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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.

Showing posts with label business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label business. Show all posts

Monday, May 14, 2018

Veteran MT Advice: The Art of Stubbornness

Recently in my massage therapy business, I had to make the very difficult decision to stop accepting new clients. This was difficult because for the last 14 years I’ve been doing everything I could to attract these new clients!

When Cindy asked me to talk about how I got to this point in my career as a business owner and MT, I had to think about what exactly I did to reach this stage in my business. At first I couldn’t think of what I did to suddenly be so booked I couldn’t fit anyone in for 4 months. Then it occurred to me... it wasn’t sudden, it was all the hard work of running a business starting to pay it’s returns.

When you go to massage school, they teach you how to be a Massage Therapist, not how to run a business. These are two separate things that need separate training. When I graduated from massage school, I decided to work for someone else because I thought it would be easier. Their business model was for me to give free chair massages until someone decided to pay for a full massage, of which I received a commission of 50%. I gave a lot of free massages and starved. I had to move back home to my parent’s house. 

This is where the big lessons began for me. I’m sure many of you have similar stories or are at the beginning of your career convinced you are about to fail. Being of the Stubborn Persuasion, I wasn’t about to let this living with my parents situation define my career. However, humility was also on my Life Lessons Syllabus, so I had to have “The Talk” with myself on how I was going to make this career work. If I wanted it to work, I had to do the work. No Excuses.

I took a part time job at a chiropractor’s office and I learned from her how she ran her business. She became a great mentor and I learned that there are lessons in mistakes; that picking up and working with what is in front of you will go a long way. I also used the security of that job to help me build my own business. I could take a few more risks, in case I did make a mistake. 

Since I had moved back to my parent’s home two states away from where I was living, to a town I didn’t grow up in, I was in desperate need of colleagues... So I went to my AMTA state chapter conferences and hands on CEU classes so that I could talk to people. I joined Live Journal groups (I’m old) and read Massage Therapy Journal and Massage Magazine (the print versions!) to give me insights into the industry. I was stubborn, but I knew that I didn’t know squat!

I was told that the first 5 years were the hardest, so I just kept reminding myself of that when it got hard, and you know what... it turned out to be true (so hang in there!). I was told that MTs careers average 3- 5 years; I made a goal to be in practice for 10. My stubbornness wouldn’t let me quit and then when it started to get a little easier I didn’t want to quit.  

I tried new things: Online scheduling in 2010 was scary for my clients. Some even asked me to go back to paper. It was months and months before the first person actually booked online without me talking them into it. It was a couple years before a new client I had never heard of scheduled. I stubbornly stuck it out because I wanted online scheduling to work. Now I don’t have to answer the phone anymore. I maybe lost a potential client who didn’t want to schedule online, but I gained ones who did. 

Some things did not work: Buy 4 get 1 Free cost me a lot of money I desperately needed. I changed my package policy to be a significantly smaller discount; I could still pay the bills, but my clients still got a deal. I was able to buy groceries AND pay rent! When clients pine for the good old discount days (aka whine) I stubbornly refuse to give in, “$5 off is more than $0 off,” I remind myself. They are welcome to pay full price. 

The take-a-way here folks is this: There are a million little lessons that you are learning everyday. The beginning of your career is hard because you are bombarded by them. Some of those lessons hurt and some are exhausting. It seems impossible because everything is new and fresh and you just want to be amazing everyday. As you make it through the days, weeks, and years those lessons will feel familiar, and doable, and sometimes even an exciting challenge. Be patient, and maybe a little bit stubborn. 

Erin Howk Bennett, BCTMB
Therapeutic & Stress Reduction Massage

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

3 Things Massage School Didn't Teach You About the Business of Massage and Why {Guest Post by Hillary Arrieta, LMT}

Owning a massage business is hard. There are many moving parts and massage school didn't cover any of them. It's true that massage training did not prepare us for all of the difficulties we come across on a daily basis. 

As a massage educator, I've heard the complaints for years. "Why didn't we learn this in massage school?" Or "my school didn't prepare me for this." It can be a sobering reality to find out that once you're out of school and in "the real world" you will need ADDITIONAL information, training, and resources to make it in this profession. 

Whether you choose to become an independent small business, buy a franchise, or work for someone else, you'll probably need more training every year just to stay up to date on your education. You'll need even more education to master your craft as a business owner. 

I've compiled a short list of things massage training didn't teach you about the business of massage and why, along with helpful resources to get you pointed in the right direction. 

1. How to do taxes, file a business structure, and manage finances. 

Massage therapy training is just that. We train you to be thoughtful, skilled massage therapists; not bookkeepers, business lawyers, or accountants. These are special skills all on their own and you'll need to build a team of qualified professionals in these fields to help you. People in these professions have degrees and have gone to college for many years to know what they know. Obviously, teaching you this in massage school is impossible and totally inappropriate. All small businesses work with pros to make things run smoothly in their businesses and so will you. Get some good referrals from trusted friends and start building your team. 

