Podcast

Episode 417

Jun 3, 2022

Allissa and Michael dig into creating a niche for your massage business based on the perspective of your safety protocols and being COVID-conscious.

Listen to "E417: Marketing a COVID-Aware Massage Business" on Spreaker.
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EPISODE 417

Weekly Roundup

Discussion Topic

  • Marketing a COVID-Conscious Massage Business

Quick Tips

Sponsors


Transcript: 

Sponsor message:

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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:

This, right here, is Allissa Haines.

Michael Reynolds:

Hey, welcome. We're your hosts. Welcome to our show, Episode 417.

Allissa Haines:

Thanks for listening. Let's not make a big deal about episode numbers, this morning.

Michael Reynolds:

I just throw it out there every now and then, not all the time. But, every now and then, I just like to do a little check-in, remind people where we are in the grand scheme of things. You know.

Allissa Haines:

How was your birthday, Michael?

Michael Reynolds:

It was good. I worked some, because that's what I do. But I also took a little bit of... a few breaks throughout the day, did a dip in the pool. I had sushi for dinner, as my request. Arianna was like, "What do you want for dinner?" I'm like, "Sushi, of course." So we did sushi. Somehow, Eli got extra cookies and cupcakes. I also got a cupcake. That was nice. I got some Star Trek theme stuff, Star Trek beach towel, some Star Trek ties and tie clips, stuff like that. So it was a good time, a little bit of a break, here and there. And it was a good day. So, thanks for asking.

Allissa Haines:

Good for you. Good morning, Marci. I see that you are here listening. Thank you. For those who are listening to the recording, you should know that we actually record live on the Facebook and the YouTube, and something else, I think, on Wednesday mornings, currently at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Michael doesn't know, but I'm going to suggest we move that to later, maybe starting in the fall, so that people on the West Coast can also listen. But we'll talk about that at another time.

Michael Reynolds:

I'm good with that. I don't see Marci. I don't see the chat. Did she say something in the chat?

Allissa Haines:

Oh. Yeah.

Michael Reynolds:

Oh, interesting.

Allissa Haines:

Oh, there you go. And Leslie-

Michael Reynolds:

I see Leslie.

Allissa Haines:

... says, "Happy Belated Birthday, Michael."

Michael Reynolds:

Oh, well thanks Leslie. I appreciate it. Somehow. I missed Marci. So maybe something glitched. There's a glitch in the interweb. But, anyway, thank you.

Allissa Haines:

You're having issues this morning. So Michael doesn't have anything on the reading list, but I do. Can I go?

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah.

Allissa Haines:

I read a delightful little work of fiction a couple weeks ago called, From Little Tokyo With Love, by an author names Sarah Kuhn, K-U-H-N. And it is such a fun story, and really sweet. It's the story of a young woman who lives in Little Tokyo, in Southern California, like LA. And it is the story of... She's a teenager. And she's been raised by her aunts. And it's, kind of, the story of her finding her mother by accident. And it's sweet, and it's funny, and it was just a lovely book. I think it's a Young Adults book. I don't know. It was suggested to me on the library page, when something else wasn't available. And I was like, "Okay." And I actually read it mostly the week I was away at a class. So I would read for like, a half an hour at night, in my little Airbnb. And it was just delightful. So the whole thing surrounding the book was just really good. And, From Little Tokyo With Love. There you go.

Michael Reynolds:

Well, lovely. Thanks for sharing. All right, well let's give a shout out to our friends at [ABMP 00:04:13] before we move on. Would you care to do the honors?

Allissa Haines:

I would love to do the honors. Let's talk, today, about the ABMP Education Center. Thanks, ABMP< for being a sponsor. You can go to abmp.com/learn. And, there, my friends, you will find 600 hours plus of continuing education courses, included with ABMP membership or available for purchase, for non-members, at a ridiculously affordable price.

Allissa Haines:

Topics include Hands-On Techniques, Ethics, Self Care, Cultural Competency, and courses for massage educators, as well. ABMP members get free CE for all courses included with their level of membership. A great way to meet CE requirements, it a really good way to try out... and, kind of, I'm air-quoting this, "meet new presenters", so you can see where you might want to study further, in person.

