I was contacted by a chiropractor recently who asked if I thought that massage therapy was a good profit center for a chiropractic practice. Apparently, he missed the fact that I have spoke about or sold copies of my Build a $300,000 Massage Practice in Your Chiropractic Clinic program to chiropractors in every U.S. state and 23 countries. Obviously, my answer was “yes” but it got me thinking. Why trust my opinion? Let’s look at some statistics on massage and see where we can meaningfully apply that data to our chiropractic practice and our bottom line.
Here are some relevant facts about massage and why you should NOT miss out on its 6 figure potential for your office:
Massage therapy is growing: Depending on who you ask, in 2005, massage therapy was projected to be a $6 to $11 billion a year industry. In 2010, massage therapy was a $12-17 billion industry. Doesn’t matter whose figures you use, that math adds up to a growth of between 54% and 283% in five years. (And don’t forget, in a slumping economy).
Most Massage Therapists Work Solo and Need Patients. According to the AMTA, 65% of therapists are solo practictioners only working 15 hours per week and are “heavily dependent on repeat clients.” 47% indicated that they would like to work more hours.
Most Patients Sought Massage for Pain or Problems. Of those that have ever had a massage, fifty-four (54) percent say they’ve used massage therapy at least one time for pain relief. In July 2010, 40 percent of adult Americans said they had at least one massage in the last five years to reduce stress or relax—up from 22 percent reported in 2007.
MD’s Love to Refer to Massage Therapists. 31% of their health care providers strongly recommended massage therapy. While physicians led the way in recommending massage (50%), chiropractors (35%) and physical therapists (42%) also recommended massage therapy when their patients discussed it with them.4 Nearly three quarters of massage therapists (73 percent) indicate they receive referrals from health care professionals.
Relatively Few Massage Therapists Work for Chiropractors. The most common place of work (outside of solo or home practice) was a spa (26%). Only 25% worked in healthcare.
Massage Represents a HUGE Opportunity to “Widen” Your Marketing Funnel. Face it, people generally find your practice one of a handful of ways. Between July 2009 and July 2010, roughly 48 million adult Americans (18 percent) had a massage at least once. You can look at that stat two ways: (a) some of those folks could be getting a massage in your office and generating income for you that you would have otherwise never made or (b) Some of those people could be getting massage AND chiropractic in your office – generating even more income!
Massage is Profitable! According to the AMTA (and my informal research with clients all over the country confirms this as well) the average therapist charges $60 cash for a one-hour session. Do the math. Most therapists (in my experience) can perform 25 one-hour sessions of massage per week. According to Chiropractic Economics, chiropractors paid massage therapists an average of $24K per year in salary. Do the math.
The Mistakes We Make With Massage
Over the years, I have met a handful of chiropractors who have failed to make massage profitable. They have all committed one or more of the following mistakes. On the other hand, I have yet to see a doctor who did not succeed with massage – in any setting, location, cash or insurance — if they simply avoided these three basic errors. So here are the mistakes to steer clear of:
1. Wrong Categorization: Independent Contractor vs. Employee. The short answer is: hire them as Employees. There are many reasons (as explained in my Build a $300,000 Massage Program in Your Chiropractic Office) to choose Employee and I know of only a few exceptions that have worked with the IC route. But I know lots of failed examples and even a few docs who got into hot water using massage therapists as Independent Contractors.
2. Wrong Wage: While I do not advocate the slavish wage of some other consultants or some national chains who recommend paying your therapist peanuts ($12/hr or less), it is possible to start your therapist out way too high. Don’t listen to what the therapist tells you they want to be paid in an interview. Know what you will charge and do the math.
3. Wrong System. Quite frankly, most that fail in this category actually have “no system.” Certainly, one can’t expect to launch a $300,000 per year chiropractic business by hanging a shingle. Why should massage be any different? Fortunately, because of your chiropractic practice, you have the access, the tools, the patient base all in place for a super-successful massage practice – so a good system will get you there very quickly.
4. Wrong Outlook. To put it bluntly, some chiropractors fail because their ego gets in the way. Face it: patients love massage and it helps them therapeutically. Fragile egos take this personally and get miffed that the patients sound more excited about massage than they do their adjustments. First, I do recommend that you properly prioritize how massage fits into your care regime and that chiropractic is top priority (again, the how-to’s are addressed in my program). Secondly, keep in mind, that when the day is over, that patient still had a massage in your office, paid you money and did NOT go somewhere else to get the massage that YOU recommended!
If you’ve been contemplating adding massage to your practice, I hope that the above statistics were helpful in letting you see the big picture potential of massage. I see few opportunities in chiropractic that can literally match its potential.
On the other hand, if yours has been limping along, I hope that this article has been a good reminder of the potential goldmine on which you are sitting. Focus some time and energy on building your massage therapy department and reap the rewards. The numbers are there, now you just need to focus on improving your systems!