Jun 15, 2018
Allissa rants about practitioners and credibility. And online reputations that are a hot mess.Listen to "E165: How Can We Gain Credibility as Practitioners?" on Spreaker.
Allissa rants about practitioners and credibility. And online reputations that are a hot mess.
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Sponsored by The Jojoba Company
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Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I’m Michael Reynolds.
Allissa Haines And I’m Allissa Haines.
MR We are your hosts today. Glad you’ve joined us. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Allissa, what’s the weather report from the Boston area? It is cold — not cold, I’m sorry. Cooler and rainy here in Indy.
AH I have not stepped outside my office since I got here at 7:30 this morning, so I have no idea what it’s like outside. [Laughs]
MR Very good. Perfect. Perfect.
AH I am terribly sorry. That is so boring, but I just realized it. Yeah. What’d you do this weekend? Did you do anything fun with the kid?
MR What did I do this weekend? Let’s see. Oh, yes. I wouldn’t call this necessarily fun, but we did a garage sale at my in-laws because their neighborhood was having a garage sale, so we got rid of half of our old baby stuff that was cluttering up the garage. So that was a win.
AH How much money did you make?
MR Couple hundred bucks.
AH Where you putting that?
MR Right now it’s jut in cash in one of our drawers, but we’re going to take it on vacation when we go next week so we can buy things and eat food.
AH Oh, I love. It. Love it.
AH I know how you like a little extra side-hustle cash. That’s awesome.
MR I do. I’m actually more excited about getting rid of all the stuff, but the cash is nice too.
AH Doesn’t hurt.
MR What about you?
AH I actually had the weekend off, and I did a ton of housework.
MR I noticed that on Instagram.
AH I houseworked for two days. And then yesterday I made a phone call, and I have someone coming to the house to give me an estimate for a one-time cleaning service situation and maybe for regular service after that. But here’s the thing I wanted to tell people about. So I’m new to this whole having kids around all the time thing. I’m not new to having kids around, but, like, all the time now that I live with them. Liam read to me last night a delightful book that I need the world to know about, so I’m using this vehicle, called I am Jim Henson by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. And I am saying his name wrong. I am Jim Henson. It’s a book —
MR I’m googling it right now.
AH Oh my God. It’s for ages 5-8. It’s a little long, depends on how into — I don’t know, depends on your kid. But it’s great. It’s an illustrated book, and it’s Jim Henson telling his life story, like, how he got into puppets. But the cool thing is even the pictures of Jim Henson as a child, he’s got his big beard and mustache. He’s adorable. The whole thing is — and it’s all about the wonderful environment he was raised in, how they encouraged — his grandparents and everybody — encouraged him to be creative and they also encouraged him to be really hard working and how — what was awesome is he talked about how his first three or four projects just epically failed until he got into the Muppet thing and how that got picked up. And it’s just really sweet and really motivating, and it’s got really wonderful lessons for kids about failure and hard work and just really about his whole set of ethics. And how when public television was like we want to create a show and specifically a show to help disadvantaged kids, kids who don’t have a lot of opportunities — and it’s — I was literally like — Liam was reading it to me, and it’s considerable; there’s a lot to it. But I was just almost teary in the middle of it because it was exactly the lesson you want to teach, and I think exactly the lesson small business owners should hear themselves. So I am Jim Henson. Your Eli might be a little young for it yet, but he would still probably enjoy some of the pictures. It was just great; it was just really awesome. So that’s my little plug.
MR Well it got 4.8 out of 5 starts on Amazon, and all these reviews say beautiful story, wonderful. And then one little 2-star review that says I can’t identify with it. I’m like what is wrong with you?
AH That person is dead inside, and they should go jump off a cliff and I don’t care about them. No, that’s not true. You know what Jim Henson would say? That’s okay, you didn’t need this book. Go find another one. Or maybe that’s just Bob Ross the painter. I don’t know. Anyhow that was one of the things I did this weekend. And you should all go read that book. I’ll put a link to it in the podcast notes because now I clearly have to and I’ve take up way too much banter time, which is fine because we have a real quickie topic today that I’m going to get all rant-y about.
