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Showing posts with label inspiration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label inspiration. 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 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 massage 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.

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. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Bodywork Buddy Member Spotlight: Erin Onyskow

Today's Bodywork Buddy member spotlight is Erin Onyskow. Erin is a Certified Massage Therapist and owns Discover Massage Therapy in Granger, Indiana.

Q: What inspired you to be a massage therapist?

A: What inspired me to be a massage therapist???  Hmmm… I really don’t have a cool or inspirational story for that. It just kind of fell into my lap. I signed up for massage therapy school after getting out of the vet field. I had no idea what to expect or what the hell I was doing. Due to my amazing teachers and the more I learned about massage, the more I feel in love with it. I learned that massage therapy just doesn’t affect the body but also the mind. From the elderly to infants to the chronically ill to “I just want to relax”, massage therapy has the unique versatility to inspire and heal. I was essentially hooked. I ended up graduating with honors.  

Q: How long have you been doing massage?

A: 7 years this month!

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

A: My favorite thing about being a massage therapist is that it never gets boring. From putting a smile back on someone’s face that hasn’t smiled for a while because of chronic pain or crying with someone because they just lost a loved one, massage is a multifaceted profession. Even though we “just give massages”, it affects people in many unparalleled ways, that we don’t often see.  

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

A: Then most challenging issue for an MT is that, essentially, to be taken seriously in our western society. Massage therapy has been the backbone of health and wellness for many other cultures, for thousands of years. America is just catching on to this fact, and even then, the public’s perception of our field can be a bit muddled. Not only do massage therapists have the exhausting task of “putting people back together” but we also should educate to alter people’s inaccurate, hardwired belief systems. Massage is so much more than relaxing music and soft lighting, it can often be, literally ripping soft tissue apart, in order for their bodies to correctly heal themselves. There is a ton of research out there, that does prove what we have already known to be true for a long time – that massage therapy does indeed work.

Q: What advice would you give to other MT’s to help build their business?
A: Advice for other MT to help build their business – don’t’ burn bridges, be patient and be your own curious, weird, bold and wonderful self. Build relationships with the other businesses around you. Prepare for problems and issues.  Develop an amazing skill for brainstorming. Have solutions ready for those problems before they come into fruition. Stay consistent and know that word spreads like wildfire.  Reputation is absolute KEY. You never know where that next new client is going to come from, so get involved – with community events, networking and hitting that pavement. Clients aren’t going to magically appear at your door. Go out and find them. Once you get the clients, your hard work is just starting. Now you have to maintain that relationship and give them a reason to keep coming back to you and spending their hard-earned money. It’s much easier to maintain clients, than to find new ones. I read a great article - while it was targeting financial planners -  the message is the same for massage therapists or anyone with a clientele based business. APPRECIATE YOUR CLIENTS. He states, “Here’s the truth: if you don’t appreciate your clients, someone else will.” Even as a solo massage therapist, with your own business, we can sometimes see ourselves as not having anyone to answer to. No bosses, no management. Wrong. Your clients are your boss. They pay your bills and keep your business open. Treat them as such. Take care of your clients and they’ll take care of you. I highly recommend that everyone read his article.  😊

Monday, July 31, 2017

Retooling Your Barefoot Massage

I had the good fortune to be a guest client for Mary-Claire and Abigail’s FasciAshi FUNdamentals class in Battle Creek, Michigan this past weekend. Even after having taught barefoot massage for 10 years and practicing it for longer, I had some “ah-ha” moments when receiving FasciAshi. (YOU GUYS, the anterior neck work is amaaazing.)

I received some of the work in the afternoon on the first day. I felt like what I received on the first day was better-than-average first-day-of-class work. It seemed to me that the way this class is structured had the students starting with full body strokes with their feet that make it easier to delve in with working with the feet for the first time, and easier to receive for the client… then working their way up to more specific strokes.

The definition of FasciAshi:
Ashiatsu barefoot massage focusing on exploration of how to engage tissue with each stroke using myofascial release, trigger point, deep tissue and ROM techniques applied by your feet.

