The origins of Theraply
Theraply is a tech health and wellness company in Singapore. Our journey began in 2000, when the founder Valerie De Costa first set up shop within Peace Centre, located at Selegie Road as 'Nouriskin', a beauty salon. A few years later in 2009, the company changed it's name to 'Nouri Face & Body Concepts' and began making it's mark on the prenatal and postnatal pregnancy services industry as the first ever company to offer the traditional jamu treatments combined with modern technology. Success came along soon enough thanks to the secret formula of jamu recipes and massage techniques passed down from generation to generation in Valerie's maternal side of her family.
After years of dominating the pregnancy care space as a leader in service quality and results, the market opened up to plenty of similar providers and masseuse freelancers who adopted the unethical practices of hard-selling packages using aggressive and dishonest tactics, and the majority of them did not even produce any results for the customers who paid them exorbitant amounts of money. As more cases of this nature surfaced on the local news and social media, and the amounts of those parties affected and dissatisfied customers coming to Nourifbc to get their well deserved pregnancy care needs met increased significantly, the founders of NouriFBC took notice of this but were at a loss of how help future consumers avoid such problems from other companies.
The Bigger Picture
It wasn't until late 2018-shortly after we had won the 'Beauty Insider's Best post natal massage award' ,that the founders of the company discussed and collectively agreed on a few points :
The labour crunch of the service industry led to rising operational costs in staff salaries for companies, resulting in a lot of them pressuring their therapists and sales staff to aggressively push packages to customers wasn't going away anytime soon.
These unethical companies gave our entire industry and our brand a bad name to uninformed consumers. Our research from attending the popular 'baby fairs' or road shows yielded interesting insights such as competitors were using low priced 'one-time only' single sessions to lure and trap customers into signing expensive packages they didn't need, and they were copying a lot of the massage steps and techniques we started years ago, and some were even bad mouthing us to interested attendees when being compared to them at these events.
The emergence of less-than-capable freelance therapists undercutting the market was making a negative impact on the health of new mothers, because the more customers a solo freelancer has, the likelihood of that freelancer being able to give her customers consistent quality in results would be unlikely. And the more referral sales a freelancer had, other companies would engage and deploy more promotional gimmicks to entice customers. The customers are the only ones that stand to lose out.
The most important fact of all is that starting a family in Singapore is becoming increasingly expensive and difficult. So much that the national birth rate in the last year was the lowest ever in the past 8 years, with couples citing costs as the main obstacle.
And when they finally do start a family, the modern Singaporean woman has difficulties practicing the old traditional confinement period practices, as well as diligently adhering to the traditional style of confinement food choices.
Every other company focused on selling fixed 'packages', which made their staff treat potential customers who couldn't afford multiple sessions as 'less important' or 'not worth their time'. This led to a lot of lower income couples and single mothers with less purchasing power to go without proper pregnancy care out of fear of being embarrassed or being treated less fairly by these companies. This something that we really felt strongly opposed to, because we came from humble beginnings ourselves when we started this business nearly 20 years ago.
These ‘packages’ offered by a lot of other companies didn’t match up to expectations in quality, results and it became just another way for sales persons to meet their targets. Almost every ‘package’ that we did research on had an increased number of sessions in them just to justify the selling price. This is highly unethical to us, and our brand will never do that.
February 2019: The Revolution Begins
Knowing the above problems, our 'Aha!' moment dawned upon us. We decided that if no one else in the industry was going to take the lead and try to make things better for women in Singapore, then we would have to take it upon ourselves to carry that responsibility.
In early 2019, the founders got together and decided that we would rebrand our company into 'Theraply', with the mission to firstly make good quality and effective pregnancy care services affordable and available to every family in Singapore, and to also educate the consumers to help eradicate the unethical sales tactics that plague the industry.
March- August 2019: Putting together the framework
As a result , the things that had to happen first for us to tackle the industry problems, and also help us re-align our goals and mission were :
Theraply would only serve customers in their homes, an environment that makes them feel safe from pushy and aggressive salespersons. This also allows them an extra layer of convenience as they don't have to travel to see us for a massage, we would also bring everything needed for a massage right to their doorstep. We conducted 8 months of testing this service method under our previous brand name to ensure a smoother and more efficient experience for Theraply's customers.
