Episode 222

May 8, 2019

We asked World Massage Festival attendees, “What challenges are you facing in your massage business” and gave rapid fire answers to help them achieve their goals!

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We asked World Massage Festival attendees, “What challenges are you facing in your massage business” and gave rapid fire answers to help them achieve their goals!

This episode is lovingly and exclusively sponsored by ABMP.

Resources we mentioned:


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Allissa Haines Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I am Allissa Haines.

Michael Reynolds And I’m Michael Reynolds.

AH And we are here on the floor of the World Massage Festival. We are doing day two, which is Michael and I’s final day here.

MR It’s a beautiful thing.

AH It is really beautiful. And the classes have just broken for lunch and the exhibit hall is getting pretty raring, and we’re going to have people coming by and talking about who they are, what they do, and what the biggest challenge is in running their massage business. And hopefully we will be able to give some really helpful advice. Or not helpful at all, but fun.

MR Yeah, I always love this part. We did this last year, and I really love being able to kind of organically sit down with people that are stopping by and just hear what their biggest business and marketing challenge is. And I think live brainstorming is some of the most fun stuff we do, so excited to hear what we have. So let’s get started.

All right, so our first passerby has joined us. So why don’t you tell us your name, where you’re from, and a little bit about your practice?

Guest 1 My name is Sandy Menses (phonetic). I live in Maryland, and I have a part-time practice because I have a full-time job. And I find the biggest challenge is finding people when you cannot do massage when it’s convenient for people. Because I can only have evenings and weekends that are available to me.

MR Okay. So you said you work part time?

G1 Yes.

MR And what hours can you offer massage?

G1 Usually I can — most days I can offer either 4 or 7 p.m. because I like to try to have dinner with my husband and family.

MR Okay.

G1 And then weekends I have a little bit more flexibility, but still I also have a life. I do need to relax a little bit, so.

MR And you’re finding that the clients you want to serve, those hours are not convenient for them?

G1 Well, I guess I’m finding that maybe people just listen to me because I am — tend to be very busy with life and work that they may not come. So I only give about two or three massages a month.

AH Okay, so two or three — I was going to ask you, like, what are your goal numbers. So do you want to be massaging a little more than that?

G1 I would like to be a little more than that.

AH So what do you do to bring new clients in and to remind old clients that you exist and they should book?

G1 I just tell people what I do and pass out my business card. I don’t really advertise anywhere, and I haven’t really done much with following up with old clients.

AH Yeah. I feel like that’s probably where I would start. And if you have people — and like — there’s something really so — when Michael and I teach business and marketing skills, we’re very high tech: online scheduling, email marketing, maybe you could use a text campaign.

But there are times that is so not appropriate for a practice, and I love it because you can go back to things like — like when I started my practice — handwritten notes with a business card, double-sided taped to the inside of the note card, that’s just like a “hi, hope you’ve been feeling well since your last massage, but it was six months ago. I’d love to see you soon” with your business card slapped on the inside of the front cover and you drop that off. Or just all of sudden deciding that you’re going to send birthday cards to people. That could be enough. Like if you’re seeing two to three a month, but what’s your goal? Like maybe eight a month? Maybe two a week?

G1 Yeah, it’s about two a week.

AH Yeah. So you’re not far from that.

G1 Yeah.

AH Especially if you’ve been — how long have you been working part time as a therapist?

G1 About 17, 18 years.

AH So you probably have a good stack — even the last five years of clients, a good stack of intake forms with addresses?

G1 Um-hum. Yeah.

AH That could be really sweet to just be like — to maybe input your last couple years of clients into a spreadsheet, you could sort by birthday, and then you can just start sending birthday cards.

G1 Okay.

AH And in those — you could make that commitment: For the next 12 months, I am sending a birthday card to every client who has seen me in the past two years. And with a business card slapped to the inside, and a, hey, it’s been eight months since I’ve seen you. It’s been a year. How are you feeling? I’d love to get you back. I have some appointments opening up.

G1 Okay.

AH And that’s always a good way to say it: I’ve adjusted my schedule and have more appointment available. You might not really have any more than you did before —

G1 Right.

AH — but it’s a way to invite people in without being like, come pay me for massage. So that could be helpful or not.

G1 Okay, that’s a very good idea.

AH So —

MR Also maybe pick a clientele that fits those hours.

G1 Um-hum.

MR So do you have any kind of specialty? Like do you work with certain clients more than others or have a real niche you focus on?

G1 Not really.

MR Yeah, so if your hours are — you said 4 and 7 are kind of your prime times, maybe pick professions that are not working during those hours. Pick people that work early mornings and are off by 4.

AH Laborers, tradesmen. Tradespeople. Even teachers.

MR Yeah.

AH That’s it.

MR Cool.

AH That’s what we got for you.

MR Well, thanks for stopping by. Appreciate it.

G1 Thank you. I appreciate it.

MR Keep in touch.

G1 I will.

MR Yeah.

G1 Appreciate it. Thank you.

MR All right. Now we are sitting down with Kerri (phonetic) from Illinois. Welcome, Kerri.

Guest 2 Welcome, thank you.

