Allissa crowdsourced your best tips & tricks for making small improvements in your massage practice and we share them here!
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Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone, and welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I am Michael Reynolds.
Allissa Haines And I’m Allissa Haines.
MR And we are your hosts. Glad we’ve joined — or glad you’ve joined us. [Laughing]. Glad we’ve joined you today. You’re welcome. [Laughing]. We’re joining you (indiscernible) living rooms.
MR [Laughing]. Well, this is off the rails fast, isn’t it?
MR (Indiscernible) your car or your vehicle or whatever you’re doing, we’re glad you joined us today for this episode.
So Allissa, hope your morning is more coherent than mine.
AH It’s not. It’s not at all.
AH I had an incident with an avocado this morning.
MR Oh, boy.
AH Yeah. Where it wasn’t — half of it was totally just squishy enough and ripe and the other half was hard as a rock, and I couldn’t get the seed out of it, and it was a whole thing, and it ended up being this mash of weirdness on my plate. That’s what I get for trying to eat the healthy fats.
MR Back to burgers and fries.
AH [Laughing]. I totally just wished I had had a bacon sandwich for breakfast. [Laughing].
MR We talked about Five Guys in our last episode, so ever since, I’ve been thinking about Five Guys.
AH Yeah. Yeah. I want me a big ‘ol bag of those fries.
MR [Laughing]. Oh, the grease. It’s so delicious.
AH And there’s totally a Five Guys right near my house, and I’ve managed to not — I think I’ve — we’ve been there twice in a year, so that’s pretty good. And there’s a Taco Bell right there too, and I’ve only done that like three times over the course of the year. So I’m very — I’m really actually quite proud of myself. I used to live near a Wendy’s, and that was an issue. Anyhow, we didn’t expect to talk about fast food today. [Laughing].
MR And there we go. And now I’m craving a spicy chicken sandwich from Wendy’s.
AH You’re welcome.
MR Just kidding, I don’t eat gluten.
AH What are we talking about today?
MR We are talking about tips and tricks to improve your massage practice.
AH Yeah. And I love this because we crowdsourced a bunch of this. I — and I don’t remember what made me go and ask people or what made me think that this would be a good topic. And somebody was sharing ideas with me, and I was like, hey, it’s been a long time since I’ve asked the masses for their tips and advice that may or may not apply to your massage practice. And they’re little things. They’re — some of them are — or most of them are just simple little things you could do to add a little extra oomph to your business or make it a little easier to use or —
MR Kind of like life hacks.
AH Yeah. It’s massage business hacks, so we’ll roll with that. And I’m going to jump right in. Except I’m just realizing that I don’t think that I made a note of where I was going to do the halftime, so.
MR I noticed that.
AH Yup. Okay. Now, I’m just adding it by adding a random line of letters.
AH There. Okay.
Quick tips. And I’m going to do my own first. And this is a rando, full-office quick-tip idea, which is that I make sure that everything in the office — lights and crockpots and heaters and whatever else, table warmers and everything, air cleaners — that they are all plugged in to power strips, and that — also that each power strip has a light that goes on. So the light switch is always remaining on, and it’s powered on and off with the power strip. And I do this because I, more than one time, had to drive back to my office in the middle of the night thinking that I left, like, the hot stone heater on or something. And as it turns out, I never actually have, but I was worried that I had. So when I started sharing the office with other people, I was also worried that if I wasn’t the first — the last one out to close up, that someone else would leave something on, so I made sure there’s a light on every power strip, and we don’t just shut switches off. We actually turn power strips off.
So nothing is plugged directly into the wall, and if there’s a light on anywhere in the office, it means someone didn’t turn a power strip off, and that’s a really great visual trigger for whoever leaves the office last every night because they just walk through the office — and it’s not that big, and all the doors are open so you can see. If there’s a light on, they just need to flip the power strip off. So it works really well. Also, it prevents that drain that certain devices have when they’re plugged even if they’re not operating. It’s really, really great. So that works really well for us at my office. The only exception to this is the Wi-Fi router stays plugged in all the time, which is fine. It should stay plugged in all the time. It’s on its own thing. It’s plugged directly into the wall. It’s fine.