Allissa Haines:

It's also just a great resource, like if you... The other day, I had a client who put something on her Intake Form that I wasn't familiar with. And I was like, "Huh, I don't know much about hamstring blabitty blah blah." And I went to the ABMP, and I looked at some leg courses. And I took one, and it helped a lot. So that is how useful, on an everyday basis, your ABMP membership can be, on top of having really great insurance, and also the addition to add Business Personal Property Insurance, which I did this year. Go me. So, thanks for being a sponsor, ABMP. You can learn more about ABMP and their education center at abmp.com/learn.

Michael Reynolds:

Man, ABMP just delivers. Don't they?

Allissa Haines:

They really do.

Michael Reynolds:

All right. So I really love our topic today. It's a really cool discussion. So take it away. Let's hear it.

Allissa Haines:

Yeah. And this actually... I'm so glad that Leslie is listening right now, live, because this was partly inspired by her. We got an email from a listener who was like, "Hey, you mentioned somebody like kind of marketing their COVID-safe practice. And I want to know a little bit more about that." So we're going to cover a little bit more about that. It is a thing now you know, that can be a differentiator for your massage practice.

Allissa Haines:

If you are particularly COVID-aware in your massage business, there are many practitioners who return to work with much more control over their environment, or really utilizing that control over their environment, in a much bigger way than we had been previously. And that includes not only things like, perhaps, more vigilant wiping down of surfaces between clients but, more specifically, and what I think is like a real dividing factor, where you can tell who fully understands COVID being airborne and who doesn't, by people who care about air quality. And it's become a thing that you can market on your level of COVID safety and protocols.

Allissa Haines:

And, vice versa, people who are not taking those protocols are catering to clients who do not wish to care about them, or wear a mask, or whatever. And that's... I think we all know my feelings on that, but I'm going to try to not pass judgment and get angry emails about that. So, lets talk about having a COVID-aware massage business and how you can market that.

Allissa Haines:

So, first, give yourself permission to be the outlier. Give yourself permission to be, let's say, hypervigilant. And I see, daily, online, in different groups, and a lot on Twitter, because I follow a lot of medical Twitter, people really expressing how upset they are that a lot of the population, and government, and organizations are just acting like COVID is gone, and how stressful that can be for people who are still remaining vigilant for a variety of reasons, but especially because they are, or live with, high-risk people, or people who are immune-suppressed or, in any way, at greater risk of bigger harm from COVID versus just getting sick for a couple of days.

Allissa Haines:

So, here's your permission slip to be the outlier, and how that can actually be really good for your business, to be super vigilant. So, if you are being super safe, and we'll get through the markers of what I think that means, be cool with being loud about that. And like, in the case of our friend, Leslie, in Florida, even in an area where more people are less vigilant, it is okay to be that outlier. It is okay, and good, to shout it from the rooftops, that you are the safe massage therapist.

Allissa Haines:

You're going to write things on your website. You can make videos. You can have... I have a whole blog post that's like, What Massage Looks Like in a Pandemic. And it's been updated as my policies update and change, and as my practice has changes over the last few years. You can write a big old blog post. You can have it on your Policy Page. You can break it apart, and do little short videos about each segment of your safety, piece by piece, to post to social media. And, in that, what I'm talking about, what that all encompasses, is, in whole, your policy. So what you expect of clients, what you expect of their behavior in your office, and out of your office.

Allissa Haines:

In my office, clients are expected to wear a good high-filtration mask that fits their face well. They are expected to have that mask on when they walk in the door. And they are expected to wear that mask for the entirety of their visit, in the office. Are there people I make exceptions for? Absolutely. I have one or two clients who cannot wear a mask. So we do different things in the massage room to keep the air quality up.

Allissa Haines:

I don't necessarily advertise the Exceptions Option on my website or in all my social. But being really, really clear about what you expect of clients... I have colleagues who also have asked clients to not schedule a massage for the five or six days after they socialize indoors, unmasked with people they don't live with, or eat inside a restaurant. And they're doing okay. Their clientele is very specifically targeted to medically-vulnerable people. So the bulk of those people are pretty happy with their restrictions.

