When a business is taking off fast, you’ve got to think about workload and boundaries! We answer this great member question about mindful growth in a new business.
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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’m Alissa Haines.
MR And we’re your hosts. Glad you’ve joined us today. Welcome, welcome. It’s been raining for a thousand years. That’s my weather report. Done.
AH Oh, you complained about that last time.
MR I know.
AH And it’s actually raining here today.
MR I’m going to complain about it every single time until it stops raining.
MR Yeah. (Laughter)
AH So in lieu of banter — because we have a really action-packed episode today —
MR Oh, do we? Okay.
AH Yeah. But I want to give a really quick heads up that we are aware sometimes the audio of this podcast is not a perfect as we want it to be, and we are working on fixing that using a couple of different recording methods, playing around with microphones. So if it’s annoyed you, I’m sorry, and we’re working on it.
MR We’re sorry.
AH So that’s all — yeah.
MR It’s probably my fault.
AH We’re just two imperfect people working in an imperfect tech world, and we’re just doing the best we can.
AH We’re making our way any way we know how and that’s just a little bit more than the internet can allow.
MR (Laughter) We’re just sailing this ship wherever it goes.
AH I can’t believe I finally — it took me four years to work a Dukes of Hazard reference into our —
MR Oh, I didn’t catch that.
AH (Singing) Making our way the only way we know how.
AH Yeah, remember that.
MR I see what you did there.
AH You’re welcome because I really enjoy — (laughter) — I don’t know — racist throwbacks ’80s shows. I don’t know.
MR I was going to say that’s not really like you. (Laughter)
AH I know. I really liked Daisy Duke when I was a kid. She — yeah. It was formative, and I think that that is going to be resolved in therapy. Anyway, plenty of banter. Michael, what’s the title of today’s episode?
MR Oh, my goodness. The title of today’s episode is Managing Growth in your Massage Business. And this does sound action-packed. Tell me more.
AH Oh, my gosh. It’s huge.
MR Tell me more.
AH This is so good. So, we had a premium member post in our private group, and it was such a brilliant question with so many interesting answers that I asked permission to podcast it. And so we’re going to. So I am going to read to you verbatim her question, her post. It’s a little long, but it’s worth it, people. And this is great. Long questions are better because they provide context and you know how much I love context.
So our member says, “I am in my sixth month of being open right now. I was under the impression it would take me at least a year to build up my client base. Not so! I suppose I wanted to grow quickly, but maybe wasn’t expecting it. My practice is seeing a lot of growth from online searches through Google and Yelp and I’m getting close to being at capacity, and I’m super excited about it. At the same time, I’m building referral relationships in my BNI group and with other professionals in the community, and my wheels started turning and I had a moment of OMG, if more people start to get referred to me, as I hope they do, how will I accommodate them? I work with a lot of people following surgeries and they often want and need immediate help and usually come in weekly or twice a week. There aren’t many MTs in my area that have this same specialty and experience with it, and so I had this moment of what do I need to do to accommodate my clients who really need to come in more quickly? Do I leave a few spots open for such people? Do I overbook myself? Do I just make them wait a week or two longer to come in and risk them going elsewhere where they can be seen more quickly or not getting the care they need? Then I started tossing around thoughts of bringing on a contractor to see my non-manual lymphatic drainage and oncology clients, but I’m pretty sure I’m not quite ready for that. Then I started wondering do I limit the amount of integrative clients I can see per week? I feel like this is a bit of a risk. And then I started thinking, with all of this new growth, I am probably missing out on business because I can’t answer the phone while in session. Should I hire someone to answer my phone for me? Would they just be an on-call contractor? Would I pay them? How? Hourly? As needed? And I’d obviously have to train them on the work, but my business is my baby and I don’t know if I’m ready to hand that off. I also want to be sure on being intentional about boundaries and self-care so I can stay healthy. I cannot compromise on that and I want to get more clear on exactly what those boundaries and practices need to be. Should I just make a list? Any good practices for being intentional about this? Maybe what I could outsource is the marketing and bookkeeping and stuff. I think I need to get organized and make a list of what I need and slowly tackle each thing one at a time, like open an IRA for myself so I can start saving for retirement, get an EIN number” —
Or I just — I said that wrong. She said EIN properly. I added the number on the end.
