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Practice Building For Massage Therapists: Consistency Breeds Success

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By: David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

The current economic slowdown is stressful to everyone. Business is slow, treatments are down, and both are affecting the bottom line. During these challenging times, however, there are things you can do to consistently to breed your success. Instead of getting frustrated and discouraged, use this extra downtime to your advantage. Following the tips in this article will help you achieve ongoing success in your practice, whether you are in a clinical, spa or outcall setting.

Getting Out There

Marketing professionals know how important repetition is to “imprint” a product in the mind of the consumer. This same concept applies to massage therapy and your ability to imprint your services on potential referral sources. Each week, I visit specific locations that have become my best referral sources. If you aren’t getting the number of referrals you would like, it’s time to get out there and introduce yourself. Here are just a few places to start:
o      Medical and chiropractic clinics

o      Acupuncturists and homeopaths

o      Hotels and salons

o      Personal training centers and gyms

o      Tennis and golf courses

o      Yoga studios

o      Health food stores

o      Gymnastic and dance studios

o      Business centers

Talk it Up

You took the time to get out there; now you need to make it count! Your goal is to attract business by educating your referral sources about the importance of massage therapy.  Advertisers use test markets and focus groups to refine their messages. But before you begin pitching your services, you will need to practice and refine your “commercial” with your “test market,” which is located in the next community over.

That’s right. You need to practice your selling skills before you officially launch your marketing campaign with your “real” audience in your own community. Practicing gives you the opportunity to build your confidence while simultaneously getting comfortable with introducing yourself to strangers, telling them what you do, and answering commonly asked questions. But don’t let yourself off the hook with your practice sessions. Make sure that you are as professional and courteous with your test audience as you plan to be with your “real” audience. The following tips will help you get comfortable in this newfound role as salesperson.
o      Introduce yourself. Let people know who you are, what you do, and where you practice.

o      Talk to everyone you come into contact with—everyone! From waiters and waitresses to the FedEx delivery person to your mechanic, dentist, or insurance agent.

o      Never assume that people know what massage is or how it can help them.

o      Following each encounter, reevaluate your performance and ask yourself the following questions: What did I learn?  What will I do different next time? What other strategies could I try in the future? Answering these questions will help you do a better job each time.

o      Finally, ask your clients and referral sources what they think is important for you to tell others when marketing your services. You’ll be surprised at how helpful their feedback will be.

Show and Tell

Explaining the basics helps others understand how massage therapy can help with headaches, sciatica, neck and back pain, and more. Additionally, using “props” can help educate your clients.
o      Carry a trigger point flip chart with you. Explain how trigger point patterns are often the cause of severe pain.
o      Take a moment to examine the posture of the person you are speaking with. Educate your contact about how each individual’s unique postural pattern can be treated with massage therapy. Then describe your ability to custom tailor your treatments accordingly.

Mutual Benefits

Discuss how you can be of mutual benefit to each other.
o      Can you send them business?

o      Take some of their business cards to pass out, and ask them to do the same.

Leave Treasures

Do something unique so that your referral sources remember you.

o      Give a helpful tip. If you are talking with a secretary who complains of neck pain, suggest that he/she try a telephone headset, or adjust the height and angle of the computer monitor or chair.

o      Teach simple stretching techniques.

o      Leave healthy snacks. I know people who are always on the run and rarely stop to eat. Sometimes, I’ll drop off an apple, nuts, and a bottle of water, along with my business card.

o      Leave samples of topical pain relievers.  

Contact Information
You’ve invested your time and energy marketing your practice. Now make sure that your referral sources can find your name and number when it counts. Be sure to leave
o      Business cards

o      Magnets

o      Flyers

o      Pens

o      Notepads

o      Any other tool you think will leave an impression.

Education
Clients often want to understand and learn more about their condition, so put your education to good use.
o      Continually educate and re-educate your clients.

o      Show them how to stretch and maintain themselves between sessions.

o      Explain the importance and benefits of regular exercise.

o      Use visuals, such as anatomical models, textbooks, trigger point charts or other charts to show the musculoskeletal origins of their condition.

o      Review the effects of poor posture and explain how it contributes to pain. Since a picture is worth a thousand words and many cell phones have cameras, taking postural analysis photos on the road is easier than ever. Read “Getting Comfortable with Postural Analysis” (Massage Today, July 2008) for more tips on using postural analysis photos.

o      Discuss the uses of ice, heat, and topical analgesics for pain.

Say “Thank You”

o      Place follow-up calls to new clients.

o      Send thank you notes to clients and referral sources.

We typically avoid the things that we are uncomfortable doing; however, with practice, you will quickly realize that certain thoughts and actions consistently focused in positive directions will ensure your success. And if you practice your selling skills consistently, you will improve each time you sell your services to somebody new. Remember: practice makes perfect! Hang in there and don’t get frustrated. Results don’t always happen overnight. Just invest the time and keep a positive attitude. You’ll be amazed with the results!

David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

David Kent, LMT, NCTMB, is an international presenter, product innovator and writer. His clinic, Muscular Pain Relief Center, is in Deltona, Florida, where he receives referrals from various healthcare providers. David is President and Founder of Kent Health Systems which teaches Human Dissection, Deep Tissue Medical Massage and Practice Building seminars, and has developed a line of products, including the Postural Analysis Grid Chart™, Trigger Point Charts, Personalized Essential Office Forms™, and DVD programs. Visit www.KentHealth.com or call (888) 574-5600 for more information.

