How to Start a Massage Business: Everything You Need to Know
With the virus came a lot more stress and anxiety. As a result, many people turned to massage therapists to seek relaxation and some peace of mind.
Whether you are a new massage therapist or an experienced one who has worked for others until now, it’s a good time to start your own massage business.
But you’re a therapist and do not necessarily know much about starting a massage therapy business. If you feel like I just read your mind and are actually thinking about how to start a massage business, you’ve landed at just the right place!
We’ll address all your questions regarding starting your own massage business in this blog so that your excellent massage skills reach the right people and your business reaches desired heights! 🙂
Without wasting any time, let’s get into it!
Here are the 10 simple steps to opening a massage business:
- Define your niche
- Analyze the market and your competitors
- Create a business plan
- Select the right location
- Choose your name and aesthetic
- Set up your finances
- Finalize your pricing
- Secure the legal front
- Get the right tools
- Build your clientele
1. Define your niche
The first step in starting your massage business is to understand your niche.
You might feel that catering to a huge set of clients will help you run a successful massage business. But it’s actually the opposite.
It can be difficult to fulfill the needs of the various types of clients in a massage therapy business. Therefore, it’s a good idea to appeal to a more specific set of audiences and provide them with everything they need and expect!
Additionally, your niche depends on your strengths. Choosing the right kind of massage service not only depends on factors like your target market or chosen location but a lot on what you have to offer in terms of the skills you possess to complement that service.
Analyze what your skills, certifications, and strengths are while deciding what your niche is.
Here’s are some actionable tips to help you figure out your niche:
- Choose your demographic. Given the fact that the massage business caters to a wide array of audiences, understanding your target audience as per the services you offer can be helpful. Understand whether your services are more suitable for corporate employees, the elderly, or sportspersons, and choose accordingly.
- Find out where the demand for your service is. For instance, on researching, you may find out that there is a massive demand for physiotherapy-based massage clinics post the pandemic. In such a case, your target market and business model may change accordingly.
- Conduct a market survey. Understand what’s selling well right now and find out how you can uniquely add value to the existing market. This will allow you to stand out from your competitors while starting your massage business successfully.
- Research your competitors. Find out what your competitors offer, how much they pay, the size of their client base, etc. This will help you carve out your own business strategy. If there’s a section of audience your competitors are missing out on, you can use it to your advantage!
2. Analyze the market and your competitors
Once you have a hold of your target market, you need to analyze it well in order to offer valuable services. Get a pulse of what people exactly need and want in the current market. Whether individual massages are in demand, or couple massages are the new cool, etc.
Your plan for setting up a massage business is bound to work out if and only if you cater to the demand effectively. Or as we briefly discussed in the previous section, you can identify gaps in the target market of your industry, and cater specifically to them. For example, if the massage centers in your area generally cater more to male customers, you can target the female ones better and win them over!
Competitor analysis is also necessary to ensure that you don’t underestimate or overestimate your value in the market. Understand the competitor prices and the paying capacity of your target customers, and set your prices accordingly. Offering services at a very low rate might raise questions, and that at a very high rate may keep your appointment slots empty.
You can visit your competitors or just look up their service menu online to find out their prices (as well as the services they offer!). Don’t forget to check their reviews and ratings online to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and how people feel about them.
Once you have a solid idea about your market and competitors, you can devise better strategies to penetrate your market and appeal to your customers!
3. Create a business plan
You might think that it is an unnecessary step and skip it. But that could cost you a lot in the long run!
A massage business plan is a document that describes in detail how a business defines its objectives and how it plans to achieve them. You can document the vision that you have for your business through a business plan.
Moreover, a formal business plan actually helps you stay on track with your goals in the long term. You can, of course, update your plan time and again, but the initial one sets everything in place and gives you an idea of the milestones you wish to reach!
If you need a loan to start your massage therapy business, your business plan will also help the bank understand if you can repay it successfully.
Broadly speaking, the ideal business plan should include the following heads:
- Executive Summary
- Company Information
- Market Analysis
- Marketing Plans
4. Select the right location
When it comes to selecting a location for your business, you need to understand that it has to cater to your target audience. It would make no sense to start up a spa/leisure therapy business in an area primarily centered around a more laid-back lifestyle because there is no demand for your service. You will have to profile your locations for your ideal target market and choose one that best suits the type of service you offer.
Therefore, deciding where you are going to set yourself up is a crucial decision that you need to make as a prospective massage business owner. You could either choose to start a massage therapy business from home, run a mobile massage business, or simply get your own massage therapy office.
A) Home-based massage therapy business
The advantage of starting a massage business from home is that it saves you the expense of having to buy or rent out a space and renovate it to your requirements. Setting up a massage therapy center at home is a lot easier and involves much less effort.