MR Our podcast is a book review. You’re welcome. [Laughs] I actually added it to my list so I will revisit that later. Thank you.
AH So let’s talk now about our topic. Is that okay?
MR Oh, our topic. We sure do have a topic, yes.
AH We sure do. Not just Allissa’s adventures in new parenting.
MR Well, there’s always a bonus around the corner. It looks like our topic today — and boy, I can’t wait — is how can we gain credibility as practitioners and legit businesses?
MR Ah, where do we start?
AH And this topic comes from a certain amount of angst I have felt and a certain amount of aggravation I have felt in the past several months when different conversations pop up online about massage as a wellness practice, as a healthcare adjunct, as a healthcare — I cannot think of the word I’m looking for right there — but as a service. And it’s discussed amongst massage practitioners and also among educators with people complaining about the quality of student and people complaining about the quality of practitioner, and with my own aggravation trying to find new massage therapists and different massage therapists to see in my area. But inevitably someone will complain about their work not being respected or an educator will comment about the status of CE, continuing education, in the field.
I’ve got a routine I do now. So when I see in a discussion group, a practitioner or an educator, anyone, make a comment about credibility or professionalism in massage, I immediately click and go look at their profile. And that’s when I start to get really frustrated because someone will complain about whatever — they can’t get legit massage clients or whatever, and I click and I go to their profile, and initially they don’t have a completed Facebook profile. They don’t have any link to their employer whether it be a Facebook page or they don’t even have an employer listed. They don’t have a website listed. They don’t have any contact information. They might say they’re a massage therapist, but I don’t know how to reach them. I don’t know how to find their business persona. I could even google their name and massage and google their name and massage education or massage CE, and I can’t find anything. Well, straight up, people, if you want this profession to be legit, you also need to be findable. I’m going to pop into a few things and then we’ll bounce back to our halftime sponsor. I misplaced my halftime sponsor note there.
Straight up, in an age where medical providers like my dermatologist is savvy enough to use electronic records, it’s a little bit ridonkulous that a massage therapist wants to work with rehab clients, but they don’t even have a frickin’ website or a legit sounding email address. They’re still working off happy hands at gmail dot com. If you want to be communicating with physical therapists or OTs and you don’t even have a legit-sounding email address, stop it. You’re the problem. You are the problem. Stop complaining about — and this is an actual thing that I came across. It wasn’t that particular email address of course. But somebody who, when I finally googled and was able to find their listing and I saw that they do rehab work, I’m like you can’t be complaining on the Facebooks about no credibility when you say you work with rehab clients — or you want to work with more rehab clients, but you don’t even have a legit email address that’s findable or a decent website. So pull it together. Educators and schools who can’t keep their websites updated or who don’t offer online registration for CE or don’t have some kind of contact form for new students or even a clear articulation of what their massage curriculum is like? There’s an educator running this massage school. Pull it together. And then I see you complaining about the credibility of the profession. Ugh. I’m so aggravated.
Let’s take a little moment to talk about our halftime sponsor and then I’m going to bump into a few checkup notes. Things that you can do to make sure you’re not part of the problem. So, Michael, who’s our halftime sponsor?
MR Well, I was just getting all fired up listening to you. [laughs]
AH I’m super fired up.
MR I’m all at the edge of my seat now. Our halftime sponsor today is actually us, the Massage Business Blueprint premium membership. We have some new stuff that is going to be available as part of the premium membership very soon. So you want to tell us about that?
AH I do! Yay! You may or may not know, last month I schlepped to Indianapolis where Michael is located, and at his office we held a photo shoot. We took 860-some pictures of three different massage therapists applying massage to two different client bodies over the course of a day. And we have a boatload of beautiful massage stock photos. They’re great. The lighting is good. The background is good. We have a male therapist. We have two female therapists with varying skin tones. We got a lot of really good, realistic shots. We don’t have stones placed on anyone; we don’t have candles in the background. We just have plain sheets; we have realistic bodies. It is the beginning of what is going to be a year’s long project creating a whole bunch of diverse, realistic massage stock photos for you to use in your marketing. Every month at Massage Business Blueprint for our premium members, we are going to be publishing a package of these stock photos for our premium members to use in their own marketing. We’ve dripped out one — we’re probably going to have a second one soon. We’ve done a few already. We’re in the process of organizing them, and they will just be huge packets of beautiful, realistic massage stock photos that you will feel good using on your website, in your marketing, in your emails. Did I cover it, Michael?
