Sport Massage: A Five-Point Guide To Starting Your Own Sports Massage Business
Today’s blog is a five-point guide to starting your own sports massage business.
Qualified sports massage therapists are much in demand within the fitness industry, treating clients at sports clubs, gyms, physiotherapists and in their own homes.
A Level 3 Diploma in Sports Massage (soft tissue therapy) can open the door to a lucrative freelance career, whether you specialise in working with sports teams or you are a personal trainer or fitness instructor looking to boost your income by widening your offer to clients.
1. Who are your sports massage clients?
As a sports massage therapist you will need to decide what kind of client you want to target.
If you are already working as a fitness professional – for example as a freelance personal trainer – you should be able to pick up some sports massage clients from your current customer base.
However, if you are starting from scratch or want to widen your client base, then you will need to present a clear offer to potential clients. This means deciding on the type of service you will provide, eg sports massage, general massage or soft tissue therapy.
Here are some things to consider:
- Is there a gap in the market or shortage of practitioners in the type of massage you want to offer?
- Do you have something to offer that’s different from your nearest competitors?
- Could you target a specific group of people, eg elite athletes or mature gym goers?
- Could you work with people recovering from injuries?
2. Where will you carry out your sports massage?
There are plenty of opportunities for freelance sports massage therapists to work out of different venues. These can include:
- Sports clubs
- Sports centres
- Physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopathy clinics
- Spas and beauty salons
- Offices and other workplaces
- At clients’ homes
Sports massage clinics often advertise for a sports massage therapist to work out of their venue in a freelance capacity. This is usually for a fixed hourly rate and number of days,
although some venues may offer a role on a fee-sharing basis.
Some will welcome newly qualified practitioners, but others may ask for a minimum of one or two years’ experience.
Some qualified sports massage therapists set up business in their own home; this will require a quiet private space and the relevant insurance.
Wherever you work, you will need to have good communication and interpersonal skills when dealing with clients.
3. Setting up your business
The two main options for setting up your sports massage business are as a sole trader or a limited company.
A sole trader will register with HMRC for tax and National Insurance contributions but can use their own bank account and choose whether or not to create a business with a name, logo, website etc. Sole traders are liable for all debts and losses from their business.
If you set up a limited company, you won’t be personally liable if the business makes a loss or folds with debts. The usual model is to pay yourself a salary plus dividends from your income.
In either case, you should ensure that you put aside savings for your tax and National Insurance bills, as well as for other bills, such as annual insurance.
It’s a good idea to consult an accountant about setting up on your own, as they will be able to give advice on tax planning – for example, which expenses you can offset against tax – as well as HMRC legislation that you must comply with. Although there will be a cost involved, this is often made back by tax savings – and using a qualified accountant will give you peace of mind.
3. What are the upfront and ongoing costs?
You will need to have some funds available for set-up and ongoing costs, eg:
- Massage bed, oils, cotton/paper towels, uniform
- Public liability insurance, business equipment insurance and business premises insurance if you work out of your own premises
- Marketing costs, eg website, flyers, business cards
You might find it beneficial to register with a professional qualification body such as the Sports Therapy Organisation (STO): https://www.sportstherapyorganisation.org.uk/
5. How can you market your business?
Your marketing message and materials should be carefully thought out and aimed at your target audience. This includes the wording and images that you use, as well as the marketing outlets. Focus on the benefits your sports massage therapy services will bring to your clients.
Think of who your ideal customer would be, then consider where they are mostly likely to get their information. This will help you decide whether to spend money on printing flyers or focus your efforts on social media.
Options for marketing include:
- Website – this can be a simple page with details of the benefits of your services
- Social media
- Printed material, eg flyers, posters, business cards, roller banners
- Newsletters – you will need to build a mailing list that is compliant with GDPR legislation
- Publicity – sending a press release to the local paper or writing for a magazine
- Word of mouth – offer your services free in return for a testimonial or referral
Working at an established venue or targeting your current clients can save you on marketing costs.
If you plan carefully, take advice and follow the required legislation, you should soon be on course for a successful career in sports massage. Good luck!