Massage Envy – The Blessing and Curse

I try to stay out of discussions about Massage Envy mainly because I get myself in trouble because they are such a controversy in the massage profession.  I have been writing about them since the beginning.  (Massage Envy – Love them or leave them)

At first I was really scared of them, thinking that they would ruin my business since I am priced much higher than the fees they charge.  I thought at first that they wouldn’t last long – but of course they have.   Each Massage Envy is run independently and the owner can make the places much friendlier to massage therapists and some do just that.

On the positive side:

  • They provide jobs when there are not many jobs in massage to be found.
  • They pay for MT to take CE classes (from what I understand)
  • They donate money lots of money!) to things like the AMTA and the Massage Therapy Foundation and the Arthritis Foundation.
    ($678,173 to support the Arthritis Foundation in 2012, according to ABMP ,  $100,000 to fund clinical research for the past two years according to this press release)
  • They advertise in Oprah Magazine and on TV and in other places and get massage out there to the public.
  • They provide millions of low cost massages to people getting massage out there more to the public.

On the other side:

  • They are becoming known as the Walmart of the massage profession, taking advantage of massage therapists and paying them low wages and having them work long hours without breaks in many cases.   Working like that, a massage therapists career is at risk because of injuries or burnout working like that for many hours.
  • The negative comments found online of course out number the positive ones.  (People usually complain more than they praise)
  • People may be starting to get sick of  their sales people.
  • They don’t do intake’s on clients or I have heard that the front desk people do intakes which just won’t help the massage therapist in educating clients.
  • You can’t make a living there working at Massage Envy.  It usually needs to be a second income for a family or have other means of support.  If you are trying to make a living working there, it will be a struggle on $15-$20 an hour.
  • They always say that the MT makes up the income in tips and that is what makes the difference for their wages, but I as a sole proprietor charging $85 an hour still gets tips on top of that too.

Yesterday when I was looking through the AMTA-WA lawyers website (which is a free service offered with membership) I found an interesting question in their FAQ’s for MT.  It asked something like – can my husband who is not a licensed massage therapist own a massage business?   The answer was NO.   So how then are Massage Envy’s opening in WA State?  I asked the attorney (John Pieck) for clarification and indeed it is a big issue here.  The Board of Health has agreed to not prosecute for now.  Some Massage Envy owners are actually going to massage school!   I wonder if that will help them really understand how hard it is for MT to work at a ME!!!!

So what really is the answer to this problem in the massage profession?

The answer is saying no to jobs that are just not paying you enough to live.

The answer is creating more small chains of massage businesses (maybe using the same membership model since it seems to work)  that hire massage therapists as employees and pay them a decent wage so that they can live and succeed at being a massage therapist and stay healthy.  It can be done!  Can you imagine?

  • Being paid a minimum of $25 an hour and being paid whether you had a client or not
  • Being able to make more like $35 or more an hour
  • Being paid bonuses or getting raises based on your experience and also how you do perform at work.  If you are good at building repeat business, you will be paid for your skills.
  • Having heath insurance, vacation pay, money for CE classes
  • Being a part of the business and having the chance to learn skills for running a business

It may start with you first building your own successful massage business and working up to being busy enough to hire others to help you.  The Steady Stream of Clients program  is just the answer.  Shelene Taylor can help you in just a few short weeks, make big changes in the way you work with clients and get them to come back.

After you have your schedule filled and If you are interested in learning how to hire massage therapists and learn how to keep their schedule filled which really  means that you can help more people through massage,  Shelene Taylor of .  Tell her I sent you!  (Julie Onofrio!)  She offers a 6 month coaching program to help you with every step of the way.


2 thoughts on “Massage Envy – The Blessing and Curse”

  1. Hi Julie,
    I love your idea about creating more smaller chains of massage businesses. It will be interesting to see how this whole Massage Envy thing will evolve.

    Awesome information. Thanks for sharing!

    Talk soon,

  2. I told myself that I would never, ever work at a Massage Envy (or any other place like it). However, I relocated my personal business, and took a hit financially with the drop off in clientele, and having to build it back up in a new location. So, I needed a part-time job, that gave me flexibility in hours to supplement my income until my business has grown again. I live right next to a Massage Envy, so because I knew it would be temporary, and they would pretty much give me the hours I was looking for, I decided to pick up a position there. I hate the structure of it. No time to really talk to your clients about self-care, exercises, etc. I found myself starting to not care as much about the clients I see there, as opposed to the clients I see in my personal business, mostly due to the low pay and scheduling structure. The tips from clients are good, but like you said, I still get tipped when I charge $75/hr with my business. I think it is good for someone who is new and needs to get a lot of hands on experience, but to try and make a living there would be draining.

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