Category Archives: Finances and Insurance Billing

Business Plan Creation Guide for RMTs

business plan for massage therapists

One of the most important decisions you will have to make as an RMT is whether you want to start your own business, or work for someone else. There are pros and cons to both situations, and not everyone is suited to running their own business. There are many misconceptions about the amount of work required to run a clinic, as well as what clinic owners are likely to earn from their business. If you’re considering starting your own business, it’s imperative that you make sure you have a firm understanding of everything that’s involved. The best way to do this is to create a comprehensive business plan.

What is a business plan?

Business plans are documents, usually 20 or more pages long, which describe in detail various important bits of research about a potential business’ likely success or failure. It looks at factors like the location of the business, potential customers (clients), the costs of running the business, what the competition is like, and potential income from the business.

Business plans are traditionally required when you’re applying for a business loan or some other form of external funding. However, creating a business plan even if you don’t plan to apply for a loan is hugely beneficial as a potential business owner. Gathering and organizing the information required for a business plan helps you to make educated choices about your business, and to avoid a lot of the common missteps that new business owners encounter.

There are several components to a business plan. We’ll break each one down, and give you some direction for what to include with each component.

Executive Summary

The Executive Summary is a short form of the entire business plan, including the most important elements of each section. It’s usually only a couple pages long at most. It’s purpose is to provide a concise “short form” of the business plan for someone to review quickly, so they get a good summary of what’s contained in the more detailed plan. It should be included at the beginning of your business plan, but it’s also a good idea to have independent, stand-alone copies ready too. Because the Executive Summary contains information from all the other sections, it’s better to leave this create this section last.

Business Overview

The Business Overview includes general information about the business.

You’ll want to include the proposed structure of the business. The three common types are sole proprietorship, partnership, or incorporation incorporation. If you’re not sure what the difference is, you can read more about business structures here.

You’ll also what to include information about the history of the business (what lead you to creating the proposed business), the type of business (a massage therapy clinic, multi-disciplinary practice, mobile practice, etc.), and the location.

The Business Overview isn’t long, but it should give the reader a clear idea of what sort of practice you will have.

Operations Plan

The Operations Plan is a description of the day to day activities of the business. In the case of a massage therapy clinic, you would describe the different types of tasks completed at the business, such as booking appointments, maintaining and storing client records, treating clients, and so on. This section is also where you describe the layout of the business – how many rooms will the clinic have, and what purpose will each of them have? What types of employees / contractors will work at the location, and what are their general duties?

Assume the reader has never been to a massage therapy clinic before. After reading the Operations Plan, the reader should have a clear understanding of your business’ daily operations.

Market Analysis

You will want to show that there is demand for massage therapy in the region you plan to operate your business. The Market Analysis section is where you describe the demographics of the area (population, age, average income level, etc). You can find this information in the Census Program data from Stats Can. You start by searching for the city where you want to pull data from, and go from there. The most recent data as of the time of this writing is from the 2011 census, but the 2016 data should be released soon.

You’ll want to identify your target market(s) in this section. Target markets are subsets of the general population that you believe your services will appeal to the most. Although it can be tempting to say “I want to target everyone!”, it’s usually better to focus on a particular niche of the population and focus on your attention on them. Obviously you can still treat people outside of your target demographic, but narrowing your focus to a niche allows you to create more effective marketing, build your client’s reputation within that community more quickly, and differentiate yourself from competitors. Examples of target markets include “new moms”, “youth”, and “athletes” (ideally specific types of athletes, such as “runners” or “group sports players”). You should pick a target demographic that you are already very familiar with; usually a niche that you actively belong to yourself.

Once you have a target market figured out, you can use the demographic data to see if the population of the area you selected is likely to support your business. For instance, if you’re planning on opening a clinic which focused on “new moms” in an area which is predominantly elderly, you will struggle to find clientele.

You’ll also want to find census information specific to health conditions and healthcare in the area. Stats Can has information on this topic as recent as 2013 as of the time of this writing. Identifying common health concerns in the area can help you narrow down what areas your practice could focus on, based on what impairments are likely to be prevalent in that region.

It’s helpful and visually appealing to create charts and graphs to show the data you collect in this section. You can use Excel or similar programs to show how large your potential target markets are, how much of the population is likely to have conditions that you can treat, and so on.

Products and Services

In this section, you’ll describe all the various services (and products) your practice will offer. You will want to break down each service / product with a brief description.

Assume your reader doesn’t know anything about massage therapy. After reading this section, they should have a good idea of what a typical treatment will entail (intake, assessment, treatment, home care, etc.).

Sales and Marketing

The Sales and Marketing section is where you will outline your price list, and how clients may purchase your services (in clinic, online, etc.).

You will also use this section to describe your marketing efforts. How will you market reach your target demographic? What will make them want to buy your services? Be specific here – instead of “I will do short in-person seminars running groups”, specify which running clubs you’ll approach, the length and topic of the seminar, a proposed schedule for the talks, and so on. Include several different marketing approaches here, and be mindful of potential costs… you’ll need to know how much each marketing activity will cost for your Financial Plan. Outline how you track to see which marketing activities are working and which aren’t.

Need some marketing ideas? Check out the ClinicWise article “RMT Marketing Strategies“.

