Episode 169

Jul 13, 2018

Overpowering fabric softener? Door slammer? Pen-stealer? We talk about how to be a good officemate and how to help an office full of practitioners run with minimal conflict.

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Overpowering fabric softener? Door slammer? Pen-stealer? We talk about how to be a good officemate and how to help an office full of practitioners run with minimal conflict.

Sponsored by: The Jojoba Company.


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 am Allissa Haines.

MR We’re your hosts. Thanks for joining us, everyone. What is up, Allissa? You finishing your tiny office yet?

AH Almost done. It was almost done last night. I was laying the ceiling — not the ceiling — the carpet tiles is the word I’m trying to say. And my razor blade kept going dull, and I started getting frustrated, and it was late and I was like yeah, I’m going to let Dr. Boyfriend finish this part.

MR Nice.

AH Meanwhile, the poor guy primed and painted almost exclusively by himself because I was supposed to do that part and then I jacked my neck and could barely move for three days. So he has done 99% of building this office for me. He is just —

MR The best.

AH He really is just the best. I am so indebted to this. I’m like John, what would you like me to make you for dinner, honey? What can I do for you? Look, I lined up all your shirts by color. And he’s like Yeah, you don’t need to do these things. I’m like, but I can’t help it, my office. Anyhow, the man’s getting some roasted pork loin tonight. I’m very excited about that.

MR [laughs] Lucky, lucky.

AH Yeah, I’m psyched. Actually, his family’s coming for a couple of days so I have three big dinners planned over the next couple of days, and I’m really excited about cooking. How are you?

MR I’m doing great.

AH You’re just chilling, right?

MR Just chilling in the throes of summer with a three-year-old. It’s a blast. All sorts of waterpark fun and things like that. Yeah, good times. All is well.

AH Rockin’. All right. Bring it. Let’s wrap this up so we can go hit a pool.

MR Sounds good. We’ll keep it short and simple today then. All right. Today’s episode is on how to get along with other massage therapists in a shared office. This was born out of feedback and questions from one of our premium members. I’m sure a lot of others have similar questions. What do you got?

AH I have three words: communicate, communicate, communicate.

MR I see what you did there.

AH Right? Right. Communicate your expectations and desires before someone moves into your office as clearly and honestly and openly and without resentment and without guilt before someone steps foot in your office. If you are a bit of a prude and a tight- — you know what word I’m going to say, but I’m not going to say it because I don’t want this marked as explicit — then you need to be that way when you’re interviewing people who are going to come to your office. Don’t pretend you’re easy-breezy-super-fun if you’re not easy-breezy-super-fun-chill.

And then when someone moves into your office and is renting from you, you need to continue to regularly communicate your needs, desires, wants, dislikes. And then when someone is preparing to leave your office, you need to communicate, again, how you want the transition to go. Communicate clarifying which equipment was yours and which wasn’t and doing all of those things through every stage of this relationship. Communicate how you are going to inform other people if someone comes around asking for that person who moved out.

The way to do this is to have really great written rental contracts and then to have really clear, articulated ways — methods like here’s how we are going to communicate regularly about how things are going at the office and how we are going to revise and occasionally vent some concerns that we might have. You want to have that, in a perfect world, figured out before someone comes into your office. You’re going to want to say Listen, I’d like for us to have a phone call once a month about 15 minutes just so I can check in and make sure everything is going well, and you can let me know if anything needs to be done. Or when people move in, articulate the moment that you notice that something is not perfect in the massage room, I would really love for you to email me and let me know if the space heater is making a funny noise or whatever.

You want to well articulate how someone should communicate with you in the even of a semi-emergency. And also who is responsible if the breaker panel blows and somebody can’t give a massage, who takes that loss of income? Does that come out of their rent? Do they not have to pay you rent for that portion? I’m going to go through my — even more specific than what I just said — list of expectations and desires and specific things that you may not have thought of. And you’ll probably have a hundred different ones that you think of that I don’t because of how different all of our practices are.

But, Michael, what are your quick tips here for getting along with other people in an office space?

MR I agree with everything you’ve said. I mean, it’s really communicate. A lot of it seems like common sense: just be respectful, treat the space and others like you would want to be treated. I generally agree with everything you’ve said.

AH Right. Except that “be respectful” and “treat others the way you want to be treated” are super ambiguous —

MR True.

AH — because I might want to be treated a certain way. I might enjoy reheating my lunch of steamed broccoli and kale and smelly sausage in the office microwave and have that not be a problem because I don’t mind that smell. But if that’s going to float through the office and there are other people with scent-sensitive clients, that might not be okay.

MR I really like how you set a trap for me so you could make a point. That was really —

AH I did.

MR Yeah.

AH That was totally unintentional.

MR Brilliant. [laughs]

AH [laughs] What I’m talking about — and I’m going to kind of go through a list of things we may not have thought of. What is the manager of the space going to provide versus what people renting in the space are going to provide? In regards to a clean environment, how often is the place going to be cleaned? Are their standards of clean the same as yours? If your client messes up that toilet and just wrecks it, who’s responsible for cleaning it? The office manager or you?

