Episode 312

Sep 4, 2020

Allissa and Michael discuss how to embrace uncomfortable conversations with clients to make for a happier, easier to run business.

Listen to "E312: Don't Lie to Clients (or potential clients)" on Spreaker.
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Weekly Roundup

Discussion Topic

  • Don't Lie to Clients (or potential clients)

Quick Tips



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Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we help you attract more clients, make more money, and improve your quality of life. I'm Michael Reynolds.

Allissa Haines I'm Allissa Haines.

MR And we're your hosts. Welcome to today's episode. We're glad you're here.

AH We are glad you're here. Michael, we're going to do a quick check-in. What's the weather?

MR Oh, it's been a while since we talked about the weather.

AH I know.

MR Well, it is sunny and nice. And yesterday was the perfect day, 75 degrees. My family went to feed the horses that are in the neighborhood next to us. There's a little farm in our neighborhood that's got two horses, a little fenced-in area. And there's a sign out there saying you can feed the horses. And it gives you advice on what they like and how to feed them safely and everything. And so Ariana and Eli and I like to go over and feed the horses sometimes, so we went and brought them apples and raisins and carrots, and we got to pet them. And they are just delightful. So that's one of our little Sunday afternoon activities is we go and feed the horses.

AH Okay, and Eli lost his first tooth yesterday.

MR And he did lose his first tooth yesterday, yes.

AH Did the Tooth Fairy remember to deliver?

MR Indeed.

AH Nice.

MR And he woke up with a shiny gold dollar -- one of those gold coin dollars, under his pillow, so.

AH Awesome. Do you have a stack of those for future teeth ready?

MR The Tooth Fairy does indeed have a stack of those gold dollar coins at the ready.

AH Did I ever tell you -- okay, first of all, it's 59 and chilly but nice here. And the second thing I wanted to say is did I ever tell you my brilliant idea that I got last year of what to give people for baby shower gifts?

MR No, I don't think so.

AH You give them -- I don't know how many teeth kids lose in their childhood, but I got to look it up. And then you give them that many gold coins in a nice box so that they never get stuck without Tooth Fairy stuff when their kid starts losing teeth.

MR Nice.

AH Isn't that a great baby shower gift?

MR That is. That is. Absolutely.

AH I think it's awesome.

MR Yeah.

AH So that's my thing. And actually, Walt's cousin in Upstate New York had twins last year, and we didn't send them anything when the babies were born. He's not super close to her, but we did go to her wedding. So I've been meaning -- I want to get it together and send her -- the babies are only like four or five -- or I guess -- no, we went to her wedding last year. Right now, the babies are like four or five months old. She had twins, and they're super cute. And I've been wanting to get that together to send to her because I just think it's a brilliant idea.

MR It is.

AH Okay. What're you reading?

MR So I am listening -- or I've been listening recently to a podcast called The Daily from the New York Times. And one episode in particular I wanted to bring up today, it is called "Where We Stand on The Pandemic." First of all, I really like this podcast. Again, it's called The Daily, and it's free, obviously -- it's a podcast -- from the New York Times. Each episode's about 20 minutes long. There are a few that are longer with some really interesting stories, but most of them are around 20-ish, 25 minutes. And they basically cover a daily story. They report on something that's happening in current events, and they kind of go -- deep-dive into it.

And so this particular one, called "Where We Stand on The Pandemic," I really enjoyed. It was insightful. It gave me some -- just some good, current information on, well, literally, where we stand on the pandemic, hence the title. So it is interesting information about the state of vaccines, what we can expect from vaccines, or what we can expect in the coming months. And it's a very -- a lot of people like to pick on the New York Times for being "too liberal," but I have found The Daily to be pretty objective and pretty unbiased and factual and just a really nice, good, unbiased source for really good information.

And one interesting insight from this particular episode was how the current administration is actually harming our ability to get good data on what's working and what's not. For example, hydroxychloroquine was one big controversial thing. And when the president said, hey, everybody should be taking this; it's a miracle drug, or whatever, and really leaned into it and promoted it, it caused people to believe that it worked so much that they could not find anyone to be in clinical trials because everybody wanted the actual thing. They wouldn't accept possibly getting a placebo during clinical trials. And so they weren't able to do enough clinical trials to get real good data. And the same thing's happening right now with plasma. So basically, the leadership of our country has an influence on the data we can get because it's influencing people to participate or not want to participate in the very trials that would give us good data to see if the stuff works or not.

So I found that really interesting and didn't think about it from that perspective before on what kind of harm politicians can do to the scientific process, among other things. So anyway, the whole episode was really, really interesting and gave some good information on kind of the state of things with the COVID-19 pandemic. So that's what I'm listening to, and I wanted to give a shout out because it was a good one.