Competitive Analysis

Identifying how much competition you will have in your chosen region, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of each of those competitors, is a big part of determining whether starting a business in that area is viable.

You can use Google Maps to search for massage therapy businesses in a specific region. On the map, you can see the areas that have high or low concentrations of massage clinics. You can also use the “Street View” function to see what the area looks like – is it an industrial area or more of a suburb? Is there a major attraction (mall, big box store) nearby, or is it almost entirely residential? Does the area look very wealthy, more low-income? Where are the major employers, likely to offer their employees benefits, relative to the area?

Once you have found a region you like, and have identified your nearby competitors – I would recommend other clinics within a 3-5km radius of where you want to open your clinic, but it depends on the population of the area – you will want to research each one. Check out their location, as well as their marketing materials, to identify strengths and weaknesses. Do they have easy access to parking? Are they located for a lot of walk-in traffic? Are they visible from a busy street? Does the location look profession? Is their marketing appealing? How many practitioners do they have, and what services do each offer? Are their prices above, below, or on par with the other competitors? What makes them stand out from the other clinics? What might turn a client off from visiting that clinic? Are there any elements that would appeal to (or dissuade business from) your target market?

For each competitor, briefly discuss how you will compete against their relative strengths and weaknesses. Make sure to detail what will make you stand out from them. Will you offer services none of the other clinics do?

Management Team

The Management Team section is where you provide the professional biographical information for all key people involved in the business. In a typical sole proprietor massage therapy practice, this might be just the owner of the business, but in larger practices it could also include proposed co-owners, clinic managers, chief operational / financial / sales officers, and so on. A list of each person’s qualifications is important to show they have the skill set required to make sure the business operates effectively.

Financial Plan

The Financial Plan section is likely going to be the most detailed and time-consuming component of your business plan. However, it’s also arguably the most useful part, as it will help you figure out if your business is financially viable or not.

In the Financial Plan, you’re going to include all financial information related to your business. This includes:

Start up costs. What investments will you need to make before you even open the doors? You’ll need to factor in things like registration and insurance, any deposits or down payments for property / renovations / vehicle / etc., stocking your initial supplies, purchasing office and treatment equipment, legal / consulting fees, and so on. Create a spreadsheet and list every single item, along with it’s cost. Don’t estimate costs – research the cost of each item so you have a realistic idea of what the actual total will be.

Ongoing expenses. What monthly / yearly costs will your business incur, just to stay open? Lease payments, hydro and other utilities, yearly registration and insurance renewal, online booking / record keeping systems costs, and other monthly or yearly expenses should all be itemized and listed.

Marketing and promotions. Any new business will likely need to invest a significant amount of resources into acquiring new clients. We often her the value of word-of-mouth marketing, but we need to get clients in the door first. Depending on your target market, and considering the marketing initiatives you described in the Sales and Marketing section, compile a list of all the costs associated with your planned marketing activities. Many of those costs may be on-going.

Occasional / per-treatment expenses. Some expenses fluctuate based on how busy you are. For instance, any supplies you use as part of a treatment will be consumed more often when you get busier. List all costs related to offering your services (locations, acupuncture needles, cleaning supplies, etc.), and break down roughly how much of each supply you use per typical treatment.

Debt repayment. Many small businesses will require to take out loans to cover their start up costs. Make sure to factor in debt repayment into your financial plan. Other debts like student loan payments should may also be considered business expenses – separate out how much is payment on the principle, and how much is interest payment, as you can possibly deduct the interest you paid at income tax time.

Expansions / Renovations / Repairs. Any successful business should have a plan in place for growth. You may want to upgrade equipment (like going from manual to hydraulic tables), renovate your space, of even more into a larger space after your business grows to particular size. On the other end of the spectrum, things break, and money may need be invested periodically for repairs. You’ll want to plan to set money aside regularly to allow for repairs and long-term growth.

Income taxes. As a business owner, you will be responsible for setting aside money for income tax. Your income tax rate varies based on the amount of money you earn during the year (you can find more information on that here). Remember to factor that in as you calculate your income.

Salaries  / IC payments. Most successful clinics eventually need to hire additional therapists in order to expand.  You will want to include any staff payments in your financial plans as well. Some clinics prefer to make their staff employees, otherwise prefer to go the independent contractor route. The rules for employees and contractors are different, both in payment structure and in labour conditions, so make sure you have a firm understanding of the difference  before deciding how to proceed.

Projections. Projections refers to how much income (gross and net) the business is expected to generate. Calculating projections isn’t an exact science, as you’ll need to create estimates about the number of clients you’ll acquire, especially earning on. As a general rule, it’s better to be conservative and low ball the number of clients you’ll acquire for the purpose of creating projections. You would typically break this down into weekly or monthly segments. If you’re not sure where to start with your projections, you can refer to the ClinicWise article “How much should I charge for my fees?“.  It features an Excel spreadsheet tool you can download and play around with some numbers to see how much income you can expect to earn with different service pricing.

The information is usually presented in a table (spreadsheet) format, which is set up to do the calculations for you. That makes it easier to adjust the calculations if one of the amounts changes. The scope of the Financial Plan in your business plan should cover at least a  couple of years.