MR Thanks for sitting down with us. You were here last year with us, actually, when we were in Vegas. So good to see you again. So we are asking everybody, as you know, what is your biggest business or marketing challenge in your massage business right now?

G2 Just getting started and getting your name out there. I am self-employed, and just what reaches most people? Do you do pamphlets? Do you do your business cards? Do you volunteer chair massage? How do you get your name out there?

AH What have you done so far? So how long — how far are you into your practice? How long have you been doing it?

G2 Four years, but it’s part time. And I was at a yoga studio and just having the sign in the window helped, but now I’m not there anymore and just trying to get people to come in.

AH So I can I go through my checklist with you?

G2 Um-hum. Um-hum.

AH Okay. So you moved to a new location?

G2 Um-hum.

AH Are you all alone there?

G2 Yes.

AH Which is so scary and lonely sometimes.

G2 Yes.

AH And also really, really nice to be by yourself.

G2 Yes, exactly.

AH So signage. You got some? You got a good sign outside the building?

G2 Um-hum.

AH All right. You got a website?

G2 Well, my Facebook website. I didn’t make a “separate” separate —

AH Okay.

G2 Like —

AH So that would be next step.

G2 Okay.

AH Because you have — so the order of processes, it gets a little mixy at the end. But in the beginning, you need your location, you need a sign, you need your logo, your phone number, your email address, and a web address because you need your own plot of real estate on the internet —

G2 Okay.

AH — to send people to to get all the information they need to know about your business to choose you as a provider. So I’d say that’s your next step is to get a website together.

G2 Website.

AH And there’s plenty of free and low-cost options to get started if you don’t have the budget to pay a designer, which you don’t need to do. There’s Weebly and Wix and Squarespace and plenty of free and very low-cost, do-it-yourself, drag-and-drop website builders.

G2 Okay.

AH — where you can get something fairly efficient put together. It doesn’t need to be fancy. It needs a home page that’s like, I’m Kerri and I do massage for people with headaches or whatever you do.

G2 Okay, yeah.

AH And you need a services page that said I offer 30-minute, 60-minute, 90-minute or whatever. My massage includes this, this, and this. It helps people with headaches — let’s go with that theme — here’s how much it costs.

G2 Okay.

AH I’m a big fan of online scheduling. I know not everybody is, but I am. So if that — if you think it would be helpful to the kind of clients you serve, it would be convenient for them, it would be easier on you — you don’t have to answer your phone or play phone tag —

G2 Um-hum.

AH — that’d probably be the next step. And then now that you’ve got that foundation in place, you’re like, I know where I work, here’s how to reach me, how do I tell more people about this?

G2 Um-hum.

AH You could start with — so you work part time. Do you have another full-time job?

G2 I’m an occupational therapist.

AH Okay. So it gets a little tricky because you’ve got to work around that schedule, right? So one of my first suggestions would be a local small business networking group. You may not be able to find something that fits your schedule. If you can find something that has an early morning meeting — and there’s a lot of groups like that that will meet from 7 to 8:30 in the morning — if you can do that before your other job once a week or every other week, that’s great. Or maybe you can find a group that has a one evening a month kind of networking meeting where you’re meeting with other local small business owners and learning, oh, if I meet someone who needs car insurance, I send them to this guy, and if they meet someone who has headaches, they send them to Kerri. So that’s one aspect.

There’s also — I lost my train of thought. Utilizing social media. So finding out where do the people in my community with headaches hang out.

G2 Um-hum.

AH Are they on Facebook? Are they typically middle-ages women, which, yeah, that’s the bulk of migraine sufferers. I’m just taking this and running with it.

G2 Yeah, thank you.

AH And so maybe a little bit of Facebook advertising. So being active on your Facebook page —

G2 I do.

AH — which you already are because you use it as a website. And running — just boosting a few posts. Very good posts. Maybe doing a little bit of Instagram advertising, throwing 20 bucks at that.

G2 Okay.

AH If Instagram’s big in your community. You’ll have to investigate that a little bit. And then Google ads. So throwing 50 or 100 bucks at some Google ad campaigns so that when someone Google’s massage for migraine and there in your, whatever, the ten ZIP Codes around you, they go right to your website, where you’re like hey, this is what I specialize in.

G2 Okay.

AH Who knew? You could get some more content on your website like a handful of blog posts or articles that are like, here’s five self-care techniques for people with migraines. Here’s my favorite local business, my favorite yoga center whose got a special class for people with back and — upper back and neck pain —

G2 Okay.

AH — like, all things that would be really relevant to people with migraine. So that’d be my handful of things. Get yourself a good website, DIY that. See what the networking opportunities are in your area, and then see what you can do online to drag more people into your website to hear about you.

G2 Okay.

AH And there’s a whole other thing you can do like email marketing and all that crap, and that’s helpful too. But one baby step at a time, and Michael’s got ideas.

MR And once you get your website up, be sure to go to your Google My Business profile and really fill that out completely. That’s making a big impact in local search engine optimization right now.

G2 Okay.

MR So just go to google.com/business and then link it to your website and fill out all the stuff it asks for.

