Do you want to start a massage therapy business from home? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a massage therapy business with NO money and no experience plus a sample massage therapy business plan template. If you enjoy taking control, making something your very own and creating your own employment; as long as you have enough get-up-and-go drive and the commitment to see things through, running your own business could become an extremely positive and rewarding experience for you.
Indeed a massage therapy business can be lucrative for an individual and provide the chance for you to work independently or with a health care professional such as an orthopaedic doctor or chiropractor. We believe that massage therapists offer different types of services, such as therapeutic massage, sports massage, and other like services. But in all, the benefit of starting a massage therapy business is that it gives you the opportunity to accept insurance payments as well as private-party payments.
When planning to start this business, you need to first choose the types of massage therapy you will offer to your patrons. At that point, you may consider taking on a partner or contracting other massage therapists to help fill the role of providing various massage services. Also have it in mind that in this industry, a massage therapist can decide to open a retail location and cater to walk-in and referral clients or have a contract with a health care provider or another massage therapy business.
Experts strongly advice that you start with the latter to build a customer base and then open a retail space. Then after you must have chosen a location, you can then choose a Business Name or do business names search with the county or state agency in charge of registering business names.
To properly understand the various things you need to do when planning to start this business, we suggest that you read on as all necessary facts will be outlined and discussed properly.
18 Steps to Starting a Massage Therapy Business from Home
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
- 18. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
It is very necessary to state that businesses in the massage therapy business majorly provide therapeutic and nontherapeutic massages. You need to understand that therapeutic massages are made up of soft-tissue manipulation techniques while nontherapeutic massages are primarily for relaxation purposes. From our research, we have been able to note that improving macroeconomic landscape and a growing connection with the healthcare sector have benefited the Massage Services industry over the five years to 2017.
Even with the discretionary characteristics of industry services, the expected increase in per capita disposable income over the five-year period has provided industry clients with the means to afford additional massages. Experts believe that over the next five years to 2022, the revenue in this business is expected to increase.
We believe that even though a whole lot of massage therapists are sole practitioners, the dominance of non-employers in the industry is expected to continue over the five years to 2022. As the industry’s average wage is anticipated to remain relatively low over the five years to 2022, most therapists will find it necessary to maintain other sources of income to supplement their massage parlour.
From our research, we were able to note that the geographic distribution of businesses in the Massage Services industry is based majorly on the distribution of population and economic activity, showing the small scale and localized nature of most massage and spa salons.
The Southeast region accounts for an estimated 23.9% of industry establishments, which broadly corresponds with the region’s share of the US population. We also found out that the Mid-Atlantic region which is made up of the highly-populated areas of New York City and Philadelphia, accounts for 18.0% of industry establishments. The Mid-Atlantic region shows strong demand for massage services because of its large share of domestic population and its relatively high average wage.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
It is believed that this massage therapy business is perfect for those who feel that they are blessed with the power to heal others with their touch. This is because massage therapists spend most of their days using their hands to alleviate the physical, mental and emotional stress of others. Even though it can be taxing on the body, the benefits come back ten-fold.
This is exactly why we believe that starting your own massage studio will only fuel that ardour for healing clients in both mind and body. Have it at the back of your mind that in this business, you have a clear advantage over many business owners – you offer a service everyone values. Note that your ideal client will be dedicated to holistic healing and will help spread the word about how your services stand out above the rest. Your target market in this business may include;
- High-stress executives
- Pregnant women
- Athletes (in general or a specific niche such as triathletes, cyclists, gymnasts, golfers, dancers)
- Weekend warriors
- People in self-improvement programs
- Pre- and post-operative recovery
- People with disabilities
- The entertainment industry
- Natural disaster survivors and workers
- People in addiction recovery programs
- Patients of other primary care providers
- Small business owners
- Abuse survivors
- Computer operators
- Military personnel
- People committed to wellness
- People with chronic pain
- People with specific healthcare conditions (e.g., TMJ)
- Healthcare providers
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
Indeed there are a lot of fantasy and myth attached to business ownership, mainly spread by well-intentioned friends and co-workers. They involve terrible tales of woe, filled with toil and trouble, paperwork, long hours and diminishing returns. While some look through rose-coloured glasses, seeing only a dream of total fulfillment, financial reward and flexible hours, while inwardly dreaming up the speech they’ll give when they become rich.
