Episode 173

Aug 3, 2018

Michael and Allissa answer a brilliant reader question from a massage therapist just starting out.

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Michael and Allissa answer a brilliant reader question from a massage therapist just starting out.

Sponsored by: Gift Up! and The Jojoba Company.


Sponsor message This episode is sponsored by The Jojoba Company. I firmly believe that massage therapists should only be using the highest quality products because our clients deserve it, and our own bodies deserve it. I’ve been using jojoba for years. Here’s why: Jojoba is nonallergenic; I can use it on any client and every client without fear of an allergic reaction. Jojoba is noncomedogenic, which means it won’t clog pores; so if you have a client that’s prone to acne or breakouts, jojoba is a great choice for them. It also won’t go rancid; it doesn’t contain triglycerides like many products; so it won’t go bad. This makes jojoba a great carrier for essential oils, too. And finally, jojoba won’t stain your 100% cotton sheets; so your linens will look better for longer. And since jojoba won’t go rancid, they’ll always smell fresh and clean. For more information and to get some jojoba, go to massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba. That’s massagebusinessblueprint.com/J-O-J-O-B-A.

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. Welcome, welcome. Glad you’ve joined us. What’s up, Allissa?

AH Nothing, man. We’re recording on a Monday today, which is a little unusual for us, and I’m a little discombobulated, but I feel good. How was your weekend, Michael?

MR Oh, it was pretty good. Would you say you have a case of the Mondays?

AH [laughs]

MR [laughs]

AH I would not say that because that’s super annoying.

MR [laughs] My weekend was great. We traveled to visit family. Just spent some time kind of playing outdoors and stuff. So yeah, pretty nice weekend. How about you? Anything fun happening in your world?

AH Yeah, I actually had a three-day weekend, which is craziness. I’ve been taking more Friday’s off, so I spent Friday morning doing Massage Business Blueprint work, and it was so nice to have a couple of days at home. Ooh, I went into the pool; that was very exciting. And then last night, on Sunday night, we have an occasional restorative yoga class at my office and it was so cool. It sold out so that was exciting. I and a friend of mine went together, and it was 90 minutes of super gentle yoga stuff with candlelight and aromatherapy, and then we went and got Thai food, and it was the most delightful end to my weekend. And now I am very aware of my hamstrings.

MR [laughs] 90 minutes of yoga sounds like my nightmare.

AH But it was restorative yoga. So it’s different from what you’re thinking of as yoga because restorative yoga is a lot of “drape yourself over this cushion and hang out here for five minutes in the coziest position that’s just barely a gentle stretch.”

MR Oh, that sounds amazing.

AH It was so good.

MR Yeah, that’s yoga for me. That’s my kind of yoga.

AH I call it “lazy lady yoga.” It’s so good.

MR I like it.

AH It had been a long time since I’d been to a yoga class and also since I’d done anything remotely self-care related in that health venue. It was bordering into exercise venue. It was just really, really good for me. I’m just having a little trouble getting back into work mode this morning.

MR Gotcha. Well, we’ll just ease into this podcast, then. We’ll just kind of go slow. We have a fun topic today from a question posted by one of our members, right? Or one of our listeners. It is “how can I prepare for the future growth of my massage business?” That’s a great question.

AH It really is and I love it because it’s such a forward-thinking question. So I’m going to read the whole email, even the part at the beginning that’s just totally about accolades for us. So our reader, whose name I’m not going to use because I didn’t get permission to do that, wrote:

“I’ve loved absorbing every episode of The Blueprint podcast for the last few months as I’ve prepared to open my own little massage studio. I’m on the cusp — 2 weeks from taking clients — and it has me wondering as I’m putting the final tweaks on my services, prices, website, I know that I would eventually like to transition this solo practitioner in a small office operation into a massage studio with employees. Is there anything I could be doing right now to set myself up for that as far as a business structure, website presentation, money management, community engagement. Right now, I feel like I’m up close to this and maybe you guys are standing in the back of the room and can see the big picture.”

I love this question.

MR Me too.

AH I’ve got a few thoughts and a few suggestions. I will jump right in. I love this because this is someone who — it’s very Steven Covey, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, where one of his suggestions, approaches, is “begin with the end in mind.” I love that our reader is doing that. She is thinking about the future of her business as she is starting. That’s going to help her — I can already tell she’s going to be crazy successful because she’s the kind of person who just thought of this.

My suggestions: start with structure. Creating a solid foundation for your business is the best way to ensure it can grow in a healthy manner. So start with a niche. Now, our reader didn’t say if she was fresh out of massage school or if she was just freshly launching her private practice. Right out of massage school, yes, I think everyone should pick a specialty and go with it. That is a somewhat controversial opinion. Nonetheless, since I’m not certain of her status, I’m going to say choose a niche because all of the following decisions become much easier when you are very clearly focused on your ideal client and who exactly you want to serve and how. Or what service you want to deliver, like what modality, and how that can serve different communities. Everything just becomes much clearer when you have chosen a target.

