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I have been bothered for some time regarding the deterioration of our standards i.e pay scales and expectations of employers. Places like Massage Envy have turned what we offer into a Mc Donalds massage, exploiting new grads and those challenged by marketing, and or unaffiliated to stand for a decent rate of pay in a tight economy. As a primarily chair therapist i have seen a growing number of massage companies lower their rates from $40-50 an hour to $25-30. Spas and gyms expect us to hang out and wash showers etc. if we have no customers. The other day a referred employer told me they had just hired a chair therapist. She added, "what we particularly like is she doesn't mind if there are a lot of gaps in the schedule. She just brings a book." I wanted to say, if you ordered a pizza, then just took 4 slices... would you expect the pizza company to not charge for the food he prepared, delivered and then could not sell? That is our time people! If we don't place a value on it... why should anyone else?

I don't know what to do about this. but i think the first thing is to request reasonable rates and turn down a job here and there. Talk to each other. Support each other in taking this stand. Right articles. A damn well make sure we are worth it when we do work.

Gary

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Mae,

I agree with all you said. And as initiator of this topic I want to see if we can move to solutions. Here are some of the ones I've been thinking about.

1. We are doing it. Let's keep talking to and encouraging fellow therapists to maintain standards of pay and service.
2. Let's contact schools in our areas to teach and stand for quality, value etc. It is easier to engrain a sense of worth in students before graduating than trying to change therapists years afterward once they've resigned themselves to play the discount game.
3. Let's remember the parachute/buisness analogy. (quick version) "If there were three people in a falling plane and you were selling parachutes ... you'd do well naming your price etc." My point being, instead of saying or excepting someone else saying... these are hard times we have to lower our prices – why not say/think... because these are hard times our service is even more needed. Perhaps we should be raising our prices. Tell perspective clients you will do your best to maintain your prices, but people are so stressed etc....

4. What I do regarding deals – is offer more time rather than less money. i.e. As an intro...0r, for your birthday, you can have $10 less or 1/2 an hour more. Obviously the 1/2 an more is a better deal. I figure, they are encouraged/happy and I'm already there and set up. I might just be going home to watch tv anyway.

5. Maybe we are going to have to be an industry that has not just legal and ethical standards, but some type of of union-like certification with standards of practice and minimum rates.

Gary

Mae Onosaki said:
This is indeed a popular subject, and I have my 2 cents to add to the other great comments on this thread.

I have never worked as an employee, but I did work one place where I was treated like one, even though I was an independent contractor. I made 30%, when I got paid (my payments were based on the chiropractic office's collections, and, well, that's another story), and the upside of it was that I was busy, and, when I got paid, my checks were nice.

On the other hand, I was not allowed to deviate from what I felt were excessive treatments and charges, which made me uncomfortable, ethically, so I left. Not everyone feels they have the financial freedom to leave a situation like this.

Before that, I had a very nice situation in a spa, where I quickly worked my way up to earning 45% on the going rate in my area. I chose my own hours (like an I.C. should be able to), I was able to turn away clients I wasn't comfortable with, and I didn't have to do laundry. I did, however, sit around a lot, act as a receptionist, and clean tubs and showers (after my clients used them). The relative autonomy and built in clientele was a nice trade off for me, though.

Now I run my own business. I *do* charge the going rate. I also offer specials, and, in a satellite location (a shared room in a salon in a neighboring town) we have a discounted "intro rate". I'm ambivalent about the intro rate, as I don't think it attracts the clients I want. I think it attracts bargain shoppers who move from therapist to therapist instead of clients who truly appreciate me and the professional relationship we build. (Building relationships with regular clients is one thing I miss from the chiro. office.)

So in charging the going rate, I make $65-$75 per billable hour. I would hate to think what my actual hourly wage is, since I spend a lot of unpaid time doing marketing, bookkeeping, laundry, cleaning, upkeep on my decor, networking, etc... I actually laughed when a nurse friend of mine said "You make more money than any of us!" I can only assume she was going by the $65/hour price for a Swedish Massage.

My point is (and I've never been an hourly massage employee, so I'm making an assumption) that, if you don't want to do all the "business running" things, and you don't mind that someone else is in charge of your work life, is making $20/hour (assuming you're getting paid every hour you are on the premises) really being underpaid?

That being said, it is too bad there is a lot of undercutting going on by therapists who feel that is the only way to get clients, but my feeling on that is, again, you are attracting bargain shoppers. Is that who you really want as a client?

On the other hand, I always feel a little skeptical about the therapist offering an extremely low rate. I have seen 1 hour massages advertised for $35, and I wonder if the therapist is really on the up & up, or if they are just out of school (and we all have to start somewhere, and have our awkward sessions, but still...). And I felt this way even before I became a therapist.

If you truly feel that the going rate is out of reach for the segment of the population you want to reach, offer a sliding scale or a specific discount for members of that population (students & seniors, for example).

So that was probably way over 2 cents, but I wondered if other self-employed people thought about what our "true" hourly wage is.

Still, I wouldn't trade in my own business for an hourly job, and I plan to do all I can to make a decent living serving others through touch! :)

Thanks Gary.  Totally agree.  I would have to add to that the annoyance of many other professions expecting that we will do free chair massage for their company.  They use the excuse that it "gives us exposure."  How do we address this?

I can relate. There is another therapist not a half mile away from me advertising

massage for $30 bucks an hour! I don't know how he keeps his lights on unless

he is adding somehow or just sheer volume. I swear one of these days i'm gonna go

talk to him. I think the pricing issue is going to be an ongoing thing though. Compare Little

Ceasars $5 dollar pizza to Papa Johns where its closer to $12-$14. I think people will 

pay for quality.

