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UPDATE October 2015

During times of an economic or financial downward spiral, you can expect it will take a toll on business owners. Unfortunately, most massage therapists are self-employed and not exempt from our nation’s economic decline. For those who operate their own practice, bodyworkers are recognizing that just like the rest of American business owners, their economic survival lies in operating within a tighter budget. Although slimming down a budget involves cutting costs, bodyworkers need to carefully discriminate between cuts that will help their business flourish and cuts that could demolish it.

Good Cuts

There are many things a business owner can do to help their fiscal bottom line. Saving money in a massage practice can be accomplished in many ways. While there are many more approaches to tightening a massage business’s purse strings, a few suggestions include:

  • Bulk – Purchase massage oil or lotion in bulk, then refill a reusable container. Or, buy necessities in bulk and then split the goods and cost with others.
  • Sublet – Rent your office or treatment rooms to other professionals when not being used by you.
  • Brown Bag – Bring your lunch from home instead of going out to eat.
  • Reduce Overstock – For therapists who supplement their services by selling health-related products, restraint must be exercised when ordering products. Unless your supplier allows you to return unsold products for a full refund, keeping a back stock is money that may go down the drain. For that reason, keep a small amount of products on hand and order as needed.
  • Donate – To help others in need and get a break on your taxes, donate money to a tax deductible charity.

Bad Cuts

Whether seeking help online, in business development centers, with a financial advisor or within the pages of books or magazines, there are many resources available for keeping a positive cash flow in your business. Businesses can increase their prices or look for savings in other areas to offset their costs. However, massage therapists must always select their budget cuts with their clients in mind.

Cutting in areas that decrease professionalism, detract from the client’s experience, reduce therapeutic effectiveness or compromise safety or infection control are definitely not worth the financial savings.

Examples of unwise budget cuts in the massage profession include:

  • Time Scrimp – Although shortening a 60-minute massage to 45 minutes can allow the therapist to fit more clients into a specified time block, this change will negatively impact your business. Unless you are up front about this time change and correlate it with a decrease in price, your clients are likely to feel shortchanged.
  • Cleanliness Cut – Hiring an office cleaner once a month instead of once a week can save you a lot of money. However, if you don’t pick up the slack, your clients will notice the accumulation of dust, dirt and grime. Neglecting the cleanliness of your office communicates a lack of respect for your practice and discredits your professionalism.
  • Sheet Flipping – While you may wear a pair of pants twice before throwing them in the wash, the same does not apply to massage therapy linens. Done by those who want to save on their laundry costs, the dubious practice of sheet flipping negates infection control policies and is a surefire way to spread pathogens.

Most massage therapists who own their business are likely to be affected by our economy’s downturn. To stay in business, most of these individuals will be looking for ways to save capital. In order to distinguish between cuts that are sound and those that are not, always perceive the proposed change through the eyes of your clients. Because the financial cuts you make have the potential to attract or repel current and future customers, each one must be carefully evaluated.

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