However, the drawbacks of a home business are that in the longer run, your customers might not want to procure services at a home-based facility. It is difficult to aesthetically design your home space to resemble a professional massage clinic, which is something your clients may prefer.
Also, you need to ensure that there’s a boundary between your personal and professional space at home, so as to ensure the privacy and comfort of the clients as well as your family.
B) Massage therapy at a separate facility
Clients would prefer to procure your services from a designated massage therapy clinic rather than a home studio. While the service that is being offered might be the same, the environment impacts the psychology of the customer. A massage therapy facility gives a sophisticated outlook to your business which automatically reflects in a positive response from your target audience.
Having a separate facility helps you build a brand, should you envision moving into a franchise model and expanding your business in the future. A designated facility is inherently equipped to handle emergencies whereas that might not always be the case with a home clinic.
However, if you are skeptical of investing in a space right off the bat, you could always consider starting up at home and proceeding to invest in a separate facility once you’ve acquired a sustained revenue stream.
C) Mobile Massage Therapy
Another possible option that you could consider is offering mobile therapy services solely or as an addition to your home or clinic model, to those who aren’t able to visit your facility. Offering mobile therapy services gives you a unique advantage over competitors as not many massage clinics might offer these privileges.
It’s all about doing what works for you and your niche target audience. Don’t hesitate to experiment with these trends as these trials are what’s gonna make your business at the end of the day.
5. Choose your name and aesthetic
What’s in the name! Well, for massage therapy businesses, it could be everything.
This may seem like a trivial thing to put in this blog but the gravity of what can be achieved with a catchy name and tagline is quite significant.
More than just letting people know who you are, a unique name creates an instant brand. And brand value plays a huge role in shaping your business, especially a few years down the line.
Here are a few tips that you can use to choose the perfect name for your massage business:
- Select a name that sounds aesthetically pleasing. Choosing an ‘easy to spell’ and aesthetic name for your business could go a long way in helping you retain that image as you grow.
- Choose a name that speaks out what your company stands for. Relevance is key. Refrain from names that make absolutely no sense for a massage therapist’s company.
- Ensure that you can trademark the name so that it helps you build a longstanding brand. A thorough internet search to ensure that the name you have chosen hasn’t been trademarked already is essential for this.
- Use tools, such as Google AdWords to test out how many searches your name is getting or if there are any other similar alternatives that could undercut you by getting more traffic. This helps you arrive at the best possible choice for a business name.
Once you have a name in place, you might want to finalize what your massage space would look like. You want to offer an experience through your services, and that experience should be consistent.
Your logo, interiors, and everything else should reflect your brand and provide the same aesthetic. Choose interiors and colors that go well with the vibe and are neither too dull, nor too bright. Remember that most people seek relaxation out of a massage, so ensure that your interior colors, lighting, and space help them achieve exactly that!
6. Set up your finances
You have the right skills. But that’s not enough for a successful business! You need money!
Whether you want to start with your own capital (savings, assets, etc.), or you need funding to start your massage therapy center, right planning is crucial. Whatever you choose, ensure that you’re debt-free before you start out.
Be familiar with the basics of money, expenditure, and record-keeping to ensure the good financial health of your business. Set a sample budget with your experience or take help from a financial advisor. Do set your key performance indicators or KPIs to track the success of your massage therapy business.
And while we’re at it, don’t forget to open a separate business bank account and get a credit card. A dedicated bank account will help you draw the line between your personal and business financial records and personal protection in the worst-case scenario.
Also, you’ll need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can start your massage therapy business. In order to do so, you’ll first have to get your Employer Identification Number (EIN). Once you have that, you can register for taxes according to your state guidelines.
7. Finalize your pricing
Pricing your massage services right can make or break your business. There’s no one right price for massage services, it is highly specific to your unique business and target audience.
The following steps will help you assign a price to your service:
- Calculate your costs: Make a comprehensive list of all your business expenses. These include your running costs, inventory costs, recurring expenses, etc. To run your massage business successfully, you need to earn more than you spend and secure profits.
- Look at the market: Your target market and location play a significant role in assigning a price point to your business. The location of your massage center largely determines your cost as well as the paying capacity of your clients. Moreover, the demand in your target market will also play a huge role in how you should price your massages.
- Conduct Price Surveys: It’s best to ask your audience what they want. Conduct price surveys around your area (online or in-person) to get a hold of who you’re dealing with, what they’re willing to pay, and what they expect at a certain price point.
- Consider the intangible costs: Expenses such as the opportunity cost of running your massage business, labor costs, the overall amount of time and effort you put, etc. bear a certain amount of value and have to be factored into the price of your service.
