Episode 205

Feb 15, 2019

Want to know the one indicator of a successful massage business and the one secret for success? Listen in!

Listen to "E205: There Are No Universal Truths and Other Annoying Parts of Running a Massage Business" on Spreaker.
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Want to know the one indicator of a successful massage business and the one secret for success? Listen in!

Sponsored by The Jojoba Company & Acuity



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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 am Allissa Haines.

MR And we are your hosts. We’re glad you’ve joined us today for this episode. And if you are buried in snow like we are, hope all is well. I know the various states around the country are getting surprising amounts of snow and posting all about how they’re dealing with it. So wherever you’re listing from, if you’re in Florida, we hate you right now. So other than that, I think we’re good.

AH [laughs] I don’t hate anyone, but yes — actually, we got snow yesterday, but it turned to sleet and now it’s just slush, and it’s going to be like 40 degrees today, so hopefully most of it will melt. But, yeah, I’m pretty much — it’s been a pretty mild winter, and yet I am just done with it — for me, in the northeast. I know it’s been brutal everywhere else.

MR Yeah, I was referring to our friends in the Oregon/Washington area.

AH Oh my God, they’re getting nailed. It’s ridiculous.

MR Yeah, but you’re right. It’s not that — it’s not been a very bad winter. In fact, it was — we built a snowman, or a snowwoman, actually. We think it’s actually a snowwoman because Eli — it was more of a non-descript. But Eli build a snowman/snowwoman over the weekend and the snow was awesome. It was well-packed; it was sticky. So we have a great snowperson that’s probably melted by now, actually. But it was in Grandma and Grandpa’s yard and we had a lot of fun with that.

AH I saw it. It looked really good.

MR Yeah, yeah. The sparkly eyes kind of gave it away, so we’re thinking it’s a snowwoman.

AH [laughs] Awesome.

MR So yeah, with that, I am kind of in love with — you thought I would hate the title today for our podcast episode, but I’m kind of in love with it. So I’m just going to go with that. So our title today is “There are no universal truths, and other annoying parts of running a massage business.”

AH Yeah.

MR Do tell, do tell.

AH So it’s a little philosophical, out there. But I kind of wanted to talk a little bit about how everything in running a massage business is a gray area. Like every aspect of a massage business is a variable. Like the type of hands-on work we do, how we market, our logo, how we interact with clients. Every single part of it is so variable. There is no one way to do it. There is no one way to make it be successful, and there is no way to measure success universally. There is no ruler; there’s no yardstick for this because we all value different things and we measure our success differently. How we achieve — now, once we decide what success is for us, how we achieve that varies. And it varies based on our business and our specialties and our communities, which are radically different, not even just region to region or town to town, but even within the same town, the communities that we — say me and another colleague in my town — the communities that we roll in are very, very different.

So I wanted to kind of back up a little bit and tell a very short little story about how this came up and how I started thinking about this the other day and also how really annoying situations can turn out to be so helpful and educational because this gave me a great springboard to talk about this stuff with you. So somebody out there in the internet world who doesn’t really know me, commented that my massage practice — well, they questioned the success of my actual massage practice, my hands-on business — not Massage Business Blueprint, but my actually hands-on massage practice. They questioned if it was successful because I only have two Google reviews in my Google business page and suggested that that was an appropriate and accurate indicator of how successful my massage business was. And the inference there is that perhaps I don’t even have a real massage business or it’s not very successful and then how could I be trusted to teach business and marking skills to other massage therapists. So this kind of stuff gets thrown at my occasionally; it’s not something I let bother me. You may have seen the post on our Facebook page the other day where I just stated right out, I actually do have a successful massage practice, it’s been that way for almost 14 years, it’s entirely been my sustaining income as a single person, and often someone living alone. I have made my living and even contributed to my retirement for 14 years as a massage therapist. So that’s aside. But that’s how this came up.

So I kind of wanted to talk about how that’s one — looking at someone’s Google business page is not the best metric. Specifically, I only have two reviews because — well, there’s a bunch of reasons. My business listing got messed up a couple years ago when I switched websites. I switched domain names and my whole Google account got super messed up, and I just started from scratch with my new domain name as a whole new Google account and email and business page. So that page reflects like 4 years of business and not 14 years. Also, my area isn’t big on Google reviews. The people, my main base, does not use Google reviews as any kind of discerning factor in choosing a provider. So it’s not something that people really do around here. Nobody’s like I’m going to put a review on Google. They use Facebook, maybe they use Yelp, which I’m not on. I was on Angie’s List, which is like a private database that was really popular for several years. One of my clients, it was like a paid membership you had to do and you could find all kinds of service providers, mostly for like suburbanites. And one of my clients put me on there several years back, and then, I even think I ran a paid listing for a year and that got me some good clientele. So Google reviews just aren’t big in my area. I have a business page, which is really helpful, and we’ll cover that in another podcast, but they’re not a thing around here.