At the very end of your business plan, you should include your references. Typically this is supporting evidence for the claims you make throughout the business plan – print outs of pricing for equipment, raw demographic data, resumes for your management team, and so on.  You don’t have to include price lists for cheap office supplies like paper and pens, but any large purchase (massage tables, bulk lotion, office furniture, commercial lease pricing, etc.) should be included as reference.


That’s it! Take your time when creating a thorough business plan. It’s better to have accurate figures rather than hasty ones, or you’ll only end up making uninformed decisions and hurting your business in the long run. It’s always a good idea to have your business plan reviewed by someone you trust who is familiar with business operations, as well as an accountant or someone in the financial industry to help you figure out if your projections are realistic.

Bryan Quesnelle
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Applying HST to Massage Therapy for Automobile Incidents (MVA, MVC, MVI) Health Claims


It comes up every now and then that a misinformed Auto Insurance Company (Adjustor) will try to not pay the HST (GST for some Provinces) portion of billings made by an HST registered RMT. This causes many headaches for the RMT who is now forced to try and get the Insurance Company to understand that the HST is to be paid over-and-above the Fee approved by the FSCO. Many times an RMT feels they must “factor out” the HST from the amount they were paid by the Auto Insurance Company as an only option when the Adjustor never pays. This is wrong, in so many ways. It must be stopped.

“It’s not in the SABS”

This is a common go-to reason by Adjustors to supply a reason for not applying HST above the FSCO Fee. The Adjustor will hide behind this Ontario Act as a reason for non-payment of the tax. It will be indicated that “the language of the SABS does not allow for HST to be paid beyond the Fee Schedule”, or some form of that wording. They will then inform the RMT that they legally do not need to pay the HST beyond the fee as the Act protects their interest in not paying.

This is not acceptable. They take advantage of an RMT’s lack of knowledge with Acts to manipulate the situation. They force RMTs to back down and think there is no way to fight them on the issue.

The fact is; the Ontario SABS (Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule, under the Insurance Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. I.8) has nothing to do with determining the application of HST, in any way-shape-or-form. Instead the Act is superseded by The Excise Tax Act (R.C.S., 1985, c. E-15.) of Canada, which is what determines the application of GST/HST. It should not be confused with the Income Tax Act (Canada). 2014, c. 7, Sched. 14, s. 1., which does not determine the application of GST/HST. This is mentioned, as the Insurance Act references the Income Tax Act and that Insurance does not pay for it as a separate item for their clients (when claiming income loss).

“But Physiotherapists do not collect it”

Another cop-out statement. Our profession did not determine the application of the tax. It is not something we chose to do over any profession that does not collect it. It is actually a sore spot that we are even expected to collect a “service” tax for a medically recognized intervention. But, until we have 5 Provinces recognizing Massage Therapy as a medical profession, allowing us to even apply for exemption, we are stuck collecting it for the Government.

Another cop-out is when they state that other RMT’s do not charge it, or that you didn’t charge it before. This, again, has been determined by the Excise Tax Act. One who operates a Small Business (like Massage Therapy) is not required to collect the tax until such time that their revenue from sales in 4 consecutive Quarters is $30,000 or more (more on that here). So, not all RMT’s collect it, because it is not a blanket requirement by our profession as a whole, it is a requirement of the Government applied on a case-by-case determination.

Backed up by the FSCO

The Financial Standards Commission of Ontario (FSCO) is a representative of the Ontario Government through the Ministry of Finance, which means they have been granted power to speak for the Ontario Government ( They also happen to be the branch of Government that regulates the Auto Insurance Industry.

Their stance has been previously published several times on the matter of HST being applied to Auto Insurance Fee payouts. This has been done through The Professional Services Guideline (Superintendent’s Guideline No. 03/14);

“The applicability of the HST to the services of any health care professionals or health care providers listed in this Guideline falls under the jurisdiction of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). If the HST is considered by the CRA to be applicable to any of the services or fees listed in this Guideline, then the HST is payable by an insurer in addition to the fees as set out in this Guideline.”

It has also been specifically published in a Bulletin released by the FSCO, on their website, in regards to the above Fee Guideline:

“Insurers are reminded that in the absence of such wording in the SABS or other such Guidelines (e.g., Minor Injury Guideline), the direction remains the same.

FSCO expects that insurers will apply the HST legislation correctly in accordance with any direction from CRA. The HST is a tax and is not part of the benefit limits set out in the SABS.”

It says it right there; they fully “expect” compliance from an Insurance Company to pay the HST on top of any fee’s that are charged to the Company that requires it. No other option.



In the application of the tax, it does not matter whether the Insurance company agrees with it, or if it is mentioned in the SABS, or even under the Insurance Act. What matters is that the Canadian Government has determined that services that have not been granted exempt status must add GST (HST in specific Provinces) as a percentage of any fee that is charged.

In short this means: On top of any fee amount that has been determined.




Pre-Written Form Letter:

Dear [insert adjustors name]

Re: Refusal to pay HST in regards to [INSERT FILE/CLAIM NUMBER]

I have received notification from you on [INSERT DATE] that your company, through you, refuses to pay the HST portion in addition to the fees that were invoiced for services rendered to [INSERT PATIENT NAME, FILE/CLAIM NUMBER], following and approved OCF 23 or 18 for whatever reason.

