Episode 302

Jun 26, 2020

Looking for new office space? We've got some tips for you.

Listen to "E302: Renting a Space for Your Massage Business" on Spreaker.
Image for E302: Renting a Space for Your Massage Business


Weekly Roundup

  • Hey, know any BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) massage educators? Email us!

Discussion Topic

Quick Tips

  • Slow your decision-making roll



Sponsor message This episode is sponsored by Yomassage. Become an expert in all things restorative stretch, mindfulness meditation, and therapeutic touch in a comprehensive, three-week virtual Yomassage therapist certification. In this training, you will learn practices you can offer your clients virtually and an innovative modality that enables you to serve clients in a group or one-on-one setting. You will build community with the other therapists going through this training. You'll have assignments due each week, weekly discussion posts, live Q&As, weekly quizzes, and lots of one-to-one feedback from your instructor. Payment plans are available for the May and June 2020 virtual trainings. And this training offers 10.5 NCBTMB CE hours. And because that's not enough, our listeners can get $50 off courses May through July. Use the code BLUEPRINT -- one word, all caps, BLUEPRINT. To learn more and register for Yomassage virtual training, visit massagebusinessblueprint.com/yomassage.

Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we help you attract more clients, make more money, and improve your quality of life. I'm Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines I'm Allissa Haines.

MR And we're your hosts. Welcome.

AH Just as Michael was doing that intro, which we five seconds ago decided we would just go back to our standard intro, I, in my head, thought it would be hilarious to say, welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we both have a case of the Mondays because we do. We totally do.

MR [Laughing] We totally should have done that. Yeah.

AH I know. Sorry.

MR Now you know what could have been.

AH Whatever. People I'm sure enjoyed me saying it. Michael, what are you reading this week? Anything?

MR [Laughing] I'm going to take a little bit of a pass this week because I'm reading so many little scattered things all over the place. I can't really pin one thing down. I'm working really hard at just sort of listening right now. So I'm reading just various -- this is not good, but I'm reading current events and things that are happening in the news, which is always depressing and also educating at the same, and just kind of digesting a lot of different things in finance and social issues and blargedy blarg. So nothing really specific.

AH Okay.

MR I am listening to more of The Human Advisor podcast, so I guess I'll take it back. I guess I'll kind of mentioned this. As many know, in addition to what I do here, I'm also an independent financial advisor. And The Human Advisor podcast is a podcast put out by Tyrone Ross of Altruist, which is a financial services company I work with in my advisory firm. And he is a black host who is interviewing a lot of minorities, women, black business owners, and people in the financial industry to kind of shed a light on the way things are changing for the better, in my opinion, in the financial industry, where it's not just the typical white guy in a suit anymore. We're hearing a lot more -- attention is being paid to serving and also lifting up those in the profession who don't fit that typical mold.

So I'm really interested in more of that podcast. It's really great theme he's got going on. He's interviewing a lot of inspirational people who are talking about kind of the transitions in the industry where it's not just -- like I said, not just serving people with tons of money. It's serving a lot of different people in different walks of life. And it's a really fun podcast. I really am enjoying that. It's called The Human Advisor, and it's not really for the general public. It's for financial advisors, but it's a really kind of encouraging look at the industry in general. So I guess that's what I've been listening to.

AH Fair enough. I knew if we kept digging, we'd find something.

MR Yeah. Yeah. [Laughing] There's always something.

AH I have been reading so slowly lately, which is very different for me, so I don't really have anything to share because I didn't want to talk more about reading Getting Things Done until I'm closer to the end of it. So that's what I'm reading, but I'm not going to talk about it yet.

But I did want to take this time at the top of the podcast to ask, hey, does anyone know any black, indigenous, people of color educators in the massage field? And I'm asking this because there are lots of us who, just like Michael is doing in the finance world, trying to amplify the voices of black, indigenous, people of color therapists, but also educators. There is definitely a void in the top of the massage field. There's a lot of men, there's a lot of white men, and there's a lot of white women. And it is disproportional to how our demographics actually break down as practitioners. The leadership in our field is not representative of who we are, either gender or race or origin-wise. It's just not.

