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Building Raving Fans: Practice Building Tips

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By David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

In my March article, “The 80/20 Rule: Maximizing the Return on Your Investment,” I talked about how to use the 80/20 rule to produce a better return on your investment of time and money in  your clinical, chair, outcall, or spa massage practice. I discussed focusing 80 percent of your efforts on the 20 percent of the tasks that matter most, and I stressed the importance of thanking your clients for their business. I also touched on the importance saying thank you to those professionals and others who refer new business. This month, I’d like to expand on this idea with a few simple “20-percent actions” that will set you apart from your competition and help you build “raving” fans.

Saying “thank you” to someone for referring a new client isn’t just the polite thing to do—it’s a means of maintaining relationships and building new business. When was the last time you got a “Thank You” from your health care provider or from a patient that you referred to another health care provider? It doesn’t take much to say thank you; yet, simply acknowledging someone’s efforts on your behalf can go a long way.

Get clients involved. When new clients are checking out, I hand them a blank note card and ask them to write a simple thank-you note to the person that referred them. The message is quite simple: “Dear ____, Thank you for referring me to David Kent’s Muscular Pain Relief Center. Today I received my first treatment and I already feel much better! Sincerely, ___.” This simple action only takes a few minutes, and most clients will be more than happy to write a thank-you note, especially when they have just received a treatment that has relieved their pain. This simple gesture makes everyone involved feel good and strengthens the relationships. Make it easy on the client: Provide the envelope and the stamp, and mail it for them.

Send personal thank-you cards to first-time referral sources. It’s not just up to your client to thank the referral source, especially if you want that source to continue sending clients your way. Create or buy some massage-specific thank-you cards, and send them every time you receive a referral from a new source. Make sure that you personally sign the card, too. I sign every thank-you card to new clients, referral sources, and people that have inquired about or ordered my products.

Make a statement. While it’s probably not necessary to send a thank-you card every time you receive a referral from the same source, you should make a point of consistently acknowledging that person’s contribution to your practice. Do special things throughout the year for your referral sources—not just on holidays or special events. They will appreciate and rewarded your actions with more referrals. I stand out by thanking my referral sources in unique and personal ways. Some ideas include

  • Offering chair massage for everyone at the referral source’s office or business;
  • Dropping off a basket of healthy snacks, fruit, nuts and bottled water (with several business cards attached, of course);
  • Offering discounts for sessions;
  • Giving away samples of topical analgesic and lotions; and

A word about samples. Everyone loves free stuff, and free samples are an easy way to build raving fans while producing extra income. I use certain topical applications on my clients during treatment; then I show clients’ how to apply them for self-care between sessions. I explain how these topical aids can work in conjunction with stretching, rest, ice and exercise. I also make the analgesics available for purchase at the clinic. Clients often ask for samples to pass out to family, friends and coworkers, many of whom later become my clients. One large company offers two samples with your name and telephone number printed on a product brochure. They’ll even ship it to you for free.

Office visits, distance and timing. To maintain my relationships with the referral sources in my area, I make occasional personal visits. Some of my referral sources have relocated over the years, but they still refer clients to me from time to time. A doctor who was once very close to my office is now almost an hour away. But I still take the time, on occasion, to drive out to see him. Just because a referral source has moved away doesn’t mean he or she will stop referring. Remember, the world is still a small place!

 

While making personal visits is a good method of maintaining your relationships, it’s also important to time your visits with discretion. Some referral sources may work odd shifts or weekends, such as a walk-in clinic. I work those visits into the different 20-percent parts of each day during the week. My sources often appreciate that I took the time to stop in and say thank you.

Personalize your visits. Each meeting is an opportunity to strengthen your professional relationship. If, for example, I am stopping in to a doctor’s office, I will take some time to learn about the doctors, nurses and staff members so that I can personalize my visit. During one visit, I learned that a doctor only ate organic food. On my next visit, I brought in some organic fruit and snacks. He appreciated that I took the effort learn about his eating habits and then responded with a customized gift.

Become a support system for your referral sources. When people need help, they call the people they know and trust. Many clients call our office asking if we can help people they know. And they want to know whom we recommend if we cannot help. Take care of the referral sources that take care of you.

Maintain consistency. Rarely will a single conversation, meeting, personal gift or thank-you note build a relationship or produce long-term results. Plan some 20-percent time every week to say thank you so that you can maintain your current relationships and build new ones. For more ideas, check out my past articles at www.massagetoday.com. For more practice building visit www.KentHealth.com, and drop me a line with your great ideas.

