5 Tips to Rise Above the Crowd of Massage TherapistsSaturday, June 01, 2013 Mary Anne Velasco
Massage schools all over the country are pumping out graduates at an astounding pace. The number of massage therapists has increased 41 percent over the past ten years, according to the 2013 AMTA Massage Profession Research Report. Many areas, especially larger cities, are saturated with massage therapists. One need only stroll down a block to see several signs, advertising many different types of massage.
But it doesn't matter if you're practicing craniosacral therapy, shiatsu, or deep tissue massage. The following tips apply, and will help you rise above the rest and grow a phenomenal business full of clients you love.
Get a website
This seems simple, right? And yet, the majority of massage practitioners do not have a real website. And, no, the freebie site that comes with your membership in a professional organization doesn't count. Get a real site, with a customized domain name. If you can't hire a professional to build you one, there are plenty of do-it-yourself options. If you're stumped, check out Weebly.com, or get yourself cozy with Wordpress. People are no longer using paper phone books [except to prop up a toddler at a table], if you want your business to be found, get it online.
Get to know your colleagues
If there are other massage therapists in your area, go get a massage from each of them. Ask them straight out, "What kinds of massage do you do, who are your ideal clients?" It's very likely they do different work from you, and making that clear can eliminate any feelings of competition. Then, refer out when it's appropriate! If you don't do pregnancy massage, but your neighbor does, they will appreciate the referral, and it WILL come back to you tenfold. [Be assured the client will appreciate it, too. Being a good resource is just as important as being a great therapist.]
Answer phone calls and emails as quickly as you can
It's just the nature of our work that we can't answer our phones all the time. But I've always found it remarkable that some massage therapists will take DAYS to respond to a voicemail or email. By then the (potential) client has called four other therapists and you'll never hear from them again. If you are out of town, or simply don't return messages on non-work days, make that clear in your outgoing message. The massage profession has a reputation of being full of flakes. Don't be one of them.
Check your skills
Do you have clients that come once, but never return? It could be that you're unintentionally driving them away. Maybe your sheets are too scratchy, or the music is too loud. Or maybe the massage you give is too deep, but clients are afraid to speak up, because you don't remind them that it's okay to let you know about pressure.
Have a trusted friend or colleague [maybe someone you met from your neighborhood!] experience a massage with you as a total newcomer, intake form to exit interview. Ask them to be very critical of the environment, your communication skills, the verbal instructions you give before, during and after a massage, and your hands-on skills. Remove your ego from the feedback and really learn from it. It could be that your skills are great, but your marketing is off and bringing in the wrong kind of clients for you. There are many variables, having an outsider help you out is invaluable.
After a client leaves your office, do your forget about them forever, hoping they'll call to schedule again with no prompting from you? That's not a great strategy. Send a written thank you note, and perhaps include a coupon for 10% off their second visit. If you've received permission (do that right on your intake form), add the client's email address to your list, and send an email newsletter to all your clients regularly. If you've got a new client who prefers the telephone, call them a few days after their first visit to ask how they're feeling. Follow up is all about showing the client you care, and that their continued business is important to you.
Being responsible and trustworthy in your business skills will speak volumes about your massage business. As you start to incorporate these tips into your routine, you'll find more and more clients getting on your table!
… written by Rodney Trepass is the founder of MassageSchool.org, a website that helps aspiring massage therapy students find the right massage school. He also works closely with massage therapists, helping them grow their businesses. You can him and the MassageSchool.org team on Twitter @SchoolMassage.