Cancelling a day of clients is so hard. Allissa and Michael discuss how and when you need to cancel clients for your own health reasons.
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Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I’m Michael Reynolds.
Allissa Haines And I am Allissa Haines.
MR And we are your hosts today. Welcome, welcome. Glad you’ve joined us. Allissa, what is going on in your world?
AH Nothing. We’re recording on a Sunday. I don’t think we’ve ever done that before.
MR I know. I’m totally off.
AH I am super off, but I am also super cozy in my jammies and not — I’m not getting out of my pajamas all day because I have worked every day for many many days and I am — oh, and yesterday we had our photo shoot. I’m so excited about this.
MR Oh, yeah.
AH If you check out our Instagram, people, we’re the @massagebusinessblueprint, I think. So I posted some casual pics. We had a great photoshoot yesterday. I’m so excited. We had four different massage therapists, like hand models, essentially, all varying ages and skin tones. And we had three massage models, all varying body types and skin tones. So I’m really excited to see how the pictures turn out from this. It was really fun. It was really successful. We did it in my old yoga studio. The new renter was kind enough to let me set up a table and bring a photographer in and use this great gray backdrop wall that I think is going to be good. So I feel good about it. What have you been up to?
MR Nice. It was the second photo shoot, and just a reminder, so those photos are available to all of our premium members. So if you’re a premium member, you get access to all of our premium stock photos. So we have one shoot already done and those photos posted, and this is our second round so we’re going to probably double the amount of stock photos available here pretty soon. So just a reminder that’s a really nice premium member benefit so.
AH It really is.
MR Check it out.
AH They’re not perfect, but they’re great.
AH We don’t have anybody with their head wrenched to the side. We don’t have the standard “young lady with stones up and down her back” while another young lady in a weird smock massages her. They’re realistic, sometimes there’s a little wrinkled in the sheets, the body types are varied, and the massage therapist’s hands — they’re my hands and a bunch of other people, so they’re not a 21-year-old’s hands. They’re just realistic. They’re real people. Imperfect in many ways, but — I used — the shots from our last shoot are all over my website and several of our members. And I’m really thrilled with how they turned out. But how are you, Michael?
MR I’m doing okay. Like I say, I’m a little off because it’s on a Sunday. I’m also in my pajamas, and I have a cat on my lap here with me so she’s probably going to meow during our recording. I’ve got a three-year-old downstairs. Anything could happen. Whatever background noise you hear, we’re just going to roll with it.
AH We’re cool with it.
MR Yeah. Like you said, it’s a family show.
AH It really is.
MR Except when we mark the E for explicit.
AH Which I will not do today.
MR All right, fair enough. Well, let’s get to our topic today, which is Should I work when I am sick?
AH Hey, welcome to cold and flu season, everybody.
MR Welcome, indeed.
AH Good times.
MR I’ve had pneumonia this year, too, so I’ve got some major points.
AH There’s like — I don’t know about other areas of the country, but I’m guessing it’s the same. There is a mad stomach virus making its way around here, and so far, my household has been spared. But everyone we celebrated Christmas with a few weeks ago got sick, and Walt and I were the only ones who didn’t. I don’t know. I’m sure it will hit my house eventually. It may have even hit at my house last night, but I actually think it was a touch of food poisoning from going out to dinner. Exciting times over here. But should you work when you’re sick.?
So cold and flu season this comes up a lot. I saw it a couple weeks ago in a discussion group with someone who was asking tips for if you’re sniffly and things, and the poster really didn’t want to be scolded for working when she was sick. And I was like, yeah, we’ve got to talk about this. I have handled this in my own practice. I’ve handled it well. I’ve handled it quite poorly. But I want to lay out a little bit about cold and flu. I will post the links in the show notes regarding to the cold and flu authorities online, WebMD, Healthline, MedicineNet. But just some basic information that you already know but it helps to have it written down for you.
Here’s what we need to know. Cold and flu are contagious for one to two days before your symptoms begin. For both cold and flu that applies. They say 24-28 hours. When I say “they,” I mean all of these resources that I’m citing in the show notes. For both cold and flu, the first few symptoms are typically a cough and/or runny nose and/or feeling very tired. So that’s the beginning of contagion. And there’s nothing you can do about those first day or two that you might be contagious because you don’t know because you’re not sick yet. How could you know? And generally, we stop being contagious when those symptoms resolve. Usually five to seven days after getting sick. There are some sources that say you’re contagious with a viral cold up to two weeks after you are initially sick. That varies according to your source, so know that. And exception here is that a cough, especially a dry hacky cough, might last a little bit longer than all of your other symptoms and is not necessarily contagious after that initial period of sickness.