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The 80/20 Rule: Making the Most of Your Limited Time

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By: David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

Lets examine the 80/20 rule, which is also called Pareto’s Principle or Pareto’s Law, after Italian economist and sociologist Vilfredo Pareto.[1] Pareto’s original principle applied to land ownership and wealth distribution when, at that time, 20 percent of the people owned 80 percent of the land; however, I’ve discovered that the general theme of Pareto’s Principle can be loosely applied to other circumstances. In fact, the 80/20 rule has saved me valuable time, energy and money, while helping me improve my practice and produce a better return on my investment.

I first understood how I could make the 80/20 rule would work for me when I realized that I was spending far too much time on a specific project without any positive return. Although I was dedicating an exhaustive amount of time and effort to this project, it was costing me money, and my business was also suffering because I wasn’t focusing on other areas that needed my attention. To utilize the 80/20 rule in this new way, I determined that I would have to focus 80 percent of my efforts on 20 percent of the tasks that matter most to me.

Consider that it is 20 percent of the actions we take that produce 80 percent of our results; however, it is learning to tap into that 20 percent that is pivotal to making this philosophy work. What 20 percent of tasks can you focus on to have the biggest positive impact on your practice?

Let’s start with clients: Do 20 percent of your clients produce 80 percent of your income? If so, work on nurturing those relationships by making follow-up phone calls or offering occasional treatment discounts. Do 20 percent of your referral sources send you 80 percent of your clients? If so, what 20 percent of your actions can you take to help maintain and improve those relationships while producing new ones? Do you apply 20 percent of your techniques 80 percent of the time? Then become a master at utilizing those techniques in your practice. And remember: No matter what type of massage practice you have, the 80/20 rule can work for you.

 

 

 

Saying “Thank You”

One of the easiest actions you can take is to send a thank-you card to new patients, as well as the person or business that referred them. Include your business card with each thank-you note, and consider also sending a gift certificate for a complimentary treatment. Each week, I strive to make contact with current referral sources. Usually, I deliver a healthy snack when I visit, so that I can demonstrate how valuable these relationships are to me. Likewise, send your new clients a thank-you card for giving you the opportunity to be of service. Let them know that you will do everything possible to merit the confidence they have shown in you.

New Business

Don’t dismiss the importance of spending a portion of your 20 percent researching potential new leads. To obtain referrals from the medical community research physicians in your area to determine who would be a viable resource. Seated massage therapists may want to research various professional office buildings to determine where seated massage might be a good fit. I will be discussing more about showing gratitude to your referral sources and generating new business in my April column—you won’t want to miss it!

Education

To avoid spending too much time on less-than-quality educational and supplemental training materials, look for programs that give you more bang for your buck. DVD programs are very popular and have multiple benefits. And some DVDs may double as educational tools for your clients to demonstrate trigger-point locations or stretching techniques. Select programs with clearly indexed menus and supplemental materials that complement the DVD, such as manuals or workbooks.

The dissection lab is another great place where I can apply the 80/20 rule because the amount of knowledge I gain from the time I spend in the lab is invaluable, and it gives me more confidence in my hands-on abilities. Just ask Edgar Moon, a blind massage that I wrote about in my second article for Massage Today, “Feeling is Believing.” Edgar, who “sees” with his hands, attended a dissection seminar and said that it helped enhance his kinesthetic skills tremendously.

Employment Opportunities

As everyone knows, we never get a second chance to make a good first impression. And it doesn’t take much to be prepared: dress professionally; have all of your paperwork with you, including copies of your massage license, liability insurance and certifications; and do a little homework to learn everything you can about your potential employer. Does the clinic provide a certain type of therapy that matches your skill set? Do you already have the proper training and experience? What current skills do you have that can benefit your future employer? The most important 20 percent of this exercise will be during the interview, so make it count! Prove that you are ready to work!

Recognizing the importance of and focusing on that 20 percent will make a huge difference in your life. It will revolutionize your practice and give you maximum return on all of your investments of time, energy—everything, really. Review your goals every day, plan your outcomes, and then ask yourself, “What items on my list are the 20 percent that really count?” I invite you to read my previous articles at MassageToday.com, such as “The Power of the List” or “The Power a Minute,” for more practice-building ideas. Each article supports the other, so make sure you check them out.

Additionally, visit www.KentHealth.com where you can listen to free audio clips that provide additional tips to keep you focused on the 20 percent that counts. (I recently interviewed a CPA who is also an LMT, and she shared the 20 percent of things that will save you money at tax time!)