Which brings me to number two:
2. How to be a small business owner. 

Massage school isn't business school (duh!). That's okay because there are many resources out there to help you learn this new set of skills. Some of my favorites are which is a mentoring group of retired business owners who volunteer their time and skills to help small business owners thrive. How awesome is that? 

Chances are good that you have a group near you. They also host frequent business oriented workshops. 

I also got a lot out of web marketing classes online. I always recommend Marie Forleo's programs and all her free content on YouTube. She gives solid, classy advice and has some great suggestions that have really helped me in running my practice. I also highly suggest The Right-Brained Business Plan by Jennifer Lee. She really helped me put together a beautiful plan that was both creative and practical. 

3. How to be a good manager. 

Being a good manager of time, people, and tasks are really important skills in the business of massage. We have to manage our clients, our session times, and all of the endless "to do's" while running our massage businesses. This can be overwhelming. Add in a few employees and that can be even more overwhelming. 

Massage school doesn't carve out time in the already jam packed curriculum to prepare you for this. The hard truth of the matter is that not everyone is cut out for this part of owning a practice. 

Once you've discovered that your personal constitution is hardy enough to take on this level of business ownership, it's time to dig deeply into self-awareness and self-development (Yikes!). Finding a mentor or emulating a leader that you admire can be a great way to learn.

Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham, and Donald O. Clifton.

About the author:
Hillary Arrieta is a massage therapist and massage educator in the Dallas, Texas area. She owns Gaia Bodywork and specializes in barefoot massage. You can find out more at

Need help with your massage marketing content? Check out Bodywork Media.

Friday, August 25, 2017


I am a certified Groupon geek. 
Using Groupon to build my practice fast has been the single best decision I’ve made for my business. 
But it was one I resisted. I’d heard that only cheap people use Groupon, that they just come in for the deal and never return, and that I’d get so booked with Groupon clients I wouldn’t have space for anyone else. What I hadn’t heard is that Groupon provides massive exposure for your practice in exchange for a highly discounted service, and when used strategically, can create rapid, sustainable growth.

In any marketing campaign, planning is the most critical step. 

Unfortunately, it’s often neglected or skipped entirely. I’ve identified five critical skills and tools to planning a successful Groupon campaign. Let’s take a look at what they are, why they’re important, and how they can make a Groupon deal work for you.

Before we begin any promotional activity for our practice, we need to be clear about what it is we want to accomplish. “Get more clients” is way too vague. How many more clients do you want? Take a look at the number of clients you average per week now and decide how many more you want to have on the books each week. So if you’re seeing 10 clients per week now and you want to be seeing 25, your goal is to attract 15 more clients per week.

Having a goal allows you to evaluate how effective your marketing strategy is because it can be easily measured. 

It also helps you set the monthly maximum for your Groupon deal. This limit not only determines how many vouchers can be sold per month; it’s the metric used for the algorithm that determines where your deal shows up on the Groupon website. High visibility will sell more vouchers to a more varied group of members. Lower visibility means your deal will only be seen by those searching for massage. The monthly maximum can be adjusted to sell more or less vouchers while your deal is active to give you the best results.

Who exactly are you trying to appeal to? It’s easy to fall into the “anyone who wants a massage” trap, but what’s going to really create growth and fulfillment in your practice is serving those who you are the best fit for. If you love and are really good at giving the most relaxing massage in your area, then you want to help people looking for that find you. They’re the ones who are going to enjoy what you offer, want to return, and tell others about you.

Massage is a popular item on Groupon, which can work to your advantage or against you. It’s become a go-to directory for those looking for a new massage therapist because they can try us out without breaking the bank. It can also make it harder for us to be seen among the numerous choices. A targeted description of your deal will set you apart from other massage therapists and make you resonate with those who want your unique skill set.

Once you get a new client, what do you do to inspire them to become a regular client? Aside from giving an extraordinary experience from beginning to end, clients may need a little financial incentive to visit frequently enough to get great results and stabilize your income. Having an enticing loyalty program, membership or discounted package will increase conversions dramatically. These types of incentives make frequent visits easier and keep your schedule fuller.  After all, isn’t the whole point of using Groupon in the first place to bring in more clients who will keep coming?

In my experience, offering a single session and a package of three in your deal gets more conversions in the long run because those who purchase a package are more interested in receiving massage frequently. Have an expiration date for your package (I use 90 days from date of activation) and stick with it. You can always offer to let them pay the difference for expired sessions (most likely they won’t, so those are free money). Use the pricing of your ongoing program (or special for returning Groupon customers) as a guide to price your deal (anything less than 70% of what they would pay for your discounted services is going to make converting them more challenging). You may not sell as many vouchers with a higher priced deal but you’ll retain more of the clients who buy them.

