John Teza Joins Hand & Stone Massage as New President
"Consumers are a lot more conscious of their health and well-being,” said John Teza, who as Hand & Stone Massage's new president and CDO sees more growth ahead.
Before joining Aziz Hashim’s private equity firm, NRD Capital, in 2017, John Teza spent 20 years on the operations side of the franchise equation, focusing on development within systems such as Jersey Mike’s and Quiznos. After three years largely spent building NRD’s technology portfolio with companies such as ValyantAI and 1Huddle, Teza made the leap back to a franchisor, joining fast-growing Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa as president and chief development officer.
“There was a bit of a calling back to that. I wanted to be closer to building an organization from within,” said Teza of the move to Trevose, Pennsylvania-based Hand & Stone.
“I’m a heavy user of massage, by necessity, unfortunately—I have a bad back and I do a lot of traveling—and I’ve been a member of Hand & Stone for 10 years,” he continued. With Bob McQuillan, the brand’s VP of franchise development, retiring at the end of August, “it just felt right.”
Launched in 2004 and now with 400-plus locations in 33 states, Hand & Stone was acquired in 2015 by Los Angeles-based private equity firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners when it had about 200 units. The company’s been on a growth tear ever since, increasing systemwide sales 65.3 percent from 2016 to 2018 (it was ranked No. 20 on Franchise Time’s Fast & Serious list earlier this year) and finishing 2019 with nearly $500 million in revenue.
Given that success, Teza was quick to note he’s not coming into the company with plans for major changes. “It’s a continuation of the great work that’s been done,” he said. CEO Todd Left and his team “have been very deliberate in terms of how they’ve grown it.”
Teza does expect to focus development attention in regions such as Southern California and the Pacific Northwest, along with cities such as Kansas City and St. Louis where Hand & Stone has very little presence. “I see some very deliberate prospecting opportunity,” he said, along with the opportunity to deploy “a ton of location intelligence” in selecting sites.
The wellness category, which Teza said he was watching long before joining Hand & Stone, is ripe for continued development. “Generally speaking, consumers are a lot more conscious of their health and well-being,” he said. “We’re more stressed than we’ve ever been, we have more going on in our lives than ever before. And consumers are looking for proactive ways to improve their well-being.”
As Hand & Stone and its franchisees navigate the coronavirus pandemic—all but 14 locations in California have reopened—Teza said the brand will continue to highlight safety and security at the unit level as consumers return and potential franchisees evaluate the concept. Earlier this summer, Hand & Stone surveyed more than 6,700 consumers and found 90 percent of members said they were likely to continue their monthly subscription service.
Demand is there among franchisees as well, said Teza, adding Hand & Stone will continue to be mindful of not overbuilding to where locations outstrip consumer demand.
“They’re very deliberate and very consistent in the manner in which they’ve grown—I don’t see changing that at all,” he said.