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In this Post: Learn pros, cons, and advice for running a massage practice.
So you like to be in charge? You are organized, have good people skills, and have the drive to do more than simply give massages. You like to take control of situations, aren’t scared of a challenge, and are effective at managing people. If this describes you, it sounds like running a massage practice might be right up your alley.
Maybe you have always wanted to own your own facility. Or managing an existing practice is enticing to you? Either way, there are things to consider before diving in!
When you are the one in charge, the pressures can quickly add up! Running a practice, whatever the type, is not for the faint of heart! It requires grit and tenacity. A desire to “want it” more than anything else. A willingness to dedicate time, energy, and resources to the pursuit of your dream.
I have watched many a therapist struggle to run a practice, and have come to realize this is not for everyone. If you think you have what it takes, continue reading to learn more about the demands as well as rewards of having others working for you.
Running A Massage Practice Can Be Hard Work
- You will always be on call. When therapists get sick, you will be the one finding substitutes, calling clients, and rescheduling appointments. Clients will be requesting your attention ALL THE TIME, weekends, early mornings, late nights, and on holidays. Of course, you can hire reception or a virtual assistant to help with some of this, but when it comes down to brass tacks, the buck stops with you. You may want to check out Virtual Receptionists For Massage Therapists for more ideas on outsourcing phone responsibilities.
- Repetitive questions never end. No matter how complete of an onboarding process you have, you will be asked the same questions over and over again. Be armed with a healthy dose of patience for the repetition you are about to experience, because it never ceases.
- There are a lot of expenses. In some of the Facebook massage groups I am a part of, I see people often complain about the percentage breakdowns between therapists and business owner. I get it. Therapists want to feel valued, and the quickest way to feel valued is to be well compensated. But the thing is, it is expensive to run a business. You have expenses like unemployment taxes, gas, electric, phone bills, rent, sheets, laundry, reception, equipment, supplies, advertising, and marketing. And then when you think you have all your expenses accounted for, your washing machine breaks and you need to replace it, or your receptionist quits and you need to spend time and money training their replacement. The expenses never end!
- Your pay may be determined by how busy your business is. This can make it hard to budget and predict where you will be in one month, six months, or a year.
- Therapists can be hard to pin down. Don’t hate me for saying it, but we tend to be an airy-fairy bunch, very in touch with our feelings and the feelings of those around us. These are traits that are wonderful for personal development and universal healing, but when you are trying to run a productive, profitable business, it can present its challenges.
- Work will often come home with you. You may be working on scheduling, taxes, or your website much later than someone who simply clocks in and out to receive their paycheck.
- Often you will feel like an island. Like you have no one to guide you through the steps, and as if you are “making it up” as you go. You could hire a coach to help walk along side you, but when it comes down to it, you are the one who is going to have to make the tough decisions.
- There is no one telling you what to do. Therefore you have massive amounts of freedom to build a practice you love!
- It is super rewarding to build something, either from scratch or from an existing practice. To watch the fruit of your labor blossom.
- The sky is the limit. Here is where dreams come true if you get smart about your goals and reach for the stars.
- You get to make your own schedule. While sometimes it might feel like you are always working, you also have the luxury of taking time off without having to check in with a “boss.”
- You have control over the people who work alongside you. You may want to check out 5 Reasons It Might Be Time To Let An Employee Go for more ideas on how to have a peaceful work environment.
- The potential to make more income than if you ran a one-man operation is possible.
Advice For Running A Massage Practice
- Find a good accountant. I have been reading “Profit First,” you may want to consider the philosophies in this book when establishing your practice. Michael has accountants that are trained through the Profit First Method and it may benefit you to use one of them.
- Always be on the lookout for good therapists to hire. Because therapists love to travel, explore, and take chunks of time for self-care, you will want to make sure you are always open to bringing good therapists to your team.
- Be consistent. Establish policies and stick with them. Spend a reasonable amount of time developing these policies. Hold meetings to get employee suggestions and buy-in.
- Move slowly. You don’t have to build a giant overnight. In fact, you probably shouldn’t. Move with intention and observe how small changes affect the growth of your business. Just like “The Tortoise and the Hare” slow and steady wins the race.
- Take some business development classes. There are some great options either online or at a local college.
I knew as soon as I got out of massage school that I wanted to have a bustling practice with several therapists working for me. The specifics of that vision changed a bit over the years, but the premise always stayed the same. I wanted to create a place where people were nurtured and supported through their healing journey.
I began by renting space by the hour from an existing practice. Slowly I built my practice up one client at a time. After about a year of renting by the hour, (while supplementing my income working at a local spa), the time came for me to rent my own office.
It was so exciting to finally be able to decorate the way I wanted. I had the good fortune that the building I was in slowly began losing tenants. Because of this, I was able to gradually occupy more and more space in the building. There were times when I thought about switching locations, but the relationship I had with my landlord, paired with an awesome location, has kept me in my building for ten years.
My practice now occupies four treatment rooms. We offer massage exclusively. I never wanted to branch into areas like aesthetics, where I have no knowledge. We have approximately 15 massage therapists working in the practice. I love going to work every day. I love the practice I have built, the clients I see, and the therapists I work with, I wouldn’t have it any other way!
- Boulder College of Massage Therapy Graduate
- Nationally Certified through NCBTMB
- Colorado Licensed Massage Therapist
- Certified CranialSacral Level 1 through Upledger
- Certified Herbal Therapist through Nutrition Therapy Institute
- Certified Fujian Massage through Barefoot Masters
- Fort Lewis College - Majored in Art, Minored in Business Administration
- 6 Year Winner of Best Massage Therapist for "Best of The Boat" Competition
- Massage Business Owner Since 2008