So, no, you shouldn’t work when you’re sick. And yes, this is a very hard call to make. You’re going to lose money, you’re going to disappoint clients. But there’s a handful of reasons why you shouldn’t work when you’re sick and there’s also some workarounds people try that I am going to bash into after our halftime sponsor. But for now, let’s talk about why you should not work when you’re sick. One, you could get your clients sick. Period. You should not be knowingly and purposely exposing your clients to a viral cold or flu. You might be really healthy, have had your flu vaccination, and only having a mild situation and feel really good going back to work after just two days. You might be responding really well — the medications might be helping you with the symptoms of your cold, so you’re taking things that make it so you’re not so stuffy, you’re not so runny and drippy, and you’re not coughing. Nonetheless, you’re still contagious. And you should not be knowingly exposing your clients to a contagious illness. They might not be as healthy as you.
Also, the quality of your massage is going to suffer. It just is. You cannot bring your best. No matter how good you are — no matter whether or not the client notices that you’re sick, you cannot bring your best when you are sick. You might be able to keep a cough drop in your mouth to avoid the tickle from your throat. I have heard people suggest you shove tissues up your nose to prevent it from dripping on a client. If you are at the point of being ill where you have to shove tissues up your nose to prevent your nose from dripping on a client, you are too sick to work, and you should not be doing that.
Also, you need to rest and recover. If you are not resting and hydrating and doing the things your body needs to recover from this virus, you’re prolonging your illness. You’re making yourself sicker and that is not going to help your business. That’s just going to make you lose more money and disappoint more clients and potentially get more clients ill if you choose to work when you’re sick.
So no, you shouldn’t work when you’re sick. I say this as someone who has made this decision badly. Early in my career, there were plenty of times where I powered through the first day of a cold or I powered through the last couple days of a cold. And I always regretted it. And there were certainly times where the next time a client came in, they said to me something like, oh, I caught a wicked cold after my last massage and I’ve been sick since then. And that reality — that smack in the fact of oh, crap, I probably gave this client my virus, was really, really sobering. Never mind the people that you expose to contagion and they don’t tell you that they happen to get sick. It’s just an unwise decision to make. So don’t do it. There’s more to say about this. But first, I want to talk about our halftime sponsor. Michael, who is our halftime sponsor?
MR Our friends at ABMP.
Sponsor message ABMP goes above and beyond great liability insurance to make it easier for us to succeed at what we love. With membership that combines insurance we need, free CE that we want, advocacy and personalized customer service we all deserve. And I say “we” because I am also a member of ABMP. New for 2019, ABMP certified members now can get the most free CE in the world with full access to World Massage Conference vault of more than 400 on demand massage and bodywork CE courses. Plus the 200 free CE courses available in the ABMP education center. Michael and I are in there too. You can go to abmp.com and learn why you can expect more from ABMP membership.
AH Yay, thanks, ABMP, for being a sponsor and for letting me be a member. Okay —
MR They let you in? Wow.
AH They total let me in.
MR They let anybody in these days.
AH [laughs] Oh, that’s not an endorsement. So what about — here’s a nice caveat that I see in all of these discussions online about people working when they’re sick. What if I ask my clients how they feel about it? What if I reach out to my clients and say, I have some lingering snifflies or itchy throat from a cold; I want to give you the option to come in. And I see why people would feel that this is a good idea and I have — again, done this myself. I know better now, but I did it. I hear you; I’m not unsympathetic here. But we should not be giving clients decisions that us as health or wellness providers — as the authority in wellness in this situation — we shouldn’t be giving them this decision. We are the authority here. The decision is on us. You don’t let a client with a recent surgery decide if they should get deep tissue to the wound area. You don’t let someone with a history of clotting problems decide if they should get deep work to their calf muscle. You don’t do vigorous stretching on a client with a history of shoulder dislocation even if they ask for it. Asking permission — asking a client’s permission to risk their safety, that’s not acceptable. We don’t — I don’t — my Uber driver doesn’t ask me if it’s cool if he does shots while he’s driving. That’s not my decision to make; it’s his. And in these situations, it is our decision to make as a person providing a health or wellness service to do what’s in the best interest of our client’s health.