G2 All right.

MR And the pinpointing what Allissa said about networking, a lot of people have mixed feelings about BNI, but BNI is probably the topmost, proven networking organization.

AH And BNI stands for what?

MR Business Networking International, sorry. And if you want to quickly get exposure, BNI is one of the best ways to do it.

G2 Okay.

MR And you show up every week, you tell people about your business every week, and it’s a very rapid way to start getting referrals very quickly. Are you in BNI or have you done that before?

G2 Huh-uh.

MR Yeah, well, I mean, BNI can be a pain for a lot of people. But if you’re growing a business and you want quick results, it’s one of the best ways to do that.

G2 Oh. (indiscernible).

AH And we have a handful of blog posts and other podcasts about all these topics, and we’ll put them in the podcast notes, listeners. So you can go to massagebusinessblueprint.com, go to the podcast tab, you’ll totally find this episode, you’ll see all the links, it’ll be super easy.

MR Overwhelmed yet, Kerri?

G2 (Laughter)

AH (Laughter)

MR (Laughter)

G2 No, but that was good. That’s good.

AH This is rapid fire, and you can listen to the podcast later and be like, yeah, maybe I’ll try one of those things.

G2 Yeah. Well, it’ll all help.

MR Well, thank you for stopping by.

G2 Well, I appreciate it. Thank you very much.

MR Yeah, good to see you again.

G2 And thanks for coming here.

MR Enjoy, thanks.

G2 Thank you.

MR All right, now we are sitting down with Emily (phonetic) from North Carolina. And Emily, you just opened your massage practice, right?

Guest 3 I did.

MR Oh, we’re so excited to talk to you. So tell us —

AH So tell us —

MR Yeah, go ahead.

AH Tell us a little bit about your business.

G3 So it’s me, two massage therapists, and an esthetician. And we opened in a really cool place off the beaten path, and it’s been a struggle. It’s called Ashville Zen Den.

MR Okay.

AH So are you just kind of sharing the space and everybody’s running their own separate business within it, or are you — does everybody —

G3 Together.

AH Right. So if I go to you for massage —

G3 Yes.

AH — and I’m paying you, am I writing the check to Emily or to Zen Den.

G3 To Emily. Yes.

AH So you’re kind of sharing the space, but collaboratively marketing?

G3 Yes.

AH Got it.

MR So you’re a solo business basically?

G3 Yes.

MR In that space?

G3 Yes. So we all work under Ashville Zen Den. It has been really challenging to get out there and get people involved with massage, especially what we’re trying to target is working people, people that think massage is super expensive —

MR When you say “involved in massage,” you mean clients?

G3 Yes, to get them to come in. So trying to get them to come in and commit to even a 60-minute massage, a lot of people say, I don’t have money for it, they don’t have time for it, things like that. So we do a lot of chair events, of course. We get a lot of companies and do some free stuff. People still are struggling with 60-minute massage, $60, and we try to explain to them that it’s quality of your care, quality of your health. You go and get your teeth done, it costs this much money. You go to a doctor’s visit, you only get wellness checkups, so why not go get a massage. So we’re trying to educate the community about that.

MR Okay. So who do you like to work with most? Do you have — are you just kind of across the board, or do you have a particular type of client that is really exciting for you to work with?

G3 I’m all across the board. My background is nursing; I did it for 13 years. I just love to be able to touch people and help people.

MR So which clients don’t complain about your fees? When they come in, what clients happily pay and don’t think a second thought about it?

G3 The ones that are pretty well comfortable, that are retired or having some, you know, discretionary income.

MR Okay, so retired.

G3 Yes.

MR Any particular professions?

G3 Not really. I think it’s all walks of life. We get a lot of people that live in Biltmore Forest and things like that. That’s $600,000 homes and up. I would really like to target people that are everyday, like 9 to 5, bankers, waiters and waitresses, bartenders, firemen and nurses, things like that. Trying to get them in.

MR Well, we’re both — our heads always go to niching, so I’m sure you want to jump in.

AH I’m totally looking through your website —

MR You’re scoping out her site?

AH I’m scoping out your website right now.

MR Okay, you want to keep scoping for a minute?

AH Yes. You go, you go.

MR Okay, Allissa’s going to scope it out. So anyone who listens to our podcast as you may be a listener now after talking to us, they’re probably tired of hearing us talk about this, but it’s because it works. (Laughter)

G3 (Laughter)

MR We’ve talked about this a lot. So I encourage you to really think of your specialty.

G3 Yeah.

MR So you kind of hit the nail on the head when you said, hey, convincing people to pay my rates for massage is a challenge. It’s like pulling teeth; they think it’s too expensive. Yeah, some people are always going to thing that.

G3 Yeah.

MR So you already kind of picked one niche that could be a list of ten different things you could pick from, but one of them you said was retired people.

G3 Yeah.

