Differentiating Qi Under the Needle
In the marketplace, we hear of dry needling being talked about more and more. As professional practitioners of Chinese medicine and acupuncture, it is important that we do not lose sight of our passion, purpose and belief in what we are doing, both for the sake of preserving the full practice of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, and for the sake of our patients.
Give the Overtraining Injury Epidemic Your Full Attention
Athletes are known for their competitiveness, their drive. That's why it's no surprise to learn that research published in the Journal of Sports Medicine has found a large majority – as many as 60 percent – of athletes regularly "overreach" or "overtrain" by working their bodies either too often or too hard.
Extraordinary Chinese Medicine
The very fact that we exist as complex, multidimensional beings at this manifest level, and get to experience—through our senses—others, the world around us, as well as our own selves, is a miracle.
News in Brief
Dr. James Badge, former president of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners who, among other accomplishments, played a key role in the development of the board's Practice Analysis of Chiropractic (a report issued every five years and based on a survey of the profession), passed away on Nov. 7, 2018.
Exercise Therapy Following Motor Vehicle Trauma (Pt. 3)
Keep the neck in retraction by pulling the chin back toward the spine. Some rehab instructors used to refer to this as "packing the neck." I really emphasize decompressing the head away.
Acupuncture: More Effective in an Integrated Health Care System?
Acupuncture has traditionally been used in the primary care setting as a supplemental stream of care for patients. Patients can seek out or be referred to outside acupuncture providers based on their patients need.
Repave the Road to Financial Ease With Cash Profit Centers
Remember the adage, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket?" Well, that's what you do when you count 100 percent on insurance reimbursement to sustain your practice.
The NCCIH is Seeking Acupuncture Researchers for a Chronic Pain RCT
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) in partnership with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is seeking acupuncturists for a new Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA)—a Randomized Control Trial (RCT).
Updates to ICD10, Specifically for Myalgia (Muscle Pain)
Are there updates to ICD10? I attempted to enter M79.1 for myalgia (muscle pain) and it was rejected by my clearing house as being invalid. What is the new code for myalgia?
Diverting the Crisis Stages of Life: Yang Wei Mai and the Necessity of Change
One of the biggest struggles in which we help our patients is the process of change. I often hear two common questions, "I'm unhappy. How can I change?" and "My life is changing, how do I deal with it?"
How to Handle the "F" Word
Have you ever been fired? It's terrible, nasty business, especially if you're on the receiving end. Most people are doing their best, and when they're terminated, they can become furious. If it's handled incorrectly, some people may even try to sue you for doing what's best for your practice.
Calming the Disturbed Meridians: A Way to Treat "Phantom" Pain
Margot J. was advised by her oncologist to talk to a psychiatrist about her post-mastectomy phantom pain. Instead, her friends sent her to me. Interesting situation—she'd recently experienced a double mastectomy and still felt intense pain in the spaces once occupied by her breasts.
Quick SI Assessment: 8 Tests
The lower back is a generator for a number of types of pain. As you know, it involves several different articulations: the lumbar spine with vertebral bodies, discs and facets; the sacroiliac joints; and the lumbosacral junction.
Using Tuina in the Acupuncture Clinic
The beneficial effects of touch are apparent to anyone who has stubbed their toe on an errant piece of living room furniture – after the initial angrily shouted expletive, we grab the offending digit in our hands because we know that it will help the pain.
BCBS of Tennessee Takes a Stance for Acupuncture
BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS) of Tennessee, the state's largest insurance provider, is starting the year off with some significant changes—they have dropped Oxycontin from their list of covered prescriptions and added acupuncture coverage.
Digital Dilemma: Issues With Post-Processing Collimation
With digital radiography, we are now able to electronically collimate images after acquisition. This may seem convenient, but there are also downsides to this technique.
The Back Squat: More Than a Training Exercise
The squat movement pattern is not only essential for ADLs; it is considered a foundational exercise for strength, resiliency and sport performance.
