Massage & Bodywork

September | October 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 23 of 140

TEN FOR TODAY Franchises: Myth vs. Reality By Rebecca Jones Myth 1: Franchises destroy the livelihoods of self-employed MTs On the face of it, the figures don't look good. How can an independent therapist charging $90 an hour stay in business when there's a massage franchise down the road that charges $50 an hour? If cost were the only thing determining who gets business, this would be a valid concern. But clients' actual decisions show cost is just one factor—and not always the most important one. Day spas, franchises, medical offices, private practices, resort spas, and sports clubs each offer a different experience. And clients have their own individual criteria for selecting one therapist over another. In ABMP's 2013 National Consumer Survey, more than a quarter of massage clients went to an independent therapist's office for their most recent massage, and another quarter went to a day spa. Franchises were in third place. "With the increased public demand for massage therapy services, there is plenty of room for all types of businesses to be successful," says CG Funk, vice president of industry relations for Massage Envy, the nation's largest massage therapy franchise. "Franchises are also contributing to our industry by creating more exposure of the work to a wider demographic population, which grows the industry for all of us." Myth 2: Therapists working at a franchise earn much less than independent therapists It's true that an independent massage therapist, or someone who works at a high-end spa or medical office, usually charges far more than a franchise for each massage. But independent therapists have business expenses that franchise employees don't bear. A 2011 Massage Envy survey found that the average therapist in private practice nets about $24 an hour, counting tips—slightly less than the $27-an-hour average for franchise employees. Calculated annually, the differences can be even greater. "You could probably earn more per massage at a resort, but resorts aren't always busy," says Mary DiCioccio, lead therapist at a Massage Envy spa in Tucson. "You might earn a bit more during winter, but during summer, the resorts here are really slow. We've had many therapists who worked for resorts come to work for us because we're so busy all the time." I t p a y s t o b e A B M P C e r t i f i e d : w w w. a b m p . c o m / g o / c e r t i f i e d c e n t r a l 21 Myth 3: Franchises wear out their therapists Any business that works its employees to death won't stay viable for long. Wearing out therapists by forcing them to work too many hours or give too many massages in a shift leads to costly turnover, so it's in everyone's best interests to keep workloads steady but humane. "It is our corporate policy to require a break after three consecutive massages," says Ryan Stracci, spa manager of the Langhorne, Pennsylvania Hand and Stone Massage and Facial Spa, a national chain. "When we interview people, we establish their boundaries immediately. I don't expect my staff to do anything I wouldn't want to do." Stracci acknowledges that some franchise owners push therapists to do more. "I once worked for a franchise owner who expected me to do six to eight massages in a row, and I had to tell him I just couldn't do that, but that can happen anywhere," he says. "I feel like it is becoming more corporate policy now to establish those boundaries." At SpaVia, a small Colorado franchise that's preparing to expand nationally, most massage therapists average four to five clients per day. "I've never heard anyone say I'll do eight massages in one day and feel good about it," says SpaVia President Allison Langenderfer. "You want that first service and that last service of the day to be the same." Myth 4: Franchises don't offer good benefits The more franchises that open, the more competition there is for good therapists. One way franchises attract and keep staff is to offer benefits that are difficult to obtain in private practice. "There's a lot of motivation for owners to create better all-around working environments for their staff," Funk says. "This doesn't just include health benefits; it also means vacation time, personal days, and sick days." DiCioccio notes that at her spa, staff members also get discounts on services and products. Michael Brueckmann, a therapist for the past five years at MassageLuXe in Kirkwood, Missouri, is looking forward to the day he'll own his own franchise. For every year he works, the chain puts $5,000 into a fund to help underwrite the cost of a franchise. "So after eight years, you have $40,000 in accrued earnings toward buying a franchise," Brueckmann says.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Massage & Bodywork - September | October 2014