Drop me a line at [email protected] to let me know how you are applying the 80/20 rule to improve your practice. Next month, I’ll expand on the idea of thanking referral sources and generating new business. See you then!


[1]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle

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Charting Success: Effectively Treating and Retaining Patients

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By David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

Whether you perform massage in a medical, clinical or spa setting, it is important for clients to feel they are benefitting from treatment. Using visual aids is an excellent way to chart and evaluate a client’s progress. Charting allows you to show a client his/her progress. It also helps you and the client stay focused on which course of treatment to pursue.

In my last article, “The Power of the List,” I presented my goal-setting questions and Power List to help you kick-start the process of identifying and achieving your goals for your practice and all areas of your life. In this article I will share tips for using visual aids for your client’s benefit, no matter what type of massage setting you work in. I also will describe how I use visual aids in my own practice. These tips will help you gain, maintain and increase the momentum you need to attain your professional goals while you subsequently help your clients.

Few goals are ever achieved in one step, and one massage therapy treatment is rarely going to resolve the core cause of a client’s stress, pain or dysfunction. Many clients want instant gratification—the “magic bullet” or the one-treatment fix that will immediately solve their problem; however, it is incumbent upon us to educate our clients about the accumulated benefits of a series of treatments versus a single treatment here and there. Clients who make a commitment to regular treatment often are quickly amazed at the positive impact it has on their quality of life.

Here’s a brief quiz. Imagine you are driving down the highway and the “low oil” warning signal displays on the dashboard. You take the next exit and drive to the nearest gas station where you check the oil level and see that the engine is low by two quarts. Should you:

  1. Buy just enough oil so that the warning light will turn off; then drive the car until the warning light comes on again, only to do the same thing again. This is the human equivalent of taking over-the-counter (OTC) medication.
  1. Pull the fuse so the warning light doesn’t annoy you. This is the equivalent of seeing a doctor for prescription medication that masks the pain.
  1. Locate the wire that connects the light to the dashboard and cut it so it can never send the warning signal again. This is the body’s equivalent to surgery.
  1. Add one quart of oil and drive until the warning display lights up again; then add one more quart of oil. This is the equivalent of a client with headaches, neck and shoulder pain scheduling an emergency massage therapy session. Upon completion of the session, you recommend follow-up sessions, simple stretching techniques, ergonomic changes, and other methods of self care; however, the client doesn’t follow any of your recommendations and the next time you hear from the client is when his/her pain is at the crisis level and he/she needs to “get in as soon as possible.”
  1. Immediately add two quarts of oil at the gas station and then schedule an appointment to have your car serviced as soon as possible. Think about it. Maybe there is an oil leak or maybe something is drastically wrong with the car. Over time, the oil in the car breaks down. This is what the experts call “loosing oil viscosity.” Could that be similar to loosing range-of-motion?

Obviously, the best answer to the question is “E”.  You need to schedule the car for service – not only for a filter and oil change, but for a complete checkup. You make this decision on simple information that would be obvious to any person. It’s not too hard to see that the car in this scenario is a stand-in for the human body. And this valuable machine needs attention and care to run correctly and last for the long run. Ultimately, it’s cheaper to maintain the body’s health than to “pay” for a complete “breakdown” in the long run in the way of lost work, doctor bills, medication, pain and a reduced quality of life.

The point of this exercise is to demonstrate the importance of gathering information the right way at the right time. For example, a client complains of headaches that occur three to four times a week and require prescription medication; however, even with increasing medication, the client frequently misses time off work. This client also has secondary complaints of neck, shoulder and upper back pain that disrupt sleeping patterns. In this example, my short-term goals are to reduce the headaches and the neck pain intensity, frequency and duration, as well as to improve sleeping patterns.

Here is where I start collecting my visuals to create my starting point of reference so that I can measure the client’s progress from this point forward. To begin, I have the client fill out intake forms, questionnaires and a pain-scale chart before and after treatment. Other aids I use to establish a baseline include documenting range-of-motion; conducting muscle and orthopedic assessments; using trigger point charts; taking postural analysis photos; and evaluating gait.

Depending on your massage therapy setting, you will probably adjust which visual aids you use in your practice; however, most clients, regardless of the setting, find it both useful and comforting when the therapist uses charts and models to describe their condition and note their progress.

Lastly, we all need a little encouragement to produce the results we want in our lives. Often, however, we have no one around to motivate us. Every day, I list the things I am grateful for, as well as the things I did to move myself closer to my goals. I also ask my clients to do the same. A client with chronic headaches might be grateful for finding you, the massage therapist, and—thanks to continued treatment—he/she might be grateful for missing less work and sleeping better at night. This client might be following your recommendations and stretching and exercising every day as a means of reducing the frequency of the headaches.

