Do what you love, love what you do.
Wow! Can you imagine a life where every day you get up bursting with enthusiasm to go to work; a life where you can make your own hours; have time to go to that yoga class in the middle of the day; pay yourself a decent salary and most importantly pack your bags every summer and take off for a month! Who would say no to that! Yet the issue that most therapists come up against time and time again is an inability to make a living out of the profession they love. The website www.payscale.com puts the average massage therapist earnings in the UK at £11,400- £14,983 for 1-4 years experience. – That’s less than the average wage of the 17 year old at your local fast food outlet! Not to mention the terrible working conditions we usually award ourselves as the self employed – crazy hours, no holidays, scarce money for further training. Yet it is more than possible to earn a great living as a therapist – and to have time to enjoy your life into the bargain. So to paraphrase the great philosopher Bob the Builder – Can we make a great living as a therapist- the unequivocal answer is “YES WE CAN!”
The 3 cardinal errors of therapists
The economics of being self employed are actually resoundingly simple – the only way to pay yourself more is either to bring in further money or to cut your costs. I find that therapists’ costs are usually minimal so this is not an option. However most therapists are making one of 3 basic errors:
1. Not charging enough
2. Not enough clients coming through the door
3. Not rebooking clients so only seeing them once
So how is it possible to reach our dream goal of 35K profit per year?
First of all it is important to work out actually how much you need to charge per client to make your target salary.
1. Work out your costs: Lets assume your costs are £11000 per annum – this would include for example clinic room rental, your own further training, website costs etc. So you would need to bring in a total of £46K per year to pay yourself a salary of 35K. With me so far? Good!
2. Decide how many weeks per year you are going to work. Right so you want to take 6 weeks holiday over the year- a nice month in the summer and a couple of weeks at Christmas. With 52 weeks in the year taking 6 weeks off leaves us with 46 weeks working time
3. Calculate how much you need to earn per week to bring in your target amount: So handily in our example we would need to earn £1000 per week (£46000 divided by 46 weeks)
4. Calculate how many clients at what price you need to see to make your target income. This is your crunch figure and a great surprise to most therapists who are usually undercharging for their time. A full time workload for most therapists whether you are doing massage, aromatherapy, beauty treatments, homeopathy or counseling is 20 client hours per week. The rest of your workweek should be devoted to marketing and administration of your business. In our example you would need to charge £50 per client hour to bring in the required £1000 per week (20 clients x £50). I need to stress that this a reasonable average amount to pay in ALL areas of the UK for an hour of a therapist’s time! Some areas will be able to charge more but I know therapists working in the most deprived areas of the country who are able to charge £50/hour.
Getting the clients; keeping the clients! The golden secret to building your business
OK so that’s all very well I hear you cry – but how do we get these 20 clients a week to support our dream lifestyle! There will be plenty of top tips on this in future articles coming up in this great magazine, but I will leave you with one golden secret to whet your appetite.
It’s a well-known fact in marketing that it is far easier to KEEP a client than attract a new one. The mistake I see therapists making time and time again is not rebooking their clients – you need to do it there and then at the time of payment. So the top tip for today is the next time you see a client, take a deep breath, visualize that holiday in the sun, get your diary out and re-book them! Well done- that great summer holiday is one step nearer!
About Rachel Fairweather and Jing
Rachel Fairweather has been earning a living from massage for 20 years (and takes the summers off!) She is co-founder and director of The Jing Institute of Advanced Massage Training – an organisation dedicated to excellence in all aspects of postgraduate massage training. We are dedicated to helping massage therapists have the lifestyle and business you deserve. Based in Brighton, we offer courses around the country including London and Edinburgh. Our courses include longer qualifications in advanced massage including our revolutionary BTEC Level 6 (degree level) in Advanced Clinical and Sports massage and 1-2 day CPD courses in Marketing, Hot Stone Fusion, trigger point, myofascial release, stretching, pregnancy, on site, living anatomy and many others. You can also check out our DVD in advanced clinical massage techniques, downloadable from the website. Please call or check our website for further information and course dates.
Tel: 01273 628942
Published in Holistic Therapist Magazine – April-June 2013 edition