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Massage Today
March, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 03


"Touching the Massage Today readers one letter at a time"

By Lynda Solien-Wolfe, LMT

Author's Note: Welcome to my monthly column, DearLyndaLMT, where I answer questions from you, the readers. I have been blessed this past decade by working with many experts in the massage profession who will serve as resources, mixed with a touch of Dear Lynda's views and advice.

So ask away with all those things you've wondered about but didn't know who to ask!

I can't guarantee that all of your questions will be published, but I will do my best to answer you, or at least point you in the right direction. Please remember, as with all advice, it is just that: advice. Always check to make sure that you're working within your scope of practice in your city/county and state. Please send your questions to or:

P.O. Box 173,
Cocoa, Florida 32923


I have a successful practice and have built a strong, steady clientele over the last nine years. I plan to continue working for a long time to come, but in the event of my retirement or death, I am curious about my business. I own my own office space (it is my home). Can my equipment and client files be sold, along with my business name, by myself or my husband? If so, how do I go about having the business appraised?

-- Vicky from Tennessee

Dear Vicky,

I contacted Linda Vickey Beach. She is the owner of the South Carolina Massage Therapy Institute, with locations in Columbia and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Before moving to SC, Linda owned a well-known and successful private practice in Brevard country, Florida. Here is what she had to share about your question:

Prior to owning South Carolina Massage Therapy Institute, I owned a successful private practice in Florida. When it came time to sell, I asked a number of different people for advice. The bottom line: it's worth as much as someone is willing to pay! Take into consideration the following when pricing a business for sale:

1. Tangible assets. Add up the original cost of all of the equipment you are including in the sale. Fair market value would be around 50%-60% of that amount.

2. Trade name. If you have been conducting business as Jane Doe, Licensed Massage Therapist, your business name will have no value to the new owner. However, if your practice has a well-established, well-advertised business name, it will be worth more.

3. Location. An established office in a high-traffic area will be more sellable than an office in your home. A fair market rent with an assumable lease is an asset, too. Several years left on a lease might be a deterrent, or an office in an unattractive area. A client list from a home office would only be attractive to a buyer who has an office in the same general area.

4. Client List. There is no guarantee that your clients will come to the new owner. Most therapists think this is their biggest asset, but keep in mind that if your clients are extremely loyal to you, this does not necessarily transfer to another therapist. Most of my clients were insurance-billed, so they kept coming back, at least until their prescription ran out. This was a big selling point when pricing my business.

So how do you arrive at a price? As you can see, only your tangible assets have a set value. The rest is rather abstract. You might have a certain number in your head and try advertising your business and see if you have any nibbles. If everyone balks at the price, drop it. If you want to increase the possibility of selling your business, consider moving it out of your home. If that is not an option, you might just sell your equipment and refer your clients to other capable therapists in the area. Sometimes the greatest pleasure is derived from knowing you have helped others find a path to healing and opened their eyes to the many benefits of massage therapy!

Linda Vickery Beach can be reached at


I am working on my taxes for 2001 and have a few questions I'm hoping you can help me answer. Do you know what IRS publications would have information pertaining to business use of my car? Can I deduct my mileage to and from my office? How about from my office to my house call? What is the current IRS mileage rate?

-- Julie from Maine

Dear Julie,

I contacted my CPA, Jay Edinger, to review your questions:

You can get forms from the Internal Revenue Service by calling 1-800-829-3676. Request IRS Publication 436 regarding travel, entertainment and gift expenses, and Tax Topic 510 regarding business use of car. I think every massage therapist can benefit from this information to maximize business deductions for auto, travel and meals.

The standard IRS mileage rate as of January 2002 is 0.365 cents per mile, up from 0.34 in 2001. For employees and business owners, mileage to and from your office is considered commuting by the IRS and is not deductible. As an independent contractor, if you work for multiple offices, mileage is deductible between offices. If you work for only one office, it is again considered commuting by the IRS and is not deductible. Any business travel after you reach the office is deductible, so mileage from the office to a house call is deductible. Be sure to always check with a tax professional and/or the IRS. The IRS's web address is


I read with interest your comments to a massage school student who was interested in working at a chiropractor's office. One of the things that you and a chiropractor suggested was submitting a résumé. I am also a massage student. Massage therapy is a career change for me. Previously, I was a business journalist. I'm wondering how to prepare a résumé for my new career when my only experience is massage school. Can you offer any suggestions? Thank you.

-- Jessica in California

Dear Jessica,

Steve Capellini covers this in his book: Massage Therapy Career Guide. Here is what Steve shared with me about your question:

Play up your strengths, even if they are not directly related to the massage therapy field. Employers are looking for good employees, good people. Vast experience as a therapist will not be important to employers who are open to hiring people new to the field, so include material about your accomplishments and especially your relationships in the other positions you've held. Then list the things you've specialized in at school. Any extra workshops? Certifications? Anything to show your earnest desire for learning and doing the best therapy you can.

Best of luck! - Steve

You can reach Steve at .

Linda Vickey Beach also told me that she requires that all her students write a résumé for their business project. Here is her reply to your question:

Dear Jessica,

A professional-looking resume will go a long way in helping you land a job in this field. First, let me remind you that you have many experiences that can be included in your résumé besides massage. You potential employers will know that you are new in the field and don't have much massage experience. The key is to sell all your other skills.

What kind of environment are you looking to work in? Do a little research. A large day spa will be looking for different qualities in an employee that a chiropractor might want. Go there and meet other employees, if possible. Get a massage or an adjustment. Ask some questions. One you know what your potential employer expects from their employees, so play up those qualities in your résumé.

All employers want someone who will represent their business with professionalism and enthusiasm. The best thing that you can say to an employer is "I may not have a lot of experience in the field yet, but I am willing to do whatever it takes to be successful and help your business grow!" That's music to our ears.


Linda Vickery Beach

Lynda Solien-Wolfe is Vice President, Massage and Spa at Performance Health. She is a Licensed Massage Therapist and has been in private practice in Merritt Island, Florida for more than 20 years. Lynda graduated from Space Coast Health Institute in West Melbourne, FL.


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