And my friend Leslie noted that you can also plug things into a Christmas tree timer or a smart plug because you can program those, and then you know that even if you accidently leave it on, it will shut itself off at a certain time every day. Or if you’ve got it all on smart plugs, you can look at the app on your phone and know if something is on or off. And you can also — there’s also smart locks you can get for your doors that you can operate via the app too, so that’s pretty cool.
So now, let’s move into the massage room specifically, and these are kind of massage-related tips, like actual hands-on related tips that can be, if you listened to our last episode, can be a talk trigger and also can just be a little thing that improves the quality of your massage almost unconsciously.
So our friend Jeni Spring, she noted that she teaches her clients how to adjust the face cradle and how to correctly lay in it, and that starts their empowerment in being aware of their own alignment during the massage, and their comfort, and it let’s them know that it’s okay to reposition and readjust any time. They don’t just have to lay there and deal with the minor uncomfortable stuff. It’s a little thing, but it starts off a whole cascade of other things that saves her from having to do it herself and also empowers the client to take charge of how they feel during the massage. So thank you, Jeni Spring, for that.
Bonnie noted that something as simple as wiping off all the cream or oil residue on her hands before doing a thorough scalp massage. She get’s so many clients that comment on how no one has ever done that, or having warm, moist towels in the hot towel cabinet to wipe off any cream reside from the feet so clients aren’t slipping around in their sandals. In — she says, in Florida, we wear sandals like 11 months out of the year, and it’s kind of gross to put your Birks on and have the sole get sticky from the excess lubricant. Bonnie also gets lots of compliments on how she emails new clients a day or two after the massage to check in with them and also to give them some meditation apps and other self-care tools. So that’s great. Follow-up is a huge thing.
Laura has noted — and she says you shouldn’t have to say that, but she’s experienced it as a client — don’t be on your phone during a session. And I really feel like 95% of massage therapists get this, but there are some people who the switch just hasn’t flipped as far as how to maintain really great customer service, and there are probably therapists out there who think that it’s okay to answer their phone during a session, or text. And you think that the client doesn’t notice, but if your massaging with one hand and they happen to look up or — like, they’re going to notice. And also, I heard a story once of how someone was chaperoning a student clinic, and the student had their smartphone on the phone under the massage table, and they were texting with their feet. Now, first of all, hats off if you can text with your feet. I can barely text with my hands, but no. That’s def not okay. So don’t be on your phone during a session.
Marcy noticed that you can place the headrest cushion under the client’s neck while they’re supine. She gets more oohs and aahs over that than almost anything else.
Bernadette noted using a heated neck roll — and I noted in our last episode about talk triggers how when I put that warm pillow under a client’s neck after I do neck work, it always elicits a sigh. So all of these things — positioning things other people don’t do, it adds a nice little extra boost, a nice little bit of customer luxury. And I say “luxury” — I just want to note that even when I was working on big hulking athletes who were coming in for injuries and needed very specific work and, in theory, they weren’t looking for something overall relaxing, they all sighed at the warm pillow.
Our friend Sara noted that travel pillows under the shoulders when people are prone — she gets compliments all the time on how much more comfortable it is when lying prone, especially for women. So these little pillows under the shoulders — and sometimes I think she uses the Mother Earth’s flaxseed pillows as well — under the shoulders to kind of lift those rounded shoulder up. And it — one, it makes it a lot easier to work on that interscapular region, but also it’s super cozy for the client.
Sakinah inquires about scent sensitivity, and if they don’t mind, she puts a drop of Olbas Oil on a tissue at the top of the outside of the face cradle because you want it to be really subtle. It’s a minty eucalyptus scent that helps keep sinuses open for people who tend to get stuffy in the cradle. And a few people noted that they do this as well. And I like the point that she points out that she inquires about scent sensitivity first, so you’re not just giving someone aromatherapy stuff and smell they’re not going to enjoy.
Our friend Kathy notes that you can cut an oven liner to fit in the towel warmer under the basket to stop rust from happening. That is crazy practical, and because I don’t use moist towels, I never would have known that, so thank you. You can cut an oven liner for that. Kathy also notes that it’s nice to have a place for their stuff when they undress, like a little dish for their jewelry, a hanger for their clothes. An added touch is a tray or a space with tissues and mints and water.
