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A B M P m e m b e r s e a r n F R E E C E a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / c e b y r e a d i n g M a s s a g e & B o d y w o r k m a g a z i n e 23 LES SWEENEY: Since I have been with ABMP, we have occasionally run practice and income surveys of our membership, dating back to the late 1990s. Being a numbers guy, I find this information fascinating and useful to get a sense of how our members are faring in their chosen profession. I also like to compare results from survey to survey to get a sense of how the overall income profile of massage therapists has changed over the years. An important caveat to this data is that we always have to recognize a propensity toward "sample bias." What does that mean? Sample bias is where the data collected in a survey under- or overrepresents a certain audience segment. Historically for us, our survey data skews older and more established, which isn't hard to understand—people more "into" their profession are more likely to participate. This is not terrible; economists typically want to understand what the profession looks like from "mature" practitioners, rather than folks just starting out. Those can be captured separately, or segmented. As evidenced in these first few data points, the majority of survey respondents (and the profession, in general) are independent practitioners; in spite of the mushrooming of employment opportunities in massage in the past five years, most people still practice independently, or do so in conjunction with practicing at a "job." And these therapists practice, on average, nearly 15 hours per week, with a median of 13. That number is slightly higher than in past surveys—we've been in the 12–14-hour range historically. That equates (according to the follow-up question) to an average income of approximately $23,600, with a median income of around $20,000. These are also slightly up over historical totals, but are close enough to not indicate a spike of any sort. Nearly 8 in 10 therapists indicate that their massage earnings are critical to their livelihood—either as the sole source of their income (30 percent), or an important part of their household income (48 percent). We also asked about members' attitudes toward money. A common refrain we hear over the years is that therapists have a hard time with money. Nearly one-third of therapists described their feelings as "anxious" about money, while just slightly less felt either "excited" or "indifferent." So, therapists are probably not that different in their feelings about money than the rest of the population. WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING BEST DESCRIBES HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR LEVEL OF INCOME FROM YOUR MASSAGE PRACTICE? 45% Satisfied; I feel good about what I earn 55% Dissatisfied; I want to earn more FOR THOSE WHO ANSWERED DISSATISFIED, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BEST WAY TO CHANGE THAT? 30% More clients/sessions 5% Charge more 38% A combination of the two 27% Other KRISTIN COVERLY: I like seeing that 45 percent of therapists are satisfied with their current level of income. That percentage is honestly higher than I expected it to be, but I'd love to see it pass the 50 percent mark on the next survey. Those who replied "other" when asked the best way to move from dissatisfied to satisfied indicated they want to increase their marketing strategies, decrease expenses, sublet their office space, learn new modalities, and add additional income streams like product sales and session add-ons. Our survey respondents were on the right track: the options for increasing your bottom line are to make more, do more, or spend less. Your job is to see which of these components needs some of your attention (there's a good chance all three need a little love). • Make more: increase your per-session income by raising rates, selling product, or promoting add-on services and upgrades. • Do more: increase your number of sessions through marketing campaigns that attract new clients and encourage current clients to come more often. • Spend less: decrease expenses by lowering your big-ticket items like rent (change offices or sublet), technology (shop around for better rates on credit-card processing, cell phone, etc.), and supplies (buy in bulk when they're on sale). Look at every item on your expense sheet and challenge yourself to decrease the amount you're paying without sacrificing quality.

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