When there are so many places to go for massage how do you choose? There are places with daily deals and groupons and places where they rub your feet and a lot of chiropractors are offering massage covered by your insurance. First, I don't begrudge anyone for getting a massage anywhere. I am happy it is becoming so mainstream and that many people are recognizing the awesome benefits of getting regular massage!
I will say I hope that you are going to a licensed professional and that when you are choosing your therapist you keep in mind that less isn't always more, and conversely more money doesn't always equal a great treatment.
I am, of course, a big proponent of choosing a small business over a big chain. Not only because I am a proprietor myself, but for many reasons. The industry has changed. Some things are great! More people are getting more massage. Some things aren't so good.
Here are a few things to look for when choosing your massage therapist or spa and why:
1. A small practice massage should offer you more. More customization. More specialization. More knowledge of you and your issues. You should leave feeling like you were listened to and your problems were addressed. You should leave feeling better. All of your problems might not be cured at your first visit, but over time you should feel like your concerns aren't bothering you half as much as they used to. If that is not the case, and you've plateaued your therapist should have people they feel comfortable recommending you to (even other MT's).
2. Sometimes people will ask me for a discount or a free session. They will tell me my prices are too high or ask if I have a groupon. I have talked to other people in the industry who are discounting and they say they have to to stay competitive and that people don't know the difference between a $59 massage or a $70 massage so they will go for the less expensive one.
I don't think these are bad questions or statements, and I understand the fear of competition when you see the saturation of franchises. This is what people have linked with the massage industry. While the massage industry has grown into a billion dollar money maker the massage therapist's salary has decreased in the last ten years. This is because a lot of franchise operations give a discount massage and don't pay their therapists fairly even though they are the ones working their tail's off doing all the work! This equals tired, less effective therapists who burn out quickly. Small business therapists and spas have felt they need to discount their services to compete.
However, the service and bodywork you receive with a therapist who isn't rushing through seven clients a day without a break and can take their time with you is worth the extra ten or twenty dollars. I think the investment you are making in your health to get an effective treatment is worth it too. I do think people know the difference when they are treated like individuals and given a therapeutic experience.
I offer extra time on my services for reviews or for referrals (time is money, guys!) and discounts on packages to get people on a routine. I also use essential oils, special lotions and balms, heat treatments etc. all at no "upcharge" because I think those things have benefit. I also offer more specialized modalities rather than a one size fits all massage, because well, different massages and techniques work better for different people!
3. Small business is just better, period. I didn't realize this until I had a place of my own so I kind of feel like a jerk, but it's just true. These are the people in your community, your neighbors and friends who are really talented, awesome people. Support them and they'll support you by putting their money back into the community.
Your experience will be different at a small, local spot where the face you see is the same every time, than it will be at a place where the people don't stick around. Your service is better because your business is their life blood. They eat, sleep, and breathe this business. They are experts. Trust me.
4. As for every therapist I know, they are in it to help people. As cheesy as that might sound-that's why we all got into this. If we are brave enough to go out on our own (and many of us are introverts and not business or marketing experts) it's because we want to help more people the right way, know our worth and make a decent living, and not become burnt out (our average career is just three to five years if we're overworked) so we hope you'll come see us and then tell your friends.