Quantity Vs Quality
There are many great therapists working in high-volume clinics around Austin, however the business model of the franchises is typically quantity over quality.
The advantage of visiting one of these clinics is that they usually have a therapist available for walk-ins, and your first massage is generally bargain priced. The disadvantage is that you have an even chance of getting a good therapist versus a bad therapist, especially if you do not know which therapists to request.
Getting your Money’s Worth:
The good news is you can always stop sessions that are going badly.
Most franchises will not charge you if you stop the session early due to a dislike of the therapist’s techniques, provided that the session is not more than halfway over. Some establishments will even allow you to repeat your introductory rate with another therapist.
If possible do a little research. Ask people you know who have been there which therapists to request. This will reduce the likelihood that you will get stuck with an untalented therapist.
The Tipping Issue
Tipping policies are another contentious issue at high-volume clinics. Most franchises post “suggested tips” in every room, and encourage tipping $10 – $30 per hour of massage.
Therapists at these establishments are generally paid so low ($15/per hour in Austin), that the establishments would not be able to employ them if clients did not tip. As a result some franchises will ban clients that repeatedly leave small tips.
As a result, the “introductory rate” usually ends up being more expensive than clients anticipate. Sympathy is not a good reason to tip in any service industry. Remember, in spite of the prolific “suggestions,” only tip if you like the massage.
Where’s My Therapist?
High-volume clinics usually have a very high turnover due to the excessive number of massages that therapists are expected to do (7-10 hours of massage a day are typical in Austin). If you do get a membership, keep in mind that the therapist you love may not be there in a couple of months.
Finally, many membership clinics will allow you to get trial memberships at the same monthly price as a full year. If this is an option, and you are considering membership, try the trial membership first. It will make more sense to commit to a longer term if you find multiple therapists that you like.