As for me, I am grateful for my health and my practice. And whether it’s learning a new skill, following innovative practice-management techniques or using visual aids, I make a point of doing something every single day that will help me reach my professional and personal goals.

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The Power of a List: Organizing Your Life for Success

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By David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

It’s that time of year again when we are making our New Year Resolutions, so I thought it would be helpful to share some simple, straightforward and extremely powerful strategies that help me achieve my goals. If, while reading this article, you start thinking, “I know this stuff” or “I’ve heard this all before,” take a moment to ask yourself if you are truly applying these concepts to your daily life. Setting goals and working to achieve them helps build confidence and a positive self image. It also helps you live life to the fullest.

When I identify a goal that I would like to achieve, I ask myself very specific questions to get clear about the actions that are necessary to attain my desired outcome. The quality of the questions we ask ourselves ultimately determines the quality of the answer our brain delivers, and this answer is what drives our behavior. Therefore, it is important that you ask yourself strong, good quality questions that will help reveal positive outcomes. Stay clear of poor quality questions that are doomed to elicit negative answers.

Examples of negative, poor quality questions might be: “Why does this always happen to me?” or “Why do I always do stupid things?” When you are in this mindset, your brain is likely to respond with equally negative answers, such as “Because you’re stupid,” or “You’re undereducated” or “You lack hands-on or business experience.” These types of questions and answers only serve to reinforce negative attitudes, which won’t get you closer to any of your goals.

A positive, good quality question is clear, specific and focused, as well as empowering, honest and objective. For example: “What resources are currently available that will allow me to grow my practice, analyze and communicate my findings, deliver the highest quality hands-on care, and educate my clients about the importance of getting regular massage?”

For our questions and answers to be effective we must clearly identify our goals and then list the tasks that are necessary to complete these goals. Next we must organize these tasks into a plan of action. Finally, we must occasionally reassess and review our plan to determine if we are on the right track. Below is my “Power List,” which consists of actions and goal-oriented questions. Whenever I want to achieve a new goal, I turn to my Power List to get started.

David’s Power List and Goal-Setting Questions:

 

Visualize It…

What do I want and why do I want it? What is the ultimate goal or outcome?

Close your eyes and see it, feel it, taste it, smell it, hear it and say it.

Plan It…

When must this be completed? What is the deadline?

Writing project goals and target dates on calendars helps plan strategy.

Model It…

Who has the experience, resources and track record for me to model?

Find a mentor. Invest in your education and client education resources.

 

Write It…

What are the individual actions necessary to achieve the goal?

Write it down as you break it down. List every step necessary to achieve this task.

 

Do It…

What can I do now to move this goal toward completion?

Take immediate action. Daily progress builds momentum.

Enjoy It…

How can this be a fun and enjoyable process?

Making the experience a pleasurable one improves productivity.

Support, Balance and Nurture It…

Am I eating healthy, sleeping and exercising to properly support myself?

You will need the energy and a clear mind to take action. Get massage regularly!

Refine It…

Am I on course to achieve the target? How can I improve the process?

Review your goals and the results of your action plan frequently.

Start with the first steps on the Power List, and ask yourself what you want out of your life and your practice. Some of your goals may include producing better results with your clients; integrating more clinical work into the spa portion of your practice; assessing and educating your clients with simple visual aids so they commit to a series of treatments; or establishing new referral sources while maintaining current ones.

Now ask yourself why you want to achieve these goals. What would achieving these goals provide and fulfill in your life? Your reasons may range from growing your practice to giving you more knowledge, experience, skills and confidence to produce better results to planning quality time with loved ones, family and friends. The key here is to make sure your targeted questions elicit focused answers.

As you work your way down the Power List, you will eventually need to determine what it will take to achieve your goals. Perhaps it will require you to take a uniquely special seminar or buy a program that heightens your level of knowledge and skill set. Maybe it will require you to implement specific office management systems through the use of professional forms.

Keep in mind that one of the most important tasks on the Power List is to write down your goals and your plan of action. Writing things down frees your mind by allowing you to empty your thoughts on paper so that you can stop the constant loop from running in your head. Additionally maintaining lists keeps you focused on the task at hand.

In closing, I’d like to reference one of my favorite motivational speakers, Tony Robbins. In his seminars, Robbins talks about the danger of focusing on the past or what is called the “Looking Behind” or “Rear View Mirror Syndrome.” It is impossible to move forward when our attention is focused on our failures, poor decisions or other negative experiences in our lives.

