Massage therapy is becoming increasingly commercialized and the explosive growth of franchise massage clinics is evidence of this trend. Not too many years ago, it was the veracious growth of Starbucks that was taking over the coffee industry. This new breed of massage therapy clinic is often referred to as the “Walmart of Massage” and opinions of those within the industry often mirror the growing public disdain for Walmart.
The business model of these franchise massage clinics the based on the massage membership. They want you to sign an annual contract locking you into a monthly membership fee (usually $60 or more) which includes a “free” monthly massage. But is this really a good deal?
The “50-Minute” Massage
Somehow in the space-time continuum of corporate massage, time is faster and that “hour massage” is actually only 50 minutes. At most massage franchises and spas, you typically don’t receive a full 60-minute massage. So that easy rate of $1/minute has now just jumped 20% to $1.20/minute. If they did provide actual 60-minute massages, they would be $72 at this rate. And then you are encouraged to tip your massage therapist. So an additional $10 tip would bring the cost of the massage to $1.40/minute or $84 if it were an actual 60-minute massage!
To contrast, we provide discounts to clients who come in regularly (by the end of the following month) and our current hourly rate for this is $65. That’s $65 for 60 actual minutes, with no contract required and no tip expected. So just on price alone, the massage membership model doesn’t add up.
But the fact is that most of our clients aren’t even concerned with that extra 10 minutes anyway. What are they concerned with? Results!
The overwhelming reason most of our clients find themselves on our table is because they’re in pain. They just want to get back to living their lives without being burdened by constant or recurring pain. Our focus is on quality as well as quantity. There’s no math involved to demonstrate the quality of our work though. We’ll let our client reviews speak to that.
You Deserve A Better Than A “Decent” Massage
So what is the quality of massage therapy at franchises like Massage Envy? Well, they don’t have the best reputation.
In order for these franchises to maintain their low rates, they keep labor costs down by paying their massage therapists $15-17/hr, which is quite low for the industry. Massage Envy in particular is known for recruiting therapists directly from massage schools, because many experienced massage therapists won’t accept this entry level wage. Now that’s not to say that a new massage therapist can’t give a decent massage, but typically that’s what you’re going to get from places like Massage Envy….just “decent”. Therapists fresh out of massage school typically don’t have the skills and experience needed to deliver true therapeutic massage for pain relief.
Attention on “Sales” vs “Customer Satisfaction”
For a massage therapy clinic to push for an annual membership contract, you have to wonder about their motivations. This can be a sign that they’re more focused on sales than customer satisfaction. The typical way massage franchises sell memberships is to get you to sign their annual contract immediately after having received a massage, when you’re extremely relaxed and feel good. But once you’ve committed to paying every month, they don’t have to work as hard to earn your business in the future. You’ve already given it to them and it can be very difficult to cancel.
We don’t believe in annual massage memberships because we don’t feel like we have to lock you into a contract in order to keep your business. Come see us whenever you like because it truly benefits you and you value our work, not because we’re debiting your account either way.
Drain On The Local Economy
Franchise massage clinics also extract money out of the local economy. For most people this may only be an afterthought (if that) when looking for massage therapy in Asheville, NC. But with the growing interest from national corporations in our little mountain town, supporting locally-owned businesses is critical to maintaining Asheville’s unique character and spirit. So between massage therapists getting paid below average wages and significant revenue leaving the local economy as franchise fees, massage therapy clinics like Massage Envy are a drain on the local economy as well.
At Brown Mountain Bodywork, not only are you directly supporting independent business, but Go Local card holders from Asheville Grown will receive an additional discount while supporting the local schools!
The Bottom Line
At first glance, and especially after a massage, committing to an annual massage membership may seem like a good idea. After all, you “owe it to yourself” to have a monthly massage, right? But before you sign on the dotted line, take a closer look at what your needs are and how they are best served. Instead of committing to a massage membership, you can easily get a much better value by visiting our independently-owned massage therapy practice in north Asheville, just off of Merrimon Ave. We specialize in therapeutic massage for pain relief and do not require contracts for reasonable rates. Come in as needed for exceptional massage therapy at a great value while supporting local, independent business!