An entrepreneur on the verge of entering the massage spa market is headed in the right direction already.
The International Spa Association (ISPA) in 2018 discovered that, after eight consecutive years of growth, total revenue in the spa industry had risen to $17.5 billion, which has since edged up to $18 billion, according to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). Projections anticipate continued growth in 2020.
According to the AMTA, an average of 32.6 million adult Americans received at least one massage in the last year.
Suffice it to say, it’s a smart choice of market.
One of the first decisions a prospective massage spa owner will make is whether to start from scratch as an independent operator or buy a franchise. If you are planning to buy a franchise from an established franchisor, keep reading, but just know that your franchisor will provide guidance in everything you’ll need, as well as connections with suppliers — and in most cases, specific brands you are required to use.
A franchise owner will have a much easier, streamlined path.
If you are opening as an independent, this guide can help you as you prep to open your dream massage business. Here are a number of the main types of massage equipment and supplies you should expect to need in your massage business.
This massage equipment category, one of the most integral to the massage business, is worthy of an article all its own, such as this good one from Massage Magazine. With the many disciplines of massage practiced in the field and the dynamic personal preferences of therapists, a number of types of tables and features exist.
Massage Magazine relays advice from experts about considering your clients and types of services you’ll offer and whether a given table will allow for proper body mechanics and comfort. Assuming your spa will perform services at your fixed location (rather than house calls), fixed tables (as opposed to portable) may be best. However, you may also need portable tables if you develop a revenue stream performing on-site massage services at businesses, events, and other places away from your spa.
Prices range from inexpensive to very expensive, so decide what features you can’t do without. All tables should be adjustable (including the face cradle), because your clients will come in every size and shape, and their comfort is paramount, as is your ability to get the right angle ergonomically to perform. Tables should be sturdy as well, to accommodate larger customers.
For chair massage, you will need — you guessed it — massage chairs. The same considerations apply as for tables: sturdiness, adjustability, and versatility.
Sheets and Pillows
Linens are another important element of the massage experience. They play a big role in setting a clean, calming, professional atmosphere. And they serve the practical purpose of keeping the client physically comfortable.
Have fun choosing the right style and look for your spa’s desired vibe, but make sure you use quality, durable linens that can withstand the rigors of many washings.
Long-fiber cottons are stronger and more likely to retain their smooth texture. Poly-cotton blends will not be as prone to wrinkles. Flannel sheets are perfect in the winter but also in the summer when they can add a touch of warmth inside your air-conditioned spaces.
Sheets in massage-specific sets will fit more snugly than a regular twin fitted sheet. Though regular bed sheets might work, massage sheets will look more professional and appropriate.
Pillows used in massage spas, or “bolsters,” help complete the comfort picture, and they come in a myriad of shapes and sizes. Most popular are “half-round” and “full-round” positioning bolsters. Other shapes include triangular, neck pillows, and more.
Massage Oils and Lotions
Depending on the styles of massage in your offering, you will need different types of creams and oils.
This is not a product area in which to skimp; quality is king. Clients can be very particular about skin products, and if they like them, they may ask about buying some at retail. You do not want to have to tell them what you just used in their message was a cheap product. Use quality brands.
Music is yet another star player in creating the right atmosphere. The type of music you choose (preferably something soothing and relaxing) is up to you.
But something many new business owners do not consider is that playing music in a business requires paying licensing fees. Many operators are shocked when a representative from BMI or ASCAP shows up two years after opening and demands fees going all the way back to the spa’s start date.
Get your licensing ducks in a row early.
Towels in a massage spa, like sheets, are a valuable tactile component of the experience.
When choosing towels (including hand towels), consider the frequency of use, durability, and softness.
Lighting and Candles
One major attraction for a client going to a massage spa is the way the experience changes their mood, and much of that is set before a therapist ever touches them.
Besides sheets, towels, music, and decor, your lighting is of utmost importance. It can transform a boxy, otherwise bland room into a different environment entirely.
Choose your lighting wisely in accordance with the precise mood and atmosphere you seek to present.
Candles should also fit your chosen mood from a lighting standpoint, as well as add fragrance(s) you feel best fit(s) the experience.
As with tables, the world is full of options for stools. Make sure you choose what is most ergonomic and versatile for your therapists to use.
That means adjustability and mobility (stools that roll) to allow your staff to reach clients from every necessary angle while maintaining comfort for the therapist, too.
For robes, another comforting element of the experience, take the same approach as with sheets and towels. You will want attractive, comfortable robes that can withstand many launderings without deteriorating too quickly.
All of your linens, lotions, oils, tools, and more will need somewhere to “live” when not in use. Make sure you have enough cabinet, closet, and furnishing space for what you need to stash.
Remember, the more out-of-sight your supplies are when not in use, the cleaner and more uncluttered your spaces will be, which fosters a better, more soothing client experience.
Waiting Area Furniture
Comfort and mood should begin before you step inside the massage room. Your true first impression is your waiting area.
Choose furniture that is comfortable and in keeping with the look and feel of the rest of your facility. Consistency is key.
Music playing in the waiting area should be consistent with the tone of the rest of your spaces.
Every business needs a lot of the same types of cleaning products for floors, break areas, countertops, etc. However, a massage business has unique concerns, including properly cleaning massage tables.
It is advisable to use non-caustic products that do not contain alcohol. Nothing can subvert the well-crafted atmosphere your lighting, candles, music, and linens have worked so hard to create like an unpleasant chemical odor.
Laundry Equipment — Or Not
You can choose to purchase your own commercial washers and dryers to keep onsite to handle your needs, or instead contract out with a laundry vendor.
Each method has pros and cons. Owning your own equipment requires maintenance and upkeep, and a breakdown can really throw a monkey wrench in your workflow. Paying outside laundry fees can get expensive, but you have the peace of mind of having it taken care of — while saving the labor cost of paying staff more to do laundry.
This is another subject that could constitute its own separate exploration. Massage services put customers in the mood to buy and take home products that can help them continue the experience.
Starting out, you may wish to offer very few products, such as oils, lotions, and candles, and gradually scale up, offering anything from clothing to books and beyond. Retail is an excellent additional revenue stream.
Inside the walls of your massage spa is one of the best places to promote your full array of services. Be sure to post table tent promotional pieces, cards, brochures, and other marketing elements in your waiting area and any other appropriate touchpoint.
As stated earlier, if instead of opening an independent business you buy a massage spa franchise, just about everything discussed here will be expertly thought out for you in advance and ready to set up in a turnkey package.
Either way, congratulations on taking the plunge into an exciting and rewarding industry.
Founded in 2008 in St. Louis, Missouri, MassageLuXe is a fast-growing franchise-based spa company with a mission of delivering the highest quality massage while providing a comfortable, relaxing and luxurious environment to clients. To further this mission, MassageLuXe also grants clients access to Repechage facials and waxing services.
Massage is a service that improves health, promotes relaxation and overall well-being for the consumer, and has been practiced throughout the world for thousands of years. MassageLuXe currently has 68 locations across 16 states and is planning to expand to 250 locations in the next five years.
For more information about MassageLuXe, please go to https://massageluxe.com/.
For franchising information about MassageLuXe, please go to https://franchise.massageluxe.com/.