AH That is -- I had not thought of that either. And I have listened to The Daily on and off at certain times, so I am on board. It is a really good podcast.

MR Yeah. What do you got? What're you listening to or watching or reading?

AH So I read some fiction last week, and I read a book called, Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. And I guess this has been -- I don't know if it's a movie that's already been out or if it's in production, but I guess it's a movie also with Cate Blanchett starring as Bernadette. But this book is really neat because it's not told in a normal narrative. The story is told via this stack of emails and notes and other correspondence, official office documents, school emails, and other correspondence, all related to the life of Bernadette Fox. And it's told from her 15-year-old daughter's perspective. And the main gist is that Bernadette Fox is the wife of a Microsoft guru, and she's kind of a little bit of a wackadoodle artist architect. And there's a 15-year-old daughter, Bee, who goes to this private school, and Bernadette can't stand all the other parents. She's an odd duck, but in a really interesting way. And you -- she ends up missing. You find out pretty early in the story that she's missing, and her daughter is going through all of these documents to figure out where her mom could be because everyone else thinks she's just dead.

It's so interesting, and it's funny, and there's a wacky little mystery twist, and -- but not like in a heavily suspenseful way that stressed me out. It was just really funny. I laughed out loud a couple of times. So that is my reading suggestion, Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. I've been reading some other very heavy stuff as well. I did the parenting books like we talked about last week, and I've got some other heavy stuff in the works, but this was light and funny and smart. And that is my reading recommendation.

MR Hey, we all need light, funny, and smart sometimes.

AH We do. Who's our first sponsor, Michael?

MR All right, our friends over at Acuity.

AH Yay. Thanks, Acuity, for being our sponsor.

Sponsor message Acuity Scheduling is your online assistant working 24/7 to fill your schedule. You don't have to play phone tag anymore. Clients can easily view your real-time availability and book their own appointments or change their own appointments or pay online or fill out your pre-appointment COVID checklist with a click. You can handle all your forms before the appointment. You can look super professional. And you, my friends, can get a 45-day free offer when you sign up today at massagebusinessblueprint.com/acuity.

MR Thanks, Acuity.

AH Thank you. Okay. Yeah.

MR All right. I like your topic.

AH Thank you. Our topic today is don't lie to your clients or potential clients. Inspired by conversations on the interwebs where someone didn't -- a massage therapist didn't want to schedule another client again for reason X, Y, Z. And when they posted about "how do I get myself out of this situation?" the comment thread was full of "tell them you're booked till the end of the year," or tell them blah, blah, blah. But they were all some variation on making something up in order to not book the client again. And that makes me rage-y, just totally rage-y.

It's absurd partly because if you tell one client that you're booked to the end of the year -- first, if you have online scheduling or any kind of open system or they just know friends -- they have friends that come to see you, they're going to know that's not true. And then they'll just go online and schedule an appointment and be like, oh, something must have opened up. Or their friend will be like, I got an appointment for next week. I can't wait. And then they'll call you again and be like, you told me you didn't have any appointments. How did that person get that appointment? So in theory, telling these lies to get out of an uncomfortable conversation makes things easier in the moment, but it makes things much, much harder long term because -- and if someone's persistent, or if they don't understand that you don't want to book them again -- if they're kind of naïve, or it's not clear in their head, they're just going to keep calling you, and it just -- it's a long-term hassle that you don't need that can be handled if you can get a little cozier with the big girl parts of running a business. And this doesn't just apply to icky dudes. I'm going to give some examples in a minute.

But my example where I really realized this was dumb is that I kept getting invited to do some chair massage gigs back in the day. Now, I hate chair massage. I have always hated chair massage. But this event organizer who kind of knew me through another client always thought that they were doing me this great favor by offering me this chair massage job. It paid well. It wasn't terrible. I had done it once or twice before. But I hated chair massage, so every time they called, I'd be like, oh, thank you so much for thinking of me. I can't fit that into my schedule, but here's two I think you should call. And after a few times of this happening, I realized I was wasting their time. They had to call me, leave a message, or email and wait for me to get back to them, which doesn't take long, but still an extra step for this person trying to run an event. And finally, I was like, you know? I am free that day, but I just don't love chair massage, and I don't give it my all. You should just call my friend Karleen first. Please don't feel like you have to offer me this job moving forward. It's not my strength. Just call her. And they were so grateful. They were like, oh, well, that's wonderful. Yeah, we do love Karleen too. We love you too, but it's totally cool. We understand. And it wasn't a thing. I was just clear and honest, and they appreciated that. And then I didn't waste their time anymore, and they didn't waste mine.

