the same way. Now, I feel comfortable managing my spa and possibly helping others manage their own spa franchises.
Can you describe a typical "day in the life" in your business?
A typical day involves paying bills, ordering and receiving products, checking clients in and out, banking, payroll, ensuring therapists are present for work and have everything they need to perform the services, maintenance of the building or equipment, marketing and advertising planning and implementation on the current and future promotions, federal and state tax reporting….As you can see it covers everything! I honestly don't know exactly what I will be doing when I show up for work. This is also one of the things I like about owning my own business… It is never dull!
What's it like working as a husband-and-wife team?
Cindy and I work well together most of the time. She takes care of the therapist scheduling, hiring and managing of the administrative staff. She is also a massage therapist and actually works as a therapist at our spa on some days. I take care of the "behind the scenes" activities, which include all areas of maintenance, payroll, paying bills and taxes, insurance, banking, and all of the accounting issues. We both are involved marketing and in ordering retail products. I think we both focus on our strengths and it just works out that we cover all the areas. We also know how to stay out of each other's way when one of us is not having a good day! That insight is from 20 years of marriage!
Do you have any general advice or tips for veterans who are transitioning out of the military and might be interested in your line of work?
I think now is probably one of the hardest times to leave the military for civilian employment. Based on the economy and current unemployment rate, there are thousands of people, veterans and civilian, trying to obtain very limited job opportunities. The veterans will almost always outshine a civilian competitor due to the time-management, discipline, and goal-oriented drive that the military instills. A franchise has a lot of positives, including no operational knowledge needed to succeed, but also has a few negatives, the biggest being financial requirements. Banks are still not readily loaning money for new businesses. This is also where a veteran might qualify for some business loans not available to the general population.