Today's member spotlight is Pamela Tucker. She owns Massage Kalamazoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Q: What inspired you to be a massage therapist?
A: I had, like many people, enjoyed an occasional massage to celebrate special occasions. But in 2001, employed as a Senior Financial Analyst for 29 years in my home state of California, my office closed and my marriage ended. I was able to transfer to Kalamazoo, MI and retire 2 years later, but that move made me feel very disconnected. I started receiving massage twice weekly and countered my shyness by talking to the practitioner, asking questions about their training. I also developed kidney stones, and discovered that massage helped me physically prepare for and recover from surgery. I started exploring other ways that massage supported my well-being and, when the job ended, I knew I didn't want another "job-job". I wanted to learn massage. My 2-year severance pay covered my 18 months of training and I was able to fully emerge myself in massage.
Q: How long have you been doing massage?
A: I have practiced for a little over 10 years. The first year was on staff at the school I went to, including doing a little instructing. I was also taking an 200-hour continuing ed course in Natural Remedies. Next I was on staff at a Chiro office, then in practice with friends who had a successful clinic. Since I was a renter, and could book my own clientele, I established my business, Massage Kalamazoo, and built my website. The office had been using a paper scheduling book but I saw the advantage of online booking and soon gained 5 weekly clients from the local University. I'm now in my 3rd office, sharing a 2-office space with the woman who first encouraged me. We work and schedule independently but it's a very supportive environment.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being an MT?
A: Starting my days at 2PM! Or, more specifically, setting my hours and running my business to reflect my sensibilities. I love the challenge when a new client comes in and I must not only do the physical part of my job, but create a space that supports healing. I love seeing the changes in my returning clients as they, like I did, start to understand massage and their bodies and how it works together. I love CE classes and love the amazing thought that I can keep learning things that have profound effects on physical and emotional health, when just 10 years ago I was reviewing annual reports and setting million-dollar credit lines. This is way more fun.
Q: What do you feel is the most challenging issue for massage therapists?
A: So many things. Being realistic about how much of that $65/hour you really make. Trust me, I love owning my business, but after I pay rent, supplies, training, advertising...practitioners working for a practice really need to consider ALL expenses before thinking I'm making "everything" I'm paid. Finding the right niche is a very personal thing, and I've seen several practitioners leave a really good situation because they don't realize that a busy practice and a reasonable split might be a better financial situation than opening a private practice.
Q: What advice would you give to other MT’s to help build their business?
|Katie educates clients on the |
benefits of massage
A: First, a good website seems to be bringing people to my door. Make sure all your modalities are mentioned in your keywords. Incorporate the fabulous testimonials that Bodywork Buddy so cleverly gathers for you and post them on your website. I'm a little quirky, so my dog has a page about puppy massage, and most new clients mention that, which tells me they read everything. I don't pay Google to move me up to the top of the first page but I usually am 3rd or 4th. I also have a pretty active business page on Facebook, but I don't spend a lot of time working it.
Then, online booking has always been a client fave. I'm in a town with 3 Universities and colleges, and students tend to think about booking at 2AM.
Gather and encourage referrals; I've offered extra time to clients who send me someone new, and follow up if someone hasn't been in for a while; a postcard offering a discount, upgrade, or just updating them on a new modality you've learned might bring them back.
The biggest one...do a GREAT massage, and rebook them while they are there. Nearly all my clients rebook, have recurring appointments scheduled for them, or text me when they get home to their calendar. You're helping them to be awesome clients and the best time to rebook is when they're already in massage bliss!