And this also applies to not wanting to work certain days or times. If someone's like, I need a Thursday night at 6, and you don't work Thursday nights, but you feel bad about that, there's three options here: You can be -- you can decide to work a Thursday night for them, which is a bad idea because then that's going to become a thing, and you're going to have to keep doing it. Or two, you can say, oh, I'm booked up. And then they're just going to keep asking about Thursday nights till they -- because they think, eventually, you'll have one. Or you could just be honest and say, you know what? I don't work Thursday nights. And if this person presses you, you can say, I'm sorry. My schedule doesn't permit me to make exceptions. Would you like to book another time, or should I find you a therapist who works Thursday nights? That's it. And then you're done with it. Then you never have to answer that question from them again. It just makes everything easier.

And there's a lot of times -- booking a Thursday night is not necessarily an uncomfortable conversation. There's a lot of times when this is an uncomfortable conversation. This is a story I have heard in many variations from many people: a massage therapist who treats a couple. Maybe the couple comes to the office and gets a massage one at a time. Maybe the therapist goes to their home and gives each of them a massage on a regular basis. When you treat a couple, and one member of the couple is inappropriate, usually the dude, so you want to stop treating him, you don't want to give him a massage anymore, but you aren’t sure how to handle that because one, you can't really say to the wife, your husband's a groper. And two, it's hard to cancel -- to stop treating the husband without also stopping to treat the wife. And also, a lot of times this is happening when the dude is in some kind of position of power, especially in small towns where they have the ability to bad-talk you.

So listen. If you're in a small town, and this is a gossipy situation, and you can come up with a reason that may not be entirely true to stop treating them both, then you have my blessing. I understand that this can be difficult. And you don't need my blessing anyway. But if this is a situation where you're fairly confident the husband and/or wife will not smack talk you through your small town, or any number of variables here, my suggestion would be to tell the husband right out, probably at the end of a massage, and say -- or call him directly and only him after that massage and before the next one and say, I am uncomfortable with your behavior at your last visit, so I've decided to terminate our professional relationship. We're not going to discuss that further. You can decide what to tell your wife regarding why you no longer want massage so she does not schedule for you again. If she tries to schedule for you again, or she asks me what the issue is, I'm going to tell her right out that I'm not the best massage therapist for you, and together we decided you'll find a new massage therapist.

Now, I kind of don't love that script upon rethinking it because I don't want you to refer them out to another therapist where he's going to be abusive or gross, but you can cut that last line. So that's the big thing, is to say, I'm terminating our relationship. I'm not going to discuss this. You decide what to tell your wife. And then you've told him what you're going to tell his wife, which is perfectly appropriate and doesn't give up that he's a groper because there is a weird -- you could get into a situation where the wife doesn't believe you, or you can get into a situation where you're breaking up their marriage, which, frankly, I don't have a problem with. But you -- it's also potentially a confidentiality issue where you really -- it's just a lot of layers of sketch there. But you can say the thing to him and put that burden of explanation on him. And that's it. That's what you can do. And if it's super uncomfortable -- yes, it is super uncomfortable, but we have to have these kinds of uncomfortable conversations.

And this was all inspired by a post about someone, a massage therapist, who went back into the room after a treatment to clean the table and found some -- I'm just -- I don't know if you've got kids listening, so I'm going to be appropriate and a little cagey, but found some male body fluids on the linens. And this dude was scheduled for a couple more massages, and they were like, what do I do? And again, in the comment thread, like 20 people were like, just call him and tell him you have to cancel the appointments, and you're fully booked through the year. That's not helpful. You call him, and you say, I found your body fluids on my linens. That is not acceptable behavior at my massage establishment. I have canceled your appointments for the future. Do not attempt to rebook. We will not be discussing this matter further. That is what you say. You say, I saw what you did, and it is not okay. That's it.

And if you work for someone else, and they're not willing to do this, you drop me an email, and I'll help you figure out how to start your own business because you should not be in a situation where you are pressured to work on somebody in that situation. But you tell them the truth. Don't make up a lie. And then you put it in their darn chart so that they can't get scheduled again. Or if they do get scheduled again, someone pulls the chart and goes, no, I'm not treating this dude. Clarity helps you in the now, it helps you in the future, and it helps every other massage therapist that you work with if you're in an employee situation. So that's my rant on that.