MR So let’s just hypothetically say your niche is retired people. What if you imagined a practice where all you do is target people in a certain demographic and maybe you focus your treatment plans on older people who are retired and have certain health issues or body concerns that you can address and help them with in massage. By niching, you kind of eliminate the hassle of trying to convince everyone else to pay your rates and you focus on the people that all right happy to pay your rates. Maybe it’s retired people, maybe it’s physicians, maybe it’s bankers, maybe it’s lawyers, maybe it’s professional athletes. Whoever it is — and it may not be money specific. It may not be people that just have money. I mean, we’ve kind of started the conversation about people that just have money, but it’s less about targeting people that just have money, and more about targeting people that understand the value of what they’re paying for.

G3 Right.

MR So we’ve got some premium members that specialize in runners or mountain climbers or whatever. And not all runners have a lot of money —

G3 Right.

MR — but runners really care about having great performance when they’re running their next race. And so they’re willing to budget and willing to make the money or set aside the money and label the money for massage because it’s such high value to them. So I’d be thinking about who can you serve that may not necessarily be wealthy or whatever, but it’s more about are they going to value a $150 a month subscription to cable or 150 buck a month for massage?

G3 Right.

MR And if they really care about the value you’re giving them in massage because it applies to their life so directly, they’re going to pay that.

G3 Okay.

MR That’s kind of where I would start.

G3 Okay.

AH All right, so I’m going to rapid fire —

G3 Go ahead.

AH — based on looking at your website and kind of hearing what you said. So you mentioned you wanted to work with first responders: nurses, firefighters, everyday people. Okay, so I’m a nurse — let’s say. I’m not really, but let’s say I’m a nurse and I’m working my 3 to 11 shift and I get home and it’s like midnight and I need an hour to unwind, so I don’t sleep until like 2. I sleep like 2 to 10. So I get home, I think, dear God, I want to get a massage.

G3 Um-hum.

AH So I google Ashville massage whatever and I happen upon the Ashville Zen Den website. I look at the services and I go to the service page and I’m like, yeah, I want a 90-minute massage. It’s a buck ten, I can handle that. And it says schedule a relaxing massage today, and even though there’s not really a description that says why I might want to schedule a massage —

G3 Yes.

AH — I want to do it. My — first of all, this page doesn’t tell me how to schedule a massage.

G3 It still needs work, yes. We just got that up. Yes, we know.

AH So yes, right? But yeah. And you’re totally new so I’m rapid-firing this as if it’s critical and it’s not. This starter website is fantastic. So I go to the contact us page, and my only option is to make a phone call. I’m — it’s 12 o’clock at night. I’m not going to call.

G3 Okay.

AH If you were to have a button there that said schedule online, you would have online scheduling, I would be able to look at it, look at your schedule, and go oh, my God, they have an 11 a.m. tomorrow that I could book and I could be able to get in, go home, shower, have lunch, and then go to work at 3, and I would have scheduled that massage already.

So all that story to tell — be I really wanted to lay it out for our listeners why, sometimes, online scheduling is a really good option.

G3 Yes.

AH Online scheduling might be a really good option for you.

G3 How do you feel about Instagram?

AH I think Instagram’s great, but it’s not — that’s a whole other thing.

G3 Yes.

AH Actually, but I’ll get there. Also, I am on your home page and you’ve got this really great logo, and again, it looks like a self-made Wix site that is a fantastic starter site. You are way ahead of where most people are a month in. So that’s great.

And it says you — you’ve got this really cool logo and it says “your relaxation destination, visit us on Facebook.” Now, why would I want to go to Facebook?

G3 Well, we have a couple of different chefs in the kitchen, I guess you can say, and they kind of are doing all this stuff and —

AH Yes. It can be really hard to focus —

G3 Yes.

AH — when you have a lot of people doing this kind of thing. So my suggestion would be to — once you’re on the website — the goal of all of your stuff online — on Facebook on Instagram, wherever you are online, the primary goal is to get people to your website to schedule an appointment or buy gift certificates.

G3 Yes.

AH So once they’re on your website, you don’t need to tell them to go anywhere else. Keep them on your website —

G3 Okay.

AH — because that’s where they’re going to read about your team —

G3 Okay.

AH — that’s — which — it’s coming soon, that’s awesome. It’s where they’re going to read about your services, that’s where they’re going to go to your, eventually, your schedule now button. Keep them on your website.

G3 Okay.

AH And you can play this podcast for whoever’s doing this stuff and be like, the mean lady said —

G3 (Laughter)

AH — take the Facebook button off. It’s not my fault. Everyone, Emily is being really nice right now. I’m the one being mean. But once you get them to your website, do not send them anywhere else.

G3 Okay.

AH You want them to — unless it’s your schedule now or buy a gift certificate button. So keep that in mind.

G3 I will.

AH And I think that that would probably be your first couple of steps. And then — we talked about this earlier in the podcast with some other people — I’m sorry, I’ll let you —

MR Go ahead. I want to pick up something in a minute.

AH But one or more of you may want to join a local networking group. And you can listen to the first part of this podcast and we’re going to have a whole bunch of podcasting notes —

G3 Sure.

AH — of other episodes and articles we’ve done about local networking groups, so I don’t want our listeners to have to listen to our whole schtick again. But some kind — and it’s nice — there’s downsides to being part of a team because you have to collaborate on decisions and you can’t just have things your way. It’s also wonderful to be part of a team because now you’ve got four — is it four people?

