In this article, we are going to discuss how to create financial reliability in your business and budget by using more 60-minute scheduled appointments.
This in no way implies that the 30-, 45-, 90- or 120-minute appointments are less worthy of your time. Rather, this is a discussion on what it looks like when you set up your schedule in a way that creates a more solid fixed rate of income.
What is meant by financial reliability?
While having a menu with a variety of appointment time options can fit the needs of your clientele, that variety can also make it difficult for you to budget each week or month due to a wider range of income based on what your clients are scheduling.
The goal here is to create income consistency, and that is where the power of the 60-minute appointment comes into play.
Reaching the Ceiling of Your Business
All massage therapists have a limit of how many hours they can spend at the table each day or each week. That limit is where you could easily maintain and continue to perform a set, specific number of massages each day of your established work week.
Many of you have experienced the exhaustion that occurs when adding another session to a fully scheduled day. The impact of that one extra appointment can leave you feeling overextended for the next two or three days and we end up working in a depleted space.
Adhering to this session number allows you to continue to physically budget your energy to manage your life and work.
Regardless of your financial budget, it is not feasible to put one more appointment in for profit because of the negative impact it has on our physical health and how that impacts the ability for us to continue to earn an income in the future.
After years of being a professional touch provider, I believe it is merely the number of people you touch and the physical exchange of energy at the massage table, regardless of what type of bodywork you perform. Whether you are booking an appointment for 30 minutes or two hours, the energy it takes to continually touch someone creates that feeling of depletion.
This is why I want you to consider how to make each hour you spend at the table a more consistent amount of time, making the most of the time you spend with each person, and therefore creating a more consistent amount of income.
Takeaway Concept #1: Set a Schedule of Appointments
• Sticking to a set number of appointments each day and week is the first step to regaining control or creating control of not only our physical health but our financial health.
• It is a boundary that enables us to work for years. It supports us as long as we support it.
The Power of the Hour
As I work with massage coaching clients, one of the struggles I observe is the feeling that their income changes every week. There is a missed feeling of a “paycheck”—this is knowing that when you work a specific number of hours you will receive a specific amount of money every paycheck. This specific number is powerful because it creates all kinds of financial decisions in one’s life. It also creates a feeling of stability and security.
To create this for yourself as a self-employed massage therapist, you must first start with creating a stability of appointments and time.
If you could take your ceiling massage number and convert that into a schedule of set appointments, each a 60-minute paying client, that schedule would produce close to the same amount of money each week. This amount gives you the ability to set a budget.
Every week, if you had 16 paying clients and the majority of those are 60 minutes each, you would know what your baseline pay would be. With that knowledge, you can set a realistic budget for both your business and personal life.
The power of the hour is there are no random amounts of time or money such as trying to figure out how to schedule 30- or 45-minute appointments and different rates of pay for each of those. Not to mention if you have four or five 30-minute appointments each week, it is difficult to make up for the missing 30 minutes in your schedule or the fact that you have spent your energy on touching one of the clients within your ceiling and did not make a full hour’s wage for that time, and the laundry costs are the same.
The reality is shorter appointments typically cost you more money than they provide. They also impact your bottom line and swing your budget to a lower income for that week.
Losing one paid hour is big when we work in this capacity. You cannot afford to not fill that hour with a paying client.
Takeaway Concept #2: 30-Min. vs. 60-Min. Appointments
• Using the energy to touch/massage someone and do the laundry are the same whether it’s 30 minutes or 60 minutes. Profit, however, is not.
• Client expectation is another consideration. The 30-minute appointment many times fits a budget request. As a therapist, you may find yourself pushing that 30-minute time boundary to create the feeling of healing behind massage therapy; it takes a certain amount of time. Cutting that time short may also be causing you stress because you cannot create what the client’s body needs in that shorter time frame.
• A 30-minute appointment can be the perfect amount of massage time for some clients—as long as you create a budget for those appointments and limit how many you offer. Again, they do impact your budget if you perform several of these shorter appointments each week.
• Hoping to fill the extra time with another 30-minute appointment doesn’t create a sense of consistent flow. It has a scrambling feeling and it always pushes your time boundaries.
• You may find yourself rescheduling appointments up or down to try to make up for the empty spaces in your schedule that also represent a loss of income. Constant rescheduling is not a recommended business practice and can be frustrating to clients if it occurs frequently. You could lose clients in the long run.
How would you feel about giving yourself a raise once in a while? How do you work overtime without actually feeling like you worked overtime?
This next concept is about taking your ceiling number of clients and using it to your business advantage, a concept I call maximizing your massage business.
Once you have a majority of your clients scheduling 60-minute appointments, it is easy to take certain appointment times into 80- or even 90-minute appointments.
The best part is you are making the 60 minutes you have budgeted for plus extra income without changing your schedule or losing more energy because it’s one person receiving more time, not an additional person added into your schedule.
There is a specific way I want you to look at adding this extended appointment into your schedule, and that is to have them as the first and last appointments of your day.
The reason for that is you can extend these appointments without changing your set schedule.
Takeaway Concept #3: You Control Your Time
• This is a huge shift in managing your schedule, from allowing clients to pick their times to you deciding your schedule and how it functions.
• When you maintain control of your schedule, time and energy, these appointments are not draining.
• The additional income you create feels rewarding.
• Make sure these appointments are appropriately priced. This should be full value of the 60-minute massage plus an additional 30 minutes based on that full value. Too often, therapists give a discount for the longer appointment time. This reduces your value and causes you to give away your time and effort.
• Example: If you charge $70 for a 60-minute massage, then a 90-minute massage should be closer to a price point of $105.
Full Schedules Lead to Raising Your Prices
This next concept answers the question I frequently receive about how or when to raise massage prices. I bring this to your attention because this is the next step in your business success.
Once your schedule is set and all of those slots are filling consistently, you start to become booked out weeks in advance. This happens naturally for most people who really work to fill a set schedule, and it is the key to raising prices.
At this point, you can look into the feasibility of raising your prices because you are now working with a simple theory of business called “supply and demand.”
If demand for your time is higher than what you can supply in terms of appointment time, you have created the ability to raise your prices if that is the next step in your business goals.
This is another aspect of the income power of the 60-minute appointment. Stabilizing your schedule and then maximizing each hour of your work increases your value and therefore, income.
Takeaway Concept #4: Increase Your Prices
• Raising prices is never a random action.
• Price increase is something you have to create by increasing demand for your time.
• Once you have exceeded appointment availability, only then can you increase your value.
Consistent, Reliable Income
You can create the feeling of consistent, reliable income by shoring up your schedule, staying within your ceiling, and making sure each appointment is offering both you and your client the greatest value.
Seeking to create mostly 60-minute appointments in your schedule helps to create the stability and consistency that will support you for many years to come in the massage profession.
About the Author:
Amy Bradley Radford, LMT, BCTMB, has been a massage therapist and educator for more than 25 years. She is the owner of Massage Business Methods and the developer of PPS (Pain Patterns and Solutions) Seminars CE courses and a National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-approved CE provider. Her articles for this publication include “Start a Massage Practice. The MT’s Guide to Budgeting for Startup Costs & Monthly Expenses” and “What Does ‘Pay Yourself First’ Mean? (Hint: It’s a Support System for Your Financial Health).”