For your information, starting and running a business is not a Mount Everest tour, but you simply have to take it seriously, offer fantastic service and above all – make sure you enjoy yourself. In the Massage Therapy Business, you need to first choose the services you will be offering your clients. This is industry is so huge and can be very confusing, but take your time to make a necessary decisions.
The types of massage therapy you can leverage on may include;
- Aromatherapy Massage
- Baby Massage
- Bamboo Massage
- Cellulite Massage
- Chair Massage
- Couple Massage
- Craniosacral Massage
- Deep Tissue Massage
- Elderly Massage
- Energy Work
- Esalen Massage
- Facial Massage with Stones
- Full Body Massage
- Hot Stone Massage
- Indian Head Massage
- Manual Lymph Drainage
- Massage Cupping
- Medical Massage
- Myofascial Massage
- Pregnancy Massage
- Raindrop Therapy
- Relaxation Massage
- Sports Massage
- Swedish Massage
- Thai Body Massage
- Therapeutic Massage
- Tibetan Blissful Sleep Massage
- Trigger Point Therapy
- Zero Balancing
The Level of Competition in the Industry
Massage therapists have gained, just like a lot of other professionals, from a strong economy that industrial diseases such as workplace-related musculo-skeletal disorders (WRMDs) and job-related stress have helped to boost. Most of the world workers have access to generous employee benefit plans, comprehensive provincial health care and/or worker’s compensation plans, and auto-insurance funding for rehabilitation.
Also with the rise in popularity of complementary and alternative medicine practices, cutbacks in funding for services normally covered under provincial health insurance, and increased regulation of massage therapy in more provinces saw the potential for a great growth in the demand for massage therapy, and personal health services in general.
But we believe there are storms coming, metaphorically, at the borders of the massage therapy industry. We also believe that rising demand for health professionals to work from evidence-based best practices; economic markers that signal a downward shift in the economy, including extended health plans and other work benefits; struggling massage therapy associations, where low membership equals low advocacy and promotion for all; the advancement of other health professions towards degree-level education and the peer pressure that it creates impacts on how massage therapists practice.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
All over the world, you will find key players in different sectors of the economy. The massage therapy terrain isn’t an exception. Here are some well-known massage therapy brands in America;
- Destination spa chains
- Canyon Ranch
- Golden Door
- Massage clinic franchise Massage Envy
- Day spa franchise Woodhouse Spas
- Steiner Leisure
- Absolute Spa
- Grupa Uzdrowisk
In this business, you can offer treatment packages as a lot of Massage Company’s bill per session. We believe that those who accept insurance simply collect the insured’s co-payment and bill the rest directly to the insurance company.
But in the case where you choose not go the insurance route, offer your customers a little relief by accepting credit card payments for your services. Shelling out $60-100 per session is a luxury; do what it takes to keep those clients coming back month after month.
We also believe that a lot of good entrepreneurs offer more than just their services. They profit from offering goods such as Bio freeze, essential oils, books and CDs. If you choose this avenue, just remember that there is nothing worse than leaving a massage only to be bombarded with someone wanting more money.
It is very important to state that due to the intimate nature of the business, a lot of massage therapy business owners choose to keep their companies on a smaller, more local level. But if your plan is to expand to have multiple locations (and employees) across the city, there is nothing preventing you from finding large-scale success. This business is indeed one that needs the Talent or rather blessing of having a miraculous hand. Make sure to put everything in shape before you open your door for business.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
It is believed that buying into a franchise in the massage therapy industry is far more profitable or rather advisable than starting from the scratch. One of the reasons is that a franchisee buys more than the right to use a business name; you buy the franchisor’s experience and the business’s formula for success.
