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I had to experience it first hand. MT's are feeling pretty passionate about how it's affected the industry and I wanted to experience it for myself before creating my own opinion.

So here's what I experienced:

1) I booked a Sports Massage. What I got was a weak Swedish massage that neglected to address my low back, glutes, shoulders, occiput and head entirely. The strokes and technique used indicated a complete lack of understanding of muscle anatomy and/physiology. ( 1 out of 5 stars)

2) Massage lube came from a well used tube. Cross contamination was assured.

3) The environment was spartan, but comfortable and clean. Good mood and professional.

4) "Prescription" for massage 2x month was given to me with solid push to join their membership program after the massage. Prescription was baloney and clearly used to set up the sales pitch on the exit. I could tell the therapist was just going through the motions in writing it up and didn't really believe in it herself. Weak.

5) Shared with the Assistant mgr. my disappointment in the massage. She seemed genuinely surprised, stating that the MT who worked on me was "one of their popular" ones. She gave me a coupon for a free massage. Nice touch.

6) Paid $49 + $10 tip for a total of $59. More on this in a later post.

My thoughts:

I learned that MT's get paid $17/hour of massage, nothing if they don't have any clients, and $20/hr if they do more than 20hours of massage a week. I'll share more in a future post when I discuss pay rates for MT's, but clearly this level of compenstation isn't going to attract and/or maintain the best talent.

I also feel like the general public who has experienced a massage at ME hasn't experienced a "real" massage and still is coming back for more. Crazy, but very encouraging for those MT's who actually do have some talent.

What Massage Envy has going for it is a marketing engine that brings new clients in the door, easy to find retail locations, a reasonable cost structure, a professional first impression and a credible business that leaves no room for interpretation about what kind of a massage to expect.

Where ME drops the ball, as far as my singualr experience leads me to believe, is in the quality of their services.

Now that we know what we're up against, how do we compete?

Ideas and methods for building a vibrant practice:

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Comment by Mark Volkmann on March 3, 2012 at 12:53pm

Melissa, I'm not sure what your point is?

Are you suggesting I should go to a school to critique the quality of students they're training?

Are you suggesting that it is unfair of me to "review" a massage therapist who has worked on me?

Are you suggesting I am arrogant because I have years of experience as a massage therapist?

Here's my point: Proper grammar and verb conjugation always helps when one tries to communicate ideas and thoughts clearly.

I have followed this post since I first submitted it in 2010 and I am impressed with what has been shared by others. Thank you for all the insight.

Ultimately I feel that there IS (and should be) a correlation between price and the quality of a service received.  I am glad to hear that ME is putting money back into educating its therapists and attempting to improve the quality their clients are receiving. Keep it up!

Several have mentioned that the way for others to compete is with a higher level of service and quality of massage. I couldn't agree more. Competing with effective marketing and promotion should also not be ignored.  How best to compete with a marketing and promotional engine like ME?

Comment by mary cecilia williams on January 29, 2012 at 9:07am

I also am a part-time employee at ME along with a private practice. After 15 yrs in this field I still have room to grow. Most therapist at ME are newly out of school and I feel honored to be there for them on thier journey. A place where we all have been "newbies"


Comment by Debra Ann Castrinos on June 29, 2011 at 8:18pm
The only way to compete with Massage Envy is to do it better.  You know all their weaknesses, so make sure your staff is never doing any of those things... then go visit a few more places, get some ideas...something will sparkle the creative talent within you, and things will come together.  You will get some good ideas.  Donald Trump always said that "Bad publicity is better than no publicity".
Comment by Darcy Neibaur on February 14, 2011 at 10:10pm
Thanks Dannie
Comment by W. Dannie Lane on February 14, 2011 at 3:13pm
Hey ya Darcy, yep, I know about this class, it is not the same as his orthopedic massage classes, this one is a more “in-depth” study of the Deep heat treatment that we all offer or more of a “advanced Deep Heat”. It is what we used here at ME Mid town Atlanta GA when I was teaching the deep heat muscal release to the therapist here. ME STILL don’t want you to be doing true Orthopedic massage work in there clinics. I was in one the conference call when they were talking about offering this class (back in Aug or Sep). M.E paid Whitney to design this class for us.
Comment by Darcy Neibaur on February 14, 2011 at 11:57am
There is now an approved CE class through Massage Envy Called Orthopedic Massage with Pain Relieving Products by Whitney Lowe. $80 special pricing for Massage Envy therapists only 14 hours of CEU's. The owner here in Pensacola, FL is paying for us all to take this class if we want to. The information is located at Your Owner should be providing this information to you. I realize Pensacola, FL has the Best Massage Envy Owner and he does much more for us than most of them do.
Comment by W. Dannie Lane on February 13, 2011 at 8:30am

The Massage Envy’s here in Ga will not pay us from training with Whitney Lowe for massage envy corporate feels that orthopedic work is outside the scope of massage envy.  I have taken his hands on class from upper and lower body and use this some at ME, but more so in my private practice.  Most of the people that come in to our ME are not looking for this type of work.  But just to have the knowhow to do this type of work is worth it. 

When a orthopedic treatment only take 10 to 15 min to do (the assessment can take 10 to 15 min as well) it don’t fit into the ME massage setup well.


Comment by Darcy Neibaur on February 12, 2011 at 10:57am
Thank you Dannie. I keep telling folks they are not the same. Some just do not get it. A class with 'Whitney Lowe is next on my Massage Envy Agenda.
Comment by W. Dannie Lane on February 12, 2011 at 9:28am

I am not commenting about Massage Envy here (but I do work for one), I am commenting on the deep tissue and deep pressure thing.  I was appalled that someone thinks they are the same thing!  My first time in massage school was in 1989 (400hrs). Deep Tissue was a BIG part of that training.  I want back to school in 2001 (850 hrs) and what they called “deep tissue” was to me a deep pressure Swedish massage. If you think they are the same thing PLEASE look into training with people like James H. Clay, David M. Pounde, Whitney Lowe, and Art Riggs. The BIG deferent’s in Deep Pressure work and Deep Tissue work is the techniques used!!!!  You do not need to use a LOT of pressure to do deep tissue work, and if that’s the only way one thinks it needs to be that is just poor training.  

Comment by Darcy Neibaur on February 9, 2011 at 1:12pm
Thank you Christopher for your great sharing.

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