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Industry • Best Practice

How to Create a Massage Therapy Business Plan + 3 Examples

Here’s how to draft a business plan that will keep powering your massage business forward for years to come

You have the vision and the talent necessary to turn your ambition into a thriving enterprise. But if you don’t know how to write a business plan for massage therapy, you may be in danger of skipping the most important steps of starting your massage business. We know, we know; you didn’t get into this line of work to spend your time perusing spreadsheets and strategic statements. Thankfully, it may take less than you think to lay out a massage therapy business plan that will set your business up for success for years to come.

Why do I need a business plan for my massage therapy business?

You need a business plan for your massage business because it is the foundational document for your new enterprise. It shows others (and reminds yourself) how you’ll start and build your business today, next month, a year from now, and beyond. A massage therapy business plan will help you set goals for the milestones you wish to reach and make changes to best achieve those goals. And, in the most practical and financial of terms, if you want to convince investors to seed money into your business, they will expect nothing less than a spotless business plan.

6 steps for creating a massage therapy business plan

Now that you know why you need a massage therapist business plan, here’s a clear list of steps to follow to make your own, complete with real-world examples.

Step 1: Craft an appealing executive summary

Think of the executive summary as the grand opening to your business plan. It’s the first impression you make on a reader, which means you should highlight the most engaging parts of your business. Let people know what you intend to accomplish, both fiscally and in the context of the local community. Explain why you’re excited and don’t be afraid to go big in your vision.

The way Elements Massage uses its About Us page to let potential customers understand its unique vision is one great massage therapy business plan example to follow. The franchise emphasizes the quality of massages it offers, backed up by the four pillars of the “Elements Way” that inform its every service. You feel like you know exactly what drives this business even before you step through its doors.

Step 2: Define your day-to-day

You know you want to start a massage therapy business, but what will your daily work look like? Will your business be part of a day spa, offering a range of additional experiences like facial treatments and saunas? Will it be a mobile business where you bring your materials to clients’ homes or offices, meeting customers where it’s most convenient for them?

Answering these questions early will help both you and potential investors determine what kind of funding you may need to create a feasible business. For instance, it costs a lot more to open a brick-and-mortar location staffed by fellow massage therapists than to do business out of your trunk.

Step 3: Identify your clientele 

What kind of customer are you trying to serve with your massage therapy business? Here are some specific questions to ask while envisioning your ideal clientele.

  • How old are they?

  • What do they do for a living?

  • Where do they live?

  • What’s their annual income?

  • What life stage are they in?

Once you start identifying these specific elements, you can create a customer persona. This will be an essential tool to return to throughout your process as you consider how best to meet the needs of the people interested in your services.

Keep in mind that your ideal customer may change as your business develops, and the conditions around them may evolve, too. Take note of the way Massage Envy created campaigns that targeted previous customers who stopped receiving massage therapy during the pandemic, showcasing why it might be time to get a massage again. By identifying its clients, Massage Envy always knows who to get the message out to. 

Step 4: Carve out your niche

Massage is a broad umbrella. Specialists can perform Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, hot stone massage, shiatsu massage, and many more types of service. What kind of experiences will your particular business specialize in, and what kind of clientele will be more inclined to use them?

Go back to your customer persona here and see how that shapes who your planned services will cater to versus the type of clients you most want to have. This is also a good time to begin considering how you will handle booking for your appointments. It’s the first point of interaction many clients have with your brand, so you want to make sure it’s one that leaves them excited to come in and continue the relationship, rather than exhausted and glad this part of the process is done.

Step 5: Pick the perfect location

If you’re planning to go the brick-and-mortar route, your choice of location is paramount. Return once more to your customer persona: What kind of storefront, and what kind of area, will serve best for attracting your ideal client? A trendy downtown location will mean high foot traffic and plenty of opportunities for drop-ins, but that won’t do you much good if most of your services require scheduling in advance.

If you’re planning to operate in clients’ homes and offices instead, determine how broad of an area you’ll serve. You can only go so far for a client before it no longer makes business sense, but reaching out to massage business contacts in nearby areas could help you set up a mutual beneficial referral arrangement. Whether brick-and-mortar or mobile, be sure to research your competition in the area before setting up shop.

Step 6: Get cozy with a spreadsheet 

OK. We can’t put off talking about it any longer. Your massage therapist business plan also needs a detailed accounting of your finances. You might need to take out loans, apply for grants, or even tap into savings to get a business off the ground before investors will bite, and that’s OK — as long as you plan for it ahead of time. Success isn’t guaranteed overnight, so it's important to plot out best and worst case scenarios for at least a few years in advance, based on ranges for your potential income as well as rent, utilities, and other ongoing expenses.

Turning to another brand name in the space, MassageLuXe’s financial reporting reveals detailed information for new franchisees and their upfront investment. The report breaks down the low and high end of expected expenses across categories, which is helpful for arriving at estimates for your own business even if it won’t be part of a franchise.

It’s never too early to start planning how to make your business even bigger and better. Get your free copy of The Ultimate Growth Playbook for Beauty Businesses today.

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