Every therapist we had, had to be retrained extensively to increase the quality and effectiveness of our massages, and to prevent copy-cat providers that lack innovation and integrity from making false promises to their own customers. Those who disagreed with the new direction and increased emphasis on higher quality and being more results orientated were terminated immediately.
We had to remove all non pregnancy related services we previously had, whether or not they were an existing profitable source of income for us such as facial treatments and others ,and make Theraply focus on just body-centric treatments for better training sessions and quality control efforts.
Because our new business model did not require a physical shop that would require expensive renovations and fittings, we had the means to get a team of technical developers to create customised web and mobile apps for Theraply.
Using these apps, our customers would benefit from a more efficient experience. Our apps prevent over-booking by letting them set and reschedule appointments instantly instead of calling or messaging weeks in advance, and customers would also have instant access to their purchase history and also check how many massages they are left with in their own user accounts.
The app would also need to remove the hassle of customers searching online for "massage near me", and having to read and vet every search result that showed up. Booking a massage from a trustworthy provider would be fast, easy to figure out, and most importantly - less expensive than going to a physical location where the companies pass their high overhead costs like rental fees on to the customers.
The app had to allow us to serve customers needs better, and that by using technology, we would not lose the personal touch and standards we are known for. Theraply has a feature that allows customers to tell us how good or bad they feel, what out-of-the-ordinary symptoms they are going through, and even how soft or hard they’d like their massage to be, one hour prior to our therapists arriving at their homes.
A guaranteed way for new parents to enjoy huge savings when bringing their child into this world. Our app had to ensure that no parent would have to think twice about getting a prenatal and postpartum massages to get proper treatment, because of their individual budget limitations.
We wanted to make certain that every customer who starts their pregnancy journey with us with either fertility or prenatal massages ,would then instantly receive an upgrade to their account that would give them bigger discounts when they needed post natal massages later on, and when they purchased the postnatal program, a bigger discount would be waiting for them if they decided that they wanted confinement meal catering as well. This is something that no other company in Singapore is currently doing or doing properly. They bait customers at 'baby fairs' that occur multiple times in a year with a 'fear of missing out' approach which pressures the customer into buying something on that same day. Our app assigns you the discount tier for as long as you are a customer, even when you have your second or third child much later in the future. We are hopeful that this helps parents in Singapore to lower the costs of having a child.
Another critical implementation for us, was that we also wanted to help single mothers or lower income couples to also be able to get prenatal or post natal massages without having to purchase a program of 10,12 or whatever amount of sessions that was beyond their means to afford it. So we decided that our single sessions would always be made available as opposed to a one time trial session only, to provide the physical relief to struggling mothers on the days that they desperately needed it. They would be able to book any number of multiple single sessions of massages with us whenever they had the financial means to do so.
We needed to ensure that despite the government restrictions on hiring labour for the service industry, that we would be able to pay our therapists the most reasonable and fair rates , which in turn would make them even more motivated to do their best in every massage session and also not have to use hard-sell tactics on customers in order to take home more money. We restructured our therapist's salaries to be both competitive and attractive in order to not make the same mistakes that unethical companies were making, because we believe that a happy therapist will definitely make our customers happy too.
A focus on educating the modern Singaporean parent on pregnancy topics. There is a lot of misinformation out there that can compromise the health of misinformed consumers, and we wanted to change that with accurate and comprehensive information about pregnancy, post pregnancy, miscarriage, as well as other related topics such as parenting from Theraply's free info blog portal.
What We Stand For At Theraply
Today, we are a team of very seasoned and experienced veterans that will continue to serve the needs of Singapore's parents with our dedicated expertise. Our commitments that align with our slogan of 'You're in Good Hands' are:
Provide excellent quality massages at affordable prices in every location within Singapore.
Never compromise the health and safety of our customers for any reasons.
Lead the way for more ethical business practices that also offer fair value to the customers.
Use only those therapists that meet our strict quality and professionalism standards.
Produce amazing results consistently to each and every customer, every day.
Constantly grow ourselves to be the best massage provider service in Singapore and beyond.