Following that, logically, is start with really consistent branding. If you’re able, shell out the money to get a professional logo done. Make sure that your color schemes match. Make sure that your logo design is what is apparent and directly in front of people on all of your social media, on your website, on the sign for your office. Make sure it’s all consistent and matchy-matchy and obvious. Maybe consider starting out — even if you’re one person now, there’s that whole first person singular versus plural. When you’re starting to write up your website, maybe consider starting out with the “we.” Just assume immediately that your table is going to be full in a year and it’s not going to be that long until you are bringing in employees and expanding. So consider starting with the plural “we” versus “me” or “I.” That’s a coin toss. It’s not hard to update that when you do grow, but if you’re starting with the end in mind, you’re going to be moving to that plural pretty quick anyway.

Also, network with the primary goal of filling your table but also in making connections to fill other therapists schedule in the future. So if you know you’re going to niche in, let’s say, headache and neck pain, maybe eventually your whole practice and all of your therapists who are employed by you niche in headache and neck pain, but you meet someone who doesn’t ever want to take their clothes off and really wants a lot of stretching, upper body stretching. If you don’t do that, that’s okay. But you don’t just want to forget that person exists because six months or a year from now, you could be employing someone who does lots of Thai massage work that’s all clothed and that’s all kind of stretchy stuff. When you’re niching, you want to think clearly about who you connect with, but when you are networking with a bigger business in mind, make note oh, this isn’t someone that I personally can serve, but I’m going to make a note in my customer relationship manager — and I’ll have Michael say what that is in a minute — that this person isn’t a great client for me, but if I had somebody who did this and this, they’d be a great client for that person and I really liked their vibe.

That leads me to — into that networking subsect here — start with a customer relationship manager. Michael, what’s a customer relationship manager?

MR Yeah, so that is a piece of software or a tool that lets you manage all your contacts. It can be clients, it can be networking contacts, it can be prospective clients, it can be all of the above. And it’s really just a really fancy database that lets you keep contact information and communication history for all these people in your professional world. One of the ones that I really like well is HubSpot CRM. It’s free. There’s one called Cloze out there, with a Z; Cloze with a Z. There’s a bunch of them out there. Some people use spreadsheets; I’m not a huge fan of that. But there are really good CRMs out there that are designed to help you manage your contacts, keep track of them, keep track of birthdays, keep track of communication emails, etc., and just keeps it all in one place.

AH And get started with that now while you’re small and take good notes on the people you meet and network with so you’ve got an army of advocates ready when you’re starting to fill someone else’s table and not just your own. You want to have a really strong network so that when you expand, you have a whole bunch of people cheering for you and supporting you and you also have a whole bunch of people ready to send you more clients as you are ready to handle them and as you are ready to hire more employees.

So let’s take a moment before I give my last couple of tips to chat about our halftime sponsor. Michael, who’s our halftime sponsor today?

MR I thought you’d never ask. Our halftime sponsor today is giftUP. I love giftUP because they are an online gift card service and provider, which I’m sure you’ll tell us more about.

Sponsor message Yeah, so Michael said it. You can sell your own gift cards and gift certificates on your website with no monthly fee and it’s super easy. They’ve got a great process for it and Massage Business Blueprint listeners, members — Michael, wait, I have to clarify this. I’m sorry. Yeah, sorry, I was flipped to the wrong screen. Exclusively for Massage Business Blueprint listeners, you get the first 10 gift cards sold in your first 3 months completely commission free, and there is a 3.49% commission thereafter. There’s no sign-up fee, there’s no monthly fee. You can use the code MBB when signing up. And to learn more about the giftUP app and their service and this special offer, you can go to massagebusinessblueprint.com/giftup. G-I-F-T-U-P, giftUP.

AH So now I’m going to flip screens, go back to my notes and we’re going to talk more about building a practice that will be easy to expand and grow. Again with the structure, which is so boring but so important, in every process that you have, break it down and document it so that anyone can pick up your guide or your binder or your handbook or your Google Doc and complete that task: for how you record incoming money; the intake questions you ask when you schedule a client; every little process, every little thing you do right down to an ongoing list of the charities and events that you donate a gift certificate to annually, if you choose to do that; your contact person — that’s going to go in your customer relationship manager. All of the little things that you do day to day in your business, document it. Make a to do list with bullet points on every single thing. Here’s how you check in a client, here’s how you check out a client, here’s how you process a check, here’s how you X-Y-Z, how you follow up, the suggested text for a thank you note. Every single thing, document it. Keep it in one big place, whether it be a written binder or an actual printed-out pieces of paper in a 3-ring binder next to your desk or it be stored in Google Docs. When you do things in your business, prepare yourself and your business for you to not be the next person that does it because growth is going to mean taking on administrative support whether it be an actual admin staff or virtual assistant or other therapists taking care of things at the front desk. Make it really easy to create policies and lists on how to do things and that will make it easier to teach incoming employees and therapists how to utilize your system. If you have a “This is how we do it, 1-2-3, X-Y-Z,” it’s easier to teach people how to do that.

