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The true cost of your massage treatment

Young female massage therapist massaging a young lady laying on a massage table

Do your clients know what actually goes into the cost of their massage? If not, maybe letting them know will actually increase your bookings!

In April this year, the minimum wage in the UK will increase to £8.21 for workers over the age of 25 and £7.70 for those aged 21-24. Payscale estimates the average hourly salary for massage therapists working in the UK is £10.05. Considering the training and overheads required to run your own massage therapy business I think it is fair to say this is incredibly low! 

massage therapist pay uk

One of the biggest challenges for massage therapists is setting our prices. Like all self-employed workers, it can be easy to overlook the costs inherent in running your massage therapy business and end up with a salary far lower than you desire or deserve! Add to this, pressures from clients who are always looking for a bargain and massage therapists can end up in a precarious position financially.

When we first read Shawn Kitzman’sblog post, we loved his no-nonsense approach to spelling out what actually goes into the cost of a massageShawn's post inspired the team at Massage Warehouse so much we wanted to create a version for our UK customers & community. So if you need to take a look at your rates or simply want to be able to tackle tricky customers, after these steps you can confidently demonstrate exactly what it takes to deliver their massage treatment and hopefully save a little money along the way! 

We have based this article on an independent massage therapist operating their own clinic but there will be costs that will apply to mobile massage therapists and those working from home too!

Pull out all the costs which apply to your massage therapy business to total up your annual business costs before following this great post by The Design Trust. Originally written for freelance web designers, it has a lot of useful advice which is totally applicable to massage therapists trying to work out their hourly rates.  

Once you are confident with your rates, memorise your list of expenses or have a customer friendly copy printed up. So next time a tricky customer is trying to bag a discount on their massage treatment you can politely and confidently explain why it is a no! If you have a facebook page, you can write your own friendly informative post so your customers know and will appreciate your time and service more!

So first up is...

Rent

Many massage therapists will choose to operate their business from a commercial space. These can vary widely in style and size but whichever type of space you opt for, rent will likely be your largest expense as a massage therapist. If you are a mobile therapist make sure you account for petrol, insurance, tax and the upkeep of your car or public transport costs,

Insurance

As a massage therapist, you will need to take out some public liability insurance, to ensure your massage therapy business is protected in case someone is injured at your clinic or if the property itself is damaged at any time. Whilst this can start from as little as a £5 a month, it all adds up to your overall annual costs!    

Professional Memberships 

Belonging to an association is a great way to network with other massage therapists and to continue learning about your field, develop new skills and keep up to date with important changes in the massage industry.

In the UK, an annual membership to theNational Association of Massage and Manipulative Therapists cost £45 or with The Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT) you can become a member for £62.99 a year or pay a little extra and benefit from their assistance with your insurance.  If you've trained with the Massage Training Institute, they are an excellent organisation offering great community support to therapists.

Website and marketing

There are many ways to market your massage therapy business but they all have one thing in common, they all cost money!

Some therapists opt to print flyers or take out ads in local papers, both of which can be costly and tend to miss modern audiences. Most likely you have invested in a website and are trying to promote yourself on social media.

Whilst drag and drop sites like Squarespace and Wix can make getting your website up and running faster, annually they will cost you about three times as much as hosting a WordPress website. 

Financially it is well worth the investment, either in time teaching yourself to set up a simple templated site or paying someone to do it for you, and hosting your website through 1&1 Ionos who can help you buy your website name, set up your website with WordPress and even set up a dedicated email address, all for around £30 a year.

The time you spend marketing your business also needs to be factored into your running costs. Total up the number of hours you spend each week marketing your business and give yourself a salary (you can use the national minimum wage as a baseline) and add this into your overall operating costs for your massage therapy business. 

Phone  

Whether you are paying for a landline at your clinic or using your mobile phone you need to add this expense to your overall massage therapy business costs.

 

Processing Payments

If you accept credit cards payments from your clients then as you know this can easily add up as another unexpected cost.

Merchant Machine provides great advice on the top 5 credit card machine for small businesses but more and small businesses are switching over to online payments to save money. Get on top of your payment costs and add the average to your total. 

 

Equipment

Throughout the year, you will no doubt have to refresh some of the equipment you need to deliver your awesome massage treatments. The cost of massage oil, massage couch covers etc all adds up! On top of this, most massage therapists are responsible for washing their own towels or sheets. If this applies to you, you are no doubt adding significant costs to your water and electricity bills each month. So make a comprehensive list of all your equipment and utilities and add it to your total. 

To save some money on massage essentials sign up to our newsletter! Each week we share some quick tips for therapists and a special offer for our newsletter subscribers. Sign up today at the bottom of this blog! 

Accountant and bookkeeping

Whether you pay for the help of an accountant or handle your own books with software like Quickbooks, there may well be costs involved in keeping the tax man away!  Like your marketing time, add up the time spent on your accounts each year and give yourself a salary for this time.

 

CPD Training & Courses

In any career, it is important to keep your skills up to date. As massage therapists, we might choose to attend a course to refresh our knowledge or learn something new. With some courses in London costing £650 for 4 days, these are significant expenses for your massage therapy business. Depending on your level of experience and style of massage, take time to do some research and figure out what your budget for training is, whether this is annually or every couple of years and factor it into your costs. 

Let your clients know you attend further training courses throughout the year which can all considerably add up!

 

Retirement

Whichestimated in 2018 that couples looking for a comfortable retirement need to be looking to save £26,000 for each year of their retirement. If you are looking to spend your retirement travelling to exotic long haul destinations and driving a new car every 5 years you need to be aiming for around £39,000 a year.


These are scary figures! Putting savings away for retirement is something that is easily overlooked by people who are self-employed. Everyone deserves security in their older years, so don’t be afraid to factor in retirement savings when determining your rate as a massage therapist and to include this when explaining to clients your massage treatment costs.
 

Guidance for amounts couples need to save for retirement from Which

There will no doubt be a big difference depending on which part of the UK you are working from so please let us know how you get on totalling up your annual costs and hourly rates in the comments below! 


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