ADVOCATE FOR MASSAGE THERAPY AS A RECOGNIZED & RESPECTED HEALTHCARE PROFESSION
By Dagmar Growe, LMT
Nicole Chryst, business consultant, owner of Ballaura Wellness Spa in Olympia, and presenter at WSMTA’s recent annual meeting, made an interesting comment during her presentation. Massage therapists, she suggested, generally base their pricing on what others charge, rather than figuring out how much they need to charge in order to have a viable business which provides the income they need or desire. Not knowing the full financial picture of one’s own business can keep us from taking early action to remedy problems, and to intentionally move our business in a direction that we desire.
Many of us are great healers, but not everyone has a past in business or accounting. Here are some easy steps you can take to assess the health of your business.If you have a pretty clear idea of the numbers below for your business: Congratulations! If not, I challenge you to spend a little extra time to find out how well you really are doing.
Expenses per Massage: The easy way:Take the total expenses from last year’s taxes, adjust for any changes (like having been closed, or a rent increase), and divide by 12 month. Then figure out the average number of massages your business provides in a month, and divide your expenses by that number. This is what it costs you to provide a massage.
However, it may be worth the extra time to break your expenses down into fixed and flexible expenses. Fixed expenses are those you have to pay regardless of how many massages your business provides. Rent and utilities, a receptionist hired for a set amount of hours, marketing expenses. Make sure to include expenses that are due annually, like your license, your insurance, and if you own your business location, property taxes. Flexible expenses are those that change depending on how many massages your business provides. Expenses for employees who get paid per massage (include payroll taxes), laundry and PPE expenses are examples. The interesting part is that the portion of fixed expenses per massage will decrease as the number of massages in a month increases, and vice versa. This information is important when you are trying to figure out solutions to potential problems
Income per Massage: Total your massage income over a period, and divide it by the number of massages your business provided during that time. This is your average income per massage. However, you may want to look at it a little more detailed. How many of your clients pay the full price? Maybe you offer discounted rates for packages or membership or friends. Do you offer a sliding scale? Do you bill health insurances, and receive various reimbursement rates depending on which insurance? Tally your various payment levels so you know exactly how many massages you provide for each payment level.
Now you know exactly what it costs you to provide a massage. Are any of your rates below the combined fixed and flexible costs per massage? YOU are paying for those clients to receive a massage from you or your staff. How many just barely cover their cost? Where do you make money? You may find that you need to limit the number you offer of certain payment levels. Knowing the numbers allows you to identify the weaknesses and strengths of your business, and guides you to where changes will be most effective.
A few years ago I did the math for my own business. When I added into my calculation the time spent on scheduling, room changes and billing, I realized that certain health insurance reimbursement rates would amount to an hourly wage close to minimum wage. I decided to cancel those contracts. I now track these numbers monthly. It does not add much work as I have set up an efficient system for it, but it gives me the confidence to know that I am on track.
To be continued….
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Advocate for Massage Therapy as a Recognized & Respected Healthcare Profession