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Bodywork Buddy Blog

Bodywork Buddy: business management software for the solo therapist that keeps you organized and makes tax time a breeze.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Are Draining Clients Holding You Back?

You know those clients that seem to suck your energy and leave you feeling drained after working with or dealing with them in any way? It may be difficult to pin down why exactly they drain your energy, or what to do about it.

I’ve found a couple of interesting articles that tackle this topic. While these aren’t specific to the massage and bodywork industry, it’s easy to see how they apply.

Nailing down your ideal client

Marie Forleo suggests preventing draining clients by knowing who your ideal client is.
Make a top ten list of attributes your ideal client would have, and use this as a filter before you take on new clients.

Consider this list when you start any new marketing - is the advertising you’re doing going to get you more of these kinds of clients?

Here’s what I would put on my top ten list:  
  1. They respect my time as much as theirs.
    Meaning: they show up on time and expect to end on time.
  2. They schedule their appointments out in advance and don’t expect last minute appointments.
  3. They’ve made massage therapy a consistent part of their self care regimen.
  4. They do not consistently cancel and reschedule.
  5. They can afford my services.
  6. They are not deal-seekers.
  7. They don’t expect me to “fix” them.
  8. They schedule online or in person at their appointment.
  9. If they cancel with less than 24 hours notice or no show, they happily pay the cancellation fee.
  10. They do not try and direct my work or the session.

What attributes do you want most in your ideal client? Think of your favorite clients who you love working with. What qualities stand out the most to you? Now think of those draining clients… What about them gets under your skin?

At first, it seemed hard to come up with ten, but after thinking about that a little bit the ball starting rolling and I felt like I could go on!

6 types of clients who aren't worth the money

Christine Kane cuts right to the chase with some tough love: “You get what you tolerate.”

If you allow a client’s bad behavior, it’s only going to continue. Maybe until you get to your breaking point, and then it may be too late to salvage the therapeutic relationship.

I once allowed a client’s chronic lateness without putting my foot down because I liked her as a person. By the time I did something about it, I was so irritated that I didn’t want to continue to work with her even if she corrected the behavior.

Christine lists 6 types of clients who aren’t worth the money:
  1. The one who needs convincing.
  2. The one who collapses. the one who constantly collapses is committed to a pattern of helplessness.  She begins to reveal that she has no interest in turning this pattern around. She is a damsel – and she wants you to be her knight in shining armor.   Fix me, I am helpless.” Wow, I know I’ve had a few of those clients!
  3. The one who doesn’t want what you offer.
  4. The one who argues your pricing.
  5. The one who forgets you have a life. Boundary pushers, oy. Remember:  You teach people how to treat you.  It’s not their responsibility. It’s yours.” ^ So much yes, Christine!
  6. The one who doesn’t do the work.

An ounce of prevention

Coaches Getting Clients starts right out with what should now be a familiar theme here: Work with ideal clients!
But some other gems this article offers are:
2) Be clear on your boundaries
3) Improve your awareness.
4) Show up energized & healthy
5) Change Your Business Model
(are packages draining because you know you’re not getting paid at the time of service or you’re thinking about the discount they’re receiving on your awesome service? Maybe it’s time to retire those packages if they aren’t bringing you joy at every step of the way.)

Let go of clients who drain you

Thrive Academy lists these 3:
  1. Overgiving. “Charging too little or giving too much of your time, almost always leads to feelings of being drained.”
  2. Not speaking your truth.  “Those things that you wish you could say to your client (but it might be rude or disrespectful, and after all, they're paying you lots of money...) Those are the things you need to say!!! Just begin your bold statement with a large dose of acknowledgment, compassion and gentleness. It's nearly impossible to boldly speak your truth and get drained at the same time.” I think this especially applies to enforcing our policies and establishing boundaries with draining clients. We’re sometimes afraid to speak our truth because this client is giving us money! We tolerate their bad behavior because we don’t want to lose their business… but how much time, energy, joy, and space for good clients will we free up by speaking our truth, even if it means losing this draining client?
  3. Getting attached to your clients getting results. “Your clients' results do NOT determine your goodness or worthiness. You can be amazing, even if your client didn't get results. And you can be terrible and still have clients get results.”