Please be advised that you are required, both by your registering body, the FSCO, and the Canadian Revenue Agency of Canada to pay the HST portion in addition to Fees that are published through the FSCO. Failure to pay the HST (which is calculated by a percentage based on the approved fee, not calculated into it) portion of the invoice (OCF 21) is in violation of the FSCO position, and Excise Tax Act (R.C.S., 1985, c. E-15.) ( that the CRA enforces. This tax is required by the Government of Canada, and not by the massage therapy profession, to be paid. Further; be advised that HST, when required to collect, is applicable above and beyond not just the FSCO Guideline rate, but also any MIG Block Fees that have been published. Relative references regarding such are offered in the following quotes and the websites from which they were obtained:

“Insurers are reminded that in the absence of such wording in the SABS or other such Guidelines (e.g., Minor Injury Guideline), the direction remains the same.

FSCO expects that insurers will apply the HST legislation correctly in accordance with any direction from CRA. The HST is a tax and is not part of the benefit limits set out in the SABS.”

“The RMTAO had contacted the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) several months ago to clarify the application of HST on top of the customary fees applied for the services of massage therapy in the Minor Injury Guideline. We recently received a response from FSCO which they also published in a public bulletin.

The FSCO Professional Services Guideline states that “If the HST is considered by the CRA to be applicable to any of the services or fees listed in this Guideline then the HST is payable by an insurer in addition to the fees set out in this Guideline.”

“Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) The applicability of the HST to the services of any health care professionals or health care providers listed in this Guideline falls under the jurisdiction of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). If the HST is considered by the CRA to be applicable to any of the services or fees listed in this Guideline, then the HST is payable by an insurer in addition to the fees as set out in this Guideline.”

“According to FSCO, the insurer must pay HST in addition to the amounts that are payable under the Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule (SABS) and the MIG. This means that the HST portion of the cost of massage therapy is not counted toward the MIG caps and must be paid in addition to these caps.”

In consideration of all the above; I am now restate the need for your company to pay the HST portion of the billing, which has not been delivered. If this is not delivered, or I have not heard from you with intent to deliver, within 15 business days, I will be left no option other than to issue a complaint of non-compliance with the FSCO and the CRA for refusal to pay the HST.

Thank you for your anticipated co-operation in this matter.



[INSERT YOUR NAME AND REG #. and sign above]

Bryan Quesnelle
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Tax Write Off Basics for Massage Therapists

HST Basics for RMTs

Income tax can be a scary thing, but knowing what expenses you can and cannot write off can remove a lot of that fear.  And writing off everything you are allowed can also lower your tax bill.

A great rule of thumb is to be organized, keep a detailed appointment book, and save all receipts, bills, etc., in one place. If you’re a spreadsheet person, then you can enter them yourself and save time/$ at tax time.

Most RMTs know they can write off dues, insurance, office supplies, and the costs of supplies like lotions, balms, sheets, towels and equipment like tables and chairs, but there are a few areas where it isn’t as clear.

Here are a few of the most common ones I see.


As a self-employed person, you are allowed to write off expenses relating to travel.  Errands made specifically for practice-related activities (pick up supplies/equipment, etc), if you drive to a course,  trips between clinics/clinc-to-house-call, would qualify.

Additionally, if you can prove that your house is the home base of operations for your practice, then the expense of travelling elsewhere to earn income (house to clinic or house to house call) is deductible.

For example, if all your files are updated and stored at home, if your household landline (I know, a disappearing trend, but some still have one) is the # you have on your business cards, if you communicate/schedule clients mostly from home and/or if a good part of your practice is carried out in a home treatment room, then you would be able to write off the commute to a clinic/space you also work out of.  If you just have a home office and pretty much all your clients are treated at a single clinic or rented space, you likely wouldn’t qualify.

There are two ways to report those trips that do qualify – % of use or mileage.

For % of use, you keep all your receipts pertaining to the automobile in question (lease/loan interest, insurance, plates, repairs, oil changes, CAA, etc) and establish a percentage use of the vehicle for work activities.  The CRA has been cracking down in the last few years and challenging the % people are reporting so if you go this route, you need to keep a log for a year showing all trips taken and whether they were business or personal, then do the math for work percentage use.  In subsequent years, you need only do it for 3mos to demonstrate the % hasn’t significantly changed.  Bit of a pain, but this is the only really acceptable backup for the CRA should they question you.

The other way is simply to track mileage.  This works easiest if you do a lot of repeat business – count the # of trips in a year and multiply by the return mileage base-to-dstination times the allowable rate ($0.55/km for 2015).  If you do a lot of non-repeat business and for other errands, a trip odometer and googlemaps are wonderful things.


If your commute to work is more than 40km* then you are also allowed a meal expense.  Either keep your receipt for whatever you buy, or use the CRA’s per diem rate of $17/meal (times 50% as with all meals and entertainment expenses).

