Business Planning for the Year Ahead

When you are still in massage school, running your own massage therapy business can be overwhelming to consider. But with strategic planning, you can transform the stress and uncertainty of starting a new career into the joy and stability that come from creating a solid business plan.

Your level of preparation will affect your profit; client attraction, retention and attrition; time management; and professional development. Here are five preparation strategies to put in place for success in 2016.

1. Brush Up on the Latest Technology

As you prepare the budget and marketing plan for your massage business, pay attention to how you will use technology to your advantage.

Some items to consider include creating a professional website with engaging content; utilizing business-management software, as well as smartphone and tablet applications to provide convenience for your clients; using appointment scheduling via Facebook; getting set up with mobile credit-card swiping; and developing your social media brand as a platform to market yourself.

With consumer mobile usage taking over desktop Internet usage, being technologically savvy is more important than ever. As you head into the new year, make sure you’re aware of the latest technologies—and if not, research what local massage practitioners do to compete.

2. Refresh Your Website

A website should evolve with your practice; it should never remain static. It’s your front door, and your future clients are likely to form impressions about you and your practice according to its appearance and content.

When you refresh your website, update photos. Changing images can create a feeling of growth and evolution.

Second, assess your website’s calls to action. Display options to your clients such as “Book now” and “Contact us today.” Calls to action are critical, and they can always be improved. Explore other practitioners’ websites and take notes on what you think works best.

Also, evaluate your site for resourcefulness. A great way to boost your professional image and expertise is to offer educational content to your visitors. Provide them with engaging material such as articles, blog posts and self-care tips.

3. Create a Marketing Plan

You should craft a new marketing plan every year. Marketing your practice the right way will save you time and, ultimately, bring new clients to you with little effort.

First, define your target audience. Next, research ways to communicate with this clientele and outline the content of that communication.

Aside from using email marketing software such as Constant Contact or MailChimp, there are other ways to get the word out about your massage practice. Posters, flyers, mailers, local signage and print advertising may all be used to deliver effective messages about your practice. These messages should be attention-grabbing and engaging. Incorporating specials, discounts, perks such as rewards and loyalty points, and creative imagery can all help make your message more alluring.

4. Focus on Client Retention

Once you have established a regular clientele, you will need to retain these clients. Existing clients bring new clients to you-they market, network, and spread your name and expertise by word-of-mouth—so it’s imperative to keep them happy and coming back.

There are numerous ways to bolster client retention. First, assess your customer service to make sure you show appreciation through positive and personal communication, and by creating a pleasant environment.

You can utilize business-management software, which can send automated e-cards for birthdays and anniversaries, maintain client profiles and histories, and keep notes on your clients’ favorite music and massage oil, to help build relationships.

5. Plan to Increase Revenue

Your business should always grow, year after year, so you will want to create a plan to increase revenue by a certain percentage annually. Create a goal and define your percentage of growth in order to make changes necessary to realize that goal. This might mean adding an additional service such as health coaching, modifying your advertising, adjusting prices or hiring a practitioner to work for you.

Every business needs to adjust itself in the right ways to ensure revenue continuously grows with time. To maintain healthy growth, monitor your revenue with accounting-or-analytics software. Manual reporting and tracking is time-consuming, and there are plenty of cost-effective, Web-based programs that help improve accuracy, and many business-management software programs have reporting built into them. Generating revenue reports will help identify where you need to modify your budget and where you can afford to spend more.

About the Author

Jill Shah is vice president of corporate wellness at MINDBODY (mindbodyonline.com). More than 500,000 practitioners at more than 30,000 locations in 90 countries use MINDBODY. In addition to its Web and mobile solutions, the company offers a holistic, corporate wellness solution for employers called MINDBODY Exchange.