A lot of individuals choose to buy a franchise because they have a good business background but no experience in a particular industry. Others know an industry well, but don’t have a background in business. Still others have both and just want the experience and support a franchise offers.
You should also know that another benefit of opening a franchise is that the franchisee is provided with a turnkey operation. At this point, the franchisor aids you choose the site and negotiate the lease, tells you how to lay out the salon and where to order furnishings, provides information on what products you are required to use and what your opening inventory should be, and provides you with management and technical training. On the issues of cost, control, expertise, and support, these franchise owners were equally split.
A franchise owner incurs more expenses and has less control over the business operation, but still gains the benefit of the experience of the franchisor and other franchisees on what works and what doesn’t. In addition, he enjoys the ongoing support and training. The costs and areas in which a franchisee gives up control come as no surprise. Everything is outlined in the franchise agreement and other legal documents that the franchisee has ample time to review.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
There isn’t a business without the challenge bug. Every business is faced with one challenge or the other. Suspense and the thought of failing may be preventing you from opening your own business, but you can take heart in the fact that every successful business owner has made their own share of mistakes along the road to the top. Possible challenges may include:
- Hiring technicians
- Staying competitive
- Suitable location
- Lack of experience
- Employee incentives
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
You need to understand that this decision is one of the many decisions you have to make when starting, and your decision should rest on your individual situation and tolerance for risk. In this business, you can start business operations with any legal structure. But we strongly recommend that your consideration should be between a sole proprietorship and a limited liability company, but in all, the final decision should be made by considering the key differences that distinguish the two entity types.
We believe that one of the main differences between a sole proprietorship and an LLC is the way business liability is considered and handled. When you start as a sole proprietor, you are personally responsible for all business debts and crisis, while an LLC protects owners against personal liability. Indeed it rests upon how you set up your massage therapy, you may be at risk of lawsuits from customers, and if the business can’t pay a judgment, the situation can ruin you financially if you are personally liable.
Business Troubles and issues
Based on probability, you may start your massage therapy on a small scale, without offering many of the more severe therapies. Possibly you have enough business insurance to cover you if someone sues. Sole proprietorships are easier to run than LLCs. If you remove the liability factor, sole proprietors have less paperwork to worry about and fewer state and federal obligations. A sole proprietorship may be the best choice if you plan to gradually build up the business and want to spend most of your time on services rather than paperwork.
Set up Expenditures
We believe that Setting up an LLC is more expensive than setting up shop as a sole proprietor. Note that one of the main advantages of opening a massage therapy is the modest upfront investment required. Operating as an LLC can add hundreds of dollars in start-up and maintenance fees to your budget. Comparatively, it costs nothing to set up a sole proprietorship in most states. Most states require massage therapy owners to pay for training and licensing, so saving money on business set-up and maintenance may make a big difference.
Business Equity Investment
From definition, a sole proprietorship is a single-owner business by law, so you can’t raise money or resources for your business by selling some of your equity. But an LLC is structured to allow multiple owners. Even if you start off as the sole owner of an LLC, you can bring on partners at any time that can infuse money or resources into the business without needing to change the business structure.
If you want to bring on partners as a sole proprietor, you must convert the business to a different type of entity. If your master plan is to own a string of massage therapies, and you expect to need investors, an LLC may be the most appropriate business structure.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
One of the rules of thumb for starting a massage therapy business is having an attractive name. Here is a list of catchy names that you may consider adopting;
- Body Transformation
- 24/7 Massage
- Unique Wellness
- Belly Novi
- Medicinal therapy
- Yellow Horn spa
- Easiest massage
- Elements Therapeutic Massage
- Collide Spa
- Roman soul
- Healing Arts Massage
- Kind hands
- Perfect Hands Massage
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
Have it in mind that in this business, you are in a unique position of trust. Whether you specialize in sports massage, aromatherapy massage, or other types of massage therapy, your clients rely on you, and it is vital that both you and they are properly protected. This is why you need to build an insurance policy that protects you, your premises, and your customers, plus any specialist equipment.