*The 40km is a guideline and based on the CRA rules for medical expenses.
If your work ‘territory’ is within a small geographic area, then it is harder to make the claim for a meal write-off; the CRA position is that you’re close enough you could go home to eat.   And if you do have a day where you go out of town for a client, you’d have to justify being gone all day; otherwise you’d be back in time to eat at home.
For a meal deduction, it isn’t about the hours worked, or how many places you go in a day – it’s about how far away you must travel to earn income and how long you are gone.


The cost of the course, mileage to/from the course and if the course runs more than half a day, a meal allowance, are all allowable.

Home Office/Home Treatment Room

You can write off a percentage of your household bills if you have a home office and/or treatment room.  Add up all your house expenses – mortgage interest/rent, property tax, insurance, all utilities, any repairs & maintenance, etc.  For the % of use, use square footage or your best estimate of how big the work space(s) is relative to the whole house.  Fifteen to twenty percent is the usual.

Cell Phone

If you use your cell for work, you can write off a % of all your bills.  Again, you need to be able to defend the % you choose if you ever get audited so be honest.  Even 10% of $50/month helps get those taxes down.


If you are an HST collector, then you want to back the tax out of all expenses (these are called Input Tax Credits) and use their total to reduce the HST you owe.  Use the pre-tax amount for your write-off.

If you are not an HST collector, then you want the total paid – including HST – as your expense amount.  Remember that there’s HST on household utilities, cellphone bills and gasoline receipts.  There is none in your CMTO dues.

Bryan Quesnelle
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How Much Should I Charge for My Fees?

Disclaimer: I am not an accountant, and nothing in this post should be viewed as formal accounting advice. The purpose of this post is for general information only – please consult an accountant if you need more detailed help with your finances.

how much should I charge for massage therapy

One of the first things a new massage therapist – or one opening a new practice – has to figure out is a fee schedule for their services. There are several things you’ll want to consider when creating your fees, to make sure you’ve covered all your bases.

Billable Working Hours

The first thing you’ll want to figure out is how many hours per day you can comfortably work, and then figure out how many of those hours are billable and non-billable. Billable hours make up only part of the hours you’ll actually work… the remaining hours are non-billable hours.

Billable hours are the hours you work in which you are generating income. For massage therapists (and most service providers), this means the hours which you are treating  a client.

Non-billable hours are the hours you work during which no income is being generated. This includes your time spent cleaning up between clients, doing administrative work, and other business tasks no one is paying you for directly.

The average work day for a massage therapist is made up of both billable and non-billable hours. Let’s say the RMT take clients from 9am to 5pm on a given day. For the sake of this example, let’s  also assume the therapist’s schedule is full of 60 minute appointments. Most RMTs say they need 15 minutes between clients to reset the room, charge the client leaving and welcoming the client coming in. In the 8 hours the therapist has available, they can only work an approximate 6 billable hours. About 25% of their scheduled time is spent on tasks that don’t generate income directly.

The time spent on billable vs non-billable activities will vary depending on the length of the treatment. A 30 minute treatment requires the same amount of cleanup and administrative time as a 60 minute treatment. If the above therapist has a full day of 30 minute treatments, they will only have 5 billable hours total for the day. About 37% of their scheduled time is spent on tasks that don’t generate income directly.

If your billable hours don’t make up a majority of the scheduled hours that you have, you should probably adjust your schedule a bit to decrease your non-billable time. Sometimes it’s a matter of changing your process – for instance, using an online scheduling system that sends out reminder emails automatically instead of manually emailing or texting clients remindrs every day.

Expenses (Business and Personal)

The next thing you’ll want to do is add up all of your expenses. Most business plans suggest that you add up all your regular business expenses, but I’d actually suggest including your personal expenses too (separately). Try to be as accurate as you can when figuring out your expenses – if the cost for something fluctuates from month to month, I’d recommend the higher cost in your estimates. That way if your estimates are off and it ends up costing less, you have some extra money instead of coming up short.

Some common monthly business expenses include:

  • Rent
  • Heat
  • Hydro
  • Advertising
  • Meals and Entertainment
  • Bank / point of sale charges
  • Office supplies
  • Professional and accounting fees
  • Travel
  • Phone and internet
  • Postage and delivery

Some common yearly business expenses include:

  • Insurance
  • CMTO Membership
  • RMTAO Membership
  • CEU Courses

Some common monthly personal expenses include:

  • Mortgage / Rent
  • Heat
  • Hydro
  • Phone & Internet
  • Cable
  • Banking fees
  • Car payments
  • Debt repayment
  • Groceries

You can likely think of a few more, but that’s a good place to get started.

Break-Even Analysis

Now that you have all of your expenses figured out, you’ll want to do a ‘break-even analysis’. For a single-client service-based business like massage therapy (we can only treat 1 client at a time), this means figuring out the minimum amount of money we need to charge per hour to cover our expenses. We are essentially dividing our total expenses by the number of scheduled available hours we have per month.

Once we have that figured out, we can convert that into how much we need to charge per service (based on what % of an hour that service uses) in order to just cover expenses and break-even.  In addition to covering your regular expenses, you’ll want to figure out how much the cost is for the supplies required to offer that service (laundry for the sheets, cleaner for the table, lotion / oil / gel, etc.) and add that the break-even amount for the service too.

A real break-even analysis is usually only focused on covering business expenses. However, as sole proprietors, it’s often helpful to consider how much we need to make in order to break-even with personal expenses too, to make sure we can cover all of our monthly bills.