G3 Yes.

AH You’ve got four people who can do four times the networking, for each other.

G3 Yeah.

AH It is so nice.

G3 Okay.

AH So how many massage therapists, how many estheticians?

G3 Three, one esthetician.

AH Three MTs, and one esthetician. So I would suggest — and this is what we do in my office where I share office space. We don’t collaborate quite as much as you, but we share space. But we all kind of picked a marketing specialty. So I do work for people with anxiety. If you have shoulder pain, I send you to Andrew. And if you want a really good foot massage, I send you to our MT who does reflexology, and if you want craniosacral, that’s the therapist you go to. If you’re not sure what you want, everybody in my office knows before they take a new patient to kind of chat with the person, what is it that you need? And if you can do that, I will still take someone with ankle pain if they call me first and I talk to them. But if I’m talking to someone who isn’t sure what they need, I walk them through everybody in my office. So even though —


MR That was the gong.

AH All right, they’re gonging, so we’re going to make this quick.

MR (Laughter)

AH So even if you don’t take any patients [gong], have you and you team kind of decide who will be what specialist for the purpose of promoting each other.

G3 Okay.

AH And that could be helpful. And we’re going to have a bunch of links in the podcast notes that have some other ideas for you. But thank you for letting us (indiscernible).

G3 Thank you so much.

MR So get a domain name for your website. It says zenden.site123.me. Get a real domain name.

G3 Oh, it is. We do have ashvillezenden.com.

MR But it’s not showing up. So link it to your —

AH That’s okay. It looks like it’s a free Wix site that you’re in the process of probably connecting to that custom domain.

G3 Okay.

AH You probably have to upgrade your Wix to like a per month fee in order to connect to the custom domain. But this is a good starter. I started my collaborative center on a starter website just like this, and it went great.

G3 I appreciate the advice. Thank you so much.

MR Thank you, Emily.

AH Thank you.

MR Good luck

G3 Thank you, I appreciate it. And I can’t wait to listen to more of your podcasts.

AH See you later. All right, so we’re veering off from our business challenge question because we have an opportunity in front of us by the name of Elise — well, tell me what you were at this World Massage Championship. Tell me about it.

Elise Volkman Well, I was a wonderful participant, and then I ended up getting bronze at the 2017, in freestyle, World Massage Championship. And I — you were asking me a little bit about it and why would people care about it and you know —

AH Yeah, because it baffles me. Like I’ve heard about it, I’ve seen it —

MR How do you judge massage (indiscernible) kind of thing.

AH I don’t understand competitive massage, which I know it’s not really competitive massage, but I was like why would anyone care about a world massage championship? And how you can tell us.

EV So you know what’s really interesting is that there are massage therapists that are competitive.

AH I can’t imagine that because it’s so not normal to me, but okay.

EV Well, there are some people that are so good in their field that without a competition, you’re never going to see them. Do you know what I mean? It is a way to get specific people that would never come to just a festival for continuing education. But you put a medal out there and they will show up because they know that they are that good and that amazing.

AH So tell me what gets — I’m guessing — you said you bronzed in the freestyle category —

EV Um-hum.

AH So tell me what you know about the different categories and how do you judge a winner or a loser in such a thing?

EV All right, so I’ll give a little basic rundown about how the competition goes. It’s two days. It’s based in Copenhagen. It’s led by the International Massage Association, which is also based out of — European. So it’s very European-heavy right now, and they’re trying to make more nationals as we go. So you show up. The year I went, there was 82 people from 33 countries.

You trade massage with another competitor, and as you’re doing that, the judges have been chosen by the International Massage Association, and those judges are supposed to be leaders in the field, people that — you know, Massage Nerd was part of it.

AH Ryan, yep.

EV Yep. Joe Lavin, out in Seattle, he was a judge last year. They really try to choose people that have been in the industry a long time and have been leaders in the industry a long time.

And then you trade a massage. And as you’re trading that massage, the judges are walking around, and they’re looking at creation of new technique, flow, body mechanics, you know, things that are actually judgeable and can be based on a points system. Then, they talk to the client and they say, hey, how was your massage? This move that they did, did it really feel good or did it just look cool, you know, that kind of thing. And so it’s all based on a points system. Then you do — the second day you show up, you do the exact same thing. And at the end of that, they add up all the points and they choose their favorite. So all the judges get together and they choose the favorites based off of what happened there.

And then at that time, the people that are in the lead go and they massage the judges. And they massage the judges in front of everyone at the competition. And everyone in the competition gets a vote. Every licensed massage therapist gets to give one point, every teacher gets to give two points, and every judge gets to give six. And whoever has the most points at the end is the person that gets the gold of the entire competition.

There’s five different categories, or at least there was in 2017. I know that as the competition grows and kind of fills out and becomes more and more well known that they are tweaking the different ones. But the five that were there was chair massage; Swedish, which is completely different in Europe than it is here — like totally different; Asian; freestyle; and — so I got chair massage, Asian, freestyle, wellness, and Swedish. So those are the five. And so you get a winner — you get a bronze, silver, and gold in all of them. And then you get the gold of the entire competition, which is the one that’s judged based off of everyone’s vote.

