Let’s do some numbers – and I’ll tell you now they’re not pretty. The average bodywork session in the Northwest is about $75, from which we need to pay expenses and only after that try to get ahead. For a self-employed bodyworker, overhead includes rent, utilities and Internet, laundry service, insurance, lotion, tools, magazines, and tea, after which you finally get paid. Let’s look at an example of $800/month overhead for a one-room treatment space. Estimating revenue of $75 and taxes of approximately $6.75 per session (based on a 9 percent rate), where x = the number of sessions needed to cover overhead, ($75)x – ($6.75)x – $800 = breakeven. This comes out to slightly less than 12 sessions. For employers, whose overhead also includes wages to therapists, the breakeven is much higher—about 24 sessions. 24 sessions! This simple example accounts for just the basics; other expenses and higher taxes would increase these numbers.
As Daniel Pink explains in his national bestseller, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, “Too many organizations – not just companies, but governments and nonprofits as well … continue to pursue practices such as short-term incentive plans and pay-for-performance schemes in the face of mounting evidence that such measures usually don’t work and often do harm.”[i] Applying Pink’s theory to our industry reveals what I think is an important yet shrugged-off topic within the industry: demotivating remuneration plans.