TLC Massage Therapy - Small Business Profile
Have you ever considered massage therapy as one of the small business ideas that might be well suited to your interests? Well, I’m here to tell you that it sure can be. My personal experience with massage is limited, but I know that it’s a wonderful experience that I am looking forward to repeating.
What a great business to be in; you get to make people feel great by the touch of your hands. Wow, that has to make you feel good and the customer feel great too! That’s what I call a win-win situation.
Let’s take a look at massage as one of the many examples of successful small businesses.
I recently visited with TLC Massage Therapy located in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Even the name sounds great, doesn’t it? We could all use a little TLC.
Let me introduce you to LouAnn Ehmke, a certified massage therapist who operates this small business.
She provides a range of services including:
- Deep tissue massage
- Sports massage
- Pregnancy massage (post and prenatal)
The photo upper right shows LouAnn practicing reflexology, a healthful and healing massage of the feet. Even if you don't need healing, it certainly feels great.
To the left, LouAnn demonstrates sports massage designed to help heal injuries and promote greater range of movement.
She also uses similar techniques for people suffering from arthritis and recovering from surgery.
Shown on the right is an example of deep tissue massage technique that relaxes you and helps reduce stress.
Individuals with elevated blood pressure have shown remarkable improvement using regular deep tissue massage therapy.
I’m here to tell you right now that LouAnn is going to get some business from me. I might even become a regular customer. This is a “hands on” enterprise that I think I’m really going to enjoy learning more about.
If you're new to the idea of massage therapy, here is a lengthy and detailed article from Wikipedia that explains about massage and its benefits as practiced around the world. It is probably more information than you would ever want to know about the subject.
The best way to learn, of course, is to experience it yourself.
It all started when...
LouAnn started her business in 2001. A chiropractor she was associated with suggested she consider going into massage therapy as a business of her own. Her associate must have thought highly of her talents to recommend she start her own enterprise.
She had always wanted a business of her own for gainful employment, and it was encouragement from others that helped nudge her over the edge. Often a disinterested party with an objective view is a good place to get a perspective about your potential for starting a business. This is especially true if that disinterested party also has experience starting and running their own enterprise.
LouAnn tells us that just before she got into her own massage therapy business, she was working for a chiropractor. One day he decided to relocate, and she was left to fend for herself.
Aware of her situation, a friend offered an unused office in another business as a place where she could setup a salon of her own. She accepted, and that was the humble start of her very own enterprise.
As her business grew, she moved her operation into an adjacent residence. She acquired a tanning bed and offered tanning services to augment her massage therapy. Her business continued to grow.
Initially her business was open for 2 days a week, and she helped out at the family ranch when not tending her own business. In less than 2 years, it was necessary for her to work 4 days a week to meet the demand for her services.
On the right is LouAnn with her long time customer and lifetime brother, Ed. Family can be a good place to start your massage therapy business. It's safe, comfortable and provides another person who knows you well to sing the praises of your services.
Today, LouAnn Ehmke is both successful and well satisfied with her accomplishments. She has her eyes on building her client base through application of her special skills and word of mouth from satisfied customers. She believes that you must have your heart in the business as well as your mind and skill set.
Having your “heart in the business” is a good philosophy to remember. Your customers will recognize and appreciate it as well.
LouAnn has surrounded herself with a support team that includes her friends, family and associates. This is a key to success. From time to time, you’ll need encouragement from others that care about your success.
How to grow the business...
A legitimate concern for anyone with small business ideas is how to grow the business. Let’s look at what LouAnn does to keep her massage therapy calendar filled.
TLC Massage Therapy of Cheyenne uses local advertising and word-of-mouth to attract customers. LouAnn also performs consultations to understand customer needs and explain her services.
She teams with medical practitioners, such as chiropractors, as a way to offer their customers a valuable service. This makes it convenient for their customers to get the massage therapy they need without having to search around town for a qualified therapist.
LouAnn advises us: “Give it time to grow, and let word of mouth help build your business.” She adds: “Most of all do the best job possible so that people see you are honestly trying to do a good job and not be a fly-by-night operation.”
Benefits of the business...
Besides being a source of income you create yourself, LouAnn enjoys being able to spend more time with friends and family. Her flexible hours provide just the latitude she needs.
