A career in massage therapy can be rewarding, both personally and professionally; yet, newly graduated therapists might need some help getting started in the profession. Additionally, many experienced massage therapists want to practice massage without the headaches of running their own business. While operating a massage practice holds some appeal, working at a massage franchise might be a good way to gain valuable experience or settle into massage without the demands of being a sole proprietor.
“Massage and spa franchises are contributing to our industry by growing our market, increasing awareness of the benefits of massage and spa services, creating an affordable way for mainstream clients to receive massage more regularly, increasing job opportunities for therapists, and serving the needs of their communities in numerous ways,” says CG Funk, vice president of industry relations and product development at Massage Envy Spa.
Massage Envy Spa is the largest massage franchise, with more than 800 locations in the U.S., and employs about 18,000 massage therapists.
Additional massage franchises include Hand & Stone, Elements, Massage Heights, La Vida, Massaggiano and more.
New therapists face a number of challenges, including building a clientele, establishing an office and creating marketing materials. Even more challenging might be the costs of advertising, equipment and product inventory. By working at a franchise, any massage therapist can put these cares aside and focus on providing top-quality massage sessions.
“Due to the sheer volume of clients walking through our doors, new therapists can quickly build a repeat client base without the effort and expense of marketing themselves like they would need to do if they were to open their own practice,” says Doug Elman, director of massage training at Hand & Stone Franchise Corporation. “An established name in the industry is a draw and comfort for many clients.”
In addition to providing steady work, most franchises offer a clean, safe environment, hands-on training, high-quality products, clean linens, adjustable electric tables, marketing and advertising, and all bookings and confirmation calls.
Franchise work also enables a therapist to gain experience with minimal effort. “You get hands-on experience and can expect to do 20 to 24 massages a week,” Michele Merhib, founder of Elements Therapeutic Massage says, adding that more seasoned therapists can offer valuable insight to newcomers. “You’re also working with 15 to 35 other massage therapists who can be built-in mentors,” she explains.
Some franchise systems may provide or supplement the cost of educational classes, which enables a massage therapist to enhance her knowledge and value to clients. In some cases, a franchise may pay the cost of liability and life insurance for therapists who have worked with the business for a while.
Massage therapists may also find tremendous opportunity for advancement in a franchise system on a growth track. “As therapists grow within the franchise, they can become lead therapists, studio managers and even owners,” Merhib says.
Phyllis Hanlon is a freelance writer specializing in health and medicine, religion, education and business. She regularly delights in the joys of massage, and has written many articles for MASSAGE Magazine and Massage Magazine Insurance Plus.