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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 Darcy Neibaur on October 28, 2010 at 10:05pm
Krishana The Massage Envy I work at does not have a tip chart. We think it is tacky also. We have heard of this being done at other clinic though. All are run by different owners and they do what they want. They are not all the same.
Comment by Krishana Hampton on October 28, 2010 at 9:59pm
I think it will be interesting to see how ME fairs now that a knew company (Massage Luxe) has entered the market, using the same concept. I have had massage at both. I made several visits to ME and each time tried a different therapist and when I finally found one that was okay, they were gone. I went to Massage Luxe for the first time a couple weeks ago b/c they had a groupon special and the therapist was pretty good, but I fear they will have a turn over rate similar to ME. I will say the tip chart on the front desk at locations of both businesses I visited it a bit trashy. I'm sure they could come up with a more discreet manor to make the suggestion.
Comment by Darcy Neibaur on October 27, 2010 at 11:48pm
Shannon not all Massage Envy's are the same. It is totally about the owners. We have a great owner at the Pensacola, FL Clinic. We are very fortunate and blessed. I have been working for them since April 2009 and love my job. I am truly grateful for my job.
Comment by shannon egan on October 27, 2010 at 8:27pm
I worked for ME for two weeks. Out of sheer desperation. I am a very competent therapist. I was humiliated to be paid so poorly. It is outrageous. I did see that there were a few other therapists who had clearly accepted a position with ME out of sheer need for more dollars, NOT because ME is a wonderful place to work.

It's not.
Comment by Ariana Vincent, LMT, MTI, BCTMB on October 25, 2010 at 7:16pm
My experience at Massage Envy Westlake in Austin has been superlative in every way. It is so exceptional that I'm now scheduling regular weekly sessions with my therapist at Massage Envy, Joshua Berry. The clinic administrator, Ariel Lopez, does an extraordinary job of seeing that things run smoothly and efficiently. I feel very fortunate to have such high quality of care located so conveniently to my school. I've been a massage therapist for 30 years and an instructor for 11 years, so my basis for comparison spans a large spectrum. I'm totally satisfied with my ME experience! Ariana Vincent, Ariana Institute, Austin

Comment by Mary Scott on October 25, 2010 at 9:21am
Thats disappointing to hear Darcy I think schools should be explaining the difference to students at least touch on the subject to the extent of understanding the differences.
Comment by Darcy Neibaur on October 24, 2010 at 11:41am
You could very well be right Mary. An expert I am not. I do know that in school one does not get extensive training in Deep Tissue. That is for the CE classes.
Comment by Mary Scott on October 24, 2010 at 9:56am
Ive been doing massage for 16 years and have had my share of working at local spas as well and NEVER have I heard deep tissue is not deep pressure... I beg to differ please read below.
Comment by Mary Scott on October 24, 2010 at 9:54am
ok... Well Deep tissue is deep tissue... Swedish is swedish You go to a place you want light touch its a Swedish generally with a lot long easy strokes Most places are Swedish or deep tissue, Neuromuscular,hot stone, swe thai, Thai, Advanced bodywork, Etc etc. Not I want a deep pressure massage if that is the case most places are going to put you down for a Deep tissue.. When You ask for a swedish you get a Light massage or firm pressure. When you ask for swedish you get a swedish massage .
Comment by Darcy Neibaur on October 24, 2010 at 9:43am
Mary Deep Pressure is not Deep Tissue.

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