MR ATM machine. TCBY yogurt.
AH I’m sorry. I’m so close to the end of this without messing this up.
AH — “get an EIN so I’ll be ready when I decide to hire someone or get in touch with a CPA or tax advisor, etc. I think one of my biggest goals is to have infrastructure in place to handle more growth, if that makes sense. I want to keep handling everything smoothly and awesomely and have my clients have a good experience. I know it’s trial and error, and I’m so excited about how quickly I’ve grown. I know I may have to be okay with just learning and expanding on the go.”
And some follow up that I asked for is that currently our member is seeing 15 to 18 clients per week and her goal is 18 to 20. But she’s also got some plans to start an oncology massage therapy program within a hospital, so that’s going to adjust and affect how many clients she can see. Not an immediate goal, but not necessarily a long-term one.
So this is loaded and it was important to me to read the whole thing because I wanted you all to have context. And I want feedback on this, too, people. So if after our suggestions you feel like I have left something out, drop a note in the comments, drop us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org, because I have a feeling this is going require some follow-up.
But yay, what a wonderful problem to have. This — and I checked out this member’s website. It’s fantastic. I am not surprised with her great website, building relationship referrals in BNI, being active in her community, it is not surprising that she is almost — she really is. She said she’s seeing 15to 18; her goal is 18 to 20. So she’s hitting her goals in six months. And she’s doing it with a specialty of manual lymphatic drainage and oncology work. Now, she’s still seeing some general massage, and we’ll touch on that, but this is amazing.
So here’s where I’m going to start. I’m going to pull from the very center. “I think I need to get organized and make a list of what I need and slowly tackle each thing.” Yes. And yay for recognizing this early on that you need some solid infrastructure. So let’s talk first about what you can outsource. So I’m going to kind of go through and also mention what our reader mentioned but also a few of my ideas. Phones. Should you outsource answering your phone? No. You don’t need to answer your phone. You’re already at your goals without answering your phone. You have online scheduling. It’s really clear. You do not need to answer your phone. And on your website, you say if you call me and leave a message, it might take me a little while to get back to you because I’m in with sessions — I’m in with clients. So, you’ve done that really, really well. I wouldn’t answer your phone. I don’t think you need to be. You’re doing fine without it. I’m not sure when — why you would want to be answering your phone more if you’re already busy. So in theory what you mentioned was that you’re worried if you can’t answer your phone people are going to go somewhere else. One, you’ve already said you’re the only person specializing in this in your area. They’re not going to go anywhere else. And if they do, it’s okay because you’re full. So no, I would not spend time or money worrying about the phone situation. You’re getting busy enough without it.
Should you outsource your marking? No. You don’t need to. You’re meeting your goals. And — okay, if you weren’t doing BNI, if you didn’t have a solid web presence, I would say yes. But you have all of those things and you’re meeting your goals. So there isn’t any other marketing that I feel like you need to outsource out. You just don’t. You don’t need to be doing anything. You’re busy enough without any extra effort. You’re doing find with Google and Yelp. Those things mostly run themselves. Keep up your networking and your retention. You don’t need to be spending much time or money on marketing at all at this point; you’re doing great. I’m not saying that you should shut down your Yelp — well, you can’t shut down Yelp — or you should completely ignore all your marketing, but you don’t need to focus online — your online stuff is doing what it needs to do. You don’t need to spend time or money bringing more of that in. You’re good.
What can you outsource though? You can outsource cleaning your office. You can outsource your laundry if you haven’t already. Definitely outsource your bookkeeping because you don’t need to be spending a couple of hours a week on that or even an hour a week on that. So if you’re not already outsourcing your bookkeeping, yes, I think it would be worth it to set that up. So talk to a bookkeeper, talk to an accountant and/or a tax prep person. If you already have a tax prep person, talk to them. Do they do accounting and bookkeeping? Outsource that. Have them help you figure out your priorities, and I’ll just throw in that Michael’s also a financial advisor for small businesses so you can talk to him about having to —
AH Right? So you can talk to him or anyone about prioritizing what needs to happen in your accounting, your emergency savings, and then retirement that you mentioned. Yes. So those are the things I think you should outsource. No on phones, no on marketing, yes on cleaning, laundry, bookkeeping. Any other little tasks like that that are annoying to you or sucking up your time, yes, outsource them.