We also have to consider how “full” our schedule is. If we work fewer hours, then more of our income goes toward expenses, so the break-even number for a less-full schedule is higher than if the schedule was fully booked.


Once you have an estimate of how much you need to charge at minimum, it’s time to consider what’s appropriate as a maximum, and what is a sustainable fee structure for your area. This is done by checking out your competition.

Knowing who your competition is can be more difficult than it sounds. While many locations offer massage therapy, each clinic might offer services or perks that are different from yours. To get a true sense of your competition, you’ll want to get the fee schedules from clinics in your area who offer services that are very similar to yours. This doesn’t just mean the same time denominations – it also means that any ‘add-ons’ for those services are similar to yours. If a spa down the street offers a 30 minute massage therapy treatment, but it’s part of a larger spa service that includes a stream-room period or something similar, than it’s not really the same service as a 30 minute massage therapy treatment by itself.

Once you have identified 5 (or more) businesses nearby that offer comparable services to yours, find out what their fee schedule is by visiting their website, contacting them by phone, or making a stop at their location. This can also be a great networking and referral building activity too, as you each might offer services the other doesn’t. You should also find out if their posted fees are inclusive of HST not not, and only compare the prices without HST added.

Once you have the pricing from each competitor, you can figure out what the average cost for services are in your area.  As a general rule, you don’t want to price yourself too high – even being exceptionally good at massage won’t bring clients back if you’re charging way more than everyone else.  You definitely don’t need to undercut your competition (offering a lower price as an incentive to see you instead of them) either. Since price can effect people’s perception of quality, being known as the “cheap” massage therapy clinic isn’t ideal. Aiming for somewhere in the middle is usually safe to attract clients, and keeps the market in the area healthy for everyone. If you do want to charge more than your competitors, you’ll want to make sure your marketing reinforces why your services have more value (do you have add-ons that others don’t? Treat a specific niche market primarily? Etc).

Profit Projections

Of course, covering your expenses and making sure you’re not priced out of your market is important, but so is having some disposal income and saving for the future!  Using the average cost for services in your area, you’ll want to figure out how much gross income you can expect to make in a year. I’d recommend figuring out the maximum gross income (assuming your billable hours are completely booked), and then again using a very conservative number of billable hours booked. Remember that your tax bracket (what percentage of your income you are taxed) is calculated based on your gross income (before write offs). It’s also used to determine whether or not you need to collect HST. You can use these projections and estimates to plan a bit ahead of time for tax season.

Once you’ve figured out the gross income, subtract the break-even amounts (regular expenses + (costs per treatment x number of treatments)) for the year. That will leave you with your net income. If you decided to include personal expenses in your break-even numbers, it will give you an idea of your disposable / saving income (before taxes).

If the number seems uncomfortably low, you know you’ll need to increase your service fees , find a way to reduce your expenses a bit, or increase your billable hours.

Hate doing math? You’re not alone.

It’s pretty intimidating trying to do all the necessarily math to figure out your break-even numbers, compare your prices, cover all your expenses and estimate how much money you’ll make. For the non number-lovers out there, we’ve put together a free spreadsheet document that does most of the math for you. It was designed to help you figure out a price that makes sense for the four most common services an RMT clinic offers: 30, 45, 60 and 90 minute massage therapy treatments.

Click here to download a copy of the “how-much-should-I-charge” Excel spreadsheet

This spreadsheet document has multiple pages, which can be accessed by using the tabs at the bottom of the page:

document page tabs

Each page includes boxes for you to enter numbers (like your expenses and competitor’s prices), and some boxes  hat are calculated automatically with formulas. Only the boxes you can enter information (the ones with yellow backgrounds) are editable, so you can play around without worrying about accidentally deleting an important formula. It’s pretty easy to use.

There is some example information entered into each box already. Once you’ve replaced it with your actual expenses, test prices, and so on, it’ll will give you an idea of what to expect. When you’ve entered your information into each page, return back to the Summary page and adjust your prices to see how the change will affect your business!

Keep in mind that this spreadsheet is no substitute for a real accountant, but it may help to give you a rough estimate of what to expect and help you figure out what is reasonable to charge given your situation.

Bryan Quesnelle
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Understanding the FSCO Service Provider role

FSCO HCAI fees for RMTs
It is very clear that many RMTs, and other Health Care Professionals, oppose the new Financial Services Commission of Ontario’s (FSCO) Service Provider License Registration being applied to RHPA Professionals and the accompanying fees. That topic has been discussed many times over, and will be discussed many times over. But; it is being rolled out, without question, on December 1st, 2014. All MVA Service Providers must be registered by November 30th, 2014 and are asked to have their application submitted by August 31st, 2014. So now it is time to focus on; what does it mean to RMTs and “how do you fit in”?

Do I need to register with FSCO?

The only Registration that you must legally maintain to practice is through the CMTO. The FSCO registration is only for Clinics/Service Providers wishing to bill an Auto Insurance Company directly through Health Claims for Auto Insurance (HCAI) and have them pay the RMT directly. The registration has nothing more to do with HCAI or the Insurance Companies.

