Massage therapists or practitioners can be loath to agreements. They love the idea of working together, but often despise working out money terms in a long-term working agreement. The unwillingness or inability to work through the financial terms of a contract can cost thousands of dollars to the clinic owner over time if outgoing expenses are greater than incoming revenue, as well as great hassle and expense to the contracting practitioner having to relocate. With such a wonderful symbiotic opportunity, why do so many clinic-owner or contracting-practitioner agreements go sour? I think the foundational presumptions are to blame. This series examines six common presumptions.

Presumption # 2 – “The Clinic Owner Shouldn’t Profit from My Practice”
Perhaps due to the altruistic nature of our work, we’ve created a belief that a contracting practitioner should be able to work from a clinic at-cost (or more often below-cost). However, this kind of relationship is unhealthy and eventually engenders resentment and high associate turnover because the clinic owner feels unappreciated, and the associate undervalues the opportunity of associate-ship in the business. Imagine if your brother-in-law moved into your home, commandeered your food and extra bedroom, and paid you a rent far below what it cost you to have him live there. How long would you tolerate that?

The business MUST make a profit. The owner puts out vast resources and takes tremendous risk for creating a business. The business becomes an asset, which as the owner decreases their workload over time will provide another source of income for them. The business builds capital for expansion, allocates savings towards retirement and other goals like professional development. Otherwise, why would someone go into business, taking the risk of liability and losing resources, if they wouldn’t be paid for it? “If you take on risk, you should be paid for it.” If you can’t make a profit and you’re not willing to correct the situation, I suggest you close up shop and work at the local spa or contract from another practitioner. It’s just not worth the risk or the accumulated debt down the line.

Don Dillon, RMT is the author of Better Business Agreements and the self-study workbook Charting Skills for Massage Therapists. Over 60 of his articles have been published in industry publications including Massage Therapy Canada, Massage Therapy Today, AMTA Journal, AMTWP Connections, and various massage school and professional association newsletters. Don’s Web site,, provides a variety of resources for massage therapists.

Don has presented to members of the Massage Therapist Association of Alberta (MTAA), the Association of Massage Therapists and Wholistic Practitioners (AMTWP), the Massage Therapist Association of Saskatchewan (MTAS), the Massage Therapist Association of Manitoba (MTAM), the Association of Massage Therapists of New Brunswick (ANBMT), the Massage Therapist Association of Nova Scotia (MTANS) and the Ontario Massage Therapist Association (OMTA). He also presented to the pre-graduating class of 2008 at the AtlanticCollege of Massage Therapists.

Related articles:

Presumption # 1 – “I’m Paying Too Much Rent”

Presumption # 2 – “The Clinic Owner Shouldn’t Profit From My Practice”

Presumption # 3 – “Straight Percentage Agreements Are Best”

Presumption # 4 – “Contracting Practitioners Have Little Leverage in Agreements”

Presumption # 5 – “Contractor Status Is Less Hassle Than Having or Being an Employee”

Presumption # 6 – “It’s A Contractor Relationship Because I’ve Classified It As Such”