Sakinah notes that you can keep an unwrapped mint or cough drop nearby to you in the massage room and out of sight for the inevitable tickle in your throat when you’re working on the head or the face or whatever. And I love these. I actually keep Ricola in my massage room for the clients, but also sometimes for me. I got one unwrapped usually hidden in the corner for me so that if my throat starts to tickle, I can silently grab it. But it’s great. Since I started putting these — I had a client who was always getting really dry mouth on the table and getting a tickle, and I started keeping Ricola around for him, and then I just started keeping it around for everyone. Obviously, you want to be really careful and maybe not people having cough drops in their mouth when they are supine because you don’t want them choking.
Sakinah also has a cool, flaxseed pillow and a couple of marble stones in her minifridge for women who have hot flashes on the table. A cold stone in each hand and a cold pillow on the back of the neck nips that hot flash right off. So I just want to say since Sakinah told me this tip a couple weeks ago, I have started keeping one of my flaxseed pillows in the fridge because it’s really hot here in the summer, and I’ve been offering that to people instead of the warm pillow, and people love it in the summer. Even though my office is air conditioned, they come in kind of hot, and that cool pillow is amazing. So thank you for that, Sakinah.
Rachael noted that something simple to do is to protect your client’s hair. So a pillowcase at the bake of — at the — pardon me — base of the neck helps tremendously. And Rachael also likes to give them a damp and a dry hand towel at the end of the session in case anything feels greasy, and they can really clean off that way and go about the rest of their day more easily.
Sara noted that you should be getting a massage in your own space to get a feeling from the client’s perspective. That is really important, and our friend Jen jumped in and mentioned that you should do that every year so you can catch things that are worn or aging or new sounds and new things that may have happened since the last time, which is totally true. I do this every so often, and I’m probably due for it.
Alexander noted that it’s nice to have an extra outlet so you can plug in — so they can plug in their phone. And you can have some standard charging cables to recharge — so they can recharge their device while they’re recharging themselves on your massage table.
Now, it’s time for our halftime sponsor. Michael, who’s our halftime sponsor?
AH Yay Jojoba.
Sponsor message This episode is sponsored by The Jojoba Company. You know how I feel about them. I love them. I’ve been using them for years. I love that jojoba does not go rancid. It doesn’t contain triglycerides like many other products do, so it won’t go bad. And that makes jojoba a great carrier for essential oils, too, because it won’t go rancid and wreck your essential oils. Jojoba Company is the only company in the world that carries 100% pure, first-pressed quality jojoba. This means they do a light pressing called a first press on the seed, and they don’t get as much in quantity, but it is by far a higher quality jojoba. It is the only stuff I want to be putting on my hands. You, my friends, can get a 10% off discount if you go to —
AH Sorry, I lost my place there. [Laughing].
AH I was so excited about that.
MR We just love jojoba so much. It gets us so excited.
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AH Whew. That was a lot. Okay.
MR We got more.
AH We have more. So we have a few more tips in the realm of communication and business skills.
So Lisa asks the question, how can I most help you today? Just doing it at intake, we can kind of get stuck in our brain about what they might need, but it could be that they just want their upper back worked today. And this is especially important, I’m going to add, when you have longtime clients because needs change over time. So if you haven’t done a new written intake in a while or you’ve just assumed that they’re always going to have that right shoulder problem, you could be not giving them the massage they want, and maybe they’re not someone who’s comfortable speaking up and being like, hey, I want something different today.
So Lisa asks, how can I most help you today? I personally say, what do you need from your massage today? And then they give me their priorities. And sometimes I say, okay, what are our priorities today? And I love it because when you do that, people will give them to you in the order they want them treated and the order of most importance, and you can really plan the session to do the thing they want to do, which is wonderful.
Jen noted that we should listen, really listen. And that’s a huge deal. Rianne said the same thing. She said, shut up and listen to your client; the session is about them, not you. And that sounds like, so well, yeah, of course it is, but we all forget this. And just like Lisa noted, sometimes we have — before a client walks in the door, we have an idea in our head of what they’re going to walk in with, but for a lot of our regular clients especially, that changes from month to month. So we’ve got to be sure that we ask them what they want, listen to that, and do it.
So Jessica noted that it’s good to actually return phone calls and emails, and it’s a common complaint we hear from new clients. Another one is when their massage therapist cancels and changes appointments too much. Set a schedule, and stick to it.
Debbie notes that she likes to say something like, I look forward to working with you, or I’m honored to work with you, and mean it.