The FSCO states a “Service Provider” must get a License to bill through HCAI. For all intents and purposes; the FSCO defines a Service Provider as:

1- Sole Proprietor

2- Corporation

3- Partnership

4- Limited Partnership

Can I still submit MVA Treatment Plans if I am not registered?

You can still use HCAI and submit the OCF 23 and OCF 18 without registering with FSCO. These are not affected by the changes that are happening with the Auto Insurance Industry through FSCO Registration.

If I am not registered; how do I get paid?

Billing the patient directly, and having them submit their invoices to their Insurance Company, will be the easiest way to avoid the FSCO registration. It is only the submission of the OCF 21 (invoice) through HCAI that requires obtaining a license.

Registering for the FSCO Service Provider License

Those are the easy questions, and answers, for people not wishing to register with the FSCO and not submit on-line direct billing in the future. The rest of this article will focus on helping people understand how to be part of the FSCO model if they do elect to do billing directly with HCAI.

Sole Proprietor

The first thing that has to be done is to identify what kind of business you own; for most RMTs, that will be the Sole Proprietorship. This means; you have a single-person operation and make the decisions about how your business operates. It will also mean that you will be required to pay the full $337 application fee, the $128 annual fee for each unique business location that you will be at, and finally $15 for each unique statutory benefit claimant. Unique claimant means each patient, and each time they have a MVA; not the number of OCFs that were submitted.

An example of a Sole Proprietor with multiple locations:

Joe Scapulat Massage Therapist works at Charles Mandibulane DC, Jennifer Hyoidson Physiotherapy, and also out of his home. Joe only treats MVA’s from the Chiropractic Office and Physiotherapy Clinic. In 2013, Joe treated a total of 14 patients. Therefore, Joe’s initial Licensing fee will be:

Application …………….$337.00

DC Location ……………$128.00

Physio Location ………..$128.00

14 x $15 ………………..$210.00

TOTAL ………………$803.00

Joe will need to pay $803.00 in his first year to be licensed through the FSCO. In subsequent years, it will be a minimum of $256.00 before the claimant fees are assessed, assuming he continues to provide post MVA care at 2 clinics.

The regulatory fee (defined as; the annual fee and the claimant fee) can be prorated though in the year of application. The application fiscal year for the FSCO Service Provider License is April 1 through to March 31 in the subsequent year.

The first year regulatory fee will be from Dec 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015; or 4 months. Therefore Joe’s fee would be prorated to $492.33 ($337 + $155.33) in that scenario.

Business models other than Sole Proprietorship

If your business type is any other besides Sole Proprietor, then the fees will be calculated in very much the same way, except they will be assessed to the business entity; and thus can be shared by all partners, or taken out of the profits of the business, or however the people who run the business decide to absorb it.

We will run another example below for these types of businesses. The Clinic has three locations, and each location accepts 2 new MVA patients per week, on average, for a total of 312 unique claimants per year.

Application …………….$337.00

Central Location ………$128.00

North Location ………..$128.00

East Location ………….$128.00

312 x $15 …………….. $4680.00

TOTAL ……………… $5401.00

Per clinic……………….$1800.33

For any of these business types, if you are the registrant, you will need to appoint a Principle Representative. This person will be responsible for filling out the application and complete the attestation. When you have decided who this will be, they can go to and learn more.

Avoiding paying the full fee and minimizing your risk

This is most likely the section that a majority of RMTs will wish to follow, if you are looking to avoid paying the fees, or wanting to reduce the fees you could pay.

A RMT who works at a clinic, or multiple clinics, or even if they are a Sole Proprietor, has the ability to utilize said clinic’s FSCO License through their HCAI account. This means that you can still be an Independent Contractor and provide services at/for a clinic without having to register your own HCAI account.

Dependent Provider

In HCAI terms, this is for a practitioner who will supply services for a registered facility/service provider, but will have no capacity to access the HCAI system.

As the provider you, in simple terms, allow the facility to send in all forms electronically on your behalf through HCAI. You also agree to provide services on behalf of the facility and not submit forms yourself. But remember; it does not preclude you from supplying services to another facility/clinic and having them submit forms for you.

In this scenario you will most likely want to submit a paper version whatever form you want to use to the facility’s staff member who is the HCAI administrator. Be certain that the treatment plan has been approved by a Health Practitioner (OCF 23 or OCF 18) to start or continue a claim. The administrator can then transcribe the form for you into HCAI. They will also need to transcribe the appropriate follow-up invoices (OCF 21) for the submitted Treatment Plan.

To register with a facility under this type of arrangement the RMT must sign a Dependent Provider Form. Read this over, and determine further if this seems like the best option for your relationship with a facility/clinic/provider.

Affiliated Provider

As an Affiliated Provider through HCAI you will be able to access the HCAI system. You will be provided with an HCAI User-ID that will allow you to use their system.

Being this type of provider means that; you will provide service for, and on behalf of, a registered facility. You will be able to access HCAI for submitting all forms, including the OCF 21, through the facility’s HCAI portal. Th facility will determine how much access you have. You may just have basic access to submit and view forms, or you may be granted access to manage the system. This will be between you and the facility.

You will still make paper versions of the OCF forms to keep for your records. These will help you to complete the online versions for submitting.