- Come up with a fair profit margin: Consider your personal expenses, your miscellaneous costs, etc, and attach a value to those over a month. Another parameter could be the willingness of your target market to pay. This lets you assign a fair markup value so that it isn’t exorbitant for your target audience.
The cost price plus your profit margin is going to be the price at which you offer your services. You could choose to offer your pricing as competitive pricing, premium pricing, or bundle pricing. Whatever fits you the best!
8. Secure the legal front
You need to acquire the required business licenses and permissions before you open a massage therapy business. Failure to do so might result in unnecessary troubles and may even lead to the shutting down of your business.
It is imperative that you start as you mean to go on, and set up a massage business that is a legitimate and fully licensed legal entity. This not only protects you legally but adds further professionalism to your business. It can also help to ensure the most favorable business valuation down the track, should you consider selling or borrowing funds to further invest in the venture.
Apart from being a certified massage therapist, here are some other licenses and permissions you need before you get started with your business:
- State & Local Business Licensing Requirements: Massage therapy is regulated in most states, and they generally need diplomas or certifications. You can find out your state guidelines for the same here. Additionally, you might need certain local licenses and permits. You can check with your town, city, or county clerk’s office, or get any assistance.
- Informed consent agreement: In an industry like yours, it is recommended to be completely transparent and provide your clients with informed consent agreements. This will also help you reduce legal liability.
- Liability insurance: As the massage therapy business owner, you’ll be responsible for covering any liabilities from your clients. Since your job requires you to work intimately with clients, you should be well prepared for an event in case a client claims damage and tries to sue you.
- Health insurance eligibility: If your massage services are largely therapeutic ones, clients may want to cover them through their health insurance plans. Check if massage therapy is covered in the insurance and apply for a claim.
9. Get the right tools
In order to run your massage therapy business efficiently, you need to own the right set of tools.
There are two kinds of tools you’ll need:
A) Physical tools
These are the tools you need to buy to start your massage therapy business:
- Massage table
- Massage chair
- Pillows, linens, and towels, enough to change between clients
- Massage oils, lotions, and creams
- Music and candles for ambiance
- Storage space for your supplies
- A place to wash linens and towels
Ensure that you use high-quality and safe products that fit well into your budget.
B) The right software
Apart from the physical tools, you need a software to manage your administrative tasks such as managing client databases, CRM, scheduling, payments, etc. To ensure that you focus on your massages better instead of being stuck with appointment booking calls, payment issues, database management, etc, invest in a good massage therapy scheduling software like Appointy.
10. Build your clientele
Now that everything else is done, you need to get into business. For that to happen, you need customers! But how will they come to know about this new massage therapist in their area?
Here’s how you can start:
A) Word of mouth
Talk to people. Your friends and family are your primary evangelists at all points in time. Asking your close acquaintances to spread the word about your business is a great way to get your business publicized. While this may not directly reflect in leads from your target market, it lets people know that you exist.
B) Put yourself out there
The internet is the best and most sophisticated marketing tool at your disposal. Use it, to its fullest capacity. List yourself on online business directories, such as Google My Business, Yelp, Bing, etc. Make sure that people are able to click on your business and access your contact details. You can even add your booking link or Book Now button to directly get appointments from these channels.
Research online spa finding tools and try to get your business there as well. The motive behind these steps is to use the algorithm of the web to make sure you are visible when someone searches for your service.
C) Establish your social media presence
The ease of access presented by social media makes it a seamlessly efficient method of sharing information. Create social media pages for your business on various platforms.
Your social media pages will be yet another source by which your clients can contact you for information. Create a Facebook and Instagram page for your business and make sure you provide all the information required for your target audience to contact you upon viewing your page. Start posting regularly and include relevant hashtags to reach out to potential clients.
D) Use Coupons and Discounts
Coupons and discounts are a great way to increase traffic to your business. If your prices are attractive, then it naturally draws in more customers. You may also reach out to local eateries or other small businesses to partner with you, i.e., in exchange for you distributing their coupons to your customers, they would do the same for you.
However, this is a step that you need to take depending upon your cost & benefit parameters. If you feel that an initial discount might make it all the more difficult for you to break even, then you can choose to bring in discounts at a later stage. You could also explore the possibility of giving out festive coupons/discounts in the future as well.
For more detailed marketing tips, check out our blog: 8 Simple yet Effective Massage Therapy Marketing Ideas to Boost your Business.
The decision to start a business is never an easy one but it can be rewarding if done the right way. This blog gives you a basic outline of how to start your massage business but is in no way restrictive.
Starting your own business may involve textbook decisions but is largely dynamic. Use this blog as a starting point and come up with your own unique ways to develop and market your business, and you should be a successful massage therapy business owner soon! 🙂
We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, and resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day.
If you have any thoughts on this blog or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below.
We love a good talk!