Now, it’s a competition, yes, but it’s also a wonderful chance to network with people from all over the world. Because the thing is is we all face the same challenges. I sat and talked to a lady from Russia — through a lady from Ukraine because she was the only one that spoke enough Russian to be able to communicate — and she was talking about the same things that the lady from Thailand was talking about, that the man from London was talking about.

MR You can really learn a lot from each other.

EV Yeah, yeah. And to be able to sit and to walk around in the rooms and to see all of these amazing modalities like yak milk massage or a Russian sports massage that was given to me where the lady had her elbow so far in my stomach while she was making me do crunches. Just unbelievable things that you have not seen in any kind of continuing education, anything like that. This is from all over the world. People make their own tools and they bring them. Like the chair massage lady actually created her own tools and now she has patented it and is selling it worldwide. I mean, there’s so many opportunities to meet these amazing people.

MR Sounds kind of fascinating.

AH Michael’s going to want to be a judge at this thing now.

MR (Laughter) I’m intrigued. You’re really selling it really well. This is really interesting.

EV It’s phenomenal. It’s a — and the thing is, the only reason I got into was because my mentor, Joe Lavin out in Seattle, was — he said, hey you need to come out there, and I was like well, I want to do that. I had only been a massage therapist for a year when I went. And so to be around all those amazing people — and one point, my shoulder was hurting and I was like, is there anybody here who’s an osteopath? And one of them came up, he did this crazy martial arts stuff on me where he was rolling around on the mat on top of me on the floor and my whole entire — my whole body aligned in like ten minutes. I have never experienced that, and I have been getting work for, I mean, practically my entire life.

MR So can anyone just apply to be a competitor?

EV I think there are different qualifications, and as it goes, they get a little bit more stringent. I think at the very beginning whenever I did it, you had to know somebody who was going and then they had to kind of vouch for you in order to be able to go.

MR Okay.

EV That’s as much as I know at that point. You could talk to Jeppe. He would be a little bit more informed. He’s the leader of it all. You can also talk to Joe. He’s very involved in it.

AH And I totally googled World Massage Championship and came up with the website that’s got all of the information right there. So just google it.

MR All right. Cool.

EV I mean, it’s just phenomenal. It was just 10 out of 10. If you want to meet — you don’t go to win. You go to sit and enjoy the presence of such amazing people. And then if you win, it’s like this added miracle bonus that you can then market yourself with for basically the rest of your life. I mean, obviously, I don’t want it to be the high point in my life, but it has been a high point so far.

AH It sounds like a really great experience. Thank you for educating me about it so I feel a little less like, what, about the whole thing. Thank you.

EV Yeah. I feel you.

AH Thanks, Elise.

EV All right, thank you. Wandering hummingbird.

AH (Laughter)

MR Are, we’re going to take a little halftime break here because our halftime sponsor is our friends at ABMP who we’ve been hanging out with this week. We’ve had a lot of fun.

AH We’ve had a blast hanging out with everyone from ABMP.

MR And we have Hannah from ABMP. Hannah, what is your role at ABMP?

Hannah Levy I am the team lead of our member service center.

MR Nice. So you talk to a lot of members?

HL Yeah, yeah.

MR That’s kind of of your job is to talk to members.

HL Yep, exactly. (Laughter)

MR So people listening who are ABMP members have probably talked to Hannah. So we’re so happy to have you.

HL Yeah, I’m so happy to be here.

MR Yeah, so I know we have some questions for ABMP, you want to —

AH Yeah, I want to give a lead-in here. We were really, really excited to learn last night that one of the new features of certified membership is a monthly payment plan. So I pay my membership stuff annually, but sometimes that’s a big chunk of bucks, and that can be tough for new therapists.

HL Um-hum.

AH And for students and whatever. So tell me about this new payment plan.

HL Yeah, so we’re so excited to offer this. At only $20 a month, certified members can split up their annual membership fee into 12 installments. So yeah. So we’re thrilled about that.

AH And 20 bucks a month is super manageable. And have you found new members taking you up on this? How’s it going?

HL Absolutely. It’s going great. So at the highest level of membership that we offer, you now have monthly payments, so you get that in addition to all of our CE courses, which is 600 now that we’ve acquired the World Massage Conferences vault.

AH My goodness. Is that the largest CE portal, vault in the industry?

HL It is.

AH Who knew?

HL Yes. (Laughter)

AH (Laughter)

MR (Laughter)

AH So in talking to members as often as you do, is there a most common question about the benefits or a most common compliment or complaint or thing that you like to inform people about as far as ABMP membership?

HL My go to is always our continuing education courses. We’re the leader in education and that is really what we’re prioritizing and putting forth for our members, and that is exemplified in Five-Minute Muscles as well, which is our new online resource that goes in depth about every muscle. So be sure to check it out.

AH Thank you so much, Hannah.

HL Yeah.

AH I’m really excited about the monthly plan. Thank you.

HL Me too.

MR All right, we are really excited because we have one of our podcast listeners that has just stopped by to see us. Carolina (phonetic) from Florida. How are you Carolina?