MR Yeah, I cannot wait.
AH Tell people what to do to get premium membership, huh?
MR They would go to massagebusinessblueprint.com and there’s a call to action right there on the homepage or pretty much any interior pages you’ll see a Go Premium button. It is $17 a month, which is well worth even one of the benefits, so check it out. Let me know what you think. Sign up if you feel so inclined. I cannot wait for these photos. They are gorgeous.
AH They’re really nice and — there’s a lot of dos and don’ts to a photo shoot, and we learned many of them. As anal-retentive as I was about certain things like sheets being folded here and there, I also, once we got the finished product, saw a couple things I’m looking forward to adjusting for our next photo shoot. We are committed to finding a diverse pool of bodies to apply massage to. That’s my next part of the project. This is going to be ongoing and I’m really — obviously, I’m really excited and passionate about having diverse bodies in massage stock photos and not just all young, light-colored women applying massage and receiving massage. I’m really, really excited about it. That’s that.
AH Let’s pop back into my rant about professionalism and people who complain about credibility. Here’s how to act like a trustworthy professional and to be recognized as a credible, legit business. First of all, if I cannot google you and find some credentials and/or social proof that work in my field, you don’t exist as a professional in my world. And I know there’s a lot of people who feel like online presence isn’t important, and I would even go so far as to agree with many people and say, you know what, maybe social media presence isn’t that important and I’m cool with that. But you have to have some home base to exist online. And that is a website. If you are a practicing therapist, if you teach education, CE community education, if you have some kind of thing going on, you need a website. Your website needs to be easy to navigate, easy to understand, you need to list your hours, you need to clearly have your service listings with actual descriptions of the services that aren’t so bland that I don’t know what you do. You need to have a bio, some kind of biography, more than 20 words “so and so went to massage school and graduated here and now they practice here.” No, I need to know your credentials. I want to know — at least listed at the bottom of your bio, a resume type of what do you do, how did you learn it, give me something. Give me instructions on how to schedule with you. If you don’t have online scheduling, that’s okay. Not everybody does. I understand that. But I need to know how to schedule. I went to a handful of massage websites the other day, couldn’t find phone numbers. Had no idea of even the neighborhood they practiced in. I’m not from the area I live in now. I’m still learning my way around, so give me some information. If you offer classes, you need to have a full, updated, informative listing of the classes you offer. I want to know when you are offering them where. I want to know what process I have to go through if I want to register for one of your classes or if I want to host one of your classes. Make it easy for me to work with you because if it’s not easy to work with you, I’m not going to work with you.
MR And have online registration, please. I’m sorry, I have to interrupt. I know you said it already before, but online registration is my biggest beef. If you don’t offer it, just don’t bother.
AH And I don’t even feel as strongly about that as you do because —
MR Oh really?
AH I don’t. There are a lot of people who don’t mind making a phone call. I will probably never — I don’t go to practitioners who don’t have online scheduling, and I tend to not enroll in classes that require me to make a phone call, but I also know that I’m not like everybody. But good grief, at least make it clear how I’m supposed to register. At least give me a very clear phone number. Don’t make me beg for the information. Don’t make me beg to know if you take credit cards or checks or who I should make the check to or what I’m supposed to do. I mean, ugh. Yeah. I don’t want to have to find my checkbook, but there’s that.
