"I've been in this field for more than eight years now and I can't imagine doing anything else! I've been able to take my job around the world," says AMTA member Amber Briggle,
who recently participated in AMTA's National Massage Therapy Awareness Week...and saw her business grow! Read Amber's story below.
What led you to pursue a career in massage therapy?
I grew up in small towns across the upper midwest. If you had an ache or pain, you were told to just pop a pill or walk it off. Massage therapy was never something I thought of people making a living out of.
After graduating college with a Bachelor's of Arts in liberal arts, my husband and I moved to Colorado so he could attend graduate school. I also decided to get a "real job," which was easier said than done. At the time, we were living in Boulder, Colorado. As it turns out, one of the very best massage schools in the entire country is in Boulder! A few months later, I enrolled in the Boulder College of Massage Therapy. Though I never imagined I would be in a career like this, I've been in this field for more than eight years now and I can't imagine doing anything else.
What is your current work environment like?
I've been self-employed for most of my eight-year career, and I have worked in offices both inside and outside of my home. I enjoy the freedom and flexibility of being able to work from home, especially since I have two little girls that I want to spend every free moment with. So, when my husband and I were house-hunting in our new community, we intentionally sought out a home with a separate entrance for my massage office.
I have been extremely fortunate in my career to have very dedicated clients. It got to the point about a year ago when I simply couldn't take on any new clients. Still, I wanted people to be able to receive the bodywork they needed. Last spring, I hired another therapist and turned my business into an LLC. I'm now Soma Massage Therapy.
What are some of the challenges you have faced?
Client retention is always a challenge. I've been doing this job long enough, though, that I've been able to tweak things over the years to find out what works and what doesn't. Now that I have more of a reputation and less time to offer the free sessions, I offer discounts to keep people coming in and coming back. For example, on the back of every business card, I have a discount printed for new clients. I invite current clients to take a couple of cards and I offer those clients a discount for sending a referral my way.
The most effective method I have for retaining clients, though, is my "6-pack" special. I ask my clients to pay for six sessions up-front. This way I am guaranteed at least six sessions with the same person, and, after those six sessions, they are almost certainly going to be feeling a difference in their body.
How did your participate in National Massage Therapy Awareness Week (NMTAW)?
I had never participated in NMTAW before. This year I planned way ahead to make sure I could participate, and I'm so glad I did!
I'm very active in local government and am always volunteering for various boards and committees. I know that the mayor always gives out a proclamation or two at the start of every city council meeting, so I requested to be put on the agenda sometime around NMTAW. Then I just had to write the proclamation. After a very brief search on the AMTA website, I discovered the right language. I emailed the proclamation to the city secretary and a few weeks later I was shaking the mayor's hand as he handed me the microphone to talk about the benefits of massage therapy! It was awesome. I highly recommend doing this to bring more publicity to your business.
I have a couple of contacts at our local newspaper, and I know that they're always looking for stories. I told them about the proclamation, but really tried focusing on the free massages we were doing later in the week at a 5K, a wellness fair and a blood drive. As a result, my business was the focus of a long article in the local Sunday newspaper
. We've already received several new clients from this, one who had never had a professional massage in her entire life. I feel that not only was the proclamation and the newspaper article good for my business, but it was good for the massage therapy profession as a whole.
I am definitely doing this again next year. Thank you AMTA for this great event and for inspiring me to make my business and profession more visible!
» How other AMTA members celebrated NMTAW.