So let’s move into the next portion, which is self-care and boundaries, which is so good that you’re aware that this could be an issue, so that’s awesome. And here’s what you wrote on that. “I want to be sure I’m being intentional about boundaries and self-care so I can stay healthy.” Yes, make a list about what matters to you. And this was interesting for me because a lot of our members put comments in there and they had their own — they shared their own points of view. Some people need a couple days off in a row. Some people need very specific hours. But you have to sit down and figure out what matters to you as far as your schedule and the flexibility of that. Do you want to be working a certain number of days per week? Do you need to be home by a certain time? If having dinner at a certain time every night with your family or your friends is important to you, that matters. Do you need two days off in a row? A lot of people said they need two days off in a row. And this cracks me up because I do not need two days off in a row and, in fact, I struggle sometimes when I have two days off in a row. So I rotate and work every other Saturday, and I don’t typically work Sundays. So every other weekend I have a two-day weekend. But if I had a two-day weekend every weekend, that would stink. And sometimes I go into work on Sunday nights. So I break that rule of having a specific day off every week, but that works for me because I have to think about what’s happening when I’m home. Sometimes by the end of a two-day weekend, I would like to go to work on Sunday night because by Sunday night I am exhausted from doing house stuff for two days and I don’t want to be home for the mayhem of Sunday night dinner and homework and bath time. It is more relaxing for me to go to work at 4 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon and see three clients than it is for me to be home on some Sunday nights from 4 to 9. So think about what works for you.
In that same regard, you have to think about childcare. What — if that’s an issue or if there are certain church or family commitments or whatever, your schedule might have to accommodate that. Is it important for you to exercise every day or have very specific lunch breaks? What do you want for vacation? Some people want to take two weeks off once a year. I don’t do that. I prefer to take a three- or four-day weekend four or five times a year. That works better for me. So once you have those priorities figured out, you can move forward with how you want to fit clients in that ideal schedule and then stick with it. If it works for you, stick with it and do not overbook yourself. You mentioned that. Don’t. Don’t overbook yourself. Clients can and will wait, and we’ll cover more of that in a second.
But right now, we have our halftime sponsor. Michael, who’s our halftime sponsor?
MR Jojoba with a special offer.
Sponsor message You worked that in and I’ll say it right up front, (break in audio) 2019, you can get 20% off orders of $35 or more when you shop through our link massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba, J-O-J-O-B-A. But why might you want to use jojoba? Jojoba is nonallergenic. You can use it on any client and every client safely without fear of an allergic reaction. It will not go rancid. It can get hot and cold and hot and cold. It does not contain triglycerides like other products do so it won’t go bad. And this also makes jojoba a great carrier for essential oils and you can feel comfortable stocking up on it. So if you want to get yourself a couple of gallons during this 20% off sale in June 2019, you can do that. You can get a couple of gallons and it’s not going to go bad even if it takes you two years to get through them. It will not stain your 100% cotton sheets. Jojoba company is the only company in the world carrying 100% pure, first-pressed quality jojoba, and that’s why we’re delighted to be a partner with them. So again, this June 2019, you can get 20% off orders of $35 or more if you shop through our link massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba. And if you missed this June 2019 sale and you are listening to this podcast episode far in the future, don’t stress because with that link you can still get 10% off. It’s all going to be okay. massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba.
AH Okay. So let’s jump into some more of this maintaining and managing the growth of your business question. I’m going to jump back to the original question so that I can answer it better. Sorry, I lost where my notes were there for a second. (Laughter)
MR That’s okay. I’m all excited. We’re getting into networking, so I’m all excited now.
AH Yeah, so at the same — so the member writes, “at the same time I’m building referral relationships in my BNI group, what do I” — “with more people referred to me, where am I going to put these clients, etc., etc., etc.”