Second, I haven’t really encouraged them because I don’t need them. I have always had really good search engine optimization and I attribute that to, for 14 years, having a really good website and being the only massage practitioner in my area that had a website right from the start that long ago. So I’ve been around a long time, I’ve always had a dynamic website with the exception of the first couple years, which was just kind of a static brochure-y kind of website. Once I upgraded, I ended up with this dynamic website, which means that it’s constantly changing and new information is always being added to it on a semi-regular basis. And I’ve had that much longer than my area colleagues. I have a ton of blog posts, I add a fresh one pretty regularly, and that dramatically improves my search engine optimization. So for the bulk of my career, if you google “massage” and the town name and you include “Massachusetts” because there’s a Plainville Connecticut, too, my business listing comes up in the top two. Even when other businesses around me got hip and started running Google Ads and stuff, mine has still always been the first one that comes up under the paid ads. And I’ve run a few Google ads in my time but just for short month-long things when I was playing with something. I used them more in my other business, but– sorry, sidetracked. But my website has always had really good search engine optimization. So I haven’t pushed Google reviews because I don’t need to.

I’ve played with the Pages app — Google’s got a great business pages app — and I get really good results and bumps in traffic when I add images every so often, every week or two — and again, we’re going to be covering more about Google business pages really soon. And here’s just a fun fact because it came in, literally, as Michael and I were starting up this podcast, I just got an email — and I’ll totally put a screen shot of this in our show notes. I just got an email from the Google My Business people saying that Haines Massage has a five-star rating on Google and that I have had 1100 people find me on Google, people have searched for things for massage near me, 41 have visited my website, 2 people have called me — which I didn’t even know was a thing. I guess that makes sense; there is a phone number thing in there. And I do get regular updates for Google My Business, and I was looking the other day about how many people used it to find my office. And so yeah, I got a five-start Google rating, so I think I’m doing okay.

But let’s get back to the main point here, which is you cannot judge someone else’s business by what it looks like from the outside. Nor should you because why? Why be a jerk? You need to worry about your own massage business and not other people’s. Nonetheless, I have a local colleague and she has a really fancy website. She’s gotten a new website every few years. She’s been around a little longer than me, and it’s always a really fancy and professionally done site with lots of really pretty stock photos. It looks like a very spa-like kind of business; she looks really high level and in demand. And that’s what it looks like online. So anybody would look at that and be like wow, this is a really fancy operation, I want to go there for massage. But in reality, I know that her office was never that fancy, she sublets a little room in a larger business that other people decorate, and it’s a super hippy-dippy vibe and there’s incense everywhere — in a wonderful way. It’s obviously really sweet and there’s like lots of crystals everywhere, but it’s the polar opposite kind of office from what her website looks like. And I also happen to know that her business is fairly unsuccessful and she has actually stopped doing massage except for one day a week and she’s in school to do something else. So you might look at her business and be like oh, that looks really good on the outside. But I happen to know that she just wasn’t good at business stuff and has gotten out of massage for full time and yeah. So there’s that.

And I have another friend who has almost no web presence and she’s super irregular with seasonal emails, and if I was to look at her business with a critical eye, it would fail every marketing test that I have. The website is really small, it’s very brochure-like, it rarely makes changes, there’s a couple of typos, her emails are super irregular, they’re always formatted with some kind of different background. She is exactly as busy as she wants to be and she is turning away jobs. So yeah, she doesn’t have a Facebook page, she doesn’t do any social media, she barely does the email thing, she has no online marketing, and she is exactly as busy as she wants to be. And she could be busier if she asked for referrals, or when she sends out an email, she sells a stack of gift certificates and gets a whole bunch of bookings.

There are no universal truths and there are no universal markers to judge success except the ones that you set up for yourself. So there’s a whole bunch of examples. One, keep your nose out of other people’s massage businesses; and two, what success looks like and what tools you use need to be customized for your business. So we’re going to take a break and then I’m going to give you some bad news and some good news on this and some tips to make things happen.

But Michael, before I do that, can you talk to me about who our halftime sponsor is?

MR Ooh, bad news and good news, I can’t wait. Yes, our halftime sponsor today is our friend over at Jojoba.

AH Yay, thanks Jojoba for being an enduring sponsor for us.

