How to Start a Massage Business
Start a Private Practice
You are undeniably the best massage therapist around! Why aren't you making the money you were promised when you enrolled into the physical therapy program? Working in a spa doesn't quite qualify as the best paid job, does it? Some of us are wasting our great skills and expertise, waiting for the best job as a massage therapist. Don't wait until the next great job comes around, and don't wait until people find out about your great skills. Take fate in your hands, and change your career. It's time to be proactive and make yourself known out there. The best way to make a good income as a bodywork professional is to Start a Private Massage Practice.
Why Start Your Own Massage Business?
You just finished massage school and you are full of energy and hopes an you are thinking about that hefty income that everybody talks about. So how do you start? If you are reading this page is probably because you need it. You probably got stuck in a Spa or similar. Most massage jobs pay only $15-$25 an hour and that is when you are actually doing bodywork. If there aren't any clients, your income could get very low. You cannot see how can you get the great income everybody talks about? Well the good news is that you can get out of this situation. All you need is initiative, a bit of marketing knowledge, and determination. The best way to earn a decent income in your field, is to build a massage business. Not to say that there aren't any good physical therapy jobs, but there are not too many. You need self confidence, you need to know your real value is as an individual and as a therapist and you need initiative. If you didn't start school yet, just take a look at these two pages that can get you in the right direction:
Before you read those pages, note that you need schooling and accreditation. None of these should be too difficult to get, but it will take you around one to three years, depending where you live.
Massage Practice as a Small Business
Before jumping on starting you practice, answer this question:
- Is running a small business right for you?
- Yes, there is more money to be made as self employed, but are you cut for running your own business?
If the answer is an honest yes, read on.
Tips for a Small Business
- Make sure you don't burden yourself with debt to start it.
- Find your niche, and develop around it. A massage style, (the professionals call it modality), that suits your personality is most important. If you can learn one or two more styles is even better.
- Do not skip your business plan or else you could end up bankrupt.
- Know when to outsource, some things are just not your strength.Work on your marketing plan.
- Good customer skills will bring you more clients and help you retain them.
- Protect your practice by implementing and enforcing policies even if that means to lose customers sometimes.
- Don't do it alone. Co-practice is the fastest way to success.
- Respect the rules, laws and regulations.
- Hire an accountant for taxes. They will save you money.
- In a massage business there is no place for cheap. Any supplies or equipment has to be of a good quality.
- As a small business owner you need to be willing to learn.
- Location of Your Massage Practice
Probably one of the most important things for your practice is the location. Location can be a decisive factor for the prosperity of your business. If your location is in a busy place, this alone can bring you clients. Do not go cheap on your location as you will miss out clients.
The good locations are always expensive and for you as a starter this could be a business killer. The best approach is to join other massage therapists and create Co-Practice. The rent is going to be shared, as a team you can distribute marketing tasks more effectively, you get to cut costs dramatically since you can share almost everything needed on a business such as: payment system, phone line, billboards, advertising, Internet connection, etc...It might look at the first sight that you have to dilute your client pool, because you have to share it, but in fact is exactly the opposite; there are more people who are looking for new clients.
- Make a business plan
First part of your business plan is to know who you are and what sets you apart from the others. A business plan is a great way to gain insights into the market before actually starting the business, plan details about your business, and set goals.
- You Need Great Customer Skills
Transform any occasional client into a repeat customer. Follow up with occasional customers.
- Use call logs, it's easier to remember what your client said two months ago.
- Develop professional customer service skills and learn how to handle difficult clients.
- Specialize In A Domain
There are many types of bodywork, choose one that targets a specific population, such as Esalen, or Thai. If you have the money and the energy, get specialized in two or three modalities that you like, and think are required in your area.
Trigger Points (Quick Study Academic) - Pamphlet
Things You Need for a Successful Massage Business
Create a Business Image
You need first to clarify in your mind what makes your services unique, what sets you apart from other massage therapists. Defining what makes your practice unique is part of your marketing campaign, and it will be the basis for your business image.Based on your projected business image and goals, create together with your graphic designer, a logo, a banner, a website, business cards, etc...Here is a longer list of a marketing plan:
- Create an image for your practice and focus on offering something unique that sets you apart from the others.
- Create a business image. A company Name, a logo, a slogan and a mission statement are things that add up to create your business image.
- Other things to think about are: professional photos of yourself and the business environment, and a professional decoration of the office, but these can come later.
- Create and setup a website for your massage business. This is a must. Without a website you are almost hide yourself.
- A blog seems like a good idea if you think you will need interaction with your visitors. A regular static website would do it as well.
- If you think you need more interaction with your static website use Social Media, (Facebook, twitter, etc...).
- On your website, explain what makes your practice stand apart and what is the value you provide.
- Have a page about you. In a massage business, people want to know more about you, even if you were recommended to them.
- Explain sincerely who you are, and what are the things important to you.
- A photo of you in a professional environment is a must.
Photograph by Mattes, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0
Acupressure (Quickstudy: Academic)
Active Marketing for A Massage Business
Event Massage a Great Way to Promote your Business
Event massage is a great way to promote your business. Chair massage is the best choice for an event massage, because is convenient and very easy to setup anywhere. Your clients remain fully dressed, you don't lose too much time with client preparation, and is less intrusive, therefore you can get more people on your chair.
