Keen Competition

By Leslie Young
[Editor's Note]

What does the term franchise massage conjure up in your mind? Every time I write even a tiny bit on the subject, the sniper fire zings across my desk and I get flurries of emails from therapists asking where they can submit their resumes.

We’re publishing this issue’s cover story to be informative, not controversial. It’s time to explore the status of franchise massage in our country. It’s not a point to argue; it’s a phenomenon to be watched.

I was cornered at a party last autumn by a therapist who turned venomous talking about a franchise massage outlet opening in her area. I started quizzing the group of about 75 people. Three people had franchise memberships. A dozen or so regularly received massage from nearby spas. Another dozen saw independent practitioners. The majority didn’t get massage at all; they said it was too expensive. But these people have bucks. One woman could have paid for five years of massage for the price of her purse.

The competition for independents (and franchises and spas for that matter) isn’t another therapist or a franchise outlet; it’s all the other places potential clients choose to spend their dollars. We all need to do a better job of articulating the value of massage so it’s seen as a necessity and an investment. More clients = more business for everyone.

I’ve heard practitioners who are worried that massage newbies won’t have a quality experience at a franchise outlet. Well, really the same concern exists whether it’s a first-time experience at a franchise outlet, a spa, or even with another practitioner. I think it’s difficult for therapists to believe that there are others who can give quality massages. Do what you do to the best of your ability.

We know from our reader surveys that most of you are independent practitioners, but an increasing number of you choose to work in franchise massage outlets. You’ve done your own marketing, scheduling, and laundry and you’ve run the math. Being an employee works for some. And, for others, a mix of both is the key to success.

In this economy, we at ABMP watch our surveys very carefully because we want to make sure you’re employed. If you’re reading this and trying to figure out whose side I’m on, the not-so secret is that I’m on your side. Whoever you are. My job is to watch and learn, and understand as many facets of our profession as possible. Please make sure you’re tuned in and taking notes about the trends in the massage profession today, too. We can all learn from the “competition,” if we spend time on reflection rather than reloading.


Leslie A. Young, Editor in Chief