Evin

 

Tucson massage therapist

 

 

Just thinking out loud.  If you two shared an office space. You could save money.  Of course I know it depends on things.

Evin Abromowitz said:

I can relate. There is another therapist not a half mile away from me advertising

massage for $30 bucks an hour! I don't know how he keeps his lights on unless

he is adding somehow or just sheer volume. I swear one of these days i'm gonna go

talk to him. I think the pricing issue is going to be an ongoing thing though. Compare Little

Ceasars $5 dollar pizza to Papa Johns where its closer to $12-$14. I think people will 

pay for quality.

Evin

 

Tucson massage therapist

 

 

Gary, a good post. 

I don't think I'd share space with Cut Rate Joe (Josephine?)

Gordon J. Wallis said:

Just thinking out loud.  If you two shared an office space. You could save money.  Of course I know it depends on things.

Evin Abromowitz said:

I can relate. There is another therapist not a half mile away from me advertising

massage for $30 bucks an hour! I don't know how he keeps his lights on unless

he is adding somehow or just sheer volume. I swear one of these days i'm gonna go

talk to him. I think the pricing issue is going to be an ongoing thing though. Compare Little

Ceasars $5 dollar pizza to Papa Johns where its closer to $12-$14. I think people will 

pay for quality.

Evin

 

Tucson massage therapist

 

 

Mae, the $20 rate is reasonable only if the MT is working on the clock, paid by the hours onsite whether giving massage or waiting for a session to begin.  It's a rip off of the therapist if the $20 is per massage session only.



Gary tharler said:

Mae,

I agree with all you said. And as initiator of this topic I want to see if we can move to solutions. Here are some of the ones I've been thinking about.

1. We are doing it. Let's keep talking to and encouraging fellow therapists to maintain standards of pay and service.
2. Let's contact schools in our areas to teach and stand for quality, value etc. It is easier to engrain a sense of worth in students before graduating than trying to change therapists years afterward once they've resigned themselves to play the discount game.
3. Let's remember the parachute/buisness analogy. (quick version) "If there were three people in a falling plane and you were selling parachutes ... you'd do well naming your price etc." My point being, instead of saying or excepting someone else saying... these are hard times we have to lower our prices – why not say/think... because these are hard times our service is even more needed. Perhaps we should be raising our prices. Tell perspective clients you will do your best to maintain your prices, but people are so stressed etc....

4. What I do regarding deals – is offer more time rather than less money. i.e. As an intro...0r, for your birthday, you can have $10 less or 1/2 an hour more. Obviously the 1/2 an more is a better deal. I figure, they are encouraged/happy and I'm already there and set up. I might just be going home to watch tv anyway.

5. Maybe we are going to have to be an industry that has not just legal and ethical standards, but some type of of union-like certification with standards of practice and minimum rates.

Gary

Mae Onosaki said:
This is indeed a popular subject, and I have my 2 cents to add to the other great comments on this thread.

I have never worked as an employee, but I did work one place where I was treated like one, even though I was an independent contractor. I made 30%, when I got paid (my payments were based on the chiropractic office's collections, and, well, that's another story), and the upside of it was that I was busy, and, when I got paid, my checks were nice.

On the other hand, I was not allowed to deviate from what I felt were excessive treatments and charges, which made me uncomfortable, ethically, so I left. Not everyone feels they have the financial freedom to leave a situation like this.

Before that, I had a very nice situation in a spa, where I quickly worked my way up to earning 45% on the going rate in my area. I chose my own hours (like an I.C. should be able to), I was able to turn away clients I wasn't comfortable with, and I didn't have to do laundry. I did, however, sit around a lot, act as a receptionist, and clean tubs and showers (after my clients used them). The relative autonomy and built in clientele was a nice trade off for me, though.

Now I run my own business. I *do* charge the going rate. I also offer specials, and, in a satellite location (a shared room in a salon in a neighboring town) we have a discounted "intro rate". I'm ambivalent about the intro rate, as I don't think it attracts the clients I want. I think it attracts bargain shoppers who move from therapist to therapist instead of clients who truly appreciate me and the professional relationship we build. (Building relationships with regular clients is one thing I miss from the chiro. office.)

So in charging the going rate, I make $65-$75 per billable hour. I would hate to think what my actual hourly wage is, since I spend a lot of unpaid time doing marketing, bookkeeping, laundry, cleaning, upkeep on my decor, networking, etc... I actually laughed when a nurse friend of mine said "You make more money than any of us!" I can only assume she was going by the $65/hour price for a Swedish Massage.

My point is (and I've never been an hourly massage employee, so I'm making an assumption) that, if you don't want to do all the "business running" things, and you don't mind that someone else is in charge of your work life, is making $20/hour (assuming you're getting paid every hour you are on the premises) really being underpaid?

That being said, it is too bad there is a lot of undercutting going on by therapists who feel that is the only way to get clients, but my feeling on that is, again, you are attracting bargain shoppers. Is that who you really want as a client?

On the other hand, I always feel a little skeptical about the therapist offering an extremely low rate. I have seen 1 hour massages advertised for $35, and I wonder if the therapist is really on the up & up, or if they are just out of school (and we all have to start somewhere, and have our awkward sessions, but still...). And I felt this way even before I became a therapist.

If you truly feel that the going rate is out of reach for the segment of the population you want to reach, offer a sliding scale or a specific discount for members of that population (students & seniors, for example).

So that was probably way over 2 cents, but I wondered if other self-employed people thought about what our "true" hourly wage is.

Still, I wouldn't trade in my own business for an hourly job, and I plan to do all I can to make a decent living serving others through touch! :)

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