Visiting a massage chain like Massage Envy in Slidell can be a very different experience than that of visiting a massage therapist in private practice. Each offers different nuances, perks and business models to their clients.

One big benefit of local spas compared to chain spas is that they are likely to offer a more personalized experience and level of customer service. With fewer employees and, usually, fewer customers, they can get to know their customers better and understand what they need from their treatment. Also, you can feel happy with the fact that you’re supporting a small, local business.

The benefits of going to an independent massage therapist

Like local spas, independent massage therapists can get to know their clientele better and offer a personalized service. Plus, you still get that nice feeling of supporting a local entrepreneur and improving the success of their business. This kind of massage therapist may be less regulated than those in spa businesses. So, while most are well-trained professionals, there may be more variation in skill and experience levels when choosing an independent massage therapist.

Local spas have their own schedules and they usually know what times of the day they are most busy and can schedule a massage appointment at a time that works best for you. They are also likely to offer a more personalized experience and level of customer service. You can get a better massage at the local spa because they will be able to give you more attention than the ones at the chain spas.

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Typically, chains book guests for an hour or 90-minute massage and leave five minutes on either end to allow the therapist to turn the room over. So the actual time you spend on the table is 50 or 80 minutes. Therapists in private practice often book a client for a true 60 or 90-minute massage, meaning the client spends all of that time on the table. It’s always a good idea to ask before your session so that you are not surprised.

The price can vary greatly between a chain like Massage Envy and a solo massage therapist. Often, an independent massage therapist charges more than a massage chain charges customers due to the management of overhead vs volume. As a solo therapist responsible for rent, supplies, insurance, and business expenses, rates must reflect what the therapist has to cover in overhead and a solo therapist only has two hands. There are only so many clients one person can see so the volume isn’t nearly what a fully staffed chain is pulling in.

Chains also offer membership pricing with the stipulation that you use a massage each month. They require a contract and there is a possibility there will be fees associated with the terms.

Prices can also reflect the quality of service you will receive. Chains, in my opinion, drastically underpay LMTs resulting in a possibility of less than quality work and a faster turnover in employees. I am not saying that there are not phenomenal massage therapists working at chains, I am just saying that those therapists deserve to get paid more as their experience grows. It is not likely a fantastic therapist will stay long-term, so don’t get too attached.

When you call to schedule a treatment with a massage chain like Massage Envy, you will not typically have the opportunity to speak with a therapist directly. The receptionist will tell you what modalities a given therapist focuses on. Beyond that, I’m not sure how far you will get with specific questions.

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When scheduling clients, a therapist that is working independently has the leeway to book clients in a way that gives them an adequate and comfortable amount of time between sessions. The LMT will have time to turn the room over, take notes and prepare to see their next client, leaving them refreshed and ready for a new session to start. In contrast, therapists at chains have five-minute windows to give clients homework for healing, take notes, change the room over, grab a snack and whatever else they need to do. This just isn’t enough time for a smooth transition without either the therapist, the client leaving and/or the new client coming in feeling rushed.

In addition, solo therapists have complete control of how much they work in a day so they do not become overbooked. I can tell you, there is no faster way to burn out as a therapist than working past your physical limit.

Working for one’s self, the sky is the limit when it comes to personal touches to a client’s experience. Solo therapists are not limited to what corporate approves. Independent massage therapists have a bit more freedom to add personal touches. The atmosphere will welcome you with a different energy resulting in a more unique experience. A smaller practice also mean you will get more individualized attention.

There are a few different types of massage chains out there. While there are some major differences between a massage chain like Massage Envy and a small, private practice, fantastic therapists can be found in both places. While there are pro and cons, there is no right answer when it comes to choosing where to receive your bodywork, just so long as you feel comfortable and are getting the results you are seeking.

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