- Public liability insurance
- Employers’ liability insurance
- Tool insurance
- Business equipment insurance
- Business buildings insurance
- Business interruption insurance
- Legal expenses insurance
- Stock insurance
- Personal accident insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
Indeed when we cook, we tend to cover the foods to avoid insects. A lot of business owners fail to take a similar degree of caution with their designs, ideas, and valuable business information – the business’s intellectual property (IP) – and leave themselves at risk of theft and counterfeiting. We believe that the new changes to the law should strengthen the protection of designs in the world, and the introduction of simpler patenting processes will make it easier for small businesses like a massage therapy to look after their IP and intangible assets. Ways to protect your business may include…
- Identify your intellectual property
- Get help to find the right protection
- Watch the competition – and enforce the law
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
It is very important to state that professional certification makes use of a formal process to identify and acknowledge individuals who have met a recognized standard. Note that usually this standard includes education, experience and an exam of knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform the job.
So when an individual meets the standard, he or she receives certification from a certifying agency. We believe that the credibility and integrity of the certifying agency determines whether the agency’s certification means anything to the public, and therefore, ultimately, its value.
Note that certification agencies may seek out recognition by an outside agency that will, in turn, attest to the certifying agency meeting a standard. Generally, this standard involves the qualification requirements to take the exam, whether the exam meets accepted psychometric standards for exam development, how the exam is given and scored, how the agency is administered, and whether its rules are fair. Indeed this industry has so many certifications. Take your take your time to research and choose the necessary ones.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
You need to know that starting and running a successful massage therapy business needs a lot of planning and consideration. Apart from possessing the proper permits and licenses, you’re also required to have undergone state-approved education to secure and maintain some of those licenses. The state of Texas, like many states, has its own set of requirements that must be met in order for a massage therapy business to operate within its borders. You basically need;
- Operators license
- federal employer identification number
- business name permits
- zoning and land use permits
- sales tax license
- Salon license
- Permanent physical address for mobile massage spa
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
When planning to start this business, have it in mind that you need to secure the financing you need from a bank, your credit cards or investors; but if you have the money to invest then it is a good idea to rent rather than buy a building to cut costs and pay for your own launch yourself. But note that before you do anything you need to find money to finance your business plan. Sometimes you need to hire a professional to do it for you.
Also have it in mind that investors can be difficult to come by for any business simply because there has been a recession and times have been a bit hard. It is for this reason that you would need to prove to any investor that you can multiply the profits of your business exponentially by showing them a solid business plan. Sometimes a person running a similar business to your own like the owner of a Tattoo parlor might be a good source of clients. Ways to get funds for your massage therapy business may include;
- Use Your Own Savings and Assets for Financing
- Family members and friends
- Venture Capitalists
- angel investors
- Credit Cards
- By using Money brokers and finders
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
It is very important to state that a well-negotiated space lease is an important asset, while a poorly negotiated lease could be a liability. We believe that a budding entrepreneur can sign a lease and then later regret its terms. It might be because they failed to evaluate all those clauses and their long term effects.
The watchword therefore is; look at the location, the amenities, the neighbours, the covenants, and most importantly the rental in relation to the business you can generate from this location. Have it at the back of your mind that not all for-rent commercial space, no matter how attractive or economical, is suitable for a massage therapy.
This is why we suggest that before signing, you should examine your potential market, its source, and whether the location of your business is better here rather than alternative spots. So, take your time to consider your neighbours, your effect on them, and if they generate patronage for you. Remember to compare various locations, their estimated drawing power, and your total occupancy cost for each as a percentage of the projected gross income. Also before settling for a location, make comparisons, seek advice and be mindful of the clauses in the lease or space agreement.
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
Even if you choose to have a staff of therapists or run your office solo, you will need to hire an accountant for bookkeeping. Note that as the business grows, you will need to hire someone to perform the office duties you don’t have time for. Then you could hire an assistant for minimum wage or participate in your state’s apprenticeship program, where the individual obtains their license at the end of the program. The necessary equipment you will need may include;
Special tables and chairs for massages
Note that there are specialized massage tables and chairs used to position clients during massages. We believe that a typical commercial massage table has an easily cleaned, heavily padded surface, and a horseshoe-shaped head support that allows the client to breathe easily while lying face down and can be stationary or portable.