The idea is to organize events, offering free 10-15 minutes chair massage sessions. Potential clients will get to test your skills and have a memorable experience. This can easily convert visitors to your stand into customers; many people don't get any physical therapy because they don't know a practitioner. If all the stars are aligned, such a person can become your client for life. The important thing at an event massage is to be very thorough with your intake form. In fact the intake form becomes you marketing tool. Your intake form needs to include your client's address and phone number, and it can include marketing questions.
Event massage is a great way to gather phone numbers and addresses from potential clients. It is an excellent marketing tool for marketing for your businesses. However, the best marketing tool at such an event, is the feedback form. This could give you a great idea on what are the things that need tweaking. Short questionnaires, comprising three to four questions are the best. Prepare ten to fifteen questions on five different forms, and give one to each of your clients, at the end of the session.
Good places to organize event massage and promote your business are: conferences, industry events, health fairs, county fairs, government offices with many employees, etc... Your focus should be on events that attract local crowds rather than people from other cities. Other ways to apply active marketing tactics are visits to large offices where you introduce yourself and what you do. You have the opportunity to interact with potential clientele in person. Make sure you have enough business cards and brochures for everybody interested, offer to take phone numbers from people that wanted a sample but didn't have the chance to get one and follow up with them, ask people who sampled your bodywork to refer you, this way even if they were in for only a freebie you still get a chance to get referred.
The Elevator Pitch - Prepare and Practice an Elevator Pitch
Prepare an elevator pitch using the unique elements of your practice. Practice the pitch a few times if you are shy. The pitch should include one or two interesting facts that most people don't know about massage. Once the interest is raised, you can mention you have a massage business. Share a success story, talk about someone you helped get better, or anything else interesting from your practice.
Find Potential Clients through Volunteering
Volunteering is a great way to meet people. Be prepared with brochures and business cards. Wear a shirt with your business name and what you do; that will stick into everybody's mind, and it's a great discussion starter. Offer a few minutes of free massage if given the opportunity.Attend, workshops, meetings, fairs and make of every event you go is an occasion to network. Take business cards and give business cards. Any phone number you have is a potential client or can bring you a potential client. Use your elevator pitch when you get the chance.
Internet Marketing for A Massage Business
As mentioned, traditional marketing is not going to be enough for a new business. You need to find more active ways to recruit your client base. Internet marketing plays a greater role in your massage business and you need to have an Internet marketing plan, and a budget allocated for it. The Internet Marketing for a massage business is the same as for any business with the difference that it needs to focus locally. When you build your website you need to go through at least the following five steps:
- Identify your target audience,
- Define the objectives of your website,
- Determine what visitors expect from your website,
- Clarify what you want to tell your visitors,
- Make sure visitors return to your website
To promote your website you need to use the various techniques that everybody else is using:
- Create good content,
- Make your website popular,
- Engage in blogging,
- Engage in Social Media,
- Use Internet Advertising,
- Go as local as you can
- Use traditional marketing to promote your website
Marketing Books for Physical Therapy Businesses
For further reading on Physical Therapy Marketing I selected a few books that you can buy on Amazon.
Starting the Massage Business
Ideas for Start
- Create agreements with chiropractors, acupuncturists, reflexologists or personal trainers. These kinds of referrals are a great way to get more business. You can refer clients to them, and they will refer clients to you.
- Register to the various organizations in your community, the chamber of commerce, local clubs, etc... Some of these organizations have Internet listings, these listings are very effective because they are targeted to your local community.
- Ask your clients for referrals and offer incentives for them. A discount for a referral is a great way to get more business. Clients are happy to refer you anyway; giving them an incentive will just boost their energy to do it.
- As a first place to start, use the following websites: MassagePot.com, and the famous classified sites Craigslist, and Backpage to start getting clients. These are great places to get you up to speed.
- A franchise is not a bad idea, but you need to have the startup money.
Massage Supplies - Buy Massage Supplies for a Massage Business
Traditional Marketing for Massage
Traditional Marketing Works Great for A Massage Business
The traditional marketing and advertising methods are a good way to get new customers but the traditional marketing methods are passive, and for a starter business they aren't going to provide you enough clients, unless you spend a lot of money. After submitting your ad in the local newspaper or distribute fliers in the neighborhood, you have to wait for the phone calls and new clients to come in. That is not going to happen overnight, and not soon enough to kick off your massage practice. However, because traditional methods of marketing can easily focus on the local customer base, they are more efficient, so never discard the old newspaper ad, or distributing fliers. They are still great.
Create a Website
Everybody is on Internet
Create an Internet presence; you can start small with a free page, but the goal is to have a website with your own domain name. This is part of your business image.Today people's first option to search for services is the Internet. Optimize your web page or your website for search results in your area.Don't wait too much, your practice needs a website for a massage practice.
Starting your own massage business requires time, passion, ideas and imagination. If you don’t have these you can always pay someone else for these services. But waiting around working for someone else for half or even the third of the money you could make is definitely not an option.