Lastly, and I’m shocked and surprised at how often this has come up in the past year or two, which I guess I’m not considering the current climate of “emboldenment” — I don’t know if that’s a word — that’s happening in the world. Maybe don’t be a big ‘ol racist on social media. Like for realz. I have seen more than occasion, practitioners and educators who post extremely questionable content that maybe they think is politically aware but is actually quite racist. So let me tell you this: If you post something about how we should build a wall because immigrants are taking all of our welfare, you are a racist and you should stop it because it’s not true and it makes you look like an idiot, and it outs you as the racist that you are. So maybe don’t do that. And when people very carefully and privately point out to you that I don’t think that you fully understand the thing that you posted, don’t double down on it; you sound like an idiot. If that’s where you’re at, you need to be one of those people who just doesn’t post anything remotely related on your profile. And if you’re going to be friends with your colleagues, people who you want to buy your continuing education, if you’re going to be friends with them on Facebook, you best be prepared for a barrage of conflict if you’re going to post crap like that. I say this as someone who posts political stuff on Facebook all the time. Not as much anymore because I’m just tired and not on the Facebooks anymore. And I’m sure people could call me out for that as well, so pot calling the kettle. But oh my God, don’t be crazy racist homophobic. That’s terrible. We touch people for a living.
MR I was going to say, the stuff you post, I don’t think I’ve — whenever you post something political, it’s always something about how we should help other people and be a force for good in lifting us all up, and I don’t see how anybody could see that as bad. The other stuff at the other end of the spectrum is very controversial but in a bad way. Hey, it’s against a group of people, it’s misinformation — I don’t see it as the same thing at all.
AH I’m sure that we don’t see it as the same thing because we have similar political views.
MR Yeah, we have a lens.
AH Yeah, we definitely have a lens here. But ditto that for body shaming. Oh my God. The number of practitioners that I see post things that very subtly or not so subtly body shame people who are not thin or extremely fit, oh my gosh, you have to stop that. That is no acceptable. Anyhow, that’s a whole other episode. Those are some things you can do online if you’re going to complain bout credibility of massage as a profession and how we’re not getting recognized as health practitioners that we should be, we’re not claiming our place in the current field of pain science, yeah, you need to buff up your own act. And those are some of the online things you can do.
Let’s assume that you’ve got a decent website and — oh my God, I have to jump back to the website thing. If you’re still using one of those free AMTA or free ABMP websites, they are craptastic on a stick. They are ugly, they are dated, they are not really search engine optimization friendly, and it’s probably time to upgrade. So hop on that, and I’ll put a link in the podcast notes about what your options are outside of that. You can have a decent website for under 150 bucks a year nowadays if you cannot spend more than that. I’m an advocate for spending a little more when you can, but it’s not that hard to make your own affordable, good-looking website, so oh good Good, stop with the free ABMP and AMTA sites. They’re terrible.
Anyhow — oh my gosh, I’m so negative today. Let’s say you get that crap together so you look pretty credible online, which is wonderful. What’s the next step? So inside your office, do the things you know you should be doing. Respond to emails. Respond to phone calls within a certain amount of time. Decide what that’s going to be. I will respond to phone calls and emails within my business hours within six hours or so or whatever that is. And get that written down. Get that on your website. Wherever you put your contact information, say “I will happily return calls and emails between clients during my work hours.” There you go. That lets people know I am in with a client sometimes. I cannot always answer my email and phone right away, but I will get back to you within business hours. And if you have your business hours posted, yay, people are going to know that and not get piffy if you don’t respond to them for two days because it’s your two days off.
There’s a few things here that are obvious and yet we all need a refresher here. Give you client your full attention. If your client walks in the door and you take a couple minutes to finish reading your Facebook posts and close your computer before you look up, or if you’re typing and you don’t stop typing to at least look up to say hello, I’ll be right with you in just a moment, that is so rude. And it’s not giving people your full attention and it’s making you look like a hack. So don’t do that.
Make sure that you’re listening to your clients during intake. And it’s so silly, but again, it is the most common complaint of massage practitioners is either that someone working too lightly, too deeply, or didn’t listen to their primary complaint. Listen to their primary complaint. Ask if there’s a new primary complaint at every single appointment even if it’s someone who come in weekly or couple times a week or a couple times a month. Make sure that primary complaint hasn’t changed, and if it has changed that you’re repeating it — that you’re adjusting. And when they tell you their primary complaint, repeat it back to them so you make sure you have it in your head and you heard what they said correctly and you interpreted it correctly. More than one time, I have had a client mention their hamstring and then I work on their hamstring and then they felt that their hamstring was their calf and I didn’t work on their calf. So especially if there’s a new primary complaint, have them point to it. This is not rocket science. But if you want to be credible, you have to address the things that they want you to address so they keep coming.
