Massage industry a perfect fit for couple’s business plan
By Jeff Theodore, Contributing Writer
REGION – Getting a massage is more a necessity than a luxury because it benefits health and wellness, according to 86 percent of respondents in a recent poll conducted by the American Massage Therapy Association.
That theory aligns with Andrew and Jill Dudka’s belief that they are providing a vital community service as owners of Elements massage studios in Shrewsbury and Mansfield.
“We’re helping people who sustain injuries, cancer survivors, pregnant women and folks who are simply stressed out,” says Andrew, a business executive with a deep background in manufacturing and operations.
A decade ago, Andrew and his wife, Jill, a longtime middle school math teacher in Blackstone, Mass., sought out opening a massage franchise as a way to “be in charge of our destiny.”
“It was exciting to hire staff, build out the store, deal with the software and learn about massage,” Andrew says. “Our goal was to open a legitimate and therapeutic office.”
Fast forward a decade and the couple has two thriving studios that employ about 40 massage therapists, performing up to 1,700 massages a month. The studios operate on a membership-based model. Currently, the Dudkas’ studios have about 1,400 members.
“There’s no commitment to become a member but it offers an opportunity for people to have a session with a preferred therapist or skip a month and bank a session that they can use at any time,” Andrew says.
Therapists are licensed by the state and go through rigorous training that requires both written and hands-on testing.
“When we interview therapists, we ask about their backgrounds and what they can bring to the client that they think is unique,” Andrew says. “A good massage therapist must be a good team player, communicate with clients and deliver on their needs. The client must feel better walking out than they did walking in.”
Massage modalities offered at the Elements studios range from deep tissue massages, which relieve pain and reduce muscle stiffness, to Swedish massages, which are painless and designed to increase blood flow while calming the body.
Andrew says deep tissue and Swedish massages are the most popular ones at his studios. He added, though, that an add-on service that calls for applying CBD oil during the massage is becoming increasingly popular.
“Once people try it, they love it,” Andrew says of the CBD oil. “It tends to provide longer pain relief. People are thrilled that it is now legal in Massachusetts and something we can offer.”
Cupping, a form of alternative medicine where cups are applied to areas of the body to decrease inflammation, is another add-on service in high demand, Andrew says.
“For some clients, deep tissue massages can be painful,” he says. “Cupping does the same thing as deep tissue but is less painful and a tremendous option for our clients.”
For the Dudkas, they hope to remain an option that patrons will trust as educators about massage, particularly when it comes to safety.
“We always tell clients and our employees that safety is our top priority,” Andrew says. “That’s in regards to COVID and personal safety with their bodies. In the future, I hope to grow our business, but do so in a way that encourages people to know that we will look out for you.”
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