And there have been a handful of people who have reached out to me and said, hey, whose voice do I amplify if I can't find a voice? And how do I help leadership become a more accurate representation? I'm in a bubble, and I openly admit to knowing enough people of different everythings in the massage field, especially in leadership. So if you know of any kind of -- et cetera -- black, indigenous, people of color -- educator, either at massage school level or at continuing education level, I would love for you to send me their name. Send me a link to their website. Let me know what your experience has been in their classes so that maybe we can start to amplify more voices. And you can that information to me at allissa@massagebusinessblueprint.com. It's A-L-L-I-S-S-A. There's also a contact form on our website, so get me that info. And that's what I have to say. And that's what I'll be reading -- the emails you send me.

MR You should probably use the contact form on our website because everybody misspells Allissa's name. [Laughing]

AH It's true. Just use the contact form at massagebusinessblueprint.com, hit Contact in the menu, and then send that form to us. And then it'll go to me and Michael, which is always a good thing, because then if I drop it, he'll pick it up. So there's that.

MR There you go. Nice. Thank you.

AH Who's our first sponsor, Michael?

MR Jojoba!

AH Yay, Jojoba.

Sponsor message I recommend Jojoba care -- pardon me, HobaCare Jojoba for use in your massage practice because it never goes rancid, and it's safe for everybody. I got that big old two gallons of it that, again, is not going to go rancid, so when I finally go back to work, I'll have plenty of jojoba to use. It is the closest thing in nature to the sebum that your skin produces, which means with all this extra handwashing, you can throw a few drops on your hand after each wash, and your hands will stay soft and smooth and not get all cracked and dry and gross. You, my friends, can get 10% off the price of the product on orders of $35 or more when you shop through our link massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba.

MR I want to make a note there as well. So I have just recently discovered that the Facebook page for the Jojoba company is called The Original Jojoba Company because apparently, there is another page out there, another company, that also has jojoba in the name. So if you're looking for them on Facebook, look for The Original Jojoba Company, and it is a green circle with a white H with a flower in it. I'll pull it up.

AH Yeah. They're just doing some rebranding, and I'm kind of actually curious if they're going to change that Facebook page to be HobaCare Jojoba or not. I'm not sure. They've got a whole rebranding thing happening.

MR Yeah.

AH So we'll say -- but yeah. What are we talking about today, Michael?

MR We're talking about renting space for your massage business.

AH Yes, we certainly are. And we're talking about this because you know how I love to pull from my life as a practicing massage therapist and share all of my adventures with you and all of my mistakes so hopefully you won't make them.

So unless you've been in a cave, you know that I closed down my multi-practitioner office in May because I didn't feel like, moving forward, I was going to be able to keep it safe. I was concerned I wasn't going to be able to meet the sanitation and hygiene standards with so many people in the office, and also because two of the rooms were interior rooms that didn't have any windows and ventilation was going to be an issue, which is clearly a problem in COVID and, I think, post-COVID times, so I shut down my office, which means I have to look for a new office if I plan to work again. And I do plan to work again.

Things are going pretty well in Massachusetts, which I know is not the case in many other areas of the country. But because things are going pretty well in Massachusetts and because many of my colleagues are actually returning to work today, Monday, June 22nd, as phase two, step two begins, close contact personal services are beginning. So that was announced on like Friday or Saturday. And it has made me think about what I want in a space to return, and what should my timeline be for returning. I've been flip-flopping back and forth and rollercoastering, which is typical, I think, for many of us, but -- and I don't even know if I'm going to start going to look at offices yet. But it made me think back about this giant list we made of what to look for when you're renting a space for your massage business, and also some newer things that have come up since we wrote that original post. I'm going to blow through a list of a lot of things. Please know that in the podcast notes, I will link to the post where we actually list these out.

