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Physical Therapy Massage Business Plan
Healing Touch Massage is a sole proprietorship owned by Lavinia Watkins, LMT. Ms. Watkins has been a Licensed Massage Therapist in the State of Oregon since July 1984, and has run the business from a home-based location since then. The business has consistently been profitable since its inception.
We offer massage in a variety of styles – traditional Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue work, Sports Massage, Hot Stone Massage, Reflexology, and others.
This massage therapy business plan is being used to explore the cost effectiveness of expanding by moving the business into a downtown location. This would make the services more accessible to people who work full time, and also make the office more convenient for clients with medically-ordered massage therapy. Billing insurance companies for medically required massage is lucrative, but the nature of the therapy – usually 15 to 30 minute sessions, focused on a specific body area, with a short-term duration – makes it imperative that the clients can get in to see the therapist over their lunch hour or during their work day.
Our mission is to run a profitable business by providing therapeutic massage in a caring, professional environment. We offer massage in a variety of styles – traditional Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue work, Sports Massage, Hot Stone Massage, Reflexology, and others. Our goal is to tailor the client’s experience based on initial interview information, as well as in-the-minute feedback during the massage, to insure the client’s comfort and satisfaction, and to increase repeat business. We intend to offer massage that is effective, yet respectful of the client’s personal boundaries, so that the experience is relaxing and energizing for both the client and the provider. We are mindful of the overall experience – using quality oils and lotions, appropriate scents, and soothing music, nature sounds or silence – as the client prefers.
- Increase number of day-time clients by 100% by moving to a downtown location.
- Increase new clients by 50% by advertising locally.
- Find other LMT or other personal service provider to sublet space in new location.
Keys to Success
- Professionalism: which includes everything from maintaining confidentiality, to keeping our LMT training up-to-date, to maintaining good boundaries between clients and therapist.
- Individual Attention: making that extra effort to customize each client’s experience to his or her preference.
- Repeat business/Recommendations: giving the kind of service that brings people back for regular treatments, and encourages clients to recommend us to friends, and other health professionals to recommend their clients.
Healing Touch Massage is a Sole Proprietorship owned by Lavinia Watkins, LMT. Ms. Watkins has been a Licensed Massage Therapist in the State of Oregon since July, 1984, and has run the business from a home-based location since then. In the years since first obtaining her license, Ms. Watkins has consistently taken more Continuing Education classes than required to continue her degree, and has studied a wide variety of massage and other therapeutic techniques, including: Shiatsu, Deep Tissue, Sports Massage, Reiki, Watsu, Acupressure, Reflexology, and Integrated Breathing. As a result, Ms. Watkins has is adept in a wide range of massage styles, and can tailor each massage to the client’s needs and preferences.
Lavinia Watkins, LMT, owner of Healing Touch Massage, has been licensed by the State of Oregon since July 1984. An initial (and expensive!) advertising blitz in the local paper helped Ms. Watkins establish an initial clientele, many of whom are still clients, some of whom she continues to offer in-home service. The bulk of her clients come to her home office, and her advertising has been primarily word of mouth for a number of years. Volunteering to work at local track and bicycle events in the late 80s established her reputation as a Sports Masseuse, and attracted another group of long-term repeat clients. In 1993, Ms. Watkins began to make contact among the local chiropractors, orthopedic surgeons, and other medical professionals in an effort to build her referrals of “medically-necessary” massage.
The increased in popularity of Section 125 and other “cafeteria plans” has given rise in recent years to clients who are able to afford regular massage by using these “pre-tax” dollar plans to increase their discretionary spending budgets for massage.
In 2000, Ms. Watkins became affiliated with the American Health Specialties Network, whose website is: http://www.ashn.com. This increased her exposure to clients with health insurance coverage that have Alternative Care coverage, and also greatly decreased the time lag and difficulties usually associated with filing insurance billing claims.
Ms Watkins is now looking at moving to a downtown location, to further increase her availability to short-term clients referred my medical professionals.
Healing Touch Massage is a Sole Proprietorship owned by Lavinia Watkins, LMT.
Healing Touch Massage offers therapeutic massage services.
Market Analysis Summary
The planned move to a downtown location will facilitate access by clients recovering from injuries. We have identified this as a lucrative target market because they usually are funded by insurance claims, and represent repeat visits for a duration of up to one year. Because this group very often needs multiple, short sessions for a series of weeks or months, a downtown location would make us convenient for mid-day appointments.
It is also quite probable that other clients who work during the day would be more likely to book a day-time massage when we are more conveniently located to their place of work. Since the number of day time slots far exceeds the number of evening slots, this is increased business we would be able to book in addition to our current clients.