Wow, I can definitely see a lot of us LMT’s having a tendency to these three. (Myself included.)

Sometimes it can be hard to correct course after you’ve been tolerating these behaviors from clients, but it’ll be so worth it. (More posts to come with some suggestions on how to do just that.)

So, do you have some things in mind for your top ten ideal client qualities? Comment your list here or hop on over to the Bodywork Buddies Facebook Group and join the discussion! *Not in our group yet? You can join after you’ve registered for the free trial within Bodywork Buddy. Paying subscription not required, just as long as you’ve registered for the trial.*

Cindy Iwlew is a licensed massage therapist who has had a private practice since 1999 and cofounder of Bodywork Buddy massage software.

Friday, October 6, 2017

What Are Your Services Worth?

How do you determine what to charge for your services?

While this podcast is about a graphic design company, I think the takeaways can be applied to a massage business as well. 

"What are you worth? It’s an easy question to answer emotionally. Like, What am I worth? I’m worth all the money! But when you’re an entrepreneur, you have to go through the uncomfortable exercise of putting an actual, firm price tag on yourself -- or at least your products or services. You may think you’re worth all the money in the world, but you have to come at the question from a different perspective by asking what others will genuinely pay for you. What do they think you’re worth?"

"In any business, you are more than the product or service that you sell." Sunny Bonnell

How did you determine the rates for your massage business? 

Monday, October 2, 2017

An Easy Change to Get Out of a Rut in Your Massage Business

Sometimes I get stuck in a rut with my massage practice without even realizing it. Usually when I switch up my music, or change my routine within my sessions, I'll feel refreshed and that's when it hits me that I've been needing a shift!

I regularly change my music since I discovered years ago that it was a huge deal for me. Sometimes I change it throughout the day, even. After experiencing some of the work in Mary-Claire Fredette's FasciAshi class a few months ago, I started changing up my barefoot massage routine by starting at my client's feet occasionally. I've felt a bit revitalized with my work doing this! Speaking of continuing ed classes, taking one is always something that has helped me break out of a rut, too. I find that about once a year, I'm itching to learn something new. I haven't decided on what class will be next, but I'll probably be looking to take something in the next 6 months or so. (Do you have some suggestions on what class I should take? Let me know in the comments!)

This past week, I accidentally discovered another new way to help my work feel fresh. I changed my hours a bit. I have a lot of regulars and am usually booked out for several weeks in advance, so I've tended to keep my hours very consistent.

With the change of seasons, I decided to start opening up a few Saturdays. A lot of my clients have “Summer Hours” where they can work half days on Friday. This works out well for them to schedule their massages Friday afternoons during the Summer. But then in the Fall, it’s back to scrambling for those popular 5:30pm appointment times. So to help alleviate this, I’m working a few Saturdays for the Fall/Winter season.

And then this past week, I had a personal appointment for me (to get a facial! YAY!) in the afternoon. So I had opened up my schedule for that morning so that I could still get some work in before taking the afternoon off. I can't remember the last time I had massage clients in the morning, I typically work in the afternoon.

It was really refreshing! It's amazing how changing these kinds of things can reinvigorate my work. And it's easy to do in my schedule now that Bodywork Buddy has the ability to change open/closed business hours by the day. I can click into a day on the calendar, and choose to open or close the hours that day without affecting my usual business hours.

The change of the seasons is a perfect time to make some small changes. What adjustments in your work inspire you?