Let's talk about what to look for. If you're going to start an office search, if you quit your franchise job because you didn't like that they weren't using the right PPE or whatever, and you know you're going to be starting your own massage business in the next six or eight or ten months or whatever, this is good to start thinking about. Make a list because this can be really scary and overwhelming. Again, I've kind of got a list in this post, and bring it with you like a checklist when you go to visit any space. And expect to visit many spaces because you need to see a few that you know that are not right for you to figure what would be right for you. And there's lots of things to think about. Would you want to share a space? Would you want to share a room? Would you want to share a space that has two or three treatment rooms, but you don't share your room? And what are you thinking? And also, what are the requirements for your state or locality, whoever, if anyone, handles licensing, actual massage locations and establishments? Bring a tape measure, and if you've never done this before, and you're nervous, bring a friend who can make sure that you go through your checklist and you don't get too flustered.

First thing I suggest before you even go to look at a space is to drive by the location at a couple of different times of days and a couple of different days of the week, and make note of the parking and the local noise levels, and in general, the activity of a neighboring business. Walk around outside it because you want to know if there's a Burger King a quarter mile down the street, but the wind always blows, you're always going to smell like broiled burgers. So keep in mind things like that -- noise, parking, smells.

Is the location near where your ideal clients are? Or for me, is the location near enough to my previous office that the bulk of my clients will stay with me even through that move? How does the place look from the outside? Is the outside kept up well? Are there trash cans? What's going on outside? Do teenagers congregate in front of the office next door or the game shop next door? What's going on there? Is there adequate parking? What does the signage look like? Do the signs for the other businesses that may be in that building, are they attractive and classy, or are they really garish and yucky? That's going to tell you if the landlord cares what things look like or not.

Is the entrance well-marked and obvious, or are you going to have to have extra special instructions for people to find your office? Is it handicap accessible? Who are the office neighbors, and what are their hours? Are they doctors' offices, who are typically going to be in there Monday through Friday, 8 to 6, and maybe one doctor working on Saturdays, or is it a kind of place that is open all the time? Or is it a gift shop that is only open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 to 6? What are the other businesses, and what are their hours? In the actual space that you're looking at, are there common areas like a waiting area or a bathroom? Does your -- would this office space give you a private bathroom, or is being shared with others? In COVID times, these questions have become much more important. How many common surfaces and utilities will your client have to use that other businesses in the building also use before they enter their office? So who shares those spaces, and if there are shared spaces, who is responsible for their upkeep? What is the distance from the bathroom to the treatment room? In Massachusetts, we have to have a handwashing sink within 15 linear feet of the treatment room door.

What is the size of the treatment room? Include ceiling height in this because that can make a big difference. Are there any exhaust fans anywhere in the office, either what would be your treatment or the bathroom or otherwise? Ventilation is becoming a very big deal. Are there windows, and do those windows open? And when those windows open, what do they open to? Do they open to a parking lot, or do they open to the backside of the building where you're going to have a dumpster smell? What do those windows open to because nowadays we want to get some cross-ventilation into our rooms between every client. So what is that ventilation going to look and smell like, my friends?

Where is the thermostat located? Do you have direct access to it? Do you have control over your thermostat or does your landlord? Are there shared zones? Are the people in the office next door going to crank the AC up or down or et cetera with the heat, or do you have control over the climate control of your treatment room? What kinds of changes would you be allowed to make? Are they going to be cool with you hanging your ashi bars? Are they going to be cool with you adding a temporary wall? Are they going to be cool with you painting or not? And also, it sometimes helps to know how long the current tenants have been there. If there's someone in there now or there was someone in there previously, see if you can google the address and suite number or whatever and find out what business was there before. And if you have a connection to that business, maybe you can find out why they left and make sure that the landlord's not a monster.

Take note of things like door locks and wall color and, again, if you'd be able to change it. What kind of flooring? Will you be able to sanitize that flooring on a very regular basis and maybe even between every single client? What kind of floor is it? If it's a carpet, are they going to be cool with you ripping that up, or would they be willing to put a different kind of floor down? Not just wall color, but the kind of paint -- is it washable? Are you going to be able to wash your walls if you get oil squirting on there? And I got to tell you, as I closed my last office, I spent a lot of time washing oil off the walls; that stunk. And I was very lucky because the paint that I used and the finish that I used was fairly easily cleanable.