Clients who come for massage fall into four basic groups:
- Clients recovering from injuries or accidents
- Often also seeing a chiropractor or physical therapist (more often referral from chiropractor)
- Frequently paid by insurance
- Usually insurance will pay for short-term therapy only, although clients will sometimes supplement out-of-pocket
Clients pampering themselves
- High disposable income individuals
- Sometimes have chronic pain or old injury issues
- Massage 1 – 4 times a month for relaxation
Clients who prefer alternative health care
- Use massage as preventative health care
- Use other alternative practices – e.g. acupuncture, Chiropractor, Naturopath, Herbalist, etc.
- Try to have massage as regularly as they can afford – usually once per month
- Injury and workout recovery, also preventative
- Many serious runners/bicyclists in local area
- Massage for improved performance – great for word-of mouth referrals if they see results
Target Market Segment Strategy
As individual as our clients are, they seem to fall into one of five general categories: Injury Recovery, Self-Pampering/Relaxation, Alternative Care Users, Athletes, and the inevitable Other. Besides the obvious differences in the style of massage each of these prefer, they also represent separate groups for marketing and retention purposes.
The Injury recovery group is usually referred by a Chiropractor, self-referred through our listing on the American Specialty Health Network site, or referred by another client who found massage helpful during an injury recovery. So the marketing to this audience is done indirectly, through the referring parties. While car insurance will typically pay for massage for only a limited time period (less than one year), many health insurance policies now have Alternative Care coverage with a renewable annual maximum. And Cafeteria Plans will reimburse for “medically necessary” massage – which is a bit ironic since few, if any, medical doctors will proactively recommend massage, but most will be willing to sign off on a recommendation, if specifically asked by their patients. The rapid turnover of this group is offset by the fact that they will pay top dollar per session. The key is to keep getting new referrals.
Clients who have the disposable income to indulge in massage for self-pampering or relaxation are the core of our long-term repeat customers. These clients will come once a week to once a month for years, and often refer other family and friends. The difficulty working with these clients comes from the ‘familiarity breeds contempt” factor – they can believe they deserve lower rates, cancellations of short or no notice, and can come to seem as friends, rather than clients. The challenge here is maintain a professional relationship, while encouraging the warmth and personal connection that is as much a part of their experience as the actual massage. This type of client can be difficult to find – an ad in the local alternative news weekly (especially with a coupon for $5 off ) or a donation to a charity auction may result in a one-time visit, or a long-term client. Another source of usually one-time visitors is the Gift Certificate – friends pampering friends for a birthday or other special occasion.
The third group are Alternative Care users. These are people who mistrust allopathic medicine, and prefer to use chiropractors, naturopaths, herbalists, acupuncturists. A local networking group of alternative care providers is a great way to get referrals, as well as placing posters on other practitioners offices, and ads in the local alternative newspaper. The problem with this group is that they can tend to have relatively small disposable incomes, so that a massage once every two months may be all they can afford. A relatively large pool of these clients will book only 20% of the available appointments in any given month.
The final group is another backbone of this business – the amateur athletes. There is a large population of runners and bicyclists in the local areas, as well as out-of-town participants who return for annual events, and book massages during those times. This business tends to be slightly seasonal – as most amateur athletes will only train, or gear-up their training during the Spring and Summer months. However, they are a very loyal group, and will readily give word-of-mouth recommendations, especially if they see massage as having given them a specific boost to their performance. This group will cross over from the Injury group, and become long-term clients after the specific initial injury has healed. They also tend to have chronic injuries or pain, especially as they age, which can help them become repeat clients.
Service Business Analysis
The massage industry consists of several dozens of individual therapists working out of home or private offices, in addition to LMTs working in chiropractors’ offices, gyms, beauty salons, and other venues.
Additional massage services are offered by graduates of specialty schools; Rolfers, Breath Managers, Hakomi Therapists, as well as Physical Therapists.
Fortunately, massage is a very personal service, and different clients are attracted to different techniques and personalities. Healing Touch Massage offers the unique services of Lavinia Watkins, LMT, which cannot be duplicated by any other practitioner.
This business is becoming increasingly easy to “break into,” since obtaining the training necessary for licensing is not all that arduous, nor difficult to maintain. But while getting the credentials and equipment necessary to start a new massage business is easy, establishing a clientele is not, so our established practice of over 20 years duration helps us compete with the ever-available flow of LMTs graduating from local schools.
Competition and Buying Patterns
The key element in purchase decisions made by potential massage clients is trust in the professional reputation, and ultimately, in the skill and knowledge of the provider as experienced in the initial massage. For this reason, a discount coupon or donation to a charity auction can be an effective way to troll the waters for new clients. Recommendations from other clients and alternative health service providers is also critical.
While there is a range of prices charged for massage service in the area, there is some price sensitivity among the long-term clientele. Since the variable cost of each massage is nominal, the best bet has seemed to be to charge less than the market will bear. The one exception is when billing insurance companies, where there is no penalty for charging the full Reasonable and Customary Rates for the area.
Clients rarely compare massage therapists directly, although they may try a second LMT if they are not entirely happy with their first experience. Usually they follow word-of-mouth recommendations, and return for repeat sessions as often as their budget allows.