Cindy Iwlew is a licensed massage therapist who has had a private practice since 1999 and cofounder of Bodywork Buddy massage software.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Bodywork Buddy Member Spotlight: Jennifer Rosa

Today's Bodywork Buddy member spotlight is Jennifer Rosa. Jennifer owns Touch of Sole in Dallas, Texas.

Q: What inspired you to be a massage therapist?

A: I've always loved helping others. I worked in the spa industry since I was 14 years old, starting off as a receptionist. When I turned 19, I became a nail tech for about 9 years. I loved the before and after feeling clients would have after they received a service. I became interested in massage around 2006. I would see how clients would come out of their massage services and they always looked so happy and relaxed. I wanted to be able to give my clients something more and decided to attend massage school.

Q: How long have you been doing massage?

A: I graduated in September of 2007 at Bancroft School of Massage in Worcester, Ma. I have been practicing for almost 10 years now.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being an MT?

A: My favorite thing about being an MT is being able to help my clients. Whether its helping them de-stress from a hard week at work or providing them relief for their tight muscles. I love how grateful my clients are and hearing how my bodywork has helped them.

Q: What do you feel is the most challenging issue for massage therapists?

A: From my own personal experience and working with other MT's in the past, the most challenging issue would be building a strong clientele. Especially in the first couple of years starting out. It can be challenging when there are other MT's who have ten or more years experience than you.
I had a strong clientele in Boston after working as a massage therapist for five years. I moved to Dallas and opened my own private practice. I found it hard to build a clientele because of all the nearby massage businesses. I found clients were used to paying low prices at chain massage businesses and wanted those same prices from me.

Specializing in Ashiatsu has been extremely helpful for building a clientele in Dallas. I am able to provide my clients with a service that many have never experienced before.

Q: What advice would you give to other MT’s to help build their business?

A: My advice to other MT's to help them build their business would be to continue to take continuing education classes. I believe you have to constantly stay up to date with training in order to provide your clients with top notch services. Adding little touches to your services will help you stand out from other businesses in your area.  It can be simple things as a hot towel at the end of their service or adding an aroma to their lotion. Clients will remember these small little touches and it makes a huge difference. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Master Your Screening Process for Creeper Clients

Did you see this post last week on Bored Panda directly addressing Mr. Massage Creeper? (Or could be Ms. too, I suppose!)

We’ve all been there, unfortunately. Unlike most professions, licensed massage therapists have to hone their skills of gut instincts, intuition, screening, and noticing red flags of creeps. I remember early on in my massage career, I once had 3 creeps in 1 week.

I contemplated quitting massage, even though I loved the work. I wondered what was I doing to attract these weirdos, and what could I do to make it stop?

I couldn’t believe that someone would think that I was offering illegal services, didn’t they know how awesome massage therapy is and how disrespectful it was to do this?! I laugh to think now that I thought that way, but the truth is that massage school did not prepare me at all for how the average joe thought about massage, much less the creepy joe. No skills or tactics were taught to us newbies on how to deal with creeps…. I don’t recall it even being mentioned to us that we would encounter them.

Looking back, I think of some ways my working environment could’ve been improved for a more professional image. I was working for other companies, and didn’t really have any control over the building, decor, etc. I didn’t think at the time that it really mattered. After all, these people had successful businesses, they must know what they’re doing, right?

And this was before email was commonplace. Smartphones and texting were non-existent. Online booking? Ha! So all screening had to be done on the phone, and more often than not, nothing unusual would happen until the creep was there in person. Thankfully, we now have the awesome conveniences of today’s technology that can help us screen out any unwanted clients and hopefully save us from some face-to-face encounters with scoundrels.

Here’s a few ways some Bodywork Buddy members have screened out creepers:

Customize the Bodywork Buddy online intake form with distinct questions.

Asking specific questions like these can help you notice any red flags:

  • “What are your goals for your session?”
  • “What inspired you to seek out a therapeutic massage session today?”
  • “How long ago was your last massage?”
  • “How did you hear about me?”

Only accepting new male clients by referral from existing clients.