West Hartford Group Charts a Possible Course for Chiropractic's Future
The West Hartford Group, incorporated in 2006, is "a think tank dedicated to the acquisition of social, cultural and professional authority for the chiropractic profession, where the doctor of chiropractic (i.e., chiropractic physician in some jurisdictions) serves within the mainstream health care delivery system as a patient-centered, evidence-based, non-surgical, primary spine care health care professional." The WHG Board of Directors recently approved the following resolution it suggests as "one possible future for the chiropractic profession."
Time to End the Medicare Madness
Medicare's coverage of only a single chiropractic service (manual manipulation of the spine to correct a subluxation) may change soon if H.R. 7157, the Chiropractic Patients' Freedom of Choice Act of 2018, is approved:
The Four Needle Technique: A Follow-Up to the Husband/Wife Imbalance
In my previous article on the Husband/Wife Imbalance (Nov 2018), I made mention that successful clearing of this lethal block may require treatment stronger than the first two protocols explained.
Quantum Physics Research and the Ancient Roots of Acupuncture
Acupuncturists and quantum physicists have a lot in common. They are both working in fields that are rooted in an inter-connected universe. According to traditional Taoist cosmology everything in the universe is connected to everything else – nothing is separate.
The #1 Essential Element of Every Patient's Care Plan
The #1 Essential Element of Every Patient's Care Plan
The Truth About Malpractice Claims Against DCs (Pt. 2)
I save (print and scan in file) all emails and texts to and from patients regarding any recommendations of care, follow through of therapies, and especially urgent or emergency care recommendations.
Turn Back the Clock With Nutrition
The anti-aging market is booming because, well, who doesn't want to look young, healthy and vibrant for as long as possible? And while there are many anti-aging products and systems marketed to the public, few people realize the most effective way to slow down the visible passage of time is to give the body the nutrients it needs to be truly healthy.
Make Room for New Kids on the Bus
Kids who were never "fortunate" enough to ride the bus to school actually may have missed out on many lessons related to the social challenges they would face later in life. One of the most classic might be called "The New Kid on the Crowded Bus."
2019 Practice Trends: How Does Your Practice Compare?
In order to better understand trends within the chiropractic profession, we periodically survey DCs throughout the U.S. and share the findings of our Expanding Chiropractic Practice Survey for your review and reflection.
Learn to Speak the Language of Personal Injury
For many providers, personal-injury cases and working within the med-legal arena can often be a confusing and frustrating endeavor. After all, for the majority, personal injury is a niche.
How H.R. 302 (Travel to Treat) Became Law: Behind the Scenes
Sports chiropractic has created opportunities to put our profession on a pedestal. However, as chiropractors have stood on the pedestal with the success of their athletes, they have risked everything and put their licenses on the line when knowingly or unwittingly crossing state lines where travel to treat is not allowed. H.R. 302, signed into law in October 2018, mitigates some of that risk.
February, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 02
12 Simple Ways to Generate Income in Your Massage Practice
By Donald Quinn Dillon, RMT
Many massage practitioners provide care based on the time and labor-intensive model they learned in school. If our desire is to make a reasonable living from practicing massage, this 60 minute, all hands-on model limits our capacity to provide care, induces repetitive strain over time, and limits our ability to generate sufficient means for ourselves and our families.
But what if we could challenge and re-engineer the well-accepted one hour model to provide better care for even more patients/clients in a day, while reducing stress and strain and improving our income potential?
In this article, I challenge some commonly held beliefs massage practitioners might have about the difficulty of earning a living in their chosen profession. Moreover, I challenge the sacred cow working model of the one hour massage, and present 12 profitable, complementary models for generating income in a massage therapy practice, many of which require little or no hands-on effort. Before I go into these 12 opportunities, I need to provide some context so these opportunities become more relevant.
Massage in Western culture emerged as a modality to be used in conjunction with hot baths, herbs and other remedies for general wellness. Massage was utilized in physiotherapy applications post World War II to rehabilitate injured soldiers, and in nursing to relieve lymphatic congestion and fundamentally to soothe the patient in distress. Massage also has been incorporated in the spa and aesthetic industry and you see all these versions of massage applied today.