And then my final note here is be current. Be aware of what’s going on in the field around you. Read your journal. Read your whatever magazine you get from your professional organization. Subscribe to all of the big magazines. AMTA puts out a great magazine. ABMP puts out a fantastic magazine that we happen to write a column for, so I’m a big fan. Both are fantastic journals. Pay attention to what’s getting published online. It doesn’t mean you have to believe all of it or take all of it as Word. But at least pay attention so that when a client comes in and says oh, hey, I heard that massage is good for TMJ, you’re going to know that’s because the New York Times just put out an article about it a couple of days ago. Stay somewhat current in paying attention to what’s happening in the greater world of chronic pain or whatever your specialty is so that you know what you’re talking about when clients come in. Or when a client comes in and you haven’t heard of that article, ask them where they read it, make sure you read it, and report back to them next time. Yeah, you know what? That article on knee rehab was really interesting. Thank you for pointing it out to me. Being a real educated and interested partner in someone’s care is going to do wonders for your credibility in as far as who they refer to you and how they talk about you to their doctor when their doctor asks how’s that knee pain.
What else? That’s what I got, Michael. Little less rant-y there at the end hopefully.
MR How do you really feel?
AH Oh man. I’m just —
MR Just tired of it all. I know. Well, the big things for me are the website and the general professionalism. Things like a real email address, responding to email and using a calendar system that is reliable and the online registration component for classes, and just all the stuff that we expect as humans to be able to do. And we don’t want to look like we’re behind the times. And that’s what I see a lot unfortunately.
AH And just a real cloudiness, I feel like, when people — people need to step away and look at their own online presence slightly objectively. If you’re going to be interacting with people in your community on Facebook and they’re going to know you’re a massage therapist, don’t be posting your pictures from the beach, make sure they can’t see that. Or keep your profile somewhat clean and make sure your employer information is in your About. There was someone I’m locally connected with who does some kind of business coaching stuff, and I wasn’t connect with her page, and I could not find her business information. We’re connected as friends, but through someone else. So it’s not someone I would send a direct message. And I was trying to find out more about her business and I couldn’t. She doesn’t have any employer information or any career information listed in her profile bio and when I googled her, I couldn’t find her. I’m like fine, you don’t exist to me. Step back and look at your stuff and make sure it’s easy for people to find who you are professionally and make sure that looks real clean and nice.
MR I would like to take the opportunity to say that I’m really impressed by our premium members and how our community — I’ve noticed — I kind of take it for granted because it seems like our community is very, very business savvy and has decent websites and does display professionalism in a business context. So we have a really great set of examples on the flip side in a positive way as well. So I’m really happy to see that.
AH We totally do. And I’d like to say that there are more people who have it together than don’t, but I think a lot of the people who don’t have it together, we just don’t see them. They don’t exist online to me, so I don’t really see them so that’s not a problem. Yeah, yeah. That’s what I got. Little rant-y.
MR Hey, last week you promised me a rant, and boy, you delivered.
MR I was not disappointed.
AH And I started off with that friendly Jim Henson book recommendation —
MR There you go.
AH — so I feel like I got enough karma in the bank to sustain me through this episode. Thank you.
MR I think you’ve broken even.
AH Thank you for your patience, everyone.
MR [laughs] We have officially broken even. Anything else you would add, or are we good?
AH No, I’m done. Y’all are tired of listening to me now.
MR [laughs] All right.
AH Congrats for making it this far, people.
MR Congrats indeed. So I’m going to watch our stats plummet after this episode and see how far we go. Thanks, everybody, for joining us today. That wraps it up. Reminder you can visit us online. Our website is massagebusinessblueprint.com. As we already mentioned, our premium membership is available there as well as free articles and some other stuff as well. But our premium membership is really where the good stuff is. Check that out if you want to explore it. If you have a question or a topic, email it to us at email@example.com. We would love to bring it up in a future episode. We appreciate all the reviews we’ve been getting in iTunes, and we are grateful to all of you for being listeners. Have a great day until next time, we’ll see you then.