Allissa Haines:

Are they growing a little slower than they would like? Probably, but that's a result of the protocols that they've put in place. And keeping clients updated to those protocols, via email and via the website, has been a really big piece of their marketing. So, on top of very clearly articulating what you expect of clients' behavior, it's good to know what they can expect from you. So, specifically, in regard to me, my person, and my behavior, I make it clear to clients that I mask in my office. I unmask in my office sometimes if I'm alone, and I'm eating lunch and the window's open, and I have at least 15 to 20 minutes to ventilate the office before the next client walks in the door. So they know they're never going to be walking into an office where the room is full of my breathing outside of a mask.

Allissa Haines:

They know that I am boosted. Oh, in the What You Can Expect of Clients, I forgot to mention that you can require that your clients be vaccinated. You can choose to not see clients who are not vaccinated. And that includes boosting, as appropriate for age group and whatever the current medical recommendations are.

Allissa Haines:

So, sorry, back to what they can expect of me. I made it clear, when I got vaccinated. I made it clear when I got boosted. And I make it clear to my clients what my behavioral risks are, in and out of the office. They know that I am not eating indoors at restaurants right now. And the one... I did twice. And I didn't see clients for like four or five days after that. It was very particularly timed.

Allissa Haines:

They know that, whenever I am out in the world, I am wearing a mask, if I have to go into a store or I'm indoors. And I often wear a mask, even outdoors, if I'm going to be around other people. Just, heads up. I'm reading that this newest variant is transmitting between people outdoors, even. So you make your choices wisely. You can share with your clients, if you're doing periodic testing.

Allissa Haines:

I had a colleague who posted, every week, when she was in line to get her PCR test, before the rapid at-home tests were available, and posts, every week, or however frequently she tests with the rapid test at home. And it's just a post on her social. And it's very clearly saying, "I care enough about my business, and am concerned enough about infection, that I want to do this test. I've decided to do this testing on a regular basis." And it works for her. And it's been a big point of advertising and marketing to share those protocols. And, for the right kinds of clients, they care about that stuff. And it's really helped that business grow.

Allissa Haines:

Equipment is the thing you want to share. So we've covered policies and behaviors. But equipment... What are the things in your office that are making it safer for that client? So air filters, in various rooms over your office, and what kind of quality they are, and how frequently they turn over the air in the room. Is it four times an hour? Is it 10 times an hour? Are they rated for various SARS viruses? There's a bluebird fight going on outside my window, of my office-

Michael Reynolds:

Wish I could see it.

Allissa Haines:

... distracted me. Sorry. Squirrel. They're really going at it, man. Whew. So your air cleaners... Also, if you have updated the air filters in your HVAC filtration at your office. If you have forced-air heating and cooling, you can upgrade those intake filters to be like MERV 11, or MERV 13, or even MERV 15, depending on your HVAC system. That's something you could google and learn a lot more about. I advertise the heck out of the fact that I put MERV 13s in my intakes. And I usually do a little post, whenever I change them, because they're changed quarterly.

Allissa Haines:

I want to note [Meg Donnelly 00:14:33] popped into the chat, to note that it was Leslie who used the term COVID-conscious. "And I really like that terminology," is what Meg said. And I really like it, too. So thank you. Thanks, Meg, for reminding me of that. So yeah, your equipment. There you go.

Allissa Haines:

Also, your cleaners... If you're using, and you should be using, an EPA-approved cleaner. Your protocols between clients, as far as cleaning surfaces and ventilation. Like, when I ask a medical practice... Or I've called some dental offices and asked about their between-client protocol. And they're like, "Oh, we wipe down all the surfaces," and they don't mention anything about air quality, I know I'm not going to go into that office. So, if you are ventilating, if you have a window that's able to be opened, and you do that between each client, tell people that you're doing that. If you don't have a window, but you're able to run that air cleaner on high, for at least 15 minutes between clients, there you go. Advertise that.