And I would also suggest that if you're not willing to learn to have uncomfortable conversations with clients, maybe you shouldn't choose rubbing naked people as your job. Now, I'm not saying that because you're uncomfortable with these things and they're scary, you need to quit. I recognize that's not an entirely practical statement. But what I can encourage you to do is learn to get good at it. Learn to sit with your own discomfort for the greater good of your personal health and your career. Learn to sit with that discomfort and go with it and work through it and be uncomfortable in order to do the right thing in your business. This is hugely applicable in our field. It took me a long time to get comfortable saying, you can -- it's fine to take your underwear off. You can undress fully, or you can leave your underwear on. It took me like a year to get comfortable saying the word "underwear" in my massage practice. And that's okay. But learn to be uncomfortable because in the long run, it will make your business much easier to run.

And I got to tell you. This -- learning to have uncomfortable conversations in my business has dramatically helped me in my personal life. I am the first person in a relationship to speak up and say, hey, this isn't right. We're not doing okay here. And it scared men for a long time. And I've gotten the feedback that, wow, I've never met a woman who so clearly states what's happening and what she wants from a situation. Yeah, it's great. It's awesome. And that is my rant today. Michael, what do you got?

MR I just have a question for you. So a couple times, you've mentioned call the client and explain the situation directly. While that does sound like the ideal scenario, I'm sure a lot of our listeners are -- that may give them anxiety to think, oh, picking up the phone and calling this client I'm uncomfortable with. What's your opinion on sending an email?

AH I think if email communication has been an effective communication with that client in the past, then that is absolutely acceptable. However, if you haven't emailed with them before, there is a great chance your email's going to end up in the spam box, or it's going to turn out that that email isn't current and they never check it. So if you don't normally email with that client, I would call them. If you can figure out a time when it's definitely going to go to voicemail, do that, and then leave that message with the voicemail and follow up with an email. If it's a client that you've texted, it is fine to text them.

And I also want you to know, if it's someone who is persistent and nags and makes this difficult for you and wants more reasoning or wants a second chance, you can just reiterate, we are not going to discuss this further. I am blocking your phone number now. And do it. Then you don't ever have to think about it again. If this is a situation where you think this person is predatory, then stop in at your local police station and say, this is what's going on. Do you have any advice for me? And they probably won't. They can't do anything unless they feel like you're actually being threatened. But if you have that concern, go and talk to your law enforcement, and hopefully they will help you.

That said, a lot of -- some of these complaints I have heard about men -- it's usually men who are in politics or law enforcement or chief surgeon at the local small-town hospital. So sometimes you cannot go to what should be a security situation because they're not going to help you, or they're not going to believe you. But it's okay to do this by email if that's how you've communicated with them. It's okay to do this by text if that's how you've communicated with them. But if that's -- if neither of those has been a regular form of communication, I would do a voicemail and an email, or a voicemail and a text. And you can say --

MR And to be clear -- sorry. Go ahead.

AH Sorry. Go ahead. Now go ahead.

MR Well, to be clear, the email is to document the situation, correct?

AH Yes. Yup. And a text would do that as well. But yeah, that's what I think.

MR Okay. Thank you.

AH You're welcome. Who do we got?

MR All right. Let's show some love to Jojoba!

AH Yay.

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MR Yay. All right, quick tips.

AH Quick tip. Bring it.

MR Let me go first?

AH Yeah.

MR Okay. I'm just going to ask our listeners to register to vote. [Laughing] It's not really a practical tip or anything. It's just sort of a request. I'm not going to go into too much politics or anything, or at all really, but I just want to say that I believe that our audience and our Community are people that approach voting with the right intentions, with the goals of making our country better for everyone who lives in it. And I think it's really important. So I know that a lot of people, maybe they don't realize they're not registered, or their registration is out of date because they've -- life situations have changed or whatever. Something's happened. I think it's a really, really good time for everybody to verify that you are registered to vote, to make sure that you get registered if you're not, and that you make a plan to figure out how to make sure you vote, whether it's voting early, voting by mail if your location allows that, voting in person if you feel comfortable and it's viable for you, whatever it is. I just want to make sure that -- just a reminder, make sure you're registered. Make you have a plan to vote, and make sure you vote. I think it's super, super important.

AH I want to reiterate that. Make sure you have a plan to vote. It's pretty easy to look up what your city, town, etcetera, is allowing for early voting or voting by mail or going to the actual polls on a voting day. My town, we have our primaries tomorrow, and we did the vote-by-mail, but we can actually drop our ballots off at a box in front of the town hall. And we've had our ballots, and we've had them completed for like a week and a half, and we still have not dropped the darn ballots off. The other day, I was like, oh, we got to get these to the town hall by Tuesday, which isn't a problem. We live like a mile away. But we hadn't made a plan. I literally finally put it on the calendar that tonight we need to go drop off our ballots. And when I put it on the calendar as an event, it became a thing that I would actually do, and then I get a little alert about, and that I have set aside half an hour to actually handle. So make a plan to vote, as a piggyback on the importance of just handling it.

