resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
June, 2014, Vol. 14, Issue 06
By Cherie Sohnen-Moe
The spa industry has expanded in new and exciting directions over the last two decades. While the image of the local day spa remains most familiar, spas have also become common vacation destinations and are desirable amenities at resorts, in luxury hotels and on cruise ships.Dental and medical offices are including spa treatments to make their procedures more pleasant and attractive to their patients. Many spas have expanded their scope from simply furnishing beauty services to offering healthcare services. Estheticians, massage therapists, aromatherapists, acupuncturists, reflexologists, yoga teachers, nutritional consultants and energy practitioners are commonly found in these spa settings.
As public demand has grown, even the image of the local day spa is growing and changing with corporations like the Red Door Spa and franchise systems like Massage Envy Spa, Elements and Massage Heights getting involved in promoting day spas at the national level.
Online forum chats overflow with comments about the good, bad and ugly aspects of working for spas. Franchise organizations seem to bear the brunt of the negative remarks. Practitioners complain of the poor working conditions and the low wages. The people posting in these forums often claim these companies are making it difficult for independent therapists to survive. I have to question that. Because of these companies, many people are now receiving massage that wouldn't have even considered it in the past, and probably weren't aware of the benefits even a year earlier. These companies provide thousands of employment opportunities for massage therapists, as well as tremendous visibility at the national level. For example, in 2012, Massage Envy Spa provided 14.5 million services to 1.17 million members and 2.6 million guests. In 2013, they provided 56,000 services per day. And that is only one of the many national franchise organizations today. I see this as being analogous to the hair styling industry. Yes, there are many franchises such as Supercuts, where you can receive a haircut for about $15. Yet, many people still go to other salons where they pay closer to $60 for a haircut.
Most people working at a franchised day spa earn more than $25 per hour, including tips. So, if you are working 25 hours per week, that's about $30,000 per year. Plus, many of these companies offer benefits such as health care, paid time off and educational opportunities. That is much better than the average worker receives. Also, while some therapists have a college degree and extensive training, others enter into this field with a mere 500 hours of schooling. This is a good return on investment.
Part of the problem comes in when people think about how they could charge between $50 to $60 per hour (even more in some cities). Worse, they fail to consider the cost of building and maintaining a business. That $30,000 salary starts looking better when you factor in rent, utilities, equipment, linens, supplies, front desk staff, marketing, taxes and insurance. Just the cost per session (e.g., linens and lubricants) is between $2 to $6. Even the bare bones minimum cost to operate a small practice is about $12,000. And that amount doesn't include taxes, staffing, health insurance, continuing education or other benefits. Finally, this number includes a barely existing marketing budget — which needs to be dramatically increased when building a practice.
If you want to work an equivalent of the 25 hours per week at a franchise spa, then you really will only have time for 15 clients per week, as you will need at least 10 hours per week (and a lot more in the building phase) to manage and market your practice. Let's say you charge $50 per hour and work 50 weeks per year, seeing 15 clients per week. Your gross revenue would be $37,500. Then deduct the $12,000 for the base operating expenses and you are now making $25,500 per year. Realistically, your net profit will most likely be closer to $20,000 — and you have to bear all of the risks.
Of course, you can change those numbers by working more hours, charging higher fees and selling products. Yet, many people don't have the desire or personality to run their own business. According to CG Funk, Vice President of Industry Relations and Product Development for Massage Envy Spa, working for a franchise spa may be a good option for practitioners who are new graduates, those that want to supplement their private practice income, those that don't want the responsibility of operating their own business or those who simply want to work part time.
Overall Success Strategies
Working in a spa requires conforming to a corporate image and structuring your treatments to align with the company's schedule, treatment protocol, policies and philosophy. Marketing is another area that is often a source of conflict. In a spa, you don't have to do marketing or schedule clients, but there's no guarantee your work hours are filled. Many practitioners discover to their dismay that to increase the client flow they need to market their services themselves (this is more so in a local day spa than a destination spa).
To be successful in these environments, a practitioner needs to understand employer expectations and understand the rationale behind the policies and procedures set by the employer. Certainly these measures are set up to protect the client and the company; very often they are set to protect the practitioner as well.
Good communication skills are vital in this environment. In addition to client interactions, practitioners need to communicate well with the front desk staff, management and co-workers.
The Work Environment
Creating an ethical working environment is, of course, the mutual responsibility of spa management and employees. Ideally, spa management acts diligently to protect and serve the rights of both employees and clients. On their side, spa employees ideally commit themselves to quality work at all times and in all circumstances and express loyalty to the organization by cooperating with policies and procedures and avoiding conflicts of interest. Difficulties arise not just with actual lapses in these ideals, they also arise when suspicion and distrust surface within the organization. Both management and employees, therefore, need to practice transparency, honesty and integrity in communications with one another.
On one hand, the relationship between spa management and employees boils down to a question of autonomy. In most spas, practitioners don't have a choice about how many clients to see in a day, which clients they'll work with or even what type of work is to be performed. Serving the customer is the spa's priority. Management expects employees to work to an assigned schedule, to expand their therapeutic repertoire by learning spa treatments outside their specialty and to conform to the corporate image. On the other hand, spa management may offer the employee numerous benefits such as compensation based on seniority, commissions on product sales, health insurance, paid vacations, paid sick days, pension plans, profit sharing and reimbursement for continuing education.
Perhaps the most serious ethical concerns in the spa environment surround issues of inappropriate touch and sexual misconduct. Management usually has a zero tolerance policy, meaning that if a client complains of sexual misconduct on the part of a practitioner, that practitioner is terminated without recourse. A similar policy might exist regarding practitioner complaints against clients who sexualize a session. Management needs to examine whether their policies disempower practitioners in these situations, while employees should know the limits of their legal rights.
The next sections highlight some of the ethical considerations shared by spa management and spa employees to create an atmosphere where cooperation and ethical behavior are encouraged and supported.
Ethical Guidelines for Spa Employees
Ethical Guidelines for Spa Management
Destination spas and day spas are here to stay. The growth rate continues to be strong for these companies. The question really isn't, "Are these companies good for the profession?" The question is, "Are these companies good for you?" Evaluate your goals, style and personality before you decide to work for a spa on a part-time or full-time basis. Then evaluate each specific company to see if you mesh well with their corporate culture. Find out if they follow the above guidelines. Keep in mind that even though a company might be part of a larger corporation, every manager or owner has their own style and may run that specific location differently than others.
Click here for previous articles by Cherie Sohnen-Moe.
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