Our friend Lauren — and this is going to be a whole episode unto itself, but I wanted to throw it in here for now — our friend Lauren Cates of Healwell noted that it is really useful to know yourself. And there’s a lot of good tips and things in this list, and she can never resist a suggestion that we are only as effective as we are self-aware. So if you know where you’re at as a practitioner, you can be more effective in receiving instruction from clients and moving forward with that. And again, this is probably going to need to be a whole episode unto its own, but I didn’t want to leave it out.
So some practical stuff. Amy noted that she needs to get to work 30 minutes before her first client. It gives her time to do everything to set up and take care of herself and also deal with anything unexpected that could happen or be happening when you get there. I will tell you, I have to get in between 60 and 45 minutes before my first client, or I get super freaked out and nervous. And not going to lie, we had a problem yesterday with — I was in the office, and I am so glad I got there early and saw this situation happen so I could at least get some of it handled before my first client walked in the door.
A bunch of people, Debbie and Karen and Nancy, noted that putting 30 minutes between each client works for them, and that is so important. And I’m going to pop in here with a side note of Lauren’s “know yourself.” For many people, 30 minutes between each client is perfect. It works for me. It gives me time to strip the massage room, remake it for the next client, go to the bathroom, have a snack, and be sitting at my desk popping in notes from the last session and be ready for the next client. Some people need more than that, some people need less than that, and some people, their schedule, they can’t put 30 minutes between because it would mean adding two hours onto their work day, and that’s not an option with the way that their schedule in their life works. So I will say, know yourself, and know what your sweet spot is for the perfect amount of time between each client. It’s really, really important to find that for you.
A few rando business skills and miscellaneous. Cynthia — this is brilliant. I’ve never thought of this. It’s a phone tip. She said set a special ringtone for your appointment alerts or your eGift alerts. Like when someone books an appointment or they buy a gift certificate, set a special ringtone for that. If you use a mobile phone for your business, if your personal and business phone is combined, you may want to set a special ringer list for clients too. So it’s nice when you can hear your phone when you’re out and about or doing personal stuff and you hear the alert and you know that it’s something that you don’t have to respond to immediately because it’s business and you’re off hours or whatever.
Laura noted that you should know how much you can work and stick to those hours, and we kind of noted this a little bit earlier too. Know what works for you, and don’t deviate from that because you’ll end up resentful and/or burnt out or just annoyed that your day is not scheduled the way you want it to be scheduled.
And our friend Sara — finally this is our last tip — noted that before you hire employees, be sure to investigate everything involved in hiring them. It’s not as simple as setting a want ad. You really got to explore this further. Know your tax liabilities, what forms you got to file. Do the math and make sure you’re charging enough to cover what you got to pay them in your operational cost and your taxes and profit for the business. Most new employers think it’s just about finding some employees and paying them. It’s worthwhile to hire a good accountant and lawyer. And I’ll translate this into do the legwork on any big business decisions. It’s so easy to just jump in, and sometimes it’s good to jump in, but when you’re dealing with legal stuff and IRS stuff and compliance issues, know what you’re getting into before you get into it. Talk to people who have done it before.
And that is the end of our quick tips that could improve your massage business.
MR Whew. What a list.
AH I know. That was a marathon.
MR That was awesome stuff. Love it.
AH I think so. I really love crowdsourcing and hearing different things from different practitioners because our businesses are so different in so many ways and so alike in so many ways. I really like getting that feedback from people, and there’s a couple things in here that I hadn’t been doing that I think I’m going to. So I’m excited about that.
AH So I’m going to play with that a little bit.
MR Sounds good.
AH I think I’m going to get some charging cords, some standard charging cords for people.
MR [Laughing]. All right.
AH I think that would be helpful. We’ll see.
MR Well, that is a wrap for today. Thank you very much, everyone, for joining us today. A reminder you can visit us online at massagebusinessblueprint.com, and if you want to consider our premium member community, which is growing every day, check that out as well on the site. If you’ve got a question or a comment or a feedback for us, email that to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And we love reviews, so if you would like to leave us a review on Apple Podcast or wherever you listen, we would love it, and we do look at those periodically, and we sometimes read them on the air, keeping your name anonymous, of course. So we appreciate that, thank you.
So thanks again for joining us today. Have an awesome day, and we’ll see you next time.