To register with a facility under this type of arrangement the RMT must sign an Affiliated Provider Form. Read this over and determine further if this seems like the best option for your relationship with a facility/provider.

For both Provider types

By being either an Affiliated Provider or a Dependent Provider for all your MVA claims, you will not have to sign up individually to obtain a Service Provider License. This, of course, means that you will not have to pay the $377.00 fee to apply, nor the $128.00 annual fee. But it does not mean that you should outright expect to pay nothing.

For each MVA claim that you are part of, there will be a fee component that is assessed to the facility because of you. It will be crucial that you negotiate the terms of providing service ahead of time. Not having a clearly defined contract can result in you being levied with many fees that you did not plan/save for.

Some of the fees you will need to pre-determine how they will be absorbed, and who will absorb them, are the; 1) application fee 2) annual fee 3) per claimant fee.

It is my opinion that the clinic should be absorbing the one-time application fee of $337.00; as it is a “forever fee” and will essentially become less and less of an impact the longer the clinic exists. Plus it will apply to all providers who ever work for/with them, and it would be unfair for you to pay part of this fee when a subsequent provider will not. The fee should be considered part of the split the facility keeps from you and is thus paid from that revenue.

The yearly licensing fee should be absorbed the same way as the application fee, in my opinion. It should be absorbed by the clinic and considered part of the split collected by all providers in their facility.

By being a provider for the clinic you will be paying the facility monies already for rent/administrative fees. Therefore by having you provide a valuable service such as MVA care; you will already be making their investment worth more and pay them back more.

The $15.00 per claimant fee is the only real fee that is assessed sporadically and non-fixed; on a yearly basis. This is, in reality, the fee that needs to be negotiated as to how, and who, will pay. If you are the only provider on a claim then your claimant will generate a $15.00 assessed fee that will be charged to the facility in the following year. You can negotiate that this is part of your agreed upon split/rent, or you can agree to pay it separately. If you pay a split percentage to the facility; it is my opinion that it should be absorbed by the facility. If you pay rent, it is then my opinion that you should pay this fee to the facility above your rent.

Interpreting the Unique Statutory Benefit Claimant component

The FSCO has not been exactly clear on the interpretation of this component of their new licensing structure. But it does appear that it means for a single claimant who presents to the facility (Licensed Service Provider) for a unique MVA that they were involved in. This would mean that the $15 fee is assessed once per facility, per claimant, regardless of the number of providers who are involved in the case. Therefore the $15 will be assessed only once, and theoretically shared, amongst the providers.

Below is a chart to show the benefit of having a single registered provider over having multiple Licensed Service Providers within a single facility.


Clinic ‘A’ has 4 independent Service Providers; each with their own FSCO License. The Physiotherapist who owns the clinic has registered as the main facility. In a single year the clinic sees 100 individuals for post MVA care and each therapist is involved at some point.

Therapist Physiotherapist(Owner) Chiropractor Massage Therapist Kinesiologist
Annual License $128 $128 $128 $128
Per Claimant $1500 $1500 $1500 $1500
Totals $1628 $1628 $1628 $1628

Total collected by FSCO from Clinic ‘A’………………………..$6512.00

Clinic ‘B’ has decided to have the same set up and use 4 therapists to provide services to patients also. But the Physiotherapist who owns this clinic has decided to have each contractor work as an Affiliated Provider under her facility name. All the other parameters are the same as Clinic ‘A’.

Therapist Physiotherapist(Owner) Chiropractor Massage Therapist Kinesiologist
Annual License $128 $0 $0 $0
Per Claimant $1500 $0 $0 $0
Totals $1628 $0 $0 $0

Total collected by FSCO from Clinic ‘A’………………………..$1628.00

By pooling the resources of the professionals all working together, Clinic ‘B’ has saved $4884.00 in a single year over its twin clinic for the 100 unique claimants seen. This strategy, as I see it, is the most beneficial to everyone involved. This makes the Clinic ‘B’ model a strong point to negotiate from for your own contract to help cut costs. More importantly though; the whole Medical Team should look to adopt and take advantage of this model within a single facility.

The bigger the “facility” the smaller the costs.

How to help each other

Several RMTs will actually be Sole Proprietors working in a single location with other Sole Proprietor RMTs. Each of you will be required to pay the fee’s yourself separately, unless you decide to work together.

The principal RMT who is renting the space should be appointed as the FSCO Principal Representative. All other RMTs can then use that RMT’s HCAI account and become Affiliated Providers, at the same address, under them. You will all essentially become partners for post MVA care. As partners, it should be arranged to split the Application Fee and the Annual Fee equally. Each person should pay their own “per claimant” fees.

If you choose to do this; another option is to form an actual company. The cost of registering a business in Ontario, and using it to sign up for HCAI and a FSCO Service Provider License, can be cheaper than even 2 people obtaining separate Licenses. The name can be a “generic” Ontario business name with unique numbers following it assigned by the Government. Ie: Woodstock Massage Therapy Clinic 9876543212345 (Not verified as being unique). Only use this option if you are comfortable with creating and running a separate business entity as you will need to: create a bank account, do payroll/payouts (for each RMT), submit business taxes, etc..



Bryan Quesnelle
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