Before I left my 15 year career in Human Resources I started to create a skills list while also considering what kind of job I could do out of my house. Someone I worked with asked if I had considered massage. He thought I had the temperament for it. Recalling my love of giving and receiving back rubs with my sisters, I wrote touch on my skills list. I also scheduled my first appointment with a professional massage therapist and she worked out of her home. Six months later I was in massage school! That was almost eight years ago.
Massage school prepared me for both the business side and technique side of having a solo practice. What it didn’t prepare me for is how I would feel at networking sessions when there were other massage therapists on hand, or even harder for me to deal with, those who represented one of the many new massage chains. At first I thought that I could not compete and felt less than.
Fortunately my classmates and I had formed a marketing club after graduation. We shared leads and the marketing venues which worked for each of us. We also shared our frustrations. I don’t think I’d have the business I have today without having had this group, and maybe I wouldn’t have my sanity either. At one point someone in this group said, “There’s enough skin to go around.” Well, I got to thinking about that and used it as my mantra. It really changed my outlook! Over these last seven years this concept has come to mean many things to me and I think it can be applied to many types of businesses. Here is what I have learned:
1.) Expect and embrace competition. If you have a good product, chances are that some version of it has already been on the market or will be soon. Instead of being negative about the competition, embrace it! Especially in the service industry, I can’t possibly be of service to every person out there, so just realizing that everyone should have an opportunity to be helped is a great attitude changer.
I was NOT good at embracing the competition in the beginning. Looking back, I think it showed. If someone stood up before me at a networking session and said they managed a spa or that they were a licensed massage therapist themselves, my ego was deflated and the real, genuine me didn’t show through. Now, with a new attitude, what I have to offer shines through!
2.) Know your unique selling points. After all, there is only one you, and what YOU offer is special because it is unique to you. For me, I have several unique characteristics that altogether make my practice a one and only type of practice:
A.) I am interested in medical massage and so after graduation I have taken more coursework in this area and have become more specialized.
B.) I do not rush my clients on or off the table. My studio has one client in it at a time and I allot space before and after the massage to prepare for each specific client, giving more than enough time to discuss their current ailments and to debrief afterwards.
C.) No one else has my hands. This last one is the golden nugget because there are absolutely no other hands exactly like mine. But I can apply this to my blogging business and you can apply it to your business because we can replace the word “hands” with whatever we feel is our greatest asset for our business at hand (brain, heart, honesty, writing skills, etc.).
3.) The right people will come. I attract the most wonderful people as clientele! I don’t think that it is by chance. I think it’s because I can define “right people” and therefore will attract these people. Specifically, I want people who are positive and either already believe in the healing power of massage, or if they’ve never had a massage, they are open to the idea and incorporate massage into their health regime. Translation: Know what a good client is for you. For me, I want regulars who benefit from my practice.
4.) I must do the work. This doesn’t just mean the actual hands on work that is involved when a client is in front of me. It’s the unpaid work time, the time when I do not have a client on my table. For example, it is important that I stay abreast of what’s happening in my industry by reading journals and taking classes that I think will be interesting to me and at the same time beneficial to my clients. It’s also important that I build the right marketing venues for me and that I work hard to keep them current. It means updating my website when I get a new certification or providing relevant information in my newsletters.
5.) If I can’t help someone, I refer them to the right person. I learned this best from a local chiropractor who most often helps his clients, but if he can’t, then after a few sessions of not getting results, he refers his patients for massage, physical therapy, orthopedic appointments or other referrals. In this example, it might be that our income stops at this point, or maybe never even starts, but we have still helped this person and this creates good Karma (I can’t get away from the body-mind-spirit connection anymore)!
These are the main points for me, and I am sure there is more good advice out there. If you are new to the business of selling yourself, then you might have more questions than answers. That’s ok because we all have to start somewhere. Either way, please share your own advice, comments or questions, we’d love to hear from you!
About NLBP Charter Member, Marie Higgins
Marie Higgins is a Licensed Massage Therapist and Blogger. She started massage school 8 years ago having had only one experience of massage herself. During the same period she was in school she received spiritual direction and quickly became a believer in the body, mind and spirit connection. In fact, Marie joined NLBP because the members speak the language of those who believe in this connection. Prior to that she worked in Human Resource Management and earned her MBA from St. Louis University (1993).
The blogging Marie does is about her experiences that come as a result of a spiritual journaling practice. She hopes to help others more fully develop their inner spirit wisdom. In 2015 she “broke ground” by setting up a blog site and then, beginning in 2016, shares two posts each week with the goal of getting people to ask God* “what else should I know?”.
More information can be found at CardinalTouch.net about the blog and more information may be found about massage at www.amtamembers.com/mariehiggins.
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