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Digging Deep


We’ve all had times of growth and success, where everything seems to click and fall into place. Conversely, most everyone has also experienced the flip side of this, watching a new venture try and take hold or nervously looking for signs that business is slowing. Success and uncertainty are always going to be pieces of the career puzzle, and understanding how to focus more of your attention on the former rather than the latter can help you stay strong in the face of economic challenges.

Tap Into Your Energy

Time is a valuable resource. But, if you don’t have the energy to achieve your goals-both personal and professional-having all the time in the world won’t matter. Being truly present with your clients is also difficult when your energy is low. Keeping your energy level up can help you focus on providing your clients with high quality service.

To get a handle on how you can increase your energy levels you need to first honestly assess how you are doing. If you find you are feeling low, there are a couple of quick things you can do to increase your energy. Take a look at the state of your personal and professional environment, noticing if these areas are clean, neat and organized or cluttered, chaotic and disorganized. Having an environment that isn’t organized and clean can be a real drain on your energy level and might make doing your best more difficult.

You should be compassionate with yourself when assessing your space. Getting down on yourself is counterproductive. Instead, use your evaluation as an opportunity for raising awareness and making some changes. Once you are aware of the clutter, chaos and disorganization, begin systematically removing these things from your personal and professional space. To avoid getting overwhelmed by the prospect of decluttering, start small by focusing on a single project.

Another fairly easy way to get your energy up is to create a good habit. According to author and speaker Matthew Kelly, you can raise your energy level by thinking about how your best days start and making a commitment to begin your days that way for the next 21 days. Generally, a person needs a minimum of 21 days to create a habit. If your best days start with prayer, meditation, exercise, a good breakfast and a hot shower, then why wouldn’t you start every day that way?

Think about how much energy you would have if you began every day with the habits that create your best days. For this exercise to be effective, you need to be sure to choose things that are within your control. For example, eating a good breakfast is in your control, but having the sun shining is not.

Clear the Way

Lewis Carroll, author of Alice in Wonderland, once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” Having a clear idea of where you want to go will help you better focus on what you need to do to get there. Without clarity, you are simply wandering around hoping to reach your personal and professional goals. Having a clear direction means you know where you are, where you want to go and how you want to get there.

The first step in achieving this goal is to envision your ideal practice. Things to think about as you are doing this are:

  • What is your ideal massage therapy environment?
  • What are your income needs?
  • How many clients do you need to see to meet your income needs?
  • What kind of clients do you like to work on (women, men, athletes, people with injuries)?
  • What continuing education will you need to give excellent massage sessions?

Once you answer these questions, write down where you see yourself and your practice three years from now. When you have your practice goals down on paper, make an action plan toward achieving one objective.

For example, you might want to be excellent at treating low back pain. An action plan for meeting this goal might include taking at least one class specific to treating low back pain each year; developing a marketing plan for chiropractors, orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists; and establishing your own treatment protocol for clients with low back pain.

As you work toward your goals, remember that life and situations are constantly changing. If you bump up against obstacles or decide that low back pain is not your ideal niche, don’t be afraid to change direction and make a new action plan. The important part of this exercise is to have clarity and to create an action plan around your direction.


Figuring Your Finances

When you have a clear direction, you can begin to assess your income needs. If you don’t know exactly how much money you need to make to sustain your massage practice, uncertainty can begin to creep in. Continuing to work day to day, week to week and month to month without knowing the answer to this question is an easy habit to get into, so set a goal and measure your progress as soon as you can.

This exercise doesn’t need to be difficult. If you decide you want to make $2,000 per month and your fee is $60 per hour, dividing 2,000 by 60 means you have to do approximately 34 massage sessions per month to reach your goal. Go one step further and divide 34 by 4 (number of weeks in a month) and you now know you should book an average of nine massages per week.

Another way to measure your progress is to look at all the ways you make income from your massage practice. You might do table work and chair massage, as well as sell gift certificates, self-care and home-care products. From here, determine your highest income-generating activity and focus on it for the next 30 days. To increase your focus, come up with an action plan, such as calling clients who haven’t been in for a while or reaching out to potential clients that fit your practice. By concentrating on abundance, you are sure to create more abundance in your practice.

Amazing Service, Amazing Results

Adding greater value and delivering amazing service to your clients is another sure way to create and sustain a successful massage practice. You have a choice to be mediocre or amazing in your value and service. Delivering mediocre value and service equals having a mediocre practice and income level. Going above and beyond to deliver greater value and amazing service enables you to create and sustain a thriving practice and income level.

The following ideas can help you elevate the level of service you provide to your clients and give them an amazing experience:

  • Be consistent in how you conduct business and practice massage.
  • Find out what your core clients want now and in the future-then deliver it.
  • Make sure your clients understand you will do whatever it takes to help them reach their massage goals.
  • Think and act as a trusted adviser to your clients.

Having an orderly business and a consistent way of doing things may include greeting clients warmly, being on time and ready for each massage session, and charging reasonable prices for services and products. Additionally, when you understand who your core clients are, talk to them about how well you are meeting their expectations and ask for suggestions and feedback. If they want stone massage sessions, for example, consider taking a continuing education class in stone massage and begin offering this service.

Maintaining your relationship with your clients can be simple, but to keep them coming back you need to make sure they know they are important. Try sending your clients a thank-you card, or a birthday or holiday greeting. You might also give your core clients a small gift around the holidays, or offer them a discount on a birthday massage. For clients you haven’t seen in a while, send a card or e-mail to get your name in front of them again.

Another crucial part of maintaining your relationship with your clients is to act as a trusted advisor. Position yourself as the person your clients should come to when they need information about massage therapy and its benefits. In order to fulfill this role, keep up on what is going on in the industry, take continuing education courses and read relevant books and massage journals. Your clients will appreciate that you go above and beyond their expectations.


Make the Most of Marketing

Keeping good clients means you have to get clients first. And, if you already have a nice core group of people who come to you regularly, putting some effort into expanding the number of clients you have never hurts. Knowing some basic, easy marketing tips can help you keep your business strong.

Jack Klemeyer, business coach and owner of GYB Coaching, suggests you “focus on the positive and get your name out there in as many ways as possible.” He encourages business owners to join networking groups that give you the opportunity to meet other professionals. Also, don’t be afraid to let people know what you do and ask for referrals.

You don’t have to limit this practice to just current clients, either. Ask your family, friends and neighbors, for example. You might also benefit from having a mentor. Look for a massage therapist you admire and ask her to share how she became successful, then follow her lead.

The Internet can also be an inexpensive, yet effective, way of getting your name out there. Michael Reynolds, president and CEO of SpinWeb, an online marketing and brand development agency, believes that many people simply lack awareness on how to utilize the Internet as part of their marketing efforts. But regardless of your own level of Internet experience, there are some simple things you can do that won’t break the bank.

Consider building an inexpensive website or blog, both of which can be vehicles for you to let people know about your massage practice and what you have to offer. Or, you might try putting together a simple podcast where you tell people about yourself and massage therapy. All of these things can help you build your reputation. “Take advantage of technology to become a trusted advisor in massage therapy,” encourages Reynolds.

Even in a tough economy, there are ways to continue to succeed. Making sure both your mind and practice space are clear, enhancing the service you provide to clients and finding ways to get your name in front of people are all good places to start. Pick one area and get started by making a commitment to yourself and your clients to take your practice to the next level.

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Jackie R., AMTA member since 2011

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