Guest 3 I’m well, how are you?

MR Great, thanks for joining us.

G3 Thank you.

MR So you have agreed to share with us one of your top business or marketing challenges in your massage practice. So what do you got?

G3 Yes, so I am a solo business owner, solo practitioner, and I’m kind of doing everything by myself.

MR Um-hum.

G3 So the marketing, the scheduling, the bookkeeping, everything. And so it’s hard.

MR Okay. So your challenge is how do you get it all done, right?

G3 How to get it all done, yeah. And missing out on appointments. I try to incorporate online booking, but I find sometimes I have a client who texts me last minute or the next day and then they book online, so that’s kind of my —

MR Okay. And what are you using for online scheduling?

G3 I — Wix. My website’s on Wix.

MR Oh, the built-in Wix scheduling?

G3 Yeah, the built-in.

MR Okay and it works pretty well?

AH So when someone texts you — if I was to text you and be like, hey, can I get a massage tomorrow? What do you do? What’s your process? What’s your reply?

G3 If I’m available, I say yes.

AH Okay, and then you manually book them?

G3 And then I manually book them, yeah.

AH Okay. All right.

G3 Yeah. So what was going on was when I’m in session for an hour and a half or two hours and then at the same time I could have a regular client of mine text me or book online, and — yeah, so no one’s answering my phone calls. I think that’s a big challenge as well. Nobody’s —

AH So you mean there’s no one there to answer the phone for your business?

G3 Right. Right.

AH So does your outgoing voicemail say if you want to book an appointment, go to the website here?

G3 Yes, it does.

AH Okay, so here’s a thing to try. And it takes a while because it involves training your clients. So never, ever, ever book someone — unless someone is sitting in front of you and booking their next appointment (indiscernible) your office, never, ever, ever manually book someone. Simply say —

G3 Okay.

AH — like if someone texts you and says do you have an appointment tomorrow, your reply should be I’ve got a handful of appointments coming up, you can check the website and schedule your own here. And you paste the link in.

G3 Okay.

AH Make them schedule their own appointments because after doing that two or three times, they will just go to your website and book the appointment because they know that you are not going to do that manual labor for them. But it takes a little training.

G3 Yes.

AH And I’ve run into this because it’s mortifying when someone’s like do you have the appointment tomorrow, and you’re like yeah, I’ve got tomorrow at 2 p.m., and then they don’t get back to you for three hours and then somebody else books the appointment. And then they finally get back to you and you’re like, just head’s up, that got taken.

G3 Yeah.

AH So I — and I tell people that. I say — like, if I’m training someone to do it themselves or they email me like that — email’s even worse because people check their email even less frequently.

G3 Yeah.

AH I say, book — I don’t want to put you in there without knowing that it’s perfect for you. I don’t want somebody else to get it first. You can book online here. Leave that in their hands. And if they don’t get to it to book and somebody else takes it, that’s their problem and not yours.

G3 Yeah.

AH So — and I put on my outgoing voice mail it’s hard to reach me between clients. Your best bet is to book yourself here. But it takes a little training.

G3 And you’re so right about training the clients because it’s almost like I’ve trained them to — to let them know that I’m ready within —

AH We’ve enabled them. And that happens when you’re hungry for clients. And that’s okay.

G3 Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

AH It’s just a retraining thing. But what are some other things that are annoying you that you have to do in your business?

G3 Knowing that I have to do.

AH You know you say, like, you’re wearing all the hats. So what’s taking up your time?

G3 I think the scheduling. The scheduling is a big one. I wish I could kind of transfer — do more of the online, have it automated rather than me having to do everything.

MR Shouldn’t it be automated if it’s online booking? What’s not automated about it?

G3 Because not all my clients do online booking.

MR Oh, gotcha.

G3 A lot of my regulars —

MR (indiscernible) train them to do that.

G3 Yeah. A lot of my clients call me or text me. A lot — years of regular clients and —

MR So Allissa covered that one, yeah.

G3 Yeah.

AH Yeah, so that could take a lot off your plate if you just stop doing that. Say, you know what? I’ve run into a lot of problems trying to do this manually. If you could go to this link and book your appointment, that would be the best option for you.

G3 Yeah, yeah.

AH Just stop doing it. Don’t do it.

G3 Yeah. (Laughter)

AH It takes a little — it’s hard. I still have a few people I will do it for, but it’s dramatically lowered, and that saves me a lot of hassle.

G3 Yeah, yeah.

MR What else? Anything else? You mentioned bookkeeping, something else, operational stuff. What were you — what else is on your plate that you feel like is overwhelming you?

G3 I think just everything. I mean — yeah.

AH So how many clients are you seeing a week-ish?

G3 About 20.

AH And is that good for you? That’s what you want to be seeing?

G3 Yeah, I like being busy. I like to work. I like — I don’t like — I work best when I’m busy. So it’s almost a catch-22. I’m complaining about being busy, but I like being busy.

