After reading an article in Massage and Bodywork called “Massage Franchises – The Impact on the Massage Profession” I at first was deeply saddened thinking that it might all be true- that the self employed massage therapist was in danger of becoming extinct! (Well that’s what the article said anyways!)
To me, being a massage therapist was about a lifestyle choice of being my own boss and not having to work for someone else right from the beginning but back in 1987 when I went to school -there were no massage jobs at all! I went with 250 hours of training right into starting and running a business. I had some experience in customer service working previously in photography but didn’t know a thing about starting a business. It was essential in the beginning to network with other massage therapists and help each other out. I learned how to bill for car accidents and workman’s comp from my friends. I learned about leases and how to negotiate them and find office space. I learned by doing mostly and by sharing with friends. There wasn’t much help in the way of massage school. They didn’t teach much at all about starting or running a business.
One of the most disturbing things mentioned in the article was the fact that Corinthian Colleges are now supporting Massage Envy Franchises and supplying them massage students! I can see it is a good business decision for both – the massage school wants to keep students coming in the door promising them jobs and ME wants more …well I was going to say ‘slaves’ but was looking for a nicer word – I guess simply employees.
Franchises can be a good way to start for some. There are many younger massage students these days coming right out of high school. The massage schools have also increased significantly in the last 10 years . (See the increasing number of massage schools through the years on my site.) That would be an interesting topic to study – why were all these schools started? Was there a need for them or was it just dollar signs in school owners eyes as they saw how much money they could make putting students through school. (Yes I know there are some who take it more seriously and are genuine about creating compassionate, successful massage therapists.)
Was there really a demand?
So now there are all these massage schools trying to stay in business with the economy crashing and people not knowing what to do with their lives – so walahhh- the low cost massage was created along with low paying massage jobs!
At first after reading this article as I said in the beginning of this post I was saddened. I actually just thought it might be time to get out of the profession seeing it come to that! Then of course some time went by and now I am more inspired and committed than ever in writing and teaching massage therapists that they can actually start and build their own business if they want and there are other choices to low paying jobs. You can use them to get you where you want to be- with your own business or you can just skip that phase and jump right in with both feet to starting your own business. In fact set up shop right next to them and put up a big sign – “I fix $59 (or whatever it is in your area) Massages!” (Ok I also hate the word “fix” because that isn’t what we do in general -but it works for marketing!)