And also, we don’t always have all of the information we wish we did on clients. Clients can fill out full medical forms and forget to tell us that they are — they have some kind of lung issue. They might think it doesn’t relate to massage at all so they’re never going to tell us about the scarred lung tissue stuff they have that makes them more susceptible to pneumonia. They’re not going to tell us that. So we say hey, I’ve got a little bit of a sniffly sneezy thing that I’m wrapping up, you get the choice to come in. They come in not making the connection that that’s making them more exposed to something that could aggravate their lung issue or become more serious for them because they have an underlying lung issue, they’re — we’re all making this decision without all of the proper information and we’re putting a client at risk. At greater risk than they realize and at greater risk than we realize.
It’s also not just about that one client on our table. It’s about who they come into contact with. And especially thinking about how we’re contagious for a day or two before we even have symptoms, that client comes in thinking that it’s safe because I’m at the tail end of my cold, they carry that virus around for a day or two before they become symptomatic, and without thinking, they go visit their friend with a newborn. Great. They’ve transmitted the flu virus onto a newborn baby with no immunity. What? It’s not about a single — it’s to about us. It’s no about a single client. It’s about everyone they’re going to come into contact with in the next couple of days. They could carry that virus home to someone compromised or to someone out in the world compromised.
There are certain risks that we all take being out in the world when you touch a doorknob and when you go anywhere and when you’re in a public environment. But as a health or wellness provider, it’s our place to make really prudent decisions to protect our safety and also that of our clients and everyone our client comes into contact with. And that is what I have to say about that. No. It’s not okay to work when you’re sick. Period.
Side note here, it’s also the time to stop being shy about using masks. I had a great conversation with my chiropractor the other day. He asked me what do I do when someone comes in sick. That’s a whole other episode on working on that. I think we’ve even covered that; I’ll find that. I have turned clients away because they’ve come in all runny and gross and hacky. It’s also if a client comes in and they’re at the tail end of something or for whatever reason I think I’m starting to get sick as a client walks in the door, we all need to mask up. Put the mask on. My chiropractor said, I have asked people to not come in when they’re sick, they do anyway, we both mask up. And also, putting a mask on and asking a client to do so if they’re hacking is a great way to make it so they don’t come in next time when they’re sick. Let’s all get hip with masking up when it’s necessary.
Michael, I’m done. You have anything to say here?
MR Well, I suddenly have the urge to put on a hazmat suit and not leave my house. [laughs]
AH Yeah. That’s pretty much how I’m feeling.
MR It’s like, uh, I don’t want to go anywhere now. Hey, it is cold and flu season as you said. Luckily, I’ve got a couple things hit me this winter and one of them was pneumonia was one of them, which was not fun, and then a random cold. Hopefully I’ve paid my dues. We’ll see.
AH And I’m going to ask you this: when you were getting sick, did you slow down your schedule at all to really take care of yourself and rest?
MR I did, actually.
AH You did? Because frankly I didn’t even know you were sick because I saw you working at the same pace. So maybe I just didn’t see it.
MR Well, luckily — here’s my disclaimer, here’s my caveat. The worst days were over a weekend, so I did take the weekend and not really gout too much and rest. I think the timing of it was convenient.
AH Okay. All right, I’m going to give it to you.
MR Well, you’re right. Because actually there were some days when I like literally had pneumonia and I went to the office and did work. So okay, you’re right.
AH Yeah, you didn’t. You didn’t rest the way that you should. And I would suggest that whatever you had turned into pneumonia because you didn’t rest when you should have. And that’s like [laughs] —
MR Wow. Mic drop.
MR Fair enough. Fair enough.
AH I think I made this mistake a lot of times especially early in my career where I didn’t have enough of a savings built up. For me to lose two days of clients was catastrophic. And so I worked through one of them and I always regretted it. I know that my massage suffered. I know that I got a client sick at least once. It’s really sobering when you think about it that way. Could I get this person sick and could they get ten more people sick? It’s very Outbreak-y, but it’s sobering. We really do have to make the hard decisions that are in the best interests of our health but also our client’s health. This is a tough one, but there’s where I fall on it.
MR Yeah, Ariana, my wife, is so much worse than I am. She’ll have the plague and she’ll just go to work every day and —
AH I’m too tired of that, man.
MR I know. I’m just like, you know what —
AH And I really found that when I start to — it’s a certain kind of exhaustion that I fell when I get to the end of a day and I’m like oh, my head feels a little bit stuffy, I’m especially exhausted. And I do everything I can to cancel as much as I possibly can for the next day. Yeah, it hits me every so often and I have to get re-sobered up about this. I had to take a couple days — this is turning longer than I expected. But this is a story that’s worth it because it’s about timing of a really bad decision.