Allissa Haines:

It is also really helpful to share how you made these decisions and the sources for all of these rules and guidance. So for me, when I first returned to practice in fall of 2020, I made note of the resources I used, which were the... I think it was, FSMT something, the Federation of Massage Therapy, something or other, put out a COVID-conscious guide, to massage offices. And I know the non-profit, Healwell, had put out a video series about protocols, and masking, and PPE, and all kinds of stuff I hadn't had much experience with, which was really, really helpful. So I made note that these were the guidelines and the resources that I was getting my information from.

Allissa Haines:

If you have protocols that are, perhaps, based on COVID rates in your area, share whatever resource you're using, whether it's a state resource, or the CDC. One of my friends, [Jenny Spring 00:16:35], told us about a resource that will make sure we put in the show notes, where you can actually embed the widget, onto your website, that will show the COVID transmission rates in your area on any given day. Lost my place because I went off on that tangent about the widget. And, if you can show your people the resources that you're using, it can really help. I had a client who was like, "Are you still masking?" And I was like, "Yeah, and here's why." And I just gave him the link to the map of Massachusetts that was bright red in all the areas, because our transmission was super high.

Allissa Haines:

When the CDC changed their public-facing numbers to be more indicative of hospital space versus transmission, that made a lot of people think that we were safer than we really were. So I used the previous CDC transmission map, and also another source. And that can help people who are less cool with your more stringent attitude towards things, or it could just make them go somewhere else. And that's okay, too. We'll talk about that in a minute.

Allissa Haines:

Be sure, proactively, that your clients get plenty of reminders about your requirements. So, within my booking process, people have to confirm that they are vaccinated. They have to put the date of their last vaccination or booster. They have to confirm that they understand they are expected to be masked in my office, at all times. And then that information is also in the appointment reminders. So I still have had one or two people walk in without a mask. And that's fine. I hand them one at the door, and they're cool with it. But there's a lot of people who have stopped masking in their daily lives. So they've gotten out of the habit. As long as they are aware that's going to have to happen when they walk in my office, I'm cool with that.

Allissa Haines:

Maybe, if you choose to share your why, share with people why you are this kind of massage practice, at this time. And maybe your why is just because, "I'm terrified of getting long COVID." That's me. Maybe your why is that you had a post-viral illness, earlier in your life. And you are concerned about that happening again. Also me. For a lot of people, their why is just, "I work with medically-vulnerable clients," or, "I have unvaccinated children at home. So I'm concerned about their safety. And I'm also concerned about the increased risk of me getting you sick, should I be carrying COVID." But you also don't have to do that. I don't suggest people have to put out there, their medical issues, or the medical issues of the people they live with, just to justify. I don't think you have to justify anything. There are protocols. But if it's something that you want to share, then, by all means, do it.

Allissa Haines:

Share all of this information, your protocols, your policies, your equipment. All of these things, share it loudly, frequently, and with confidence. Don't let anyone make you feel like you are being overzealous. And I say this as someone who feels like I'm being overzealous on a daily basis. Please know that there are plenty of practitioners and human beings out there who are still taking high levels of precaution for their own safety, for the safety of their clients, for the safety of their loved ones.

Allissa Haines:

Post it weekly on social. Get it all over your website. Don't feel bad about having masking reminders in your appointment reminder emails. And, finally, this is the last bit. Have a list of practitioners to refer out to, for clients who just will not get cool with your increased protocols. I don't think... You know, I've seen some colleagues who are super hardcore, be like, "I would not refer anybody out to those practitioners, because those practitioners are not safe." You know what? The consumers get to make their own decisions about the safety levels that they want to adhere to.

Allissa Haines:

So, if... And this has happened to me since I came back from work, after my pause. I've had a few clients not want to wear masks or not want to get vaccinated. And I have referred them to other practitioners who do not have those requirements. They're good practitioners. They're comfortable with a level of risk I am not. And that is just fine. And you're doing your colleague and your client, or former client, or potential client, a service when you refer them to someone who can care for them and meet them where they're at. So, that's cool.

