Before LaVida Massage was a nationally-recognized brand of wellness centers, it started the way most businesses in this industry do—with one location built by an enterprising founder. Since its founding in 2007, the Michigan-based brand empowers first-time franchisees and seasoned business pros with the tools to build their own wellness business successfully.
“We’ve got people from all walks of life and occupation background—anything from dog walking businesses to former corporate people with Home Depot,” says LaVida Massage CEO Mark Davis.
Managing a franchise organization with software
Ensuring every LaVida Massage franchisee has the tools to be successful—from experienced businesspeople to first-time business owners—is mission-critical for the operating team. No small part of this is choosing the right software to support LaVida Massage and its franchisees. LaVida Massage used Mindbody when they first started but switched to Zenoti in 2015 believing it would help them with better data and reporting.
“We started shopping around,” Davis said. “Zenoti positioned itself as accounting software that was looking to get into the service-based business. We were looking at reporting, and here we had somebody that understands accounting at the time seemed like they could help us out on things.”
What seemed to be a dream come true soon turned out to be a data-driven nightmare.
The data dilemma
LaVida Massage’s switch to Zenoti with select locations was fueled by wanting to gather deep insights into its data and reporting functionality—but what the corporate team didn’t expect when they made the switch was that each franchisee would also get vast amounts of data. Instead of just seeing the metrics pertinent to an individual location, franchisees and staff members who logged into Zenoti were overwhelmed by the metrics that faced them.
“I love data, but Zenoti gave way too much,” Director of Operations Ben Pryor explained. “Their system was a monster. Every report had two dozen columns of different information. Our franchisees, and our front desk staff, especially, don’t need to see all of that. They just need four or five things out of there.”
This firehose of data lead to confusion, especially for LaVida Massage’s franchisees.
“There’s no question in accounting, that would have been their dream,” Davis added. “But as the average operator, it was way, way, way too much.”
The disastrous way that Zenoti flooded franchisees with data only compounded as the holiday season approached—a high revenue period for LaVida Massage. During Thanksgiving week, LaVida Massage onboarded three additional locations onto Zenoti, hoping that the problems would improve as they worked more with Zenoti. It didn’t happen.
“As we got closer to Christmas, it wasn’t getting better,” Pryor said. “It was getting worse. There were things that were causing a lot of customers to be upset—it was getting expensive.”
As the problems compounded, Pryor sought out support from Zenoti but struggled to find it in his time zone. Because Zenoti’s support is based in India, Pryor would have to adjust his work hours to get someone on the phone to help him out.
“It got to the point where I was on calls in India until about 11 o’clock at night, and then back on with me at 5 in the morning, so I could work on their time zones to try and get these questions answered,” Pryor explained.
Eventually, enough was enough—and LaVida Massage pulled the plug on moving more locations to Zenoti and returned to Mindbody.
Making the switch (back)
After returning, LaVida Massage and Mindbody’s partnership grew. Now, instead of having to be on the phone with a support team in India at odd hours of the day and night, LaVida Massage’s operations staff has two dedicated points-of-contact at Mindbody who actively listen to what the business needs to scale its operation.
“Mindbody has been a lot better about letting us be involved in some of the development that’s been going on and actively looking for what our needs are,” Pryor said. “That’s one of the main things I like about it so much. What Mindbody offers, and how its system is usable, is very user-friendly in so many ways.”
The result is a relationship that empowers LaVida Massage, and software that gives the franchisees what they need to be successful—but not so much that it overwhelms them.