5 Massage Red Flags: When to cancel your appointment or cut it short

5 Massage Red Flags

When looking for long-term massage therapy, it’s important to look for a massage therapist and a clinic that makes your health and wellness its top priority. Massage is technically a healthcare service, but it’s also on a gray line between therapeutic care and spa service. As such, not everyone is in it to take care of people. Some view it as a commodity to be sold, or have some other intention a million miles from caring for your health. These warning signs should help you avoid wasting your time and money with a therapist or a clinic that won’t meet your needs.

You don’t like your therapist
It’s a simple thing. It sounds petty, but it really isn’t. You need to have a good personal chemistry with your massage therapist. If you are coming in for a massage treatment as part of a healing regimen, it’s crucial that you feel comfortable consenting to be treated by your therapist! You want a practitioner who will see you for the whole person you are, regardless of how much or how little healing you need. You want that person to be able to freely offer you both their skill and their compassionate care. If you’re personally uncomfortable with them, that will come through, and your care will be compromised.

If, for whatever reason, you don’t feel your personalities mesh, or if you just feel uncomfortable with a therapist, it’s best move on or try to reschedule with someone else.

Not sure if your therapist is going to be a good fit for you? We’ve provided a whole series of blog posts and videos so you can get to know the therapists of The Good Life Massage a little better.

The hard sell
You know it when you see it: it might be a coolness in the way someone sees you. Maybe your brain is unconsciously picking up on some whiff of contempt or condescension from them. If you sense this when coming in for therapeutic massage, don’t hesitate for a moment to do something about it.

 

contempt-microexpression-750x481
See this look? If you catch that look on someone’s face, even for a moment while they’re interacting with you, watch yourself. Someone who has contempt for you will do you no good as friend, business partner, lover, or even as a massage therapist. Photo: davidwolfe.com

Massage chains are notorious for this. They offer you a low rate in their window signs, but this turns out to be an introductory rate, designed to get you in so they can sell you on an annual contract.

Now, to be fair, massage chains can be staffed with dedicated professionals. Most massage therapists get into the business to truly help and heal people, not just collect a paycheck. But the nature of the massage chain system tends to promote “salesy” behavior on the part of the therapists. Sure, they’re saying you need to come in for massage x times a month. But since you’re about to be pitched on an annual contract, committing you to so many massages a month, can you be sure they’re not just trying to meet a quota?

The truth is, chains aren’t really there to sell massage: they’re there to sell memberships. If all you want is a regular, but casual experience, it might be a good fit for you. We discussed chains in an earlier post, so check that out for more information to help you make a decision.

Chains aren’t the only culprits, however. Individual practitioners or clinics of all shapes and sizes can be more motivated by the bottom line than the wellness of their clients. Watch out for the hard sell, or any sign at all that they’re more concerned with getting to the wallet in your back pocket than getting to the knots in your back.

Um … is this a brothel or a massage clinic?
Unfortunately, massage has a reputation for being a euphemism for sexual services. Since prostitution is illegal in most states, many “massage parlors” aren’t licensed clinics, and are fronts offering anything but therapeutic treatment.

Do they take cash only? Do they not give you any intake paperwork to fill out the first time? Does the massage staff seem to be exclusively female and scantily clad? Are they open late into the night with a mostly male clientele? Not only should these things have you looking up someplace else to go, you might want to notify the police. Such places operate illegally, and are often involved with rape trafficking (also known as sex slavery or human trafficking).

And certainly, if a massage therapist touches your breasts or genitals, or makes unwanted romantic or sexual advances, you should leave immediately. This can sometimes happen, even in legitimate clinics, but you have the right to stop the session short. Call the police if you’ve been sexually assaulted.

You instantly feel worse when you walk in
Any massage therapist working hard to give their clients a good massage will be conscientious about making their clients feel thoroughly welcomed and safe. Is the place dirty or unkempt? Does it feel less-than-private or unsafe?

Keep in mind that the clinic doesn’t have to be in a posh neighborhood to be legitimate, staffed with skilled, caring therapists. But if you don’t see any effort on their part to make you feel welcome, how much care are they going to offer if you’re coming in for regular treatment and healing?

As you’ll see when you come in to The Good Life Massage, we’ve worked hard to create a peaceful, healing space for all our clients. Our clinic is ADA compliant, and all our rooms are completely private. Clients have told us they feel an overwhelming sense of safety at The Good Life Massage, and that’s no accident.

They don’t listen
Say you’re having your first session. You’ve told them before you started that you don’t want your feet worked because they’re too sensitive–but they work them anyway. Honest mistake, right? But what if they do it again? Or what if, for every request, they either ignore you or forget what you’ve asked for?

Move on. Your massage therapist should be fully present with you in the session, listening to your wants and needs, and should be willing to customize the session to suit you.