AH I hurt my neck — I had a neck thing. I think it was over the spring last year. It bothered me a little bit. I didn’t think much of it. I went to work the next day. I woke up feeling okay and in the first two or three hours of my day, this upper back-neck thing got really bad. In the middle of my first client, it was like, oh, crap. I am in a ton of pain. I got out of that client, I took some ibuprofen, and I looked at my day. And it was a full day, and I’m like, well, take the ibuprofen; you’re going to be fine. My next client, it was towards the end of the massage and I reached down because I keep the Pure Pro peppermint pedango under the foot of my massage table to finish each massage a little bit on the feet. And I reached down and leaned over to get a little bit of the pedango, and the pain in my neck when I did that, when I made the motion, was so bad that I threw up in my mouth. It was so bad that my body responded by puking. In the middle of a massage, yeah — into my mouth and had to swallow it so the client didn’t know. They were dead asleep. It was great that nobody noticed, but that was the dumbest thing I ever did doing that massage. And I walked out of that massage and immediately cancelled the rest of my day, booked with my chiropractor, got me some ice packs, went home. I was like — that was — what I’m I thinking? What was I thinking? I would have cancelled the rest of my day after that first client when I knew something was going on.
AH So it’s like these stupid sobering things every so often where —
MR I’m laughing because before we starting recording, we were like hey, this is episode 200. We should celebrate more. And we’re like eh, we don’t really have anything specific to say. I think we’ve celebrated by officially making this our grossest podcast episode.
AH I know. I’m sorry. I think it’s really important. Every so often we get a good smack in the face. We’re human and we can’t be pushing our bodies this way. And also thank God my client didn’t even notice because they were mostly asleep and I have a lot of white noise going in my room. Ugh, I think I just passed it off as a little bit of a cough. Yeah. Yeah. Dumbest thing. So yeah, dudes, we got to take care of ourselves first. We really do have to make good decisions about what we’re exposing our clients to and what we’re doing to our own bodies because longevity is down the drain if you work when you’re sick. And it’s a great way to lose a month of work instead of losing two days.
MR Ooh, I have a sales-y segue.
AH Bring it.
MR I’ve got a sales-y segue that’s going to work really well because you said we need to take care of ourselves. And what better way to take care of yourself than getting away to Florida where it’s sunny during the winter.
AH Oh, dear God.
MR Know where I’m going with this? [laughs] Can I announce our summit? I’m going to announce our summit; I’m already going there. This actually does track back because getting sunlight in the winter, Vitamin D, all that stuff, some people think that helps. Anyway. What I wanted to announce as my segue is that we have a few spots left for our Blueprint Mastermind summit, which is January 28 and 29 in Orlando, Florida. Besides just the fact of getting away and getting some sunshine during the cold and flu season winter months, it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be awesome. I think we have seven spots left. I think we have a capacity of 20 people, and we have 13 registered. So it’s going to be small, intimate event. If you go to massagebusinessblueprint.com/summit, S-U-M-M-I-T, for those who are like me and can’t spell summit very easily. If you go there, the information is there. We have the agenda posted.
It’s going to be a one-and-a-half-day event with presentations by Allissa and me, some roundtable discussions, some peer mentoring, a lot of fun stuff. A lot of it’s going to be a live kind of — a super-charged live version of office hours, for premium members who do office hours. We have sessions on Facebook advertising, on video, on creating a marketing plan for this year, for search engine optimization, getting your website found on Google, a lot of other stuff, networking. So anyway, I am super pumped. It’s our first live event and we are really excited. So thanks for humoring me and listening as I probably badly segue into reminding people that we can still take registrations for that the next couple weeks.
MR massagebusinessblueprint.com/summit. Check it out. Again, it’s in Orlando, Florida. So hey, what better time to be in Orlando, Florida than end of January. Get some sunshine and some learning.
MR There you go. Thanks for humoring me. That’s all I got. What else you got?
AH Wrap it up. Bring it home. Thanks, everybody, for listening. If you have questions for us, you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will answer them. We really do.
MR We really do. I’ve seen a few come in lately so thanks for that. Yeah, we’ll wrap it up there. Our website is massagebusinessblueprint.com. Check us out there. Thanks for listening. Have a great day and we will see you next time.