Let your clients do the screening for you! Only accepting new male clients (or female for that matter, if you have problems with female creepers) from existing clients will significantly reduce the number of people looking for “other” services.

Use online scheduling software that has option to decline an appointment request.

Bodywork Buddy has the option to accept or decline an appointment request. This can really come in handy to screen out creeps rather than having all appointments be automatically scheduled.

There’s also the option to include a message area for the client when scheduling. This can be a great tool to see red flags right away. Did they ask creepy questions or make a weird comment when requesting an appointment? APPOINTMENT REQUEST DECLINED.

Don’t accept same day appointments for new clients.

Many LMT’s have noticed that creepers are typically looking for an appointment that day. Help filter them out by using the “max days out for scheduling” feature in Bodywork Buddy. This will only allow clients to see openings as soon as the next day or as far out as 4 days (instead of immediate openings/same day openings) when scheduling online.

Require clients to agree to your policies online before they can schedule an appointment.

An optional feature in Bodywork Buddy can require clients to agree to your policies when they schedule an appointment online. The policies are completely customizable and written by you.

What screening techniques have you found helpful in your own massage practice?

Cindy Iwlew is a licensed massage therapist who has had a private practice since 1999 and cofounder of Bodywork Buddy massage software.

Monday, September 11, 2017

How to Make Free Events Suck Less

Ever been asked to work for free doing chair massage to promote yourself? To do it for “the exposure”?

“You can come and do free chair massages and in exchange, we’ll let you hand out your business cards!”

How about no.

Um….. People DIE from exposure.

Many skilled massage professionals have learned the hard way that free chair massage rarely turns into paying clients. But the opportunities to give your work away for free abound.

I find it’s actually even rare for PAID chair massage at an on-site event to turn into table clients. I definitely did my fair share of free work in the beginning of my massage career, with little to show for my efforts.

So, you’re a newer LMT (or even a seasoned therapist) and looking to promote yourself and gain paying clients. What can you do instead of giving away your work for free at an event?

We recently had a discussion about this in the Bodywork Buddies Facebook Group. (You can join the group if you’re a member of BWB or have ever signed up for our free trial.) One Buddy suggested instead of offering free chair massage, to do some quick samples of hand massage. While working on the client’s hand, you’re face-to-face with them and can talk to them about your business. They get a little sample of your touch, and you get to tell them about what you do. (Thanks for the suggestion, Erin!) I think if you’re going to give something away, this would be a better way to go than to do free chair massage.

When someone asks you to work for free, it’s likely out of their own ignorance than purposely insulting you. Rather than take offense, offer some other suggestions to the event coordinator.

  • Set up an information table featuring a drawing for a retail product, an add-on to a table service, etc. Something that adds value but doesn’t discount your services. When people register for the drawing, they agree to be on your emailing or mailing list so you can continue to build that relationship with them after the event.

  • Have a tv, laptop, or even a digital photo frame playing a video of a massage promo. Bodywork Buddy’s videos are a great option to sell the feeling of relaxation and stress relief.
  • Offer to do a scheduled 10 minute talk on the benefits of massage instead of doing free chair work.

What ways have you promoted yourself at events that didn’t involve doing free massage?

Cindy Iwlew is a licensed massage therapist who has had a private practice since 1999 and cofounder of Bodywork Buddy massage software.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

What If Your Client Forgot To Fill Out Their Online Intake Form Before Their Appointment?


Within Bodywork Buddy, you can email new clients (or existing clients, for that matter!) an online intake form that they can fill out securely online before their appointment. But what about those pesky clients who don't always follow directions and never filled it out before coming in?

Now you can also access the client end of that form for them to fill out from within your office. Just pull up their client file > click the blue actions button > scroll down to fill intake form. The form will open in a new tab, allowing for your client to fill it out right then and there. Once they submit it, it will be in their client file within your account. Easy Peasy!