They aren’t present
Are they chronically late for appointments? Do you catch them texting or using their phone while they’re working on you? A good therapist will give you and your healing their full energy and attention. Don’t tolerate a caregiver who doesn’t care. We don’t at our clinic, and neither should you.

At The Good Life Massage, we have a diverse, caring staff that show up dressed like professionals, and will treat you professionally. What’s more, our emphasis is on healing and relaxation. We train our staff to give you compassionate care first and foremost. You won’t be hard-sold on anything. So when your therapist says you need x number of massages a month, you can trust that they truly believe that’s what would benefit your health.

If you need regular massage, but need a break on the price, we offer prepaid massage packages. If you buy 5 massages at once, you get a sixth one for free. It’s simple, there’s no contractual commitment, and no expiration date.

Book your next massage with us today!

Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to give your business a boost with brand and logo development, or with social media by contacting him at tomgunn@gmail.com

The True Cost of Your Massage

Some things just aren’t worth getting cheap. Low price tags are undeniably seductive, but too often the old chestnut about getting what you pay for turns out to be true.

Beyond quality, however, it’s important to consider how much it costs to bring you the things that you love. With this in mind, so much of what we take for granted– or even belly-ache over the price of–can suddenly seem like a bargain. Massage is one of those things. Let’s take a moment to break down the costs our massage price covers:

Overhead
This broad term is too easily glazed over, but in our case, these are just a few of the things we need to cover to provide you the massages you love:

  • laundry – not only do we have to pay for the machines and maintenance, the actual process of keeping our sheets and towels clean takes considerable cost and effort. While we try to be thrifty, we try to purchase products that will effectively remove unsightly grease stains and disinfect, all while not leaving behind any perfumes or odors. Checking all those boxes comes with a cost.
  • equipment – Did you know that most professional massage tables Massage therapist standing by massage table with hands crossedstart at about $600? Then there’s the towel warmers, the heating pads, the sheets, the music players, computers, printer, furniture, etc. It all adds up very quickly.
  • power – the heating, lighting, and air-conditioning for the whole clinic is fueled by a significant portion of the fee you pay for a massage.
  • rent – we love our clinic, and many of you have told us that you share that sentiment. But it doesn’t come free! We went out of our way to find a great deal on this place so we can keep our costs as low as possible while providing you a great massage experience.

Promotion and sales
If you’ve ever come in with a voucher, consider yourself lucky. Those promotions have done wonders to bring in new clients. But that has come with a considerable cost. Each of those sessions fulfilled actually costs us far more than we get paid for it.

Social Media Networking Time

This blog, our Twitter feed, Facebook page, and Pinterest boards also cost us in time and money. There are also costs that come with advertising and networking as we try to bring in new clients.

Education
Sure, massage practitioners don’t have the student loans of doctors, but they don’t get anything near the pay of doctors either. Most LMPs have to take on some debt in order to afford their training. Doing paid massage work is their time to service those debts one big payment at a time. The less they get paid, the more the interest piles up over the years.

Just as a side note, the training to become an LMP is far more extensive than you might think. It takes hundreds of long hours studying anatomy and physiology, not to mention the hours spent practicing and learning techniques. Amy Gunn, one of our owner/operators, even spent some of her training examining dissected cadavers at a local university. So no, becoming an LMP doesn’t involve the kind of training you would need to become a doctor or a nurse, but the layman might have a hard time telling the difference.

And the training doesn’t stop there! Washington state law requires that LMPs acquire about 12 hours a year of continuing education. There are always fees that come with that training, and your massage practitioner is paying for those.

Healthcare
Most LMPs simply can’t afford health insurance, and have to rely on either the state or pay out-of-pocket for their healthcare costs. Most clinics, like ours, likewise can’t afford to offer health insurance as a benefit. It should be noted, however, that our practitioners are able to purchase supplemental insurance at reduced rate.

Liability insurance
This protects the practitioner in the event they get sued. However, that insurance protection is a requirement for an LMP license in Washington state, and comes with regular costs that need to be covered.

Wages
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, LMPs make an average of about $18.25 an hour in Washington state as of 2014. While we pay our practitioners well above that average, you need to understand that their pay is per massage hour. Given how hard massage can be on the muscles and joints, most practitioners can’t stand to do more than six massage hours in a day, and no more than about 20-25 total hours in a week!

With that kind of pace in mind, the experienced, skilled LMP who makes you feel like a million bucks isn’t taking home much more than the teenagers serving you iced tea and chili cheese fries.

Feeling guilty yet?
All kidding aside, we realize that the cost of a massage is a stress for many, if not most people. We’ve tried to do everything we can to make sure that our business remains viable. It’s a real balancing act trying to keep the lights on, keep our practitioners working and happy, and satisfying our clients at the lowest possible price. But we love the challenge. We may not have the lowest price point in town, but the quality and experience we offer our clients is second to none.