Okay, but there’s statement in here that I really wanted to point out — only I completely lost where I was. (Laughter) Oh, okay. “I started wondering do I limit the amount of integrative clients I see per week? I feel like this is a bit of a risk.” Actually, dear member, having a general practice is a much bigger risk than specializing in something like manual lymphatic drainage and oncology work. People may not find time and cash for general massage, but the cancer market is only getting bigger. And I say this with a certain amount of compassion. It’s terrible that our oncology market is only getting bigger, but the reality is that more and more of our clients are getting more complex. More — survival rates for breast cancer treatment are so much better than they used to be and this is wonderful. And it also means that more and more people are living with the effects of chemo, radiation, and surgery. More and more women are having edema — sorry, I forgot the word I was looking for — edema issues from having nodes removed. This is huge. This is becoming a bigger and bigger market. And you’ve already said that there aren’t any MTs in your geographical area that have that same specialty, so you’re it right now.
I’m not saying that you need to ditch all your current integrative and general massage clients, but you do not need to worry that limiting that is going to shut down your growth. In fact, I would say you should take everything except MLD and oncology off your website. Like, you can keep your current based of general clients, but any new integrative clients that you can refer out, I would. Just refer them out to someone else in your area and get that other stuff off your website entirely. Focus — niche down on this and that will help you focus the incoming clients so you’re only getting MLD and oncology and that will — it’s going to slow your growth a little bit, but that’s kind of what you want right now because you’re already meeting your base goal of 18 clients a week.
You could also choose to leave two to four spots per week open just for new clients, but those are going to start filling earlier and earlier. And at some point, the only option is going to be for people to wait few weeks, but again, they’re not going to go anywhere else. You’re it. And if they do go somewhere else, that’s okay. You’re busy enough. You’ve got the confidence in your skills. You’re going to keep new clients coming in. You’re actively networking.
And this right here is the abundance mindset versus the scarcity mindset. And I’m going to let Michael talk about this in a second. Scarcity mindset says I have to overbook myself because I might not always have clients. And the abundance mindset says I am doing a good job bringing in new clients. I am not going to overstretch myself now out of fear. Michael, you want to expand on that a little?
MR Oh, you basically said exactly what I was going to say. (Laughter) So I don’t think I have much to add, but yeah. I agree. The abundance mindset is kind of taking a leap of faith and believing in yourself and saying hey, there is enough work and resource and money and clients out there for me and for everybody, and I don’t need to operate from a place of fear. So I think you said it well.
AH Okay. Well, good job me. And some of this is a bummer because of course we want to be able to help everyone who calls us, but we can’t help anyone if we burn out. And you know this. Your acknowledgment of how important boundaries are to you is obvious. You will get used to turning people away, especially if you have some good referral partners and especially if you end up another gig at the hospital. Like, holy moly, if you start an oncology massage program in a hospital, your time is going to be even more valuable.
And I would like — I’m just going to throw it in here, keep in mind when might be a good time to raise your rates. You’re six months in. Maybe you need to raise your rates. Maybe you’re not going to need to do that for a year. But if you feel over full, raising your rates can be a helpful way to, perhaps, encourage some of those integrative clients to go elsewhere or just stem the tide a little bit.
Regarding taking on a contractor to handle some overflow, in general here at Massage Business Blueprint, we don’t suggest contractors. It’s a tricky distinction and it’s rarely done well. So maybe you just have a college that you just trust and refer to. I know nobody around you is doing a specialty, but for integrative care — and you can refer and just leave it at that. You can refer out to another colleague who’s going to become your best friend and your biggest fan and will refer specialty clients to you. You could also rent your space. You could rent your room on the days you’re not using it to someone who you could refer those clients to, so a trusted therapist. You could move into a bigger officer and rent out another room. I’m not sure what your office set up is like. You could simply rent to the right person and refer to them. Or you could have an employee. You could think out a little further in the future.