Are there windows or doors or emergency exits that can't be blocked that are going to cause a problem with your massage room layout and restrict how you can set up your room? Are there electrical outlets, how many, and are they located in places that are going to make sense for your massage room and general office setup? And it wouldn't be a bad idea to find out what your draw is. Like how many -- do you have your own panel? Do you have your own electrical panel, and what is the size of it? Is it a 50-amp panel or a 100-amp panel? Because if you've got a 50-amp panel, things are going to get a little dicey if you've got a table warmer and a hot towel cabby and a fan and a space heater and an air cleaner and two computers plugged in or whatever. So take note of the panel, and maybe do a little research and a little math or -- I usually just call my ex-husband the electrician and say, am I going to be able to plug all these things in this office? But you can also look that up. You don't have to call my ex-husband.

So what does the rent include? Does it include heat and air conditioning, or is that wrapped into your electric, or are you going to have a gas or oil bill? Hot water -- typically, water is covered in a rental because it's hard to break that apart from rental units. But hot water might be gas- or electric-powered, and you might be covering that. What about snow removal? Is that included, and what's the snow removal's schedule? If you're the only office that's open on Sundays, and it snows on a Sunday, is that plow going to come for you, or are they set up to do regular business hours like all the other businesses in that complex, let's say. And if they're not included in the rent, what are the typical utility costs for the space? And typically, the landlord's going to have this information, and you can even call utility companies and get this information. And again, if you happen to know the previous tenant, that can help you too.

Is it wired for internet or cable, or is that going to be a problem? How is your cell signal? Do you get a good cell signal so you can just hotspot for when you need to be on the internet? And if you don't have a good cell signal, what other providers do have a good cell signal? So you know, I have Cricket, and if I don't get a Cricket signal at that office, that could be a deal breaker for me. But maybe I have a friend with a Verizon phone who comes there with me and checks it out, and they have a strong signal, so I know I don't have to get internet; I can just buy a Verizon hotspot device. So it's weird, but it's things that are helpful to know.

What are the terms of the lease? We've had a lot of interesting lease conversations in the last couple of months, including a conversation with a friend whose lease literally said in it that she can't break the lease even if there's some kind of pandemic that shuts everybody down. It literally said the word "pandemic" in it. Holy crap. So knowing how flexible your lease is or isn't and what kind of extenuating circumstances could get you out of a three- or five-year commitment could be really useful information nowadays. Who handles the repairs and the maintenance in emergencies and stuff? Are they available 24/7, or are you going to get stuck with a broken toilet because your landlord went to New Hampshire for the week?

And then things about after you visit. Who showed you this space? Is that the person you're going to be dealing with? Were they decent? Were they informative? Were they shady? Did they not want to answer your questions, or were they just incapable of answering your questions? These are things that are good to know. What would it take to make that space functional for you? Does anything need to be added or removed, construction-wise? And if so, what's that going to cost, and who is going to bear that cost? And we'll talk a little bit more about that in a minute. Every single space that you visit is going to have some positives and negatives attached to it. It is unlikely we can ever find the exact, perfect space. There's always going to be a give and take, but it's good to know what you're giving and what you're taking.

So if the space needs some kind of change before it's workable for you, can you negotiate that with the landlord? Will they make improvements before you move in? Will they allow you to make those improvements and give you rental credits for it? These are all things that you can negotiate. And you can also negotiate the actual rent or the terms of the lease. So if someone's renting an office for $800 a month, and they want a two-year lease, would they be willing to give it to you for $700 a month and do a one-year lease if you pay 4, 6, or 12 months up front? Is that even a good idea for you? Maybe. Maybe not. But you can often negotiate improvements to the office or versions of a lease by offering the landlord something in return, which is a bunch of rent up front or whatever. There's a variety of things, but think it through.