Allissa Haines:

That is my full list. And I am... Yeah, that's all I have. Meg made a comment about how she's going to add the transmission rate widget to their website. And I think that is brilliant. And they shared a link to their COVID policies. This in Facebook, on the comments. So you can go there. If you want to stalk Meg's policies, that's fine. That's all I have to say, Michael.

Michael Reynolds:

Yeah, this is great. Two things come to mind. One is this is a really great case study in niching. It's niching, somewhat, on perspective, which is one of the things we don't talk about as much. But all practical things about this aside, it's just really great that Leslie has found a niche of people that are like-minded in their perspective on safety, and has really leaned into that niche, and really made it a centerpiece of her massage practice. I love this case study in niching, overall.

Michael Reynolds:

Then, too, something that comes to mind also is, I think this is going to evolve beyond COVID, necessarily. I think it could be involved into, "Hey, I'm simply a safe practitioner, in general, when it comes to viruses, and illnesses, and pathogens, overall. I just..." But, obviously, flu season comes around. Whatever the next pandemic is, is going to come around. There's all sorts of things that can be transmitted, that are not just COVID. And I think this can evolve into just a general level of safety, overall, that can cover lots of different illness beyond just COVID. So, obviously, it came from COVID. But I see this evolving into just a really great way to operate a practice with a safety-minded mindset. So I love it.

Allissa Haines:

Yeah. And I think that like, this is about prudence, in a good way. And that's kind of been how I've branded my massage practice. Like I am very much a prudent and thoughtful practitioner, in that I don't necessarily treat everyone who calls me. But I am the practitioner who can be trusted with clients who have complicated health issues and various potentially high-risk stuff. That is a thing that kind of happened early in my career, where a lot of clients got referred to me who had complicated health issues. I did a lot of consulting with pharmacist friends, and nurse friends, and a chiropractor I used to work with, to determine the safety of the massage that I could give. Early on, I talked to a few cardiologists, here and there, for clients who had had cardiac events. And that turned me into the prudent massage therapist who could be trusted with medical complications. And that has been very much my brand. And that has translated into doing more oncology work. Now, it's translated into me doing lymphatic stuff. I just took the class.

Allissa Haines:

I had a client come into me recently. And it's the second client in a month or two with a variety of complicated health conditions, like tubes coming in and out of the body, and all kinds of interesting things that I have had to look up and research. But they've been told, by other people, "Allissa is the one you should go to, because she is not afraid to say, "I have no idea what to do with that," and then consult a resource who does know what to do with that. And you're not going to catch COVID in her office.

Allissa Haines:

So yeah, I mean this level of consciousness towards safety and care, it's a good way to build a very sustainable business with clients who appreciate your skillset. So, there's that little tangent I didn't expect to take. I did find, and I will put in our show notes, the US COVID Tracker. covidactnow.org is the website that puts out. And it tells you the community risk level of your... At least, in Massachusetts, it's set up by county. And you can put a widget onto your website. I will put that in the show notes.

Michael Reynolds:

Love it. [Sakina 00:25:23] is joining us on Facebook and said, "Ha. Didn't even consider COVID=conscious as a niche. Thanks, Michael." Yeah, and it's a perspective niche. We talk about three ways of niching often. It's target market, discipline, and perspective. And perspective is the least utilized. And it's often a little more difficult. But yeah, niching, based on a perspective that you share with other people, who may be a small group, but are very focused on having a like-minded perspective on a certain thing, in this case, being COVID conscious. So absolutely, it's a niche. Thanks, Sakina, for stopping by. All right. Well, with that, let's give a shout out to Jojoba, before we move on.

Allissa Haines:

Yay. Jojoba. I had to switch my notes over. Sorry. I was switching-

Michael Reynolds:

Sorry. I caught you unawares.

