It’s time to take a Business health check
Many massage therapists are losing business and now closing the doors, following a directive from the Government in response to Coronovirus (COVID-19). The worst thing is the uncertainty for the future, but we can take some stress out of the equation by evaluating our business and careful planning.
The Massage industry has taken a huge hit. Even though some clients rely on massage for legitimate pain management, some view massage as essentially a “luxury” especially in tight financial times. Whichever category your clientele falls into, massage is an ethical risk.
I like to see the cup half full, so I’m suggesting we use this time productively and prepare. Let’s consider this an opportunity to get your business into shape and ready to rebound when the impact of COVID-19 reduces and therapists can return to business as usual.
News flash! Tele-health
As at 26 March, a joint statement from the Associations is suggesting that we can adopt “tele-health” practices to keep in touch with clients, which will be covered by your Insurance.
Depending on your scope of practice, you can choose what services you can still provide to your clients. For example, massage therapists can demonstrate stretches/self-care via video.
What can I do to survive now?
The first thing will be to register for the Jobseeker allowance if you have had to close indefinitely. Even as a sole trader you will be eligible, due to changes in the normal criteria for Jobseeker allowance. https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/affected-coronavirus-covid-19
Other options depending on your circumstance and business structure include;
- Interest free loans to business from the Federal Government
- Loan Holidays including mortgages and business loans
- Jobseeker allowance with coronavirus supplement
- Any state government stimulus package
- Log onto your myGov account and “Register Intention to Claim” for Centrelink
What this should mean is that every level of the massage industry should be able to obtain assistance to help them through this difficult time.
Time is now one thing we have!
If you are passionate about your industry you can now put your energy and resources into a business review and you will be planning for success once things begin to return to normal. Or at least you’ll have some financial facts you can base your decisions around.
Let’s take a step back and view our business objectively
The thing is, ALL businesses have cash-flow problems and seasonal high/lows, at the best of times. This “low” could be 3-6 months, or more. So rather than fretting, what can you do about it? Planning is typically what massage therapists tend to avoid, which is why many of us are left with low cashflow, savings and low superannuation. Planning now becomes top priority!
Answer these questions to prepare for the future
- Review your business plan and business model
eg. suspend your lease/rent, hit the pause button and focus on how you can adapt.
- Create a risk management plan for re-opening – how can you minimise the risk of infection? What steps, with cleaning and PPE can you use to protect yourself and clients? Australian Government Guidelines and Training for COVID-19 Infection Control in a healthcare setting.
- Do you have a cashflow forecast? – create a cashflow spreadsheet in preparation to monitor business for next 12 months.
- What financial obligations do you have? Reduce overheads such as rent, postpone bill payments until your business reopens or returns to normal trading.
- Review your Health History form / clinical assessment – what clinical checks will you make to screen your clients? Have you added in COVID-19 related questions to screen for symptoms?
- Communicate – consider informing clients of potential risks or strategies you have to manage these risks.
- Think outside the square – there are ways you can stay in touch with clients. Send out some FAQ’s, or stretches and health tips via email or social media.
- Once a cashflow forecast is done – you can make provisions for tax and bills based on each month’s cashflow fluctuations, rather than budgeting a set amount, which may not work. Make your plan work for you.
How can you minimise financial stress?
- Contact your bank – ask if they can pause mortgage repayments.
- Advertising – check you don’t have Google Adwords running up bills, or put any marketing or SEO on hold.
- Subscriptions – check your PowerDiary or Timely accounts and put booking systems on hold.
- Business loans – to help with your cashflow see Economic Relief Package. https://www.treasury.qld.gov.au/programs-and-policies/covid19-package/
- Tax instalments – call the ATO to put your PAYG tax on hold. https://www.ato.gov.au/Media-centre/Media-releases/Support-measures-to-assist-those-affected-by-COVID-19/
- Government assistance for Business. https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/josh-frydenberg-2018/media-releases/supporting-australian-workers-and-business
- Boosting cash flow for employers which applies to businesses that runs payroll/PAYG. https://www.ato.gov.au/General/New-legislation/The-Australian-Government-s-Economic-Response-to-Coronavirus/#BoostingCashFlowforEmployers
Sharing the right information
Right now, even if you can’t practice massage you can still look after your clients by ensuring accurate information is shared with regards to COVID-19. It is absolutely essential that you complete the government’s webinar on minimising infection in the healthcare setting. Perhaps start by emailing all your clients to explain you have stopped practicing for a while.
Take the opportunity to get on top of things
- Check your First Aid (did you know AMT is offering an amnesty for First Aid until 30 June?)
- Look for online study opportunities to keep your education progressing.
- Stay healthy, get a good mixture of rest and activity. Keep your fitness up!
- Enjoy some time with the family and take care of those most important to you.
If you are thinking that your primary goal right now is just to survive, you have a right to ask for help. Let’s be clear, this is a forced reduction or shutdown of business for this industry, but there are options.
Now is the time to reinvent your business! Stay positive, plan, prepare and get armed with the facts to make confident business decisions.
For more information ask your Accountant or professional Massage Association, they will have the best resources to assist you.