If paying full price for massage is difficult for you to manage, we have created several ways to pay for a massage, including prepaid massage packages offered at a significant discount. We can even bill against a workers compensation claims or personal injury protection claims for car accidents.

Whatever you manage to work out, we appreciate your business. Each day we’re grateful for the chance to do what we love. Anyone hoping to get rich as an LMP might want to consider doing something else, but that’s just it: we do this because we love it.

Before you balk at our price or go elsewhere chasing a bargain, considering the costs involved could transform your perspective.

Tom Gunn is the marketing director and blog editor for The Good Life Massage. Follow him on Twitter @tomgunnpoet.

You Don’t Have to be Rich to Get Regular Massage: Save With Prepaid Packages

If you think massage is out of reach or not practical for you, it might be time to take another look.

Massage has come a long way in the past twenty years. As word has spread about massage’s many benefits for health and wellness, more and more people are coming in to try a session who may never have had one before.

A common misconception about massage is that it’s a luxury service–a personal indulgence that only the rich can afford. Massage chains have contributed a great deal to rolling back this misconception by offering massage at low rates previously unheard of in the spa industry. While this has been great for introducing people to the benefits of massage, the situation is less than perfect, and often isn’t beneficial to the long-term care of clients.

The problem with massage chains…

There's nothing to envy about the hidden costs of massage memberships.
There’s nothing to envy about the hidden costs of massage memberships.

Hidden costs
Massage chains are most often run like gyms: their product is memberships, not massages. You, the customer, commit to a fixed payment each month that entitles you to so many massages within that month. But don’t be too dazzled by the introductory rate. Your monthly costs are usually much higher than the introductory rate, and often come with a start-up fee of some kind.

Revolving door
Further, massage chains can offer the bargains they do because they generally hire newly minted massage practitioners fresh out of massage school. Often, these therapists are just looking for work anywhere they can find it. With enrollment in massage training programs at an all-time low, chains throughout the industry are finding it hard to recruit talented therapists whose work is worth coming back for, and who will accept the near-minimum wage chains are offering. The low pay also necessarily makes for a high turn-over rate as practitioners burn out or find better-paying work elsewhere.

“Can I get Jessie? She did such a great job on my lower back last time.”

“Sorry, she’s no longer with us. Don’t worry, though, Alex is great.”

Even if your favorite therapist is still there, it can be very hard to get in to see them regularly.

The owners of the Good Life Massage both spent some of their careers at major massage chains, and much of what they saw inspired them to strike out on their own. Both wanted to offer clients something more.

The Good Life Massage–meeting you in the middle
We set up GLM not as a luxury service only for the wealthy, but as a wellness center designed to help contribute to a culture of self-care and well-being in a world that’s so often hostile to those things.

For our clients who need regular massage, we designed a system that lowers the price tag of regular sessions considerably, but still provides a great benefit without cumbersome contracts filled with hidden costs and fine print.

Massage packages: How it works
The Good Life Massage offers prepaid massage packages. These allow you to purchase multiple sessions all at once which you can book whenever you like. There’s no contract to sign, no fine print, and no monthly payment to worry about.

When you purchase the package of your choice, you pay up-front for all your massages, getting one for FREE when you buy 5 or more.

What’s the catch?

There’s no catch. Your package doesn’t even expire.

Share and share alike
The best part is that the packages are completely transferable. You can offer your unique package code to anyone you want so they can book a session. Massage chain memberships are tied to your name only, and can’t be used by family, friends, or co-workers.

Your employees or co-workers can all share one redemption code, getting everyone more massage and saving everyone money.
Your employees or co-workers can all share one redemption code, getting everyone more massage and saving everyone money.

A massage package can be a great cost-effective way to give family gifts, provide a perk for your employees, or just save money in the long run on the massages you’re already getting.

Spreading the cost out with a group means even more savings and more massage for everyone.

No revolving door
All our massage practitioners are hand-picked by our owner/operators Kylee Davis and Amy Gunn. Both are licensed massage practitioners. They hire only the best practitioners in the business and pay fair, competitive wages.

We’re here to build lasting relationships with our clients that will help their health and wellness long term, not just fill massage rooms. Our turnover rate is non-existent so far, and all our therapists have won loyal clients eager to come back for them again and again.

So what are you waiting for? Massage packages can be ordered through our website. Your package redemption code can be instantly downloaded and used the moment you get it. You can also buy them in-person at our clinic at 200 South Tobin, Ste A in Renton, Washington.

Want to apply a package to your next massage? At checkout, just ask to purchase a package and we can credit the massage you just had to your new package.

Tom Gunn is the Marketing Director and official blogger at The Good Life Massage. You can follow him on Twitter @tomgunnpoet or visit www.tgunnwriter.com