It’s human nature to seek immediate gratification. You will make some money from the sales of your vouchers, but using Groupon isn’t about making money from the deal itself. It’s about helping customers who want what you do find you. Getting them to come back is up to you.

Being successful with Groupon requires you to see it as way to attract more clients so you can then blow them away with your awesomeness. You won’t retain every Groupon client, but you most likely won’t retain every new client who hears about you from other sources either. Focus on those who do rebook rather than those who don’t. Keep the big picture of a full, thriving practice in mind. If you can’t get past the highly discounted rate you’ll receive from Groupon for your services, it’s not the tool for you.

If you’re already using online scheduling, I don’t have to tell you how much it streamlines the booking process. If you’re on the fence about trying it, I encourage you to take the leap. Bodywork Buddy offers a free trial period, so you have nothing to lose. Any concerns you have about optimizing your schedule or not having control will be minimized once you experience the freedom from phone, email and text tag you’ll have. It also provides an added convenience that many clients will appreciate, especially when you have an influx of new customers AND you’re busy working so aren’t available to answer the phone. I wouldn’t recommend doing a Groupon deal without it.

I’m not going to tell you that working with Groupon is all butterflies and moonbeams. It can be very challenging because you’re dealing with well-trained salespeople. It’s your responsibility to make the best decisions for your business and not let them steer you toward a deal that won’t serve you. But with a sound plan, it can be an unmatched option for growing your practice faster. Give some thought to what you want to achieve and create a strategy to support that BEFORE contacting Groupon. Then you’ll be prepared to negotiate a campaign that works for you and those who need you to reach their wellness goals.

Cath Cox has been a licensed massage therapist in Colorado since 1999 and is the creator of the Booked and Busy in 90 Days System™. Her mission is to heal the world by inspiring independent massage therapists to build thriving practices of their own so they can work authentically for as long as they desire. She currently provides Ashiatsu barefoot deep tissue massage exclusively in her private practice. You can learn more about Cath and her journey at

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

How to Take Control of Your Passwords

In today's tech world, we all have a million passwords for a million different accounts. Your bank account, your online scheduling account, your business Facebook page... and these are just a handful that are only for your massage therapy business. How do you remember or keep track of them all?! Especially when they are cryptic words with special characters, a specific amount of numbers, some lowercase letters mixed with some uppercase letters.... 
Well, good news. There's a new school of thought on what makes a strong password.

Previously, security experts recommended the use of password manager apps to ensure users' accounts were protected.

"The old wisdom... we found that it does everything negative for usability and really, not a whole heck of a lot for security." - Paul Grassi on All Tech Considered

The new suggestions for what makes a strong password are:

  • Long passwords
  • phrases
  • spaces
  • lowercase typical words, no need for uppercase letters mixed in
  • no need for special characters
  • no expiration

It's suggested to have a password manager. There are lots of useful apps available to store your passwords and make your life easier. That combined with the new rules for what makes a strong password, I think we can all breathe a little easier and stop putting so much energy into creating and remembering our keys to all of our accounts!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Before You Email Clients, Do These 6 Things

A question came up in the Bodywork Buddies Facebook group the other day about promotional emails not making it to client's main inbox. (Never heard of our FB group? If you've had a trial account or been a BWB member, you can join and get in on some awesome convos yourself! Drama-free quality conversations about massage biz.)

If your clients are using gmail as their email provider, your emails may be ending up in their promotions tab... or worse yet, being recognized as spam and not making it to them at all.
What are some ways we can ensure our massage clients are getting our emails?


First off, make sure they actually want them. Did you ask their permission or have them opt-in for your email in some way? If you've personally emailed with them before and are just taking your contact list from your email account and creating a mass emailing, you're not technically following anti-spamming laws. If your contacts report your emails as spam, it can hurt your chances of getting to their inbox even more.

How to fix this:

  • Add an opt-in to your website and social media
  • Ask clients when they are in for their appointment 
  • Clients are agreeing to be on mailing list when they schedule online

Template Style

Another suggestion is to use the plain text option for your email template. While email campaigns offer lots of cool design templates and styles, the most proven is the plain text email. (Not only for making it into the main inbox, but for actually getting read.) Clients don't want a newsletter-style email, they actually want personal communications.

Spam filters are ore apt to catch HTML emails with a fancy design, so instead use the plain text option and make it more like you're writing a letter to a friend.

The plain text option is usually the boring one at the very bottom of the choices for cool templates. 

