Massage chains are popping up all around across the country. Massage Envy and Elements of Massages are the biggest; there are also a few smaller ones as well. Corporate America has done a good job with jumping on the wellness band wagon. They are getting out there in a big way to share with the public the benefits of massage therapy. Massage Envy is also the largest employer of massage therapists and is it also one of the fastest growing franchises and showing no signs of slowing down.
So what does this all mean for you, the massage client? Stick around and I will give you the 411 on how the massage chains market to the massage client and why.
The chains have caused a big rift in the massage therapy community! So much so there are lots of website geared towards bringing them down. Why such a big stink among LMT’s? For years massage therapists have been the solo self-employed therapist charging their $60 an hour rate only competing with other solo LMT’s. Then about 7 years ago here comes this massage GIANT with lots of money to pay for ads and TV commercials and is offering a $39.99 intro rate and a membership, WTF! Has this hurt the savvy solo LMT, not one bit.
Here is how they work. You get woo in by their $39.99 (intro rates are different across the country) new client special. When you are done be ready for the sale pitch. Some chains have sales quotas that need to be met in order to keep their job. You are going to be sold on the idea of how great it would be for you to incorporated massage therapy into your routine every month. Become a member. You sign a contract for X amount of time allowing the chain to charge your credit card every month in exchange you get the membership price which is about $20 off their regular non member rate.
Something’s to keep in mind about the chains and if you decide to join their membership. There is a high staff turnover rate. Therapists get burned out at these places pretty fast. They don’t get paid a lot of money and they need to do a lot of massages in order to pay their bills. If you are not picky about who works on you, then the staff turn over is a non issue. And because therapists are paid on the low end tips are pushed on to clients a lot to help make up that difference. Your massages don’t roll over, so it you don’t use your monthly massage you lose it (This varies for different massage chains so make sure you read your contract carefully). Also by being a member you are also put on to a special email list that opens you up to other specials that you have access to for just being a member.
You also are getting 50 and 80 minute massages. So for the saving math folks reading, it not that great of a deal to join the memberships. It’s all about convenience. You can get in right way no waiting for an appointment; they have plenty of staff on hand.
If you find a great LMT at a chain and they leave because of non competes they sign they are not allowed to tell you where they are going and it’s about a 10 mile radius they can’t work. You may need to do some hunting to find where they are practicing. That’s why these places don’t tell you the therapist’s last name when you book.
But if you are picky about your massages, this may not be the best place for you to go.
Yes massage chains have turned the massage community upside down, but they have also done a lot to indirectly help the solo LMT. Many clients get turned off by the constant hard sell and the high staff turnover and they start turning to the small business. The small massage business always has your best interests at heart and is never going to put you in an uncomfortable financial position.
Massage chains love them or hate them share with me in the comment box below.