Amazingly, I am still approached by chiropractors who ask if I think that massage is a viable profit center for chiropractors, or if it works well with chiropractic.

These DC’s apparently missed the fact that I have sold copies of my Build a $300,000 Massage Practice in Your Chiropractic Clinic program to chiropractors in every U.S. state and 23 countries and have recommended massage countless times.

So, obviously, my answer was “yes.” But I thought it would be good to objectively examine (again) the stats surrounding massage, what makes it work and what common obstacles cause it to stumble in our chiropractic offices.

Here are some relevant facts about massage and why you should NOT miss out on its 6 figure potential for your office:

Massage therapy is STILL growing: Since I started tracking data way back in 2005, massage has grown from a $6 billion a year industry to the point an $8-12 billion industry.  Despite the recessionary years, massage continued to grow massively.  If you wonder why the big discrepancy in numbers (couldn’t the statisticians do better than a billion or two dollars off!), see below.

Massage is an incredibly fragmented and diverse industry – that needs YOU!  If you think chiropractors are unique individuals whose practices are wildly different from one DC to the next, start hanging out with massage therapists and they will make us seem as vanilla as a bunch of CPA’s.  Case in point: Most Massage Therapists Work Solo and Need Patients. According to the AMTA, 65% of therapists are solo practitioners only working 15 hours per week and are “heavily dependent on repeat clients.”  (Undoubtedly, some are so part time that Uncle Sam doesn’t even know they exist – thus the massive fluctuation in how much the massage industry actually produces). In additional, 47% of therapists indicated that they would like to work more hours. This is where YOU come in as a great feeder source for them.

Massage is Becoming More “Legitimized” – 44 States now regulate the practice of massage therapy and with that growing number comes increased acceptance both by the public and by insurance companies.  In fact, in each of the more recent states that completed massage licensure, insurance coverage for massage therapy suddenly improved and appeared within 2 years of the law changes.

Most Patients Sought Massage for Pain or Problems. Of those that have ever had a massage, fifty-four (54) percent say they’ve used massage therapy at least one time for pain relief.  In July 2010, 40 percent of adult Americans said they had at least one massage in the last five years to reduce stress or relax—up from 22 percent reported in 2007.

MD’s Love to Refer to Massage Therapists. 31% of their health care providers strongly recommended massage therapy. While physicians led the way in recommending massage (50%), chiropractors (35%) and physical therapists (42%) also recommended massage therapy when their patients discussed it with them.4  Nearly three quarters of massage therapists (73 percent) indicate they receive referrals from health care professionals.

Relatively Few Massage Therapists Work for Chiropractors. The most common place of work (outside of solo or home practice) was a spa (26%).  Only 25% worked in healthcare.

Massage Represents a HUGE Opportunity to “Widen” Your Marketing Funnel.Face it, people generally find your practice one of a handful of ways.  Between July 2009 and July 2010, roughly 48 million adult Americans (18 percent) had a massage at least once.   You can look at that stat two ways: (a) some of those folks could be getting a massage in your office and generating income for you that you would have otherwise never made or (b) Some of those people could be getting massage AND chiropractic in your office – generating even more income!

Massage is Profitable! According to the AMTA (and my informal research with clients all over the country confirms this as well) the average therapist charges $62 cash for a one-hour session.  Do the math.  Most therapists (in my experience) can perform 25 one-hour sessions of massage per week which would generate at least $74k per year.  According to the AMTA the average massage therapist earned $20,789 per year in 2012.  Do the math.

The Mistakes We Make With Massage

Each year I meet the rare individual who sheepishly admits they do not profit much from massage.  If they are brave enough to discuss their business candidly, I typically find at least one of four errors being made which stifle their profits.

1.       The Sort of Independent Contractor:  Most chiropractors wrestle with how to hire their therapists. My recommendation is employee.  I’m no tax expert but if you review the IRS rules, you probably don’t truly have an IC.  That being said, the piddly $250/month or whatever rent they are willing to pay you can’t outdo the profit potential of a decent therapist who is your employee.

2.       The Bleeding Heart (and Bank Account): Certain massage franchises and a few overly bronzed chiropractic consultants essentially advise you to pay your therapist minimum wage or barely above that. This is tough work and your therapist deserves to be paid a fair wage. The good news (sort of) is that most DC’s seem humane enough to agree with that.  The bad news is we can also wind up overpaying our therapists because we have no clue how to efficiently calculate their profitability.

  1.  The Do-Nothing. It’s amazing how many chiropractors will hire a therapist and promptly do…nothing. One can’t expect to launch a $300,000 per year chiropractic business by hanging a shingle. Why should massage be any different? And, sorry to tell you, most therapists have even LESS business savvy than chiropractors (otherwise, they wouldn’t be coming to you for a job if they could make it on their own). Fortunately, because of your chiropractic practice, you have the access, the tools, the patient base all in place for a super-successful massage practice – you just need a good system to get you there.

4.  The Wrong Fit. To put it bluntly, it can be a challenge to find the right massage therapist (thus one of the big reasons my $300,000 Massage Practice in Your Chiropractic Office program devotes a ton of detail to hiring, equipping and promoting your massage department.)  Unfortunately, in their excitement to get massage started yesterday and to reap the passive income today, DC’s hurriedly hire the first therapist that comes along and is available. Five or six massage therapists later, they will learn to be a bit more patient, choosy and…profitable.  Great fit = great profits.  Bad fit and profits are only one of the problems you will deal with.

There are still few opportunities in chiropractic that can literally match the potential of a well run massage department.

So please don’t miss out.  If your massage department has been limping along, check out the stats above.  It’s not massage industry to be blamed for the lack of growth, but more likely the problem is closer to home (and most likely, one of the four above).  If you would like to see more profits out of your massage department – or start one – check out our Build a $300,000 Massage Practice in Your Chiropractic Office program for the blueprints how! The strategies contained in this program are working worldwide and are changing lives of our patients and our practice!