Also note that Ergonomic chairs serve a similar function as a massage table. Also note that chairs may be either stationary or portable models. But we believe that massage chairs are easier to transport than massage tables, and recipients do not need to disrobe to receive a chair massage. Just because of these two factors, chair massage is often performed in settings such as corporate offices, outdoor festivals, shopping malls, and other public locations.
Massage Warm-water therapy pools
It is very important to state that temperature-controlled warm-water therapy pools are used to perform aquatic bodywork. Take for instance, Watsu needs a warm-water therapy pool that is approximately chest deep (depending on height of the therapist) and temperature-controlled to about 35 °C (95 °F).
Easy to use dry-water massages tables
Note that a dry-water massage table makes use of jets of water to massage the client’s muscles. Note that these tables differ from a Vichy shower in that the client usually stays dry. Indeed the two common types are one in which the client lies on a waterbed-like mattress which contains warm water and jets of water and air bubbles and one in which the client lies on a foam pad and is covered by a plastic sheet and is then sprayed by jets of warm water, similar to a Vichy shower.
Classic Vichy showers
It is important to note that Vichy shower is a form of hydrotherapy which uses a series of shower nozzles which spray large quantities of water over the client while they lie in a shallow wet bed, similar to a massage table, but with drainage for the water.
Massage Crèmes, lotions, gels, and oils
Note that many different types of massage crèmes, lotions, gels, and oils are used to lubricate and moisturize the skin and reduce the friction between skin (hands of technician and client).
Total Massage tools
First and foremost, a body rock is a serpentine-shaped tool, usually carved out of stone. It is used to amplify the therapist’s strength and focus pressure on certain areas. We believe that it can be used directly on the skin with a lubricant such as oil or corn starch or directly over clothing.
Also know that Bamboo and rosewood tools are also commonly implemented. They originate from practices in Southeast Asia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Burma. Some of them may be heated, oiled, or wrapped in cloth.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
As an entrepreneur, your daily tasks will extend beyond massage. Clients must be scheduled and payments processed. There will be sheets to launder, client notes to complete, and product orders to place. Note that your service process in this business will depend on the niche you choose in this business, and the services you choose to render.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
Even though word of mouth will be your greatest marketing tool, there are other things you can do. You need to start first by building relationships with the medical professionals in your community. A lot will refer clients to you and allow you to put your literature at their front desk. No matter what route you take for your massage business, social media is the most affordable way to share information that specifically targets your demographic. Here are few ways to start…
- Use the newspapers
- The internet
- Business cards
- Gift cards
- Referral programs
17. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers
Apart from a marketing strategy, your best way to attract and retain clients is through your healing skills and affordable pricing. Have it in mind that once your customer walks out of the facility feeling refreshed, they will not only come back, they will tell everyone they know. Other ways to increase customer retention may include…
- Compare prices
- Stay current on industry trends
- Treat every customer as a guest
- Expand the services you offer in your facility
- Hire an aesthetician, nail technician or other service providers to make your business a one-stop beauty and pampering destination to draw in more customers
- Sell body-related products and other beauty products like cosmetics for home use
- Hold an open house or special holiday events at the salon to attract new customers
- Keep a database of your customers and follow them up
18. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
Even though you are in the business to heal, you are also in it to make money. Here are a few ways you can build your business brand awareness and increase the profit of your new business.
1. Offer multiple payment options
Many consumers will find another place to go if your business doesn’t accept credit cards.
2. Accept insurance
This opens your business up to a whole new set of clients that would otherwise be unavailable to you.
3. Work nights and weekends
Make yourself available during the times your customers need you most.
4. Accept gift certificates
Studies indicate consumers spent $130 billion on gift cards in 2015, with almost $1 billion going unused.
5. Offer spa packages
If your vision is a more spa-like atmosphere, increase your earning potential by partnering with individuals to offer a bevy of spa services.