What do small business owners and new moms have in common? People loooove to critique how we do stuff. Here’s how to decide if that critique matters.
Resource we mention: Handling Bad Reviews
Sponsor message This episode is sponsored by The Jojoba Company. I believe that massage therapists should only be using the highest quality products because our clients deserve it and our own bodies deserve it. I’ve been using jojoba for years and here’s why: Jojoba is nonallergenic; I can use it on any client and every client safely without a fear of allergic reaction. It won’t clog pores, so I can use it on all my clients who are prone to acne breakouts. Jojoba does not go rancid; it makes jojoba a great carrier for essential oils. And it won’t stain your 100% cotton sheets. The Jojoba Company is the only company in the world that carries 100% pure, first-pressed quality jojoba. And you, our listeners, can get 10% off orders of $35 or more when you shop through our link massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba, that’s J-O-J-O-B-A. massagebusinessblueprint.com/jojoba.
Allissa Haines Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I am continuing to fly solo here in December with some very short and light episodes with just little thoughts of just things you can consider about your massage business without having to take any big steps and without adding to your to-do list, because that’s not what we’re about this month.
So this episode is about how we weigh criticism and, very specifically, I’m talking about negative feedback — not advice. We’re going to cover advice in the next episode. And sometimes criticism and advice are linked, but we’re going to try to separate them for the purposes of keeping this discussion very short and easy and simple to think about over the next week before we conquer advice.
So let’s say you are thinking of attending an event to promote your massage practice, and you talk to one or two people and they say, oh, that’s a terrible event; nobody good ever goes to that. Or you say no to attending some wellness fair event, and people say, oh, you can’t — you can’t get new clients unless you’re out in the community. Or you provide a massage and the client is not happy with that massage, and they give you negative feedback, which happens. Sometimes they do this publicly, and this is not an episode about how to handle a bad review, we’ve done that episode. I’ll try to remember to link to that in the podcast notes. But this is about negative feedback — criticism that you get from people on how you’re running your business or how you’re providing massage or whatever.
There’s a few things I want you to think about when you decide how to weigh that criticism and decide if it’s valid, if it’s something that you want to spend time thinking about and maybe changing a policy or how you do something in your business or not. And the first little bit of advice is just very quippy. I remember reading it somewhere and it said, don’t take criticism from people that you wouldn’t take advice from. I would not take business-building advice from my, well, from my dad, who has always been an employee. He has never sold a product or service and does not understand how any of that works, nor does he understand bookkeeping for a sole proprietor. He’s a great guy and, you know, thanks for raising me, but it’s not that kind of advice. If I wanted advice about model train sets — he has retired pretty well, so I could probably get some advice about retirement investing from him, but I would definitely take advice from him if — whatever. He does a bunch of stuff great, but you get the idea.
But I would not take criticism — I would not — if he said negative things about my business, I would not consider that valid, negative — like, valid criticism about my business. It’s not valid. So when — and I wouldn’t take business advice from him because he doesn’t understand it.
So when you get criticism from people about how you run your business or the kind of massage that you provide, it’s really important to think, does this person understand how microbusinesses work? And when I say “microbusiness”, I mean service — businesses that tend to gross around $100,000 a year or less. You know, small business is a really big term and often includes people who have 25 employees and bring in a million a year. That’s not us. We’re microbusinesses.
Does this person giving — criticizing how I’m running my business, do they understand me and my target client? Like, someone who doesn’t understand that you specialize in oncology massage is not going to understand why you don’t want to go provide post-race massage after the marathon. Like, that’s — they’re not going to get it. That’s not good for your business. They don’t understand the lack of connection with target clientele there.
And I’m going to jump into some client feedback stuff after our halftime sponsor.
Sponsor message And our halftime sponsor is Acuity Scheduling. No more phone tag, yo. Clients can quickly view your real-time availability and book their own appointments. Very early this morning I had a client just changed her next week’s appointment to two weeks out, and I didn’t have to play phone tag with her. She went to her computer, she hit a button, and she rescheduled. And she did so well in advance without me having to do a thing. It’s really sweet. You can look and act professional by offering convenient scheduling to your clients that matches your brand and your voice. You can handle forms and information before the appointment so you know what’s walking in the door when they’re walking in. You know what to be prepared for. You can get a special 45-day free offer when you sign up today. Check it out at massagebusinessblueprint.com/acuity.
AH So let’s pop back over here. What about client feedback? Now, like, we get negative feedback and criticism from, whatever, peers or friends or family who think they know how to run a business, but what about when we’re talking about our hands-on skills? This gets a little trickier. Like, how do we weigh that criticism, that negative feedback, when it comes from a client?
One, all client feedback is valid, but what you do with it is up to you. So you have to consider; is the feedback that I got the result of bad expectations? If someone comes to you and it’s their first massage ever and they are very upset that you suggested that they take their shirt off, that’s a — that’s an incorrect expectation. It’s also a failure in communication. So how could something like that be prevented? Is it a valid concern? Yes, it is, and it’s something that you might want to fix and avoid.
However, if you work on a client, and you proactively, before the massage, talk to them about the — how they should feel during the massage — if they have pain to speak up — if you check with them verbally during the massage, if you’re mindful of their cues and you are careful about pressure, and after the massage, they still say to you it was too much pressure after not saying anything for 60 minutes, that’s not about you. Like, they didn’t communicate. If you feel like you did all of the things to create good communication so that you wouldn’t give them too much pressure and then they don’t ever say anything or give you any kind of non-verbal feedback or anything, that feedback, that criticism is about them, and it’s not so much about you. So you might need to let it go and not take it too personally. If they did in fact communicate with you and yet you continued to apply the same kind of pressure, again, that’s valid feedback and you do have to adjust your technique so that you’re not hurting people.
That is a very simple — simplified example, however, the same principles apply to all of these things. When you get criticism — when you get negative feedback, consider the source. Are they someone who understands the context of what you do, whether it be business or hands on, and is it really about — is that feedback about you, or is it about them? Is it about something real or is it the result of an incorrect expectation or communication issue?
And that’s your business thought for this week. I hope it gives you something to think about without being too overwhelming. We will talk again next week about measuring advice — weighing advice that comes in, and I’ve got a lot to say about that, so I’m really excited. And I hope you’re having a wonderful and relaxing or fun or celebratory December.