To run a massage business, or in fact any business it has to be sustainable for it to last. “Sustainability, in general terms, is the ability to maintain balance of a certain process or state in any system.” (sustainability, 2009). When making your business plan you should look at different aspects of sustainability: economic, social, environmental, to see how you can make each area more sustainable.
In my opinion economic sustainability is the most important. If you aren't making any money you aren't going to last. A business plan is important. Setting realistic goals to keep yourself focused. “The most important thing to consider is the minimum amount of business you need to maintain – that way, you will know on a daily basis if you are swimming or sinking.” (Fanuzzi, J. 2002). Early in your business you need to identify what are the daily costs of running the business. For example, electricity for heating and washing linen, lubricants in your massage and also your time. There is also the set up costs of purchasing your table, linen and getting your room respectable for clients. Once identifying these costs, you need to make sure they are covered in the price you are charging for a massage.
Keeping business costs down also helps increase your overall income. You can't spare things that are going to lessen the massage experience you are going to provide, but you can be sensible when it comes to saving costs. For example advertising can be expensive. I am lucky as where I live in Ranfurly there are means of advertising for free. There is the local radio station and a local flyer where you can advertise your business. I also plan on putting a few flyers around the town in places like the hairdresser and the play centre. These forms of advertising are only going to cost me the cost of the piece of paper! Also in a small town I can rely heavily on word of mouth.
Social sustainability largely comes down to being an effective communicator. From the first instance you meet a new client and through all the sessions you have with them, they need to be assured that you are listening to them and that you respect them. You want to build a strong therapeutic relationship to keep them coming back to you. Often people don't remember what you did but how you made them feel. Giving them compassion and respect is just as important as actually giving the massage. Social sustainability also refers to the relationships you have with other health care professionals including other massage therapists. You want to make sure that you always come across as a professional. If you a working with another professional that you are referring a client too, you want make sure your notes are well documented and clear. Gaining respect from other professionals is important for future referrals. Once you have proven your professional capabilities they will be much more happier to work with you.
Environment sustainability has become increasingly important as research has discovered we are consuming at such as alarming rate which is having a negative effect on the environment. We all need to do our part to reduce the effect. Although there is not a lot of material used in a massage. Linen often needs replaced as if it starts looking old and worn it stops looking professional. One way to combat this waste is to donate your old linen to salvation army or some such thing. At least it is not being thrown away as waste. Recycling where possible also helps you be environmentally friendly. Minimising waste and maximising the use of our materials anywhere possible will at least do your part for the environment. Although we also use electricity and water we can only really try to minimise what we are using as we still need it.
One way I intend to make my massage practice more sustainable is by reducing business costs. The biggest cost I can see at this stage is electricity. I have moved my massage room to the east side of the house for it to get the morning sun. This way I am saving on heating the room. Even though there is not a lot of drying weather at the moment I am trying to dry my linen in front of the fire for a while and just finish it in the dryer to decrease the time I am using the dryer.
As already mentioned I plan to have absolute minimal advertising costs. When I find business a little slack I will also advertise 'monthly specials' to get some more people through the door. And if you can make someone's first experience a good one you will increase you chances of seeing them again. Specials are also a way on getting back some old clients who have become less frequent in their visits. Lastly I intend to continue my training to increase my scope of practice. Continuing my education keeps my brain active and keeps my skills fresh. I think it is important for clients to see you are always trying to better yourself.
So overall, sustainability is important to keeping my massage practice going. Keeping up relationships, good business practice and caring for the environment are all important to the sustainability for massage practice. These are things that can always be reviewed to make sure that we are doing everything possible to run the best massage practise that we can.
Fanuzzi, J. (2002) Step 12: Sustainability retrieved May 24 2009 from www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id:10618
McQuillan, D. (2009) Elluminate retrieved on May 18 2009 from http://elluminate.tekotago.ac.nz/join_meeting.html?meetingId=1242557934762
Sustainability (2009) retreived on May 24 2009 from