If you are a massage therapist, at some point in your career you'll aspire to have your own private massage therapy practice and yet that first necessary step of locating and securing an office space can seem daunting and just out of reach.
How I Did It
I was lucky. Shortly after graduation, a room was offered to me at our local church. The rent was $250 per month and that, to me, was a fortune. With no clients, I took the leap of faith. That first month I made $260. I was ecstatic! The following month I was approached by a fellow massage therapist who was interested in subletting, and that was my beginning. I have never looked back.
My massage business is classed full-time with around 20 clients a week, give or take. That being said there is plenty of time that my office is not in use.
With perfect planning, you can sub-let out your office and make your monthly rent a lot more affordable.
How YOU Can Do It, Too
Two suggestions to share the financial responsibility:
1. Find someone who would be willing to share monthly costs with you...
It can be less scary if you know that someone else is there to share costs associated with having your own practice. Costs of setting up, furnishing, rent, and other monthly and one-time expenses. This person doesn’t necessarily have to be another Massage Therapist. Over the years I have met acupuncturists, estheticians, counselors, reiki masters, reflexologists, etc. You could partner with any of these, whether they need a massage table or not. Just make sure the massage table is portable, so it can be taken down if needed, if someone wants to have a counseling session, for example.
2. Manage the responsibility yourself while subletting to therapists..
You can find your ideal therapist/s to sublet to while looking for rental space.
Place ads in all your local massage, acupuncture, reiki, reflexology schools. Local unity churches - spread the work that you have space available to sublet when you meet fellow therapists.
If you have interested therapists before you have secured space - check their timeline - often they are flexible and happy to wait - explain your terms and schedule to them - get them excited about the chance to have an affordable place to start their own business. They’d be getting in on the ground floor and could have input to set up the office. Maybe they’d even be available to help!
Sharing your room doesn’t mean having to share your clients. Remember there are ALWAYS plenty of clients to go around. Hold that view, with gratitude! No need to let the fear of competition get in the way.
Furnishing the office:
Whether or not you share financial responsibility with another therapist or sublet to others you will have to furnish the space. Here are some ways that I have done it on a budget
Craigslist has furnished all my rooms, at a fraction of the cost new. Choose a style and color that you like and you'll find it out there. Click on "FOR SALE" then click " ALL" section. Under search you can put in the details of what you are looking for. Today there are many sites/apps that sell used products. I started with Craigslist and I still use it. It has never failed me!
If space is a challenge - wall cabinets are great placed right on the floor! A 12' or 18' shelf of similar color (purchased new from Home Depot, Loews, etc) on top makes a great, efficient and quality looking work-space.
I did this when I started working at our local hospital and we were on a budget to set up a treatment room - I found brand new lovely custom made wall cabinets for a fraction of the cost still in their original packaging - oftentimes contractors over purchase on custom kitchens and sell on Craigslist or similar.
Scheduling office space and time:
If you are sharing responsibility with one or more therapists then the time and all costs are divided equally between you.
If subletting to other therapists decide when you want to be in the space and work out a schedule to allow the other therapists to take on set hours and/or leave some space for sign up for the “empty” hours.
Charging the therapists using the space:
I have done that 2 ways.
- Option 1
- Charge on an “as needed” basis during the “empty” hours.
- no commitment, no deposit, no storage space.
- I charge $20 for 90 minutes of office time. This option requires more time as therapists contact you, you will need to check the schedule and see if the time is available ( if you have multiple therapists who may have already booked a particular slot)
- Option 2
- Therapists commit to a minimum of 8 hours a week at $6 per hour whether they use the space or not. Set days and times are agreed upon that will be consistent from week to week.
- I also charge a refundable deposit equal to one month, reimbursed when 30 days notice is given.
- I make storage space available - the amount is agreed upon beforehand.
- Any “empty” hours availability can be signed up for on an “as needed” basis billed at $15 per 90 mins (Discounted from option 1)
- Rent due first of the month plus any additional added due to extra hours used for the previous month
I continue to use both options 1 & 2 above for the therapists who share my rooms.
I currently have 2 treatment rooms alongside each other with a bathroom and waiting room between. 5 other part-time therapists come in and out and we all share the space.
We clean up after ourselves, use the communal vacuum as needed and always leave the room as we would wish to find it. If table height has to be adjusted we give ourselves the time to do that upon arrival. Both rooms are neutral. Some personal pictures have been brought in but mainly rooms are personalized by the therapist, for the time it is in use, and the therapist returns to its “neutral” look when finished.
In conclusion, these guidelines have worked well for me over the years. I have enjoyed offering affordable rentals to Massage Therapists who otherwise would not have been able to branch out and start their own business. Many have moved on to acquire their own full-time spaces, others moved out of town, and some have even moved away but continue to come back monthly to see their core clients in the area.
You are creative, talented, and capable. Owning your own private massage therapy practice is within reach if you apply yourself to finding creative ways to accomplish it.