Massage Envy builds expansion on new tech foundation

Massage Envy is expanding and has announced its first international location in Sydney, Australia – the first of many as the brand readies for aggressive expansion on several fronts. This growth will be rooted in a foundation of new technology.  

"The key to our growth means investing in technology and creating a much better customer experience," said CEO Joe Magnacca. "That really starts and ends for me with technology."

Magnacca joined Massage Envy in January and found a successful retail model with more than 1,100 franchise locations and 1.65 million members who partake of massages and facials on a regular basis. But the company had grown organically very fast, and needed to re-engineer the back-end operations to better support the business.

To that end, Massage Envy is already testing new systems that digitize client records and house them in the cloud, allowing all records to be accessed regardless of the location visited.

"Knowing a customer's history across stores has been lacking," Magnacca told FierceRetail. "We need to create more fluid engagement with the consumer."

All customer-facing points are being re-examined from a technology perspective, including new POS systems.

Other tools and applications are being tested, including one that lets massage therapists create customer records on a tablet. Rather than manually recording that history, they will soon be able to touch a location on a virtual body to highlight points of muscle stress.

Initial technology tests are running through this summer and will launch in September, Magnacca said.

Private-label products are another opportunity for Massage Envy. Magnacca spearheaded store brand development at Walgreens and worked there with Beth Stiller, who joined Massage Envy in March as chief commercial officer. Her skills in sourcing will be applied to private label growth.

Store growth will be stepped up. The Sydney location is the first of 100 stores planned in Australia as part of the new franchise agreement, and the company expects more countries to come online quickly.

Magnacca is particularly bullish about international locations with strong healthcare platforms like Australia has, including Canada, New Zealand and the U.K. – countries where massage is considered physical therapy and paid through national health programs. In the United States, there's very little coverage.

"That's what's amazing, for [us to have] a successful business," said Magnacca. "Our business isn't broken, it's in great shape. We've had a 6 percent increase last year in sales and have a lot of copy cats out there in the marketplace, mostly regionally. We have a lot of locations. Having said that, we want to make sure we remain the leader."

"We've done well in spite of ourselves. Now is the appropriate time to become extremely aggressive." 

For more:
- see this Massage Envy press release