I also want to note that there's something called a triple net lease, which I didn't even know existed until like two years ago when one of our premium members told me about it, and then I learned. So a triple net lease is when you pay rent, but you also pay a fee, maybe -- it's usually not monthly. It's usually like quarterly or twice a year, that covers the building's property taxes and building insurance and the cost of any maintenance or trash removal and snow removal and things like that. And what happens is the landlord will figure out what that is, usually on a quarterly or a twice-a-year schedule, and then you have to pay that bill. So you could be three months into renting and hit, let's say, the second quarter, and your landlord is like, oh, the triple net lease fee for this quarter was whatever, $800 or more. And typically, when you have a triple net lease, the rental price of the unit is a little lower than other -- than is competitive in your area -- than is comparable in your area. However, you get that quarterly or twice-a-year bill for all the triple net stuff that you have to cover. So know that that's a thing. If your lease says triple net, you got to do a lot more math and ask a lot more questions.

Yeah. That's the end of my list. That's what I got. So know that there's a lot of variables. There's a lot of moving parts. A checklist is your friend because you will -- if you look at more than three offices, they're all going to start to blend together. Definitely have a checklist and make some good notes. Take a picture and make some good notes every time you visit a space. And definitely review your state's guidelines before you start visiting spaces -- or your locality.

And that's all I have, Michael. For real, I'm done because I could go on for three hours with this, but I don't want to.

MR Probably. I'll go slightly deeper on the internet just because I have seen so many spaces where they're like, yeah, we have internet; we're wired. And then when you actually move in, it's slow, or it's buggy, or it doesn't work half the time, or it's just -- there's some issue because the wiring in the building is so old. So if it's at all possible, test the internet before you actually commit. They may say, yeah, it's wired for internet. You can get cable here. You can get whatever. You can get fiber, whatever. There's all sorts of options. But they say that, but they don't really care how fast it is. They just want to get you in. So basically, if you can bring a device, bring your laptop if possible. Ask if you can get on the network and do a speed test. Maybe do it a couple of times and even stream some stuff or even just test it out with some high bandwidth activities because you would be surprised at how much internet out there is "yeah, it works fine," but then when you actually get there, it's flaky, it's unreliable, it's slow. So I would test it out. And that's just me. I'm very picky about internet because it runs everything. And the last thing you want is to move in and have your internet be flaky when you're trying to swipe a Square payment or something or use it to actually do work. So test it out before you commit is my advice.

AH Excellent. I think I'm going to hotspot on my next office. I don't think I'm going to do internet because internet around here is like minimum of $100 a month.

MR Gah.

AH I know. And for like $50 a month, I can get a hotspot device, or I could just use -- if the Cricket signal is good, I could just upgrade my phone plan and get unlimited hotspotting and stuff for like an extra 50 in bucks.

MR Oh, there you go.

AH So yeah. Interesting. So now -- and that means I can't be doing video work from the office, but that's okay because I have a home office for that.

MR There you go.

AH There's my privilege.

So who's our next sponsor, Michael?

MR Our friends at Acuity. Our favorite online scheduling tool.

Sponsor message Thanks, Acuity. You're our software of choice. And you are our software of choice you because you make it easy for all kinds of things to happen. You make it easy for me to adjust and change all my treatment types for when I return to work post-pandemic. Acuity is the business suite that takes hours off of your plate and gives us the freedom to focus on all of the other aspects of our business or my side hustle. It also lets you convert to a virtual business if you're looking to do that. It's there to automatically send booking confirmations with your own brand and messaging, deliver text reminders, let clients reschedule on their own if you choose to do that. You don't have to. They process payment easily, so everything just runs smooth, my friends, smooth. You can get a special 45-day free offer when you sign up today at massagebusinessblueprint.com/acuity.

MR Yay.

AH All right. Got a quick tip for us, Michael? You passing on that too?

MR I'm going to just ride on your coattails today. Let’s hear your quick tip.

AH So my quick tip is actually related to our main topic about finding an office. When I closed my office down, when I made that decision in May, the thing that made me almost not do that is this fear of being able to find another office that fits the criteria that I need. It's a little hard in my town. There's some state requirements and also now this new "you really don't want shared bathrooms" and stuff. So I really had a scarcity mindset. But I thought it through, and I got great counsel from people who were like, just close the office. You know it's the right thing to do. And there will -- and Michael has said this many times -- there will be no shortage of office spaces to rent when you're ready to come back.