Sponsor message And today I want to make mention that jojoba does not go rancid, so you can be in my office and the gallon of jojoba can be in my office or be in my car and get really, really cold and then get really, really warm and that’s okay. It doesn’t matter, and that makes it a really good oil to — oh, pardon me. It’s not an oil. It’s just jojoba. It makes it a really good product, lubricant, to use in hot stone massage, or if you keep your oil in an oil warmer. It won’t go rancid because there’s no triglycerides. Jojoba Company is the only company in the world that carries 100% pure, first-pressed quality jojoba, and we are thrilled to be their partner. You can get 10% off orders of $35 or more when you shop through our link massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba, that’s J-O-J-O-B-A.

AH So some good news — well, I’ll give you the bad news first, okay. So the bad news of all of this because there’s no universal truths here, there’s no silver bullet for your massage therapist. There is no one thing that everyone can do that will absolutely build your business. Like period. Nothing. There is no one bit of advice that is going to work all the time for everyone. Period. The really good news is that this frees you up to build the business that serves you and reflects you and is the kind of business that you want it to be. And you get to choose the tools and you get to play with them and you get to try them, see what works for you, see what doesn’t work for you, throw some stuff out, and utilize the rest.

And this is a thing that we talk about in depth in one of our enduring podcast episodes and blog posts that’s titled How Do I Get New Clients? And I’m not going to go through it all; I’ll put the links in the show notes here. But there is — there are some foundational ides. There are some steps that you can take that will help guild you to the first thing you need to do, potentially, to make your business successful, to lay a really strong foundation. You got to — again, I’m not going to go into detail about this because we’ve done that in another podcast and another blog post. But in a nutshell, you got to take some time to figure out who and what and where you are. What’s the name of your business? What kind of work do you do? Who are you serving and where are you doing that work? Mobile, in an office, whatever. You got to maybe — most likely, like 98% of the time — you need to build a website or have a website built for you and that website needs to be reflective of who you are, who you serve, what you do specifically, deeply. There’s a few basics to have on each website, we outline that in the material. And you need printed materials. You might need a business card, you might need a rack card. I have actually operated for a couple of years here and there without any printed material and that worked just fine. So again, no universal truths. But in a nutshell, you basically, often, would just start off with just a business card and that’s just fine.

And then what happens next when you have that foundational stuff is tricky. And those steps vary. Some people will do really, really well with in-person networking. If your community has a strong small business community, in-person networking can be really, really useful and that could look like a couple of different things. You could do really well with email marketing. Maybe, maybe not. I do really well with email marketing. I had a colleague who is in a really rural place in Kansas — pardon me, in Arkansas, and she tried so hard with email marketing. She got really structured about it and she grew a list and she would send an email and just nothing happened. Her people were not into email. You could — again, no universal truths. Works for some people, doesn’t for others. But it helps to learn the foundational stuff of why and if you should try it.

Maybe you need a presence on social media or maybe your ideal client is not on social media and then you don’t need to worry about it and that’s okay. Nobody had to have a Facebook page or has to have a Pinterest or Twitter or an Instagram. Some people it works, some people it doesn’t. Some people do really well just by showing up at community events. That’s it. They do a really good job networking at community events and that’s all that they need.

But whatever one of these you choose, you got to try things, you got to adjust them, you got to make them custom to you, you custom fit it just like a great dress or a great suit, and see what works for you. There are no universal truths and that is aggravating because it means there is no specific do this, then do this, then do this, then do this, that will definitely make you successful. And it’s also invigorating because it means you can do the things that you most enjoy. You can find the things that work best for you, do them efficiently, and your business will be just fine.

And that’s all I have to say. That and I just want to repeat that Google tells me that I have a five-star Google Business rating, so there.

MR [laughs] That was very timely that that came in just this morning.

AH I can’t even believe it and I’ll put a screen shot of it in the show notes because it’s miraculous.

MR [laughs] The universe is listening. I love it. Yeah, that’s great. I love the —

AH [Indiscernible]

MR I agree. The more I am in business, the more I realize there’s not one size fits all. And I love it. Awesome. Well, thank you, Allissa. And thank you, everybody for listening today. We appreciate that.

A reminder you can find us online at massagebusinessblueprint.com. And if you have any comments, questions, love notes, hate mail, feedback, topics you want us to cover, email it to us at good old fashioned email at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. We appreciate all feedback and we appreciate everybody who gives us iTunes reviews and passes our podcast along to their friends and colleagues as well. We really appreciate that. We have 86 ratings on iTunes. I just looked while you were speaking; I was just kind of curious.

AH But we’re not going to measure our success by a number of iTunes ratings, Michael. [laughs]

MR No, we are not. But I still like to see it. It doesn’t hurt. [laughs] It does help others find us and smart people like you that listen, we want more smart people like you to listen. So that helps. So thanks again. Until then, we will see you next time. Have a great day.

AH Bye.