I’m here to tell you, if you think you know all there is to know about ashiatsu and working with your feet, I can guarantee you will find some awesome value in the FaschiAshi classes. This is NOT your grandmother’s barefoot massage.
Mary-Claire Fredette
teaching how to install
bars in ashiatsu class

The guest clients on the last day of class were people I have had as guest clients for classes throughout the years, and one even said that this was the “best yet” massage from a class he’d received. And I really feel it’s not only the type of work, but in the way that it was taught - with the goal to help the therapists in class start thinking with their feet and working with intention rather than just following a routine.

Interested in learning more about these ashiatsu classes? Check them out at Center for Barefoot Massage. I’m planning to take some of their classes in 2018 myself.

What great continuing ed classes have you taken recently? Give them a shout-out in the comments, I'd love to hear what your favorites have been.

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Biggest Vacation Mistake You Don't Want to Make

Last week, I listened to a podcast about the importance of entrepreneurs taking vacation. (Which was pretty aptly timed since I was planning a quick camping trip for the weekend.)

It's hard to take time away from your business to take a vacation when you're a small business owner or especially a one-person show. My sister always used to say I was so lucky because I could take a vacation whenever I wanted being a self-employed massage therapist. Yes, so lucky! I could take time off, unpaid, and not only that - but my landlord would still let me pay my rent while my massage studio sat there unused! 😂

Michelle Doetsch, LMT and owner of New Yew Healing in Grand Rapids, Michigan says "It's super important to take time off from your business from time to time, even if it's just a day, or even a couple of hours. When I do that consciously and conscientiously I often have insights into my business or myself that I wouldn't have if I were busy seeing clients and doing all of the administrative and operational stuff I have to do as a business owner. Those insights almost always correlate into streamlined processes, new ways to do things, or some other thing that improves some part of my personal or work life. We have to remember that personal insights and/or growth are as important as figuring out how to streamline you intake process. They affect our massage businesses as much as they affect our private life outside the office."

The Fizzle podcast breaks down time off into a few different types of vacations:

  • the staycation or “digital detox”
  • the shorter "do no work" vacation
  • the longer "do some work" vacation
  • sabbatical
  • living abroad
  • paternity/maternity/family leave
It helps to think about planning short trips or staycations if you can't quite take a long trip far away at this time. What it boils down to is that it's SO IMPORTANT for your mental health to take a break from your business.

While these graphs are from an article that is specifically talking about employees taking time off from a company they work for, I still think they are relevant to independent massage therapists who work for themselves.

Kristy Poux, a licensed massage therapist who owns The Silk Mill Retreat in Fredericksburg, Virginia says: "For me personally, I feel like you can't pour from an empty glass. Taking time for myself isn't selfish, it's self care. I can't take care of everyone else if I'm not taking care of myself first and foremost."

I like to go camping because 1) It's quality time with my family. 2) It's the only way to truly unplug. (I still have my phone and iPad so I'm able to check in and make sure things are running smoothly. But if I go somewhere with full electricity and a place to setup my laptop, I'll end up working more than not.) Camping prevents me from doing this. Just sitting around the campfire listening to coyotes and wondering if there are bears that are going to kill me in my sleep ... I need this. It's also really hard for me to not make a little camping trip happen when it's so frugal - doesn't involve a flight or hotel costs, etc.  

Of course, don't get me wrong.... I'd love a long vacation at a spa or an exotic trip to another country. I just know that I can always swing a camping trip even when I think I don't have time or finances to get away.

"Vacation makes you feel refreshed and energized. Simply changing up your everyday routine and getting several nights of truly restful sleep can give you a new sense of vigor to look at your challenges with a fresh perspective and return to the office ready to make big strides toward your goals."

So it's time to ask yourself:
How often do you take time off throughout the year? What kinds of ways do you feel re-inspired about your work after a vacation?
Because the biggest vacation mistake you don't want to make it to not take one.

You work hard taking care of your clients. The Bodywork Buddy massage software dashboard shows you just how hard you work!

Take care of yourself and schedule some time off this Summer. You deserve it!

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