Was massage intended to be an independent methodology applied on its own for 60 minutes of labor-intensive work? I have wondered this as I read complaints in chat rooms and on Web sites about massage practitioner incomes. I wonder as I read numerous articles and listen to webcasts about practitioner injuries, burn-out and attrition, and chronically cash-poor practitioners who joke, "Was I supposed to make money at this?" Some practitioners proudly proclaim "I'm not in this for the money" as if they wear their unsustainable business model as a badge of courage. It seems that this one-hour time and labor-intensive model is not working very well.
Even therapists I would classify as immensely successful emit a sense of "haven't quite made it." I think we've told ourselves a story that practitioners should be able to give 40 hours of hands-on care per week and that we should be making a lot of money doing it.
I've personally experienced cycles where I sabotaged my efforts - working hard and earning a lot of money, burning out and cutting back my hours, only to repeat the cycle. Again many practitioners, "I'm not in this work for the money," and resolve to the position that massage practitioners must live at the poverty level or relinquish the idea of making a full-time living and resolve to providing massage as a hobby. None of these positions is helpful to the practitioner or the public they serve.
I don't think it's helpful for educated, effective and empathetic therapists to constantly wonder if they can keep the doors to their business open and feed themselves. After all, would we rather be philanthropists -- earning more than enough money so we can give away to worthwhile causes -- or starving artists?
What I want to say to all practitioners who struggle ceaselessly with insufficient cash flow and sore hands is, it's not you...it's your business model that's not working. Let's do the math: To make it providing massage as the model currently exists requires either higher fees for service than we're applying to account for the time and labor-intensive nature of the work, or we have to rethink how we're applying our care so that it can be less harmful to the therapist and more lucrative to her or him financially.
Massage, by its very time and labor-intensive nature, forces a limited capacity on the practitioner and as a result, a limit on their income. But what if we looked at massage as it was originally intended...a methodology adjunctive to other health care or hedonistic approaches? What if we didn't require of ourselves 60 minutes of hands-on work, but incorporated other modalities to supplement our care?
Or, if we like the 60 minutes of hands-on work model, what if we relegated massage to our part-time vocation, and supplemented our income and our service to society in other income-generating, massage-oriented ways? What if you could work full-time in the profession and not have to supplement with an outside job...would that be worthwhile?
"But I'm already selling products and offering hot stone (or other modality), and I'm still not making enough." That may be, but do you look at each of these ancillary offerings as a separate business, indeed as another source of income? Do you have clear financial statements showing income and expenses from these various activities outside your regular bodywork? Do you have a business plan with specific goals and a promotional campaign to educate the marketplace on the benefits of your varied offerings? Do you have mentors to guide you in cultivating these new sources of income? If you do not, then you may not be giving your ancillary money-making muse a chance to prosper.
Each opportunity is like a part-time job; a role to fulfill with its associated tasks, objectives and measures. When we stock retail items or add various techniques to our business cards and brochures without the experience of a mentor, a concerted marketing campaign, clear accounting and a solid business plan, we're operating more like a flea market than a business focused on providing service and meeting marketplace needs. And what do people expect to pay at a flea market? They expect to pay bottom dollar for low-value products and services.
Each income generating opportunity you bring on must be cultivated with a business plan, promotional campaign, clear accounting and strong mentorship.
The Potent Dozen
1. Provide - Supplement your hands-on work by providing modalities for 30 percent to 50 percent of the one hour session. You're still providing excellent care and getting results, while reducing your labor has the affect of increasing your workload capacity by two or more appointments per day, hence your income potential.
Rehabilitative modalities include ultrasound, TENS, acupuncture, pain/inflammation balms, remedial exercise or personal training, athletic taping and more. If you work in the spa, there are body wraps, facials and various hydrotherapy and skin aesthetic applications. With proper training and certification you could provide life coaching or other coaching/counselling methods to increase your capacity to serve while reducing your personal strain.