MR Yeah. Yeah. And also, maybe find out who else you can help vote.

AH Yeah.

MR If you have people that are -- maybe older people or people that have disabilities or financial issues where they work too many jobs to get out and vote. Whatever it is, just see if you can help somebody else vote. See if you can help somebody figure out the process. Maybe they're uncomfortable figuring out the process. Maybe they need transportation if you feel safe doing -- pandemic-wise to help somebody get someplace to vote. Whatever it is, maybe you can help somebody else as well.

AH Wow, Michael. We're really radicalizing our podcast.

MR [Laughing]

AH So my life -- my tip, my big life tip, is make a will. Y'all need a will. And you need in your will, also, to stipulate what you're going to do with all your business property. So think about your -- maybe think about your massage friends, and if there's anyone you want to leave that property to, or if you're going to leave all your business property to your partner or your family, have a conversation with one of your massage friends about them helping to disassemble your massage business, should they need to do it without your presence. So make a will.

I had been putting it off because I was going to have to pay to have it done, and then I finally was like -- I went on to Rocket Lawyer, and I bought one month of their premium membership, and I made my will, and I made my living will, and it was like 40 bucks -- actually, I think I actually did it all in the $6-trial week, so I don't even think I ever had to pay the 40 bucks for the monthly fee, or 30 bucks for the monthly fee. I made my will, and I made my living will, and I downloaded it, and I have a date on my calendar to stop at a friend's house so her and her husband can be the witnesses for it, and then to go and get the thing notarized to attach to it. And it wasn't that hard to do online with Rocket Lawyer. They just walk you right through it. So you can do this for under 100 bucks. Of course it's more complicated if you have a blended family or if you have children or -- it can be certainly more complicated, but if I can do it, you can do it. And Walt did it too, and his is actually pretty complicated with kids and an ex and all of these things. So do it.

And on top of that, once you get that done, make a life binder. And I'm going to put a link to -- the National Institute of Health actually has a guide to kind of getting your affairs in order, like what kinds of important documents do you want to have together. You can put them all in a binder. You can put copies of them all in a binder. You can just have a file cabinet that is very well marked so someone else will understand it. But make it easy for people to handle stuff in the event you're not there to help them handle the closure of your life. I am watching a friend go through this now, disassembling her sister's life, and thank goodness the thing that they had gotten set up properly was guardianship for the kid. But watching this woman having to clean out her sister's home and go through all of this paperwork to find out what's relevant, and especially in the manner of providing for this child who's now orphaned. It's complicated, and it's stressful, and it's painful, and it elongates the grief, and it deepens the grief. It's just really tough. So do the things to make things easier for the people who are going to outlive you. And that is the end of my shtick.

MR Great advice. Man, we're so somber today.

AH We are. But I have to say, the process of making the will was really good. It was helpful for me to think things through. It was helpful. They ask you like, are there any particular items you would like to bequest to anyone in particular? And I don't have a lot of stuff, but yeah. I have this really gorgeous, vintage diamond wedding ring. It was actually like an engagement ring, but I used it as a wedding ring, from my prior marriage. And I was like, oh, who do I -- it's not worth much resale because I did try to sell it at one point, and I was like, eh, it's not worth it. I'd rather keep it than get the 500 bucks. So I had to kind of think through -- my stepdaughter from that marriage is not interested in it. It's not her style. But her son is a baby. My grandson may want it one day. I was like, eh. And if they want it -- they don't want it and they want to sell it, then I'm cool with that. I kind of had to think about where I wanted it to go, and then let go of anything that happened after that.

But it was good for me to think through the few things I do have that I feel have some level of sentimental value and where I want them to go. The cradle that my grandfather made that I never had a baby to fill it, I'll get that to the oldest niece. That's fine. Every baby in my family has slept in that cradle. So it was good to think through a few things and just have it handled.

MR Yeah. Thank you. Good stuff.

AH Done for real.

MR All right. Well, thanks, everyone, for joining us today. We appreciate you being a listener as always. And you know where to find us. It's massagebusinessblueprint.com. If you're new to our podcast, go there and check out more ways to participate in our Community, including our premium community, which is full of good stuff that you can read about on the website. If you have any questions or comments for us, you can email us at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. And while you're at it, if you feel like giving us an Apple Podcast review, we would not be mad about that. We appreciate those, and we'll probably read a few coming up here in the near future. So thanks, everyone, for joining us today. Have a great day. We'll see you next time.

AH Bye.

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