Several clients have reached out with questions about the business regarding the difficulties presented by the pandemic. This email hopefully answers many of those questions. Deciding how much to share during the year has resulted in our team defining and agreeing upon core values. We send this email in the spirit of transparency and recognize that this is a lot of information. Rest assured, despite all of the challenges 2020 has thrown at us, we plan on operating at least another fifteen years.
The Impact of the Pandemic
There is no denying that 2020 was the most difficult year we have faced as a business. Closing March 12th-June 30th significantly impacted our overall financial situation. Our growth percentages, for both gross sales and number of appointments, over the last five years demonstrate the sustainability of our business model. The numbers for 2020 fall well outside of our normal or expected range.
During the closure, our staff filed for unemployment. Pallas got a temporary job in the lumber yard at Stonewood Products in Harwich. (This lasted for approximately one month before she lifted too much and hurt herself. Thankfully, unemployment for self-employed persons became available around the same time.) Pallas and Ashley have used the mandatory downtime to work on continuing education. For various reasons, our staff of nine in February reduced to four actively working by December.
Many of our clients had the ability and willingness to provide financial assistance during the closure by pre-paying for services or gift certificates. They accrued massages to receive later and we had access to funds to cover our overhead expenses. Their loyalty to our business goes beyond anything we expected. The gratitude and appreciation we feel towards these clients cannot be adequately expressed.
Oasis Massage also received financial assistance in the form of a PPP loan and a low-interest EIDL loan. We are currently in the forgiveness application process for the PPP. We accepted less than half of the offered EIDL loan. Repayment of the EIDL begins May 2021. Some of those funds still remain in our business savings account. We rely first on our business cash flow and supplement with the EIDL funds, transfering only what we need to make it through the pandemic. This is the first time, in our fifteen year history, that we have had any formal business debt.
In the Event of Another Mandatory Closure
If we roll back prior to Phase 2 Step 2 of the Reopening Plan for Massachusetts, we will face another mandatory closure. If this occurs, all client billing will pause until we are allowed to reopen. We continuously reassess our financial situation and will investigate additional funding options if needed. Our emails and blog posts will continue to keep everyone updated as information changes. When we reopen, we will let our clients know by email. Scheduling will begin with clients that have pre-paid services on their accounts.
The Future of Oasis Massage
Short term, we have focused on getting clients caught up on pre-paid services, which will re-stabilize our cash flow. At that point, we can bring back more (or hire new) employees. We expect it to take up to eighteen months to get back to where we were in February 2020. Once we have achieved that goal, we will reassess our plans for business growth. Ashley has recently begun looking into grant opportunities for small businesses. This would supplement our cash flow and decrease the overall amount of time for us to fully recover financially.
Long term, we plan to expand into a comprehensive wellness center dedicated to pain management and recovery. This goal has shifted several years into the future, out of necessity. The first, and biggest step, towards this goal will be the purchase of a permanent location. Our vision is to have the capacity to assess, treat, retrain, and maintain our clients' health. To accomplish this, we’d love to add acupuncture, chiropractic services, and/or physical therapy, as well as a fitness studio for various classes and events. However, the additional services and amenities we eventually offer will depend entirely on what the permanent location can accommodate.
Behind the Scenes Changes
The sale of hands-on services generates nearly all of our income. This has made diversification of the business income streams a priority. Our booking software includes the potential to offer classes, both in person and virtually, as well as an online store. We will explore the class options more once Pallas has completed the Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and Certified Nutrition Coach (CNC) courses. Our online store has expanded to include a variety of locally made items. Due to space limitations, we only keep a curated selection from each vendor in stock. We plan to transform one wall into an art gallery, featuring paintings and photographs from local artists. We appreciate any introductions to local vendors or artisans that we can create a mutually beneficial partnership with.
Prior to the pandemic, we had discussed ways to make massage therapy a more sustainable career option. Currently, most massage therapists only earn commission and gratuities. This means that if they aren’t booked, they don’t get paid. When we reopened, we implemented a pay restructure to give our massage therapists an hourly wage in addition to commission and gratuities. This means they now get paid for their entire shift, whether fully booked or not. This compensates our staff for time spent on continuing education, professional development, and maintaining sanitation standards.
Another step towards career sustainability involves benefits. We now provide PTO and paid sick time. Following a business restructure, we will add a simple IRA with employer matching. The planned restructuring will happen in 2021 and allows Pallas to become an employee, thus gaining access to the benefits offered to her staff.
Pricing current as of Jan 1, 2021 ; subject to change without notice.