AH Yeah, it’s a weird psychic thing, I found. When I wasn’t seeing enough clients, when I was down to like 12 a week and I really was trying to fill my schedule, I would get really stressed out about that, like I’m not going to make enough money this week. And now that my schedule is a little — is fuller, I’m hitting my 18 to 20 per week, now I’m like oh, my God, what if I get sick tomorrow and I have to cancel five people and I have nowhere to move them?

G3 Yeah.

AH So I think that there’s a weird — it’s really hard to find that psychic balance —

G3 Yeah.

AH — I found, so I hear that. I think we just have to kind of get over ourselves. Like, this is just going to be a certain amount of maintenance stress.

G3 Yeah.

AH Are you doing your own laundry?

G3 Yes.

AH Have you considered outsourcing that?

G3 No, because I enjoy doing the laundry. (Laughter)

AH All right, then. So are you doing your own money stuff? You’re, like, running your own reports, you’re — okay. Do you like doing that as well?

G3 I do. I like — I think the biggest challenge I’m coming up on is when I’m in session. You know, no one’s — no one’s answering the phone calls, so it’s — so I get out of session and sometimes I literally have ten missed calls.

AH So you could also consider a phone answering service.

G3 Yeah.

AH That could be — if this is your big stressor and you feel like it’s going to take too long to train your clients, maybe outsource answering your phone.

G3 Yeah.

AH Michael, what are some options for that?

MR There’s one called Ruby receptionist, which is very good. It’s a little pricey, but it’s very good. It’s probably the best one around.

G3 Oh, cool.

MR It’s at callruby.com. You might check them out. I’ve used them for other businesses in the past, and they’re amazing. They’re phenomenal. So there’s that one. And then — I know there are others out there, I just can’t think what they are at the moment. If you google remote receptionist or —

G3 Virtual like —

MR — virtual receptionist service, you’ll find a bunch.

G3 Yep, okay.

MR But the one I’ve used is called Ruby and they’re awesome.

G3 Okay.

MR So yeah.

AH Yeah, I mean, if that’s your big thing and you don’t want to have to retrain all of your clients, then get an answering service who can do it for you, or change your outgoing message to say — [beep sound] — oh, I’m at the Ruby Receptionist and it just did a little pop up asking me for help.

MR Oh, they want to chat with you don’t they? (Laughter)

AH So that was scary, sorry. See we’re trying to find answers on the spot for people here. But you could change your outgoing message to say, calls will not — it will take me at least 48 hours to respond to your calls. If you want to book an appointment, schedule here. And that might — just say I can’t answer my phone.

G3 Yep.

AH Yeah, that could solve your problem. This could be easy to solve. Just don’t.

G3 Yeah.

AH Don’t return nonurgent phone calls.

G3 Don’t feel guilty for not being able to answer.

AH No, there’s only so much you can do. Or you could actually very specifically book in the middle or towards the end of each day 45 minutes to return calls.

G3 Yes.

AH And you can return them with voicemails that say — if you get someone’s voice mail, you can return them with a message that says, I am not able to play phone tag. If you want an appointment, book here. If there’s something else going on, email me, or whatever.

G3 I like that line, I’m not able to play phone tag because yeah, even — yeah.

AH I think that that might — between booking your regulars as they come for appointments and then just refusing to hand-hold people — and you might lose a few clients. You don’t need them.

G3 Exactly.

AH Fill those spaces with people who can handle booking online. But it’s a hard line to draw. I feel that.

G3 Yeah.

MR Cool.

AH That’s all I got.

MR Thanks.

G3 Okay.

MR Thanks for stopping by to join us.

G3 Thank you.

MR All right, keep in touch.

G3 Lovely.

MR All right, well, I think that’s going to wrap it up for today. We’ve had a lot of great people come by and join us. I’ve had fun. How about you?

AH It has been crazy fun to talk to everybody and I’ve heard so many neat stories from people about their different businesses, and it reminds me of how heartening and helpful it is to come to these kinds of events and to hang out with other therapists and to know that a lot of our problems are universal and also entirely solvable —

MR (Laughter).

AH — which is really —

MR That’s an optimistic way of looking at it.

AH It is.

MR Entirely solvable.

AH It’s really — you know, we get — and this is a drum we beat a lot. It can be lonely being an independent massage practitioner, and this takes the edge off of it. I mean, it’s been really fun to hang out with ABMP and to see how people love their benefits and all that. And I’m a member, too, so I hear that and I live that. But it’s so nice to hang out with other independent practice owners and just feel that community. It’s really, really nice. And it’s a nice reminder of why we do what we do and why I do what I do in my massage practice. So it’s multi-faceted.

MR There you go. Great place to end. Well, thank you, everybody, for joining us today and letting us come to you on site at World Massage Festival 2019. Hope you’ve had a little bit of the experience. If you’re here, hopefully you’ve come by and said hello to us. If you’re not here, hopefully you’ve kind of gotten a taste of the event, and maybe we’ll see you next time.

With that, we’ll wrap up there. You can find us online at massagebusinessblueprint.com. And again, big thank you to ABMP for sponsoring these last two episodes and partnering with us here at World Massage Festival 2019. Thanks, everybody. Have a great day. We’ll see you next time.

AH Bye.