Links, Images, and Exclamation Points

Having lots of links and images in your email will make it look more spammy to the email gods.
Instead of loading up your email with lots of both, stick to only one link, and maybe one image.
Resist the urge to use lots of exclamation points in your title and text.


Add merge tags to add client's name in subject line of your email.

Add merge tags to include the client's name in the body of your email.

Realistic Expectations

Keep in mind that even if your emails are getting to clients, they may not open/read them. Email campaign services like Mailchimp show the industry average so that you can get a good idea of how your emails are stacking up against others in the industry. According to this, email campaigns in the massage therapy field have about a 13% open rate. By that standard, my open rates of 30% and up are pretty great! 

Address Book

Before starting your email campaigns, send out a personal email to your clients asking them to make sure they have your address in their contacts so they are sure to get the latest news from you. Post a notice in your massage studio, mention it at their appointments when you ask for permission to email them, etc.

Quick Tip

If they have received your email in the promotions tab (or another tab), they can drag it over to their main inbox to ensure future emails are delivered there.

I've used examples from Mailchimp here, but these can be applied to all email campaign service companies. I like Mailchimp because you can have a free account with up to 2K contacts and it's easy to import your client list from Bodywork Buddy.

We're actually working to add email marketing into our online scheduling for massage therapists here at Bodywork Buddy. This is the next big feature we've been working on. It's taking some time, because if you know our system and how we operate - we're passionate about quality. With software, the end product that you see seems simple - but there's a lot of work that goes into getting it to that stage. So in the meantime, we recommend using Mailchimp. And we'll be sure to let you know when we have email marketing integrated into our system for some seamless marketing campaigns to your clients. 😀

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

Today's blog post was written to the beautiful sounds of 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Inspiration to Blog for Your Massage Business

I admit, it took me a while to realize the benefits of blogging for business. I had always heard that we should be blogging, but I didn't really grasp the "why" until after I had started.

Have you been thinking about blogging, or maybe just wondering why it's a good idea?

Let's break it down.

Why Blog?

  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
    Blogging helps your site get found by Google and other search engines. Every time you write a blog post, it's another indexed page on your site. More indexed pages means more chances of showing up in search engines and driving traffic to your site. New content on your site signals to the search engines that your site is active and worth checking in frequently.

  • Educates
    Blogging is a great opportunity to educate clients (and potential clients) on the benefits of massage, any special services or offerings that you have, and overall wellness information.

  • Establishes Authority
    Your current clients probably already see you as an expert in the field, but that fact will really be driven home when you regularly blog about wellness and massage. New clients will be put more at ease seeing your expertise from your blog posts. It's easy to forget that some of the information we know after being a massage therapist for X amount of years isn't necessarily common knowledge to clients and potential clients.

  • Fosters Relationships
    Creates a two-way conversation with your clients, helping to build a relationship with them before they even step foot in your massage studio.

What To Blog?

  • Think over your past week in working with clients. What are some questions you were asked? This is a great source of blog topics and material.

  • Wellness tips and/or products.

  • Spotlight different services you offer and explain the benefits of each one. (1 service = 1 blog post.)

  • Youtube videos showing self-care tips - just add your own commentary and there's a great, informational post! Here's one that I used recently during cold & flu season, and several clients thanked me for it:

My Results From Blogging

  • After writing and publishing a post to my website, I create an email campaign to my client list and paste in the entire blog post. (My main goal is for clients to read it, but if my main goal was traffic to my site, I might only put the first paragraph of the post and then link back to my blog. Or, you could still drive traffic to your site by including the entire post and then asking them to comment on your blog.) I end the email with any openings in my schedule coming up soon, and a link to my online scheduler. These openings always get filled after my email goes out.

  • Many clients have mentioned that they love my emails about the benefits of massage and thank me often for them. Just this morning at yoga class, I saw a client and she thanked me (for about the 4th time) for sending these emails.

  • I've sold more product and have been able to educate my clients on how the products I carry can help them.

How To Get Started

  • You don't have to have some fancy blogging software to get started with reaping the benefits of blogging right away. Many website services include a blog option (Weebly, ABMP's free website, etc.) Or you can use a free service like Blogger.

  • If you have trouble thinking of topics, start with the first month's posts before you publish any of them so that you get the ball rolling.

  • Choose how often to post and stick with being consistent.

  • Email your clients / mailing list your blog post. Encourage them to comment on the post and link back to the blog.

  • If you have openings you need to fill, include those in the bottom of the emailed posts to clients.

  • Add an image! Canva is a great option to create an image for your blog posts. It's a free service and you can legally use those images on your site.

  • Have a friend proofread it if spelling and writing are not your strong suit.

Do you have a blog for your massage business? Share it in the comments, you may just inspire another massage therapist to start their own blog!

Cindy Iwlew is a licensed massage therapist and cofounder of Bodywork Buddy Massage Software.