Karen and Twan Bentlage had opened two locations of the European Wax Center in Manhattan. When Karen and her husband Twan had secured exclusive rights to develop the Manhattan market for European Wax Center, they had recruited an operating partner to manage the Centers on their behalf. That worked for the first few months, until the Bentlages’ hand-picked partner suddenly walked away from the venture in the summer. Out of necessity, Karen had stepped in to fill the leadership void on a temporary basis. By December 2011, five months later, Karen was exhausted.
While a new manager would soon take over management of the two Centers, a larger issue loomed. The Bentlages still had the rest of Manhattan to develop, a prospect that was simultaneously exciting and daunting. On the one hand, the smashing success of the first two Centers reflected incredible unmet demand in Manhattan for the services offered by European Wax Center. However, operating two Centers had convinced the Bentlages that it would be very difficult to develop the market on their own. At the same time, losing an operating partner unexpectedly had made the Bentlages wary of relying on others.
The question of whether to develop Manhattan on their own or with the help of franchisees had recently become a pressing matter. While they had received interest for quite a while from investors who each wanted to open two or three Centers, the Bentlages had rebuffed them out of concern about having to manage relationships with a large number of relatively small franchisees. However, in November, a highly credible group with plenty of capital and experience in operating franchises had proposed dividing the Manhattan market in two at 57th Street, with the group committing to develop 12 Centers south of that boundary. What should the Bentlages do? Should they keep Manhattan for themselves or take the deal on the table?
Suggested Citation: Joseph Golden and A.J. Wasserstein, "European Wax Center in Manhattan" Yale SOM Case 19-020, October 17, 2019.
Keywords: Competitor/Strategy, Entrepreneurship, Investor/Finance, Leadership & Teamwork, Franchising, New York