Who is going to make sure there are tissues in the massage room all the time? Do you need to bring your own in and then toss them into your own secure cabinet so that other people don’t use them? Do you have a problem with it if other people use your tissues and you’re the one that’s constantly replacing the box? What are the expectations there for paper products, for things you wouldn’t even think are related to massage, but are you allowed to use the stapler? Are you allowed to use the paperclips? What about those really expensive binder clips that the manager keeps in the common desk drawer? Are you allowed to take those? What’s the rule on this? What do you have to replace and what don’t you?

What about snow removal or landscaping stuff? Snow removal’s the real one. What happens if you have a 7 a.m. client on a Saturday and the plow guy hasn’t come yet? Who comes to shovel that out? How early are you supposed to get to the office to find out if it’s shoveled out to find out if you have to do it or not? And if you call the manager, do they come and help you? What are the expectations here?

You can put into a lease certain use-expectations and that the room being rented will be used for services for which the practitioner or renter is licensed to perform. What if they start doing hypnotherapy and past-life regression and that’s not a licensed thing in your state? Are you cool with that? What if they start doing sexual health therapy or other things that aren’t licensed things; how do you feel about that?

I’m going through my list here. What about things — we think about things like maybe you don’t want burning candles or maybe you do. Maybe you don’t want incense or maybe you do. Those are things we think of pretty obviously, but what about scented fabric softeners? What if someone in your office really loves all those scent-boosting things and their linens are stored in a shared closet? Or what if they don’t even store linens at the office, but they use those heavily-scented linens or it’s just on their own person because they wash their clothes in it and the office smells for several hours after they leave? If they’re working a half day and someone’s using that room after them, that could be a problem.

What about things like what the heat gets set at in the winter and what the air conditioning gets set at in the summer. What about noises? What if people start wanting to play Himalayan bowls in their massage room during their treatment, but there’s a common wall with another treatment room. What is the determination of noise-level stuff?

Where will people keep their things? Now, this is a big thing because it’s very much like branding, but this is like I have become nutty about this. Everyone in my office has space to put their things and usually behind a closed door or cubby or something. But I have a tenant who was always leaving her purse on an open shelf and it’d just be wide open and I’d be like Dude, that’s not safe. Someone walking through this office when you’re not looking could easily grab it. Oh, there’s nothing in there that’s valuable, she said. Well, I don’t care. It still looks messy and weird to have your half-open purse hanging off of a shelf that everyone walks by. Put it in your cubby behind a closed door. And it’s things like that, that you wouldn’t think you have to write down because oh, everybody needs to act respectfully, but respectfully and understanding an aesthetic and a branding element of a shared office space is not intuitive to other people.

Some people want to take their shoes off when they walk in the door and you end up with a pile, or even if it’s a prettily made mat area for shoes, do you want your clients taking their shoes off when they walk in the door? Are they going to feel uncomfortable if they walk in the door and they see that they’re supposed to take their shoes off? That’s not a thing I want in my office, man. People need to be wearing their shoes right into the treatment room. And that would be totally wrong for other offices.

Things as nitpicky as if you have trash that has food remnants on it, or you bring in and sit at the common desk while other people are coming/going and eat your Big Mac and then crumple up your food trash and toss it in the trash basket that’s paper waste under the desk, that’s not cool. I actually had to go around and tell everybody in my office Hey, if you have food trash, that needs to go into one of the bathroom trashcans where the top seals, or better yet, just take it right out to the dumpster. You would not think you have to tell a bunch of adults that, but you do.

And — and I say this and I’m not trying to rag on my renters because there have been many times where someone has been like Uh, Allissa, this thing you do is crappy. Could you please wash your client’s water glasses right away after each of their massages and not leave three dirty glasses stacked up on the counter? That sucks. Yeah, so it’s all these things you don’t realize — what is dressing in a professional manner mean to you versus what it means to a practitioner you’re sharing office space with? What are all these things need? I’m going to stop here and do the halftime even though we’re a little more than halfway through. Michael, who’s our halftime sponsor?

MR Jojoba.

Sponsor message Yay, jojoba. Special thank you to Jojoba for being a longtime sponsor. I am going to mention — because we are at like a hundred degrees here in New England today, jojoba is non-comedogenic; it won’t clog your pores. So if you’ve got clients whose acne is just freaking out in the summer or just has acne all year round, jojoba will not cause a breakout reaction. In fact, jojoba can help to clean out and clear the pores. You can learn more about jojoba by going to massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba, that’s J-O-J-O-B-A.

And, since I’ll say it because it’s so darned hot, jojoba won’t go rancid on your shelf. So yay, jojoba. Massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba. I just had to throw that in there because I love that.

AH What do you do if you have already started renting space and you’re having issues with your contractors because some people are heating up fish in the office constantly and someone else is eating a Big Mac at the desk and someone else is using a weird air freshener that’s sticking in the room for days and starting to permeate your fleece table cover. What do you do? If you have not set up really good systems for communications, you need a little bit of a fresh start. So you need to think about what’s going to be best. Now you cannot make renters come in and meet with you at a certain time. In a lot of ways, I was like ugh, I don’t want to email this problem to somebody because I don’t want the tone to come off wrong. And I don’t just want to drop them a text and be like You forgot to turn the thermostat down again last night. And then I remembered that oh, you can just call people.