Allissa Haines:

I was posting the COVID Tracker. Okay. This episode is indeed sponsored by The Original Jojoba Company. And you know how I feel about them. I just absolutely love them. It is a company in Maine. They are just absurdly ethical. Their customer service is phenomenal. You should go to their website, which I will talk about in just a second, and definitely get on their email list because they've been doing occasional offers of free shipping. Jojoba's awesome. It doesn't go rancid. It doesn't contain triglycerides. So it won't go bad, which means that you don't have to worry about your oil smelling nasty, after a year or two. It can sit in your cupboard for a couple of years. And it can get hot and cold, and hot and cold. And it's not going to wreck the liquid, itself.

Allissa Haines:

Also, jojoba does not stain your hundred percent cotton sheets, which is really nice, because your sheets won't stain. They won't get rancid. And you will save a lot of money on linens. It's not hard. You don't have to like look for fancy detergents, or anything. They just wash out well. It's great. You can get 20% off the price of the product when you shop through our link at massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba. It's been a little while since we've spelled that out, J-O-J-O-B-A, massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba.

Michael Reynolds:

All right. Quick tips. I've got one.

Allissa Haines:

I got nothing. So you go.

Michael Reynolds:

All right, let's do it. So I want to share an app that I found somewhat recently. It is an alternative to Loom, called Screencastify. It is a screen casting program. So those familiar with things like Loom, they allow you to capture your screen, take a video of you doing things on your screen, and share that with people. And it's really a good way... Like, quick tip, it's kind of twofold. One is to share the app. And two is just to remind all of us that, sometimes, it's really useful to do a screen cast when you're talking to tech support for something, or you're trying to explain something you're doing on your computer to someone else. It's really difficult to type out things and get people to understand, sometimes. So, doing a screen share is a really good way to show people, "Hey, here's what's happening on my computer. Either, we'll see, either you could help me fix it, or so I could explain something to you." And it's just a really great tool to improve communication.

Michael Reynolds:

And Screencastify I like much better than Loom. Loom, I used for a while. But it just seems to bog down my computer. It just lot of overhead. It just made my fan go high-speed. It just really seemed like a lot of work for my computer to support. Now, granted, I've got a older MacBook Air. So it's not the beefiest machine. But, still, Loom was, kind of, crushing it.

Michael Reynolds:

So I was looking for alternatives. And I really love Screencastify. There was a free version, installed as a Chrome widget or a Chrome extension, if you want to, or there's other versions you can do, as well. And it's kind of, made for educators, which is kind of, nice. It's got a few different tools. People can do comments and, even you can mark up on the videos, and stuff. So there is a free version. There's also a paid version, that's not too expensive, that lets you have more space, and stuff. But, overall, I really found Screencastify just works better with my computer. It doesn't bog it down as much. Seems more lightweight. And it's just a really easy-to-use tool. So that is at screencastify.com. The link'll be in the show notes, as well. And I wanted to share that tool. That's what I got.

Allissa Haines:

Sorry. It took me a second to unmute. I was opening that on my other screen, too, because Loom's really clunky. But you can also... I don't know if you know this. But you won't, because you hate Canva. There's actually a screen casting option, like a screen recording option, in Canva, now, as well. So that's pretty helpful. I haven't used it much. But our friend, [ReaAnn 00:29:44], told me about it.

Michael Reynolds:

I don't hate Canva as much as I used to. But I did not know about that. No.

Allissa Haines:

Yeah. Well, there you go.

Michael Reynolds:

There you go. All right.

Allissa Haines:

That's all we got. Wrap this up, Bud.

Michael Reynolds:

Let's do it. All right. Well, Hey, just a reminder to everybody. As you've heard us kind of talking through comments today, if you want to join us, we broadcast live every Wednesday at 9:00 AM Eastern. So you can stop by on Facebook live, YouTube live, or Twitter live. Most people join us on Facebook. But all those channels are available. And you can post comments and questions along the way.

Michael Reynolds:

And, also, if you'd like to email us, you can email us at podcast@massagebusinessblueprint.com. And our website, as always, is massagebusinessblueprint.com. And you can check out our private community there, called Blueprint Mastermind. You're welcome to join for 30 days, and check it out. See if you like us. And we'd love to have you in the community, as well. So thanks, everyone, for joining us today. Have a great day. We will see you next time.

Allissa Haines:

Bye.

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