I want you to keep in mind that you’re really good with the boundaries and managing your time. Managing an employee will require a certain amount of admin time and effort. I feel like that might not be the route you want to go just kind of based on how you’re talking about how you want your business to run. We’re trying to make things easier. We’re trying to simplify your infrastructure and not add to it. So I have a feeling that — and again, this is a little bit of abundance. Maybe you don’t need to be making money on somebody else, you just — it seems like you just want a resource for clients you have to turn away. So maybe just making a few good connections with some general massage therapists you know and trust and referring out to them and good karma and that’s enough. Maybe that’s enough. Or maybe renting some space in your office so you can get to know someone a little better and make a little rent money off of being able to send somebody — send clients to someone you know and trust. So there’s that. Anyhow.
That’s kind of it. There was a lot here, but I want to emphasize that you should not be overbooking yourself, and you will have to accept that there are people you can’t help and that’s okay. And it seems like you’re doing a good job networking. If you’re doing some networking with other massage therapists, maybe you could encourage someone to take the kind of training that you have. Maybe that is an option for you, and then you’ll have even more trusted referral partners. And again, abundance. This market isn’t getting any smaller.
So Michael, anything I left out?
MR I really just want to go back to the very ending statement about employees. I always like to take the opportunity to kind of talk a little bit about the upsides of having employees. I know that — you’re probably right. You’re really good at reading our listener questions and this person probably is more apt to refer out and maybe doesn’t want employees. But maybe if someone’s listening out there in the same situation that maybe is interested in expanding with employees, it’s not as difficult as some people think. It just takes some payroll software, keeping on top of the management. But you can have employees and you can treat them like contractors in that you can give them freedom. You can give them freedom and control and autonomy and input into the business. And you can treat them in such a way that they feel like contractors and they have that freedom and that flexibility, but they are paid as employees, which is a lot easier in some ways from an administrative and a payroll standpoint, and it lets you expand and kind of grow your brand with people and with a team.
And this could be a really good way to manage the growth of your business if you want to make more money, but maybe you feel uncomfortable raising your rates too high. Maybe you like the price point you are and therefore you will hit a certain ceiling and the only way is to expand horizontally by adding more people, which means that your income starts to increase as you bring on more people and those people start to do more work, and you can build your team that way. So it’s a really good way — I mean, obviously, the raising prices is a great way to kind of increase income vertically so to speak, but then horizontally by adding people is another great way. And you can do either or both. And I want to encourage you, if you want to reach out and talk about this, Allissa is very, very good at kind of talking about the pros and the upsides and managing renters and that could be a really good model for people. On the flip side, I love talking about how to grow with employees. So either route makes a lot of sense, but like Allissa said, avoid contractors. Just — as long as you don’t do that. (Laughter) Pick one or the other.
AH Yeah, okay. (Laughter) I’m going to — I’m not a fan of employees.
MR That okay.
AH I just — knowing how hard —
MR Yeah, I know you’re not, yean.
AH Knowing the number of people we’ve had who’ve actually downsized out of having employees because it’s so hard to find great quality —
MR It’s not easy.
AH — employees, yeah. So you know. That’s how I feel about that. But that’s it. Anything else, Michael?
MR That’s why I said you’re the go-to on renting.
AH Yeah, yeah. I’m kind of grumpy about that. But yeah, okay. That’s all I got, Michael. But this was so awesome. I love this question. I love that we’re getting so many more questions from people starting up who are like, hey, I want to do this right. And this is great. This is a great problem to have. It’s a little weird to get used to turning people away. But it also gets easier, and you can’t pour from an empty cup. Self-care is a big thing, so I think you’re doing it right. And I think you’re only going to succeed. So good job, member.
MR Yeah, it was a really good question. Cool. Well, great discussion, thank you. And thanks, everyone, for joining us today. It’s been great having you with us. Reminder you can visit us online at massagebusinessblueprint.com. Check us out there. If you’re not a premium member yet, give it a shot. Consider clicking on that go premium link and see all the benefits and join our community. Thanks again for all of the reviews we’ve been getting on iTunes. If you don’t mind, take a moment and leave us a review. We’d love that. It’d help other people that are smart like you find us. So we appreciate all those. If you have a question, a topic, anything you want to bring up for us, email it to us at email@example.com, and we’d love to hear from you. So again, thanks for joining us today, and we’ll see you next time.