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The Magic Touch

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Massage Envy

Dave Crisalli
President and COO
Massage Envy Franchising
Scottsdale, Ariz.

Massage Envy is the world’s largest employer of licensed/registered massage therapists and a growing franchise operation. Its 16,000 therapists provide more than 250,000 therapeutic massages every week ranging from Swedish, deep tissue and sports to reflexology and Cranial Sacral.

Massage Envy now has more than 680 locations in 43 states: More than half are spa locations offering facials and skin care treatment from Murad, a global skincare leader and Massage Envy’s exclusive partner. Typical Massage Envy facilities feature a calming interior with contemporary décor and soothing colors, and are usually located in shopping centers with national, daily need and female-oriented retailers.

Promoted to president in May, Dave Crisalli has been with Massage Envy since 2004 (most recently as COO) and has witnessed and contributed to the company’s tremendous growth. Massage Envy Spa franchisees are enjoying an average unit volume of $1 million, and 57 new franchise agreements were awarded in the first half of this year.

What was your first job? Did you learn anything there that has carried through your career?
My father owned a small plumbing company and I worked for him as an apprentice. I was in my early teens, but my dad had extremely high expectations of me from Day One. The thing I remember and that stays with me is that he taught me to really connect with people.

What’s behind the quick pace of growth at Massage Envy?
I think it’s been our focus on culture, on selecting the right talent and growing our people. We have more than 23,000 team members that include our regional and franchise partners as well as our terrific team in our Scottsdale support center, who are focused on a single mission — enriching the lives of our members and guests each and every day.

Driving our passion to deliver value to our members and guests is our constant attention to unit-level economics that deliver the double bottom line — returns for our partners and a service system that adds incredible value to our members and guests.

Can you tell us about some of Massage Envy’s alliances and partnerships?
Our exclusive Murad partnership is one we value highly, because our companies are so philosophically aligned. At our core, we believe in the physical and mental benefits of healing touch [and] Dr. Murad’s “Inclusive Health Philosophy” is based on achieving wellness through internal and external skincare.

More recently, we formed an alliance with the Arthritis Foundation. … We’re pleased to be serving as a national sponsor of the Arthritis Foundation’s 200 Arthritis Walk events and host a special fundraising event on World Arthritis Day, Oct. 12, 2011, to raise funds and awareness for their great work.

Who else is doing a good job connecting with customers?
I really admire what Apple has done over the last 10 years — as both a consumer and an operator. I’m impressed how they’ve grown a culture of connectedness with their customers, with their products and in their stores. Consumers have high expectations of quality. A quality product is table stakes today. In my view, what’s even more valuable — and is the ultimate separator in any space — is [the ability] to design and grow a culture of belonging with your associates and customers.

Apple’s customers are voting with their feet because their products are great and their delivery model is superior. This is because of their obvious people systems that empower their brand to really connect.

Tell us about your management style.
I’m a listener and a coach. I spend the better part of my day teaching, coaching and inspiring people to achieve great results.

What’s on your reading list?
I’m currently into Starbucks’ Howard Schultz’s great read, Onward. This is another brand that connects emotionally and deeply with its customers.

A favorite city for vacation?
My family and I adore Coronado, Calif. Outside of the best weather, the simple elegance of the Hotel del Coronado really grabs us year after year and makes us feel incredibly welcome and right at home.

If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be…?
I think I’d still be in the business of growing people, growing businesses and adding real value to customers.