So next I would say learn how to do all the things in your business yourself. Learn how to manage your QuickBooks, learn how to handle your insurance billing because in the beginning, you tend to be time rich and cash poor. You’ve to the time to learn and do things; you don’t necessarily have the money to delegate it out and hire other people to do them. So learn how to do those things, structure them, make the notes about how they’re done. But also keep in mind, when is a good time, what’s a good benchmark for me to begin delegating this task? It’s a really easy thing to consider when you think about laundry. If you don’t have machines on site, you might do a drop-off or pick-up or do a linen service. What’s your threshold for that? A lot of people are like well, when I got to 15 clients a week I decided I was going to get a laundry service. I decided when I got to “this many clients” a week or a month I would get a laundry service. Thing about those same benchmarks in regards to bookkeeping, insurance billing, even in regards to handling the nitty gritty of your email campaigns, things like that. At what point will I pay the money to have a website professionally done versus my DIY Squarespace website? Have those goals and those benchmarks in mind because you’re going to want to delegate out as your grow. As you get busier with clients and then as you consider expanding and needing to take on management tasks, training, and managing other massage therapists, at that point you’re not going to want to be handling your QuickBooks. Consider the benchmarks for growth and delegating out as you become less time rich and less cash poor. So I guess cash rich and time poor? I don’t know — that doesn’t even sound nice.

The final thought that I have is have a really clear budget and financial plan and a savings plan for your expansion. Right away, think about what percentage — we automatically know we’re going to put aside a certain percentage for paying our quarterly taxes; we’re going to set a certain amount for retirement, for emergency savings, and once that emergency savings is built up, what’s the next percentage going to go towards. Make sure you’ve got a line item in there so that — maybe off the top, right from the beginning, 2% — even if it’s only 2% of your gross goes into a separate savings account to plan for expansion. And once your emergency savings is built up and once you’re doing a little better, you can even make that 5% or 10%. But have in your budget a clear plan for saving so that you have that first and last month’s rent when you’re ready to go get a bigger office or you have that cash on hand to hire a bookkeeper and you have that cash on hand to take a day or two off from clients to train your first employee.

And, Michael, that’s what I have. What do you got?

MR I like it. I love the question being asked in the first place. You’re right about this person’s thinking in the right direction. When you ask these kinds of questions, I think it’s an indicator that you’re going to be successful. Obviously, I agree with everything you said because this is the course we planned out together. So yes, I agree.

AH I was just going to ask, Michael, Massage Business Blueprint has an upcoming course that could be a great resource for someone in this position or anyone who wants to rethink and reinvigorate their massage practice. Why don’t you tell us about the course, Michael?

MR Yeah. I’d love to. Like I said, I think it’d be a good idea for our listener to not only take your advice step-by-step, but also to take the course because the course does outline all of these things in great detail and it keeps you accountable and walks through all these processes together as a group as well. If you want to check the course out, both to our listener who asked the question and to anybody who wants to sign up, it’s at massagebusinessblueprint.com/tj. T as in Tom, J as in Jell-O, slash tj for Transformational Journey. I think we have 4 spots left. I think it’s half full. We take 8 people in any given course once a year. Either 4 or 5 are signed up now; so we have 3 or 4 spots left. It’s $395 for the — is it a 20-class course?

AH Yeah.

MR So 20 sessions, 20 weeks?

AH What happens is every week we release a video lecture that you watch and do your homework and then the following week we have a live, virtual meeting — a web meeting — where everybody presents their homework and talks about any obstacles and we troubleshoot everyone’s issues from start to finish — from choosing a niche to getting your finances down. I think it lasts —

MR Oh, it’s 10 weeks.

AH Yeah, 10 or 11 weeks because we have an extra class at the end for funsies. You get a video lecture, we have a live component which is really fun. It’s really fun to see what other people are doing in their business, be inspired by it and have a whole group of people supporting you and helping you troubleshoot through these things that are really tough to do. It’s a ton of work and it’s a ton of fun, and you got to be ready for homework, and it’s totally worth every little bit of hard work. It’ll help you build a new, stronger foundation, and the results we’ve seen from the people who’ve gone through our last two runs of it have been really inspiring.

MR Yeah, right now. So check it out.

AH Bring it home.

MR All right. I think we’re good for today. Thanks, everyone, for joining us. And thanks, again, for our listener who asked that question. We really love those thoughtful questions and they really lead to lots of great discussion. So thank you for that. Thanks, everyone, as always for joining us. You can visit us online at massagebusinessblueprint.com. That is our home base. We appreciate all the iTunes reviews as well, so if you like what you’ve heard, feel free to drop us an iTunes review. Just go to iTunes, find the podcast, and click on Reviews and leave us a quick note. Tell us what you like and what you think of the podcast. We appreciate that. Until next time, have an awesome day, and we will talk to you then.

AH Bye.

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