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A Year in Review: Practice Building Resources and Tips

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By: David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

As 2008 winds down, I am reminded of all that I have to be grateful for: good health, my friends and family, and—for the most part—a thriving business and practice. Yet, at the same time, I am concerned about the future. The economy has reached record lows and has negatively impacted massage therapists everywhere. Right now, you may be wondering if it’s possible for your clinic, spa or outcall practice to weather these storms. The answer is yes; however, surviving these challenging times will depend largely on how resourceful and creative you are when it comes to your business.

During the course of the last two years, I have had the privilege of writing many articles for Massage Today that offer practical solutions about how to create a flourishing massage therapy practice. I’d like to take a moment to refer you to them now. Whether you are a new or experienced therapist, this article will provide you with a cheat sheet to my previous articles. Think of it as a “Solutions Guide” that will help you find new ways to energize and reinvigorate your practice.

Eliminating Blind Spots

Our thoughts determine our focus, which influences our actions and effectiveness. If we think negative, unproductive thoughts, we produce outcomes at a lower level. An example of this would include looking for your keys while continually saying, “I can’t find my keys.” Stating that you can’t find your keys over and over simply reinforces the negative situation that you are trying to avoid. Or, at the very least, it creates a blind spot in your thinking. Are you creating blind spots in your career? Then you need to focus on solutions. If business is slow, don’t focus on how slow it is. Instead, focus on what needs to be implemented to turn things around. One rule of thumb is to focus 80 percent of your time and energy on 20 percent of the things that matter most to you. Read: The 80/20 Rule: Maximizing the Return on your Investment

Attaining your Goals

We must take a few minutes every day to work on attaining our goals. What are three things you could do right now that could help your practice, but that you have delayed because you are fearful of the unknown or of possible rejection? To put those thoughts and fears behind you, you need to be proactive. Make a list twice as long of all of the good things that will happen by taking action. You will immediately have clarity and a desire to move forward. Read: The Power of a Minute and The Power of the List.

Balancing the Systems

Just as the body has many systems that work in harmony with one another, so must the systems in your practice. Is your practice operating as efficiently as possible? What isn’t working that you would you like to change? Read: Massage Your Balancing Act and All Systems Go.

Keep Your Skills Sharp

They say, “If you don’t use it you loose it”. I still regularly treat clients at my clinic and love to receive massage. I learn allot from every treatment I receive. When was the last time you received a massage?  Are you following the recommendations you tell your clients?

What about hands-on seminars, have you studied anything unique lately? Read: The Body is in Charge and Feeling is Believing. What textbook could you read to improve your knowledge and skills? Are you reading articles on treatment? Read: Safety Protocols: Carotid Artery and Subscapularis: Overlooked and Under Treated For many DVD programs with accompanying photo manuals are get aids. This type of tool supports hands-on seminars by allowing you study prior to or after a training.

Maintaining a Polished and Professional Demeanor

Imagine walking into a store to buy a specific item. You locate the item, which is manufactured by two different companies and sitting on the shelf side by side. Each is priced the same. One box is nice, new and brightly colored; the other box looks like it was run over by a truck. Which one would you buy? Now imagine that you are a potential client or employer looking to hire a massage therapist. Do you think that a therapist’s overall appearance and actions might influence your purchase? Are you dressing or “packaging” yourself in the right light? What sets you apart from other therapists in your area? Do you specialize in a particular modality or possess special training? Are you setting high standards of care by asking your clients the right questions? Are you communicating to clients that you are highly skilled and knowledgeable in your field?  Read: Questions with Direction.

Tools of the Trade

All healthcare providers use paperwork, instruments and devices to gather information, as well as to evaluate, educate and treat their clients. Pain scales are great tools to show progress over a series of therapy sessions. Many massage therapists take postural analysis photos to document their client’s progress and educate their clients about the benefits of treatment. Trigger point charts help you explain referred pain patterns to your clients, which gives them confidence that you can design a treatment plan to help them. Read: Charting your Progress: Visuals for Success; Simple Answers Create Positive Results; and Getting Comfortable with Postural Analysis.

Building Your Practice

Does the community know about you and your business? How do potential clients contact you? Have you distributed your cards and/or brochures in health food stores, gyms, and chiropractic and medical offices? Have you met the tennis and golf professionals in your area? Have you considered writing an article for the local paper about the benefits of massage therapy and/or your particular specialty? Do you have a Web site that is up to date? If you are a new therapist, are you communicating your availability with phrases like, “Now Accepting New Clients”, “Outcalls Available” and “Introductory Specials”? Are you taking a few minutes to follow up with new clients after their initial visit? Are you sending thank you cards to your clients and referral sources? Remember to show your clients and your referral sources your appreciation. A little acknowledgement goes a long, long way. Read: Building Raving Fans: Consistency is Key.

As we move into 2009, I encourage you to stay focused and positive. Times are tough, but things will get better. In the meantime, continue to educate yourself and improve your craft. Check out MassageToday.com for unlimited resources to help you build a successful practice, and stayed tuned for more great articles in next year’s “Keeping It Simple” series. Happy Holidays!

David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

David Kent, LMT, NCTMB, is an international presenter, product innovator and writer. His clinic, Muscular Pain Relief Center, is in Deltona, Florida, where he receives referrals from various healthcare providers. David is President and Founder of Kent Health Systems which teaches Human Dissection, Deep Tissue Medical Massage and Practice Building seminars, and has developed a line of products, including the Postural Analysis Grid Chart™, Trigger Point Charts, Personalized Essential Office Forms™, and DVD programs. Visit www.KentHealth.com or call (888) 574-5600 for more information.

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