Remember: We learn something from every experience. It’s the perception or belief that we have about the experience and the actions we take that ultimately determine the final outcome. Instead of focusing on the negative, ask yourself what you learned from the situation. Generally, our past failures are often simply the result of using the wrong strategy or taking the wrong actions. Additionally, dwelling on the past by playing old negative tapes in your head will cause you to think, hear, say and feel in a negative way. And it will be those negative feelings and emotions that drive your actions.

So do you think now would be a good time to start making your Power List? Get started immediately! Cut out this article and put it in a place where you will see it every day. Share these ideas with your family, friends and colleagues. Build a team and find a mentor. Don’t put off your dreams and goals any longer. Your life is waiting!

Please let me know about your positive changes and any new ideas you used to achieve them.

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Pushing Towards Greatness

Constantly going further in your life and career

By David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

What is “greatness” anyway? For some, achieving great success means making a lot of money; for others, greatness springs from internal peace and contentment. I know what I consider success in my life and practice. While I appreciate that I can earn a living doing what I love and that my success as a massage therapist, lecturer, and product and seminar innovator has made me financially secure, I also define my success by the lives that I touch—figuratively and literally.

I love connecting to the patients I see in the treatment room. I enjoy collaborating with doctors, chiropractors and other healthcare professionals to develop treatment plans for my patients. I like referring back to my anatomy and massage books when I have a challenging case. In short, I feel that my “great” success—if that’s what you want to call it—stems primarily from touching my patient’s lives for the better. But great success certainly doesn’t end there. A mother who got into the massage therapy profession so she could spend more time with her kids is what I would consider a prime example of great success. Ultimately, greatness and success are subjective depending on one’s dreams and aspirations.

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David Kent – Massage Today: Pushing Towards Greatness (12/07)

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F=MxA

Force equals Mass times Acceleration: Creating action in your life

By David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

In the massage profession, Mass stands for us—the massage therapists, the mass of the profession. And as a profession, our numbers (mass) are large. Just as we comprise a mass, there is an even larger mass of people desperate to learn more about the benefits of massage through research. Studies indicate that people would benefit from receiving regular massage therapy. In fact, there are plenty of people out there getting massage and not disclosing it to their medical providers because the medical profession still has not fully embraced massage as an adjunct to healthcare; this is, in part, because research remains in short supply.

We see daily the life-changing results massage has on our patients. But we need more industry research to validate our knowledge and draw even more of the masses to massage. While we’re certainly making progress in the field of massage research, we would definitely benefit from more. There are many other professions with far fewer people, yet whose research base is more widely encompassing than that of the massage industry. If industries with a smaller number of professionals can produce a steady flow of research, then we in the massage industry—a profession large in number—should also be able to produce a more influential research base.

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David Kent – Massage Today: F=MxA (01/07)

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All Systems Go

Effective systems for managing your practice

By David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

As a practicing massage therapist who receives referrals from hospitals and physicians, I find fulfillment in helping my patients return to their normal activities of daily living (ADL). Yet, years of clinical practice have taught me that treating my patients involves more than just the application of massage. Whole-body wellness requires an integrative approach to health care. As a massage therapist, there are many integrative methods I can utilize, including referring out when a condition falls outside my scope of practice; educating my patients about self-care; staying current on the latest massage research; and maintaining comprehensive systems so I stay organized in my massage practice.

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David Kent – Massage Today: All Systems Go (08/07)

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The Power of a Minute

Time management strategies to help build your practice

By David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

There’s no doubt about it; our lives are busier then ever. While juggling careers, relationships, families and everything in between, we sometimes convince ourselves there is not another minute to squeeze in anything else. I know I often feel that way. But is it really true? Is life so busy that we haven’t even a single minute to devote to marketing our practice, learning a new skill or simply doing something good for ourselves?

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David Kent – Massage Today: The Power of a Minute (06/07)

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The Body Is In Charge

Lessons from the full body dissection experience

By David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

There are five senses we learn from: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory. Everyone learns differently. I am primarily a visual and kinesthetic learner. The first time I learned about fascia, muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and adipose in massage school, I processed the information by asking myself several questions: What do these structures look like? What do they feel like? And is it possible for me to see them? Lastly, where could I – a naive massage therapy student – find the answers to these questions? This was, after all, 15 years ago, when massage therapy instruction was slightly less sophisticated. I didn’t know, so I improvised.

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David Kent – Massage Today: The Body Is In Charge (02/07)