If you cannot set a time to meet someone in person, if they’re not willing to make that time, because they’re not required to, then maybe at least you can set up a phone appointment with somebody. And make it a regular thing and create a new system. Say, and announce to everyone in one swoop, Hey. I want to improve the communication going on here so everybody has a happier work environment and I can juggle and manage everyone’s needs properly. I’d like to do a regular, monthly 10-minute phone conversation individually. And if you only have three or four renters, you’re going to knock this out pretty quick. Set it and make it regular. In those conversations, you start with what is it that I can do to make the space better for you, have you had any needs or desires come up in the last month? And then you can say Okay, one of the things I wanted to make you aware of is that we’re having a problem with the microwave staying clean so can you make sure that after you use it it gets a quick wipe-down. And you do that to everyone even if it’s just one person dirtying the microwave. Everyone needs to be told dut-dut-dut-dut-dut. Make it regular.

Or decide that you’re going to do just a monthly email update if your team responds well to emails. I have starting doing a spring and fall update, and it allows me to make a note of a whole bunch of wonderful things, tell people what’s coming up, and then also be like Hey, I’ve also noticed that no one’s vacuuming on the snowy days. Whoever’s last in the office, if you’re able to take a minute to vacuum, that would be great. If you’re not, let me know; I’ll come in earlier the next morning and do it. Or whatever your system is, figure out what’s a system that could work and then stick with it regularly for everybody.

It’s also okay not to renew someone’s rental contract. If they’re not a great fit for your office, get rid of them. And it’s also okay to let people out of their lease if they’re not a great fit. If you have to say to someone five times I am not comfortable with you wearing the very skimpy tank top here; I don’t feel like that fits under our dress code of respectable professional wear, would you like to be let out of your lease. And let them go because they’re not a good fit for your office. All right, I’m done.

MR Works for me. [laughs] I was waiting for another trap.

AH There’s no trap.

MR Are you setting another trap for me? [laughs]

AH No trap. I promise.

MR These are all really good things. You’re right. Being specific is very helpful. Anything else you would add? I’ve got one thing I wanted to do at the end here, but anything else you would add?

AH No. I just — I know we’re all hacking these businesses together as we go, so the reality is you’ve probably got something in place, but if it’s not working for you, it’s okay to revamp. It’s okay to say to all of your renters All right. I am going to go back to scratch; I’m going to rewrite the lease for the next round, for the next contract for the next year or whatever. We’re going to have some different stuff because the system we have in place isn’t working as effectively as I want it to and we’re going to revamp. It’s okay to just clean-slate this. It’s usually a wise choice versus trying to do little tidbits of changes and just annoying the crap out of everyone because every week you’ve got three things you want them to do different.

MR Right on.

AH Do your thing.

MR All right. Well, I wanted to do one thing here at the end. I keep forgetting to do this and I finally remembered today. I’d love to acknowledge a couple of iTunes reviews we got last month by two of our amazing listeners, so I wanted to share those and thank them for that. We got one review by Marcy Basile, LMT. I’m reading their usernames on iTunes. She says, “I’ve been a Massage Business Blueprint junkie since I found them a year ago. By implementing their marketing suggestions and following the financial advice, I have seen my client list double and now have a 92% rebooking rate. Crazy good results. Thanks, Allissa and Michael, for sharing your knowledge with us.”

AH What what? That’s awesome.

MR Thank you, Marcy. We really, really, really appreciate that. It’s awesome to see that feedback, and congratulations on your practice. That’s good stuff. And then, the next review — the second one we got last month was by MegD1, and Meg says, “Thank you. You both are truly doing so much for the massage community. I never would have thought I had the confidence to do so many of the things you’ve inspired me to do. They have been one of the keys to my early success. Much gratitude.”

These are both — we know both of these members, actually, and their practices are exploding. They’re really doing a great job of growing and doing some really innovative things and —

AH And they’re both niching.

MR Yes.

AH Marcy’s niching in larger-sized clients, and Meg is niching in runners and triathletes in her area.

MR Weekend warriors.

AH Yes, sorry, thank you. I knew I had that wrong.

MR And they’re both podcasting. I had to say it. They’re both podcasting.

AH Yeah.

MR I’m so happy.

AH I actually have Marcy’s — I haven’t listened to Marcy’s yet. I ‘ve listened to Meg’s a bunch of times, but I’ve got it bookmarked to listen to. I’m so excited.

MR Yeah, so thank you, thank you to Marcy and Meg for those iTunes reviews. We really, really appreciate it. It just really means a lot when we see that acknowledgement and it really helps us validate what we’re doing. So thank you, thank you, thank you. We appreciate it. All right. Well, I will wrap it up there. We’ll try to keep it short as we promised. Maybe we failed, but anyway, we’ll wrap it up now. [laughs] Thanks, everybody, for joining us. Our website is massagebusinessblueprint.com. You can email us at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. We appreciate you joining us today. We will see you next time. Until then, have a great day.

AH Bye.

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