2. Retail - There are literally hundreds of products massage suppliers provide that can be resold to your clients or patients. Pain rubs and analgesics, hot packs and compresses, skin creams, portable saunas, personal TENS and ultrasound machines, ergonomic pillows and other devices, relaxation recordings...the list is virtually endless. And by providing these products, you're making it convenient and cost-effective for your client or patient to access these beneficial products, with the added bonus to you that they now see you as adding greater value to your services.
3. Manage - You've worked hard to establish the most important assets in your business - location and reputation. Why not lease the fruits of your labors to bright and eager practitioners looking to start their practice? When you employ practitioners, you increase the range and availability of services, increase your marketplace competitiveness, grow your profit potential and give a new therapist a chance to fast-track their success. What's more, one of your valuable employees might some day become an investor or partner in your business, or may even purchase the business when you are ready to retire.
4. Administrate - Practitioners tend to hate paperwork...they'd much rather provide care. Another non-hands on, massage related role you can profit from is to provide administrative services such as data entry, market research, reception, bookkeeping, marketing and general office duties for a massage clinic or for several independent practitioners. You can easily schedule this work around your existing practice so you can still enjoy providing care while doing the undesired work of other practitioners...and earn an income while doing so!
5. Instruct - If you have sufficient experience in the industry, perhaps you would like to pass your wisdom on to the next generation of therapist. You can teach at a massage school or offer corporate wellness lectures in posture, health and stress management at a fee.
6. Innovate - Find ways to help massage practitioners do things better, faster and make more money. Examples are online booking and practice management software, new tools/technologies to save thumbs, various analgesics and aromatherapy products, educational charts and DVDs...take a problem the industry is having and offer a great solution. You'll be paid well for it!
7. Broker - Organize speakers for massage practitioners to fulfill training and continuing education requirements. You can bring in some big names or local talent, charge for admission and provide a valuable service.
8. Researcher - There's a growing requirement by insurance companies, government and other health care providers for massage therapists to have evidence-based practices. To help, there are grants available from Holistic Health Research Foundation and the AMTA Massage Therapy Foundation to conduct research. You can help massage practitioners gain access to better funding and develop credibility by conducting research and proving efficacy...while making a decent part-time income from your involvement.
9. Regulator - As massage therapy becomes regulated in more provinces and states, these regulatory bodies will need experienced members of the profession to serve in a regulatory capacity. These individuals often are paid per diem and expenses. Shape and guide the profession while protecting the public and earning a part-time wage.
10. Mentor/Coach - I think one of the biggest problems in our profession is the lack of a formalized apprentice structure. As a result, the learning curve to sustainable and successful practice is too steep and many talented practitioners fall away before reaching a sustainable business.
If you're a seasoned elder in the profession, why not teach new practitioners to develop better and faster: You can encourage them emotionally and professionally and improve the quality of practitioners we're putting out in the world. Your services could be paid or bartered for something you need. New therapists would benefit greatly and you can supplement your income with your wisdom.
11. Author - An impressive line-up of massage-specific textbooks has been added to our educational curriculum over the last decade. Practitioners with seasoned skills can put pen to paper and author articles or textbooks to advance the education of our profession, all the while earning a little extra income on the side.
12. Investor - With the advent of massage franchises and larger spas, you can take some of that money you've been disappointed in the stock market with and invest in these businesses. According to Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth Revisited, 80 percent of businesses fail within the first five years, while 75 percent of franchises maintain their franchisee licenses. Franchises might provide a solid opportunity for a savvy investor looking to take advantage of the popularity of massage.
In this article I have argued against some conventional beliefs that I contend are limiting to the growth and income potential of massage practitioners. I challenge readers to examine business practices and tightly held convictions and to explore new ways to work boldly in the vocation they love.
Donald Quinn Dillon, RMT is the author of Better Business Agreements and the self-study workbook Charting Skills for Massage Therapists. He is also one of the founding members of Massage Therapy Radio (www.massagetherapyradio.com). His Web site, www.MTCoach.com, provides a variety of resources for massage therapists.
Join the conversation
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreementcomments powered by Disqus
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.