This was very important for LouAnn when her children were growing up and going to school. She remarks that as a self-employed individual, she has been able to take more time off to be with her kids and participate in their activities, and also spend time helping out at the family ranch.
The lesson here is that self-employment provides flexibility in your schedule that allows time for ball games at school as well as gainful employment. A regular job just doesn't allow that kind of freedom to choose what your schedule is going to be.
Resources you'll need...
To give you a general idea about the resources you’ll need for a business like this, here is an overview:
Training and study - LouAnn received extensive training from Georgetown Bodyworks, a well-known training institute for massage therapists located in Warrenton, Virginia. Her training required hundreds of hours of study and practice, and she is recognized as a certified practitioner in Canadian Deep Muscle Massage.
Massage oil - yeah, the slippery stuff that adds to the wonderful experience. Gotta have it!
Massage table - this can be a bit pricey, but it is absolutely essential. The customer has to be comfortable, and the therapist must be able to position the customer properly for her comfort as well as effectiveness when giving a massage.
Proper environment - LouAnn can provide massage therapy in her home salon, but prefers to focus on providing services in the offices of her business associates. It's where her customers will feel most comfortable. With a personal business such as this, customer comfort is very important.
License - a business such as this requires a license from the city, and the salon is also subject to inspection before you can begin providing services.
Be certain to check with the city clerk and health department for requirements before you start. Knowing the law and following it is easier than explaining why you didn't.
Help from other small businesses - LouAnn uses the tax return preparation services of her sister-in-law, Teresa Kunkel.
Although not necessarily of primary importance, income is one of the reasons people go into business for themselves. Here is a general discussion of income potential from a massage therapy business.
Depending on the rates you charge and the hours you work, a business like this could bring in anywhere from $20,000 to $80,000 per year. Since this is literally a “hands on” business, your potential for income is limited in some respects to your physical endurance.
Quality of services will influence the rates that you can charge, and the clientele you focus on will also determine what is reasonable and customary for the marketplace.
Challenges to overcome...
Our experience in the challenges of business makes us wiser and stronger. One of the objectives here is to learn from the experience of others who have gone before us. Here are some of the challenges and lessons learned that LouAnn would like to share with anyone considering a similar line of business.
LouAnn tells us that the biggest hurdle to overcome in the message therapy business is people who don’t believe in the effectiveness of massage. In other words, they aren’t aware of the therapeutic value of massage when it comes to relieving stress, enabling greater flexibility and range of movement, helping heal injuries, and just plain making you feel great.
Licensing in the cities is also a bit of a challenge. LouAnn says: “There’s way too much red tape and unfortunately the people who dictate what you need for licenses and permits don’t always know what they are dealing with. They just assume they know what you do for a living.”
When starting an enterprise, everyone’s experience is different. LouAnn tells us that her only regret is taking a hiatus during her early years in the business. She says in hindsight “I wouldn’t have stopped doing what I was doing. I would have struggled through some of the hard times and continued with my massage services.”
Most of us that run our own businesses are achievement oriented. Let’s hear from LouAnn about what she sees as some of her achievements.
“The greatest thing about my business is helping people who are honestly hurting, maybe from an accident or from arthritis, and helping them walk out of my salon feeling much better. It’s a great feeling of accomplishment that you have done a good job. It’s even better when 5 years down the road you get to see the same people once a month because they believe in what you do and you are truly helping them feel better.”
What more needs to be said here? Sign me up for a massage!
Message from our featured entrepreneur...
LouAnn would like us to know:
“The general public is learning that massage is a great way to relieve stress and also helps maintain a healthy life.”
“I do quality massage therapy for a reasonable price. I don’t feel I need to get rich, but would rather see that anyone who wants a massage can afford to get one.”
“I have learned patience. You can’t push a business to make money right from the start. Unless you have money to pour into the business, you should expect a slower start and a bit of a challenge to get it going well. Leave business cards wherever you can and tell everyone you know about your business. By all means educate people so they understand the value of what you do.”
Thank you so much LouAnn for allowing me to profile your enterprise as one of the small business ideas in Cheyenne. Your story is inspirational. Good fortune to you and to all others looking to establish successful small businesses.
For those of you in search of massage therapy in Cheyenne, here is how you get in contact with LouAnn.
Done with Massage Therapy, back to Honest Home Based Businesses