I have found through the years that the biggest obstacle for most massage therapists who are building their practice is . . . confusion.
There is a lot going on in this world. There is a lot going on in our communities, in our lives, in our heads and hearts. And with all of that going on, it can be hard to keep our minds from turning into unproductive mush when it comes to our businesses.
So, here’s the dealio. Knowing that there is a lot going on for each of us, and respecting that fact. . .
If you want your massage practice to really take off, it is essential to focus yourself in a very specific way.
As you can see on the worksheet, I don’t want you focusing on just any old thing. Don’t focus on the weird little details that don’t actually grow your practice. Stop lashing yourself for not having written a blog post or a newsletter or a social media update lately. You’re not running an online marketing business (stop with those online sales funnels, already!)
I’m not saying online considerations aren’t important. They are. But for massage therapists, blog posts and newsletters and social media support the central work you need to be doing. They are not the central work itself.
REMEMBER: You are a kick-ass massage therapist working to bring in clients who respect and love your work, who pay your full rate over and over again.
That means you have your own very specific work to do.
So, I am curious, do you know EXACTLY what you need to do to build your massage business NOW?
Here are some “tasks” that most massage therapists think are too simple to be really effective. But, they are the lifeblood of any strong practice. (Seriously, I’ve owned my own full-time practice for just under a decade. And, I know LOTS of massage therapists with varying levels of success in their private practices. These are the common denominators of the ones who crush it. I’m not making this stuff up.)
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you download this worksheet and complete it as you go through these questions.
Seriously Important Question #1:
Do you have a strong referral network who:
- you refer to
- who refers to you
- and which is highly personal and satisfying?
I’m not talking about a “list” of “referral partners” who you haven’t met or haven’t seen in a long time. I’m talking about other practitioners or service providers who are a great fit for your clients, and vice versa, for when your clients need help other than what you can offer.
Don’t have that network yet? Ok, well, you’re a massage therapist. You need this network of high-quality folks who match your values. Use your worksheet, break it down into steps, and get going.
Note: For some people, their referral network is not other practitioners or providers. Occasionally, their most consistent and ideal referrals come from their mother, or a family friend, or their current clients. Every practice is a little different. And, you should still be doing the work of consistently cultivating and expressing appreciation to whoever your best referral partners are.
Seriously Important Question #2:
Is your pricing rock solid or do you offer 20-50% discounts to every-other person who contacts you? What’s that? You’re still discounting heavily? A massage practice that is actually your living can’t sustain that. Use your worksheet, break down stabilizing your prices into steps, and get going.
I know, that seems a little short. But it really is that straight-forward. Need a little boost on this one?
Seriously Important Question #3:
Are you following up with every client who you actually want in your practice? I’m not talking about the client who “accidentally” grabbed your leg half way through the session, and I’m not talking about the one who was mean to you because you wouldn’t give him/her a discount. Don’t invite those people back.
DO FOLLOW UP with the 99% of the people who have come to you who are a good fit for you (and who don’t hesitate to pay your full rate).
Follow ups are not about being pushy. They are about checking in with clients and expressing your sincere hope that you can work with them again in the future.
Ok, so I’m about to get real with you.
Those questions I just gave you and that you just answered on your worksheet are massive. Again, I know they can seem simplistic – and they are very easy to avoid doing – but they are the centerpieces of a thriving practice.
In fact, really getting into those questions is such a big task that most people can’t quite wrap their heads around it on their own. (Do you feel yourself avoiding them? Did you doodle your way through the worksheet rather than actually filling it out? Has the worksheet already made its way to the trash?) That’s ok. We’re not really meant to be able to wrap our heads around all of this on our own.
Remember, successful businesses cannot be run in a vacuum. Running a business is a community endeavor. I’m not kidding.
Find your community. Find your mentors. Find your peers (you know, the ones who are working on building a serious, and seriously fabulous, massage practice – just like you!). Go through the worksheet together. Spitball ideas with each other. Help each other. The whole process of building your massage practice is so much more fun and satisfying that way.
And, your practice really will grow faster that way.
Most of all, never, ever give up (at least, not permanently). You’ve got this!
- Isabel Spradlin has owned her full-time practice since 2007. She has a deep drive to help other massage therapists and bodyworkers to create thriving businesses for themselves. For comprehensive programs to help you do just that, see the 'Programs' tab in the menu.