So when the announcement came that massage could again start in Massachusetts -- I'm not going back anytime soon, not anytime immediately. I vowed that I would not make any decisions about returning to work until August 1st because it was stressing me out the idea of should I go back as soon as I can? Are they going to let me do home visits now that I don't have an office? What do I need for blah, blah, blah? And it would make my mind race a lot. And I made the decision that I wasn't even going to think about it again until August 1st. Now of course, I've thought about it a few times. And then of course, when they made the announcement the other day that massage could start on Monday, it made me start thinking, oh, my God. Other people are now going to be looking for new offices. There's going to be a lot competition for them. I immediately got online and started looking for office space stuff. I've emailed our realtor. This one office I've had my eye for a while that I've kind of known could be a great office for me, and it's near where I used to work, and whatever.

I got a little frantic for a couple hours this weekend starting to do the search and looking for new offices and realizing that's it's going take two to three months to get my establishment license. So even if I started rented an office for August, I probably wouldn't really be able to start working in it till October, and I need to get moving on this, and et cetera, et cetera. And I called one of my friends who I'll probably share an office with, and was like, what do you think of this? So I texted her. And I got really wrapped up in it, and then I caught myself. And I went, no. Slow your decision-making roll, lady, because you are not making any decisions till August. Even if I go visit a couple offices just to see what some options are in the next couple of weeks, I'm not making any decisions until at least August 1st. Slow your roll.

It really helped me. And I am going to start looking at offices and making some notes about different ones and what could be good and what could not be good and throwing some numbers at the person I might share an office with and doing all that, but I'm not -- even if I find a great place -- and all the places I've been looking at have been empty for months and months, so I'm really not too worried about someone else swooping in, except that I am because scarcity. So reminding myself of that decision -- having my friend confirm it and be like, we decided not to make any decisions until at least August 1st -- I want to see how the next month goes with other people getting back to practice. I want to see what my own options are and maybe have a better idea of what's going to happen with school for the kids. Slow my decision-making roll.

And that's just my quick tip. If you have the ability, if it's within your grasp, if you can take more time to make your decisions wisely and carefully, then do that. I'm done for reals.

MR I love your quick tip.

AH Thanks.

MR I could not agree more.

AH And I also -- it comes from a place of privilege, but I have taken on some more side work and part-time work in order to cover my butt so I can do more -- take more time to make these decisions. So it's an educated slow roll.

MR Excellent. Well, thank you. Thank you for that.

AH Thank you.

MR All right. Well, we will wrap up there. Thanks, everyone, for joining us today. As always, you can find us on our shiny new website, which is massagebusinessblueprint.com.

I'm going to keep calling it new for a little while longer because it's fairly newish. But it is new, so check it out. It's streamlined. It's simpler. The public website is about, oh, five or so pages, plus, of course, all our podcast episodes, which are like 300-plus episodes and blog posts. But as far as actual pages, it's pretty simple. It's pretty small, pretty basic. It's really meant for just a general public to kind of learn who we are, to get access to all of our podcast episodes, to contact us, and of course, to consider joining our community, which is really the good stuff behind the scenes.

So if you're not part of our brand-new community, which we just launched back in May, which, I guess, is last month -- that's not too long ago -- check it out. We have -- it's growing every day. We have most of our members from our previous community have migrated over. We have a lot of new people as well, a lot of great discussion, some really good stuff in there, including some online courses that are included, including an ethics course -- a full NCBTMB-improved, six-hour ethics course. So if you want to use some of this downtime to catch up on your CEs and take an awesome ethics course online, that's included. It's part of membership, so check it out.

If you have anything to tell us, we'd love for you to tell us. Email us at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com, or contact us through our website. So with that, thanks for joining us today. Have a great day, and we'll see you next time.

AH Bye.

Logo for Happyface
Logo for ABMP
Logo for Jojoba
Logo for Pure Pro Massage Products