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Choosing and Caring for Linens

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Ten for Today
By Rebecca Jones

Choosing and Caring for Linens
Michigan massage therapist Patrice Wisner thought she’d figured out her linen laundry dilemma when her husband started washing smaller loads and using more detergent. The result was cleaner sheets, fewer impossible-to-get-out oil stains, and no more lingering smell of oil. Then, some of her clients started sneezing when they got on her table. “Too much detergent?” she wonders. “Currently, we use detergent and bleach, but we’re on a septic system and I can’t say that it’s all that great for my septic system to use so much bleach to get these sheets clean. But if I don’t, they start to smell when they come out of the dryer, and at some point later on they start to smell like French fries! There’s just got to be an answer.” Table linens are one of the most important accessories massage therapists will purchase, since those linens are so visible to clients. And caring properly for the linens is one of the most important steps in maintaining a hygienic practice. The experts all agree: don’t short sheet your massage practice by choosing anything less than the best-quality linens you can afford and keep them in tip-top shape. Here are some pointers for selecting the right linens for your practice, and how to care for them so they always send a positive message to clients.

1. Pure or Blended
Some people avoid 100 percent cotton massage sheets, preferring the wrinkle-resistance and greater durability that comes from cotton/polyester blends. But there’s much to be said for the comfort and soft feel of 100 percent cotton. They also tend to release oil more readily than blends. Likewise, those who appreciate earth-friendly sheets may even look into hemp sheets—more expensive initially, but extremely long lasting—or certified-organic cotton sheets. Remember that you get what you pay for in most instances and quality sheets will not pill as easily as cheaper ones. There’s no one best answer. It’s just a matter of personal preference.

2. Flannel’s Appeal
“It’s the most comfortable sheet there is,” says Steve Gern, owner of Sew & Sew, a maker of massage sheets in Glide, Oregon. And while the quality of other kinds of sheets is measured in thread count—the higher the better, as a rule—that’s not true with flannel sheets. Flannel is measured in weight. Sew & Sew, for instance, carries 3.8-ounce and 5-ounce flannel sheets, with the heavier-weight flannel costing a bit more. The heavier the weight, the more plush the feel and the more washings it can endure. And while flannel is mostly associated with chilly climates, it’s actually a good product for warm weather, too, since it wicks away perspiration more readily than other materials.

3. Your Linen Closet
John Sise, owner of Innerpeace, a Walpole, New Hampshire, massage linen company, suggests keeping a minimum of two days worth of linens. So, if you’re going to do five massages a day, you need to have at least 10 sets of standard-width (46-inch) sheets on hand. “We recognize that some people may need a wider top sheet, so we recommend that the therapist has a few wide top flat sheets to accommodate the people who may have extra modesty issues or are larger than the average client,” Sise says. It’s also a good idea to keep plenty of hand towels nearby. “They’re really good for wiping a client off, so you don’t have to use a sheet or a drape to wipe them off,” says Diana Dapkins, president of Pure Pro Massage Products, of Greenfield, Massachusetts. “And if you spill a product, they’re just a nice tool to have around.”

4. Solids Versus Prints
Again, this is a matter of personal preference. There are lots of beautiful prints on the market, including batiks and themed designs, but Gern says he sold so few printed sheets he stopped carrying them. Solids—especially whites—look clean and hygienic, but prints carry one big advantage over solids: they can help camouflage stains.

5. Sanitation Rules
Of course, don’t reuse any towel or sheet that has come in contact with a client before laundering it. Sheets should be changed after every client. Same for face-rest covers. Find a hamper for dirty linens that is well away from the clean ones. Make sure to sterilize all table surfaces between clients. Select quality, ecofriendly cleaning products that are considerate of clients’ allergies and void of artificial scents. And, of course, thoroughly wash your hands between clients.

6. Laundry Tips
Experts disagree about the ideal temperature at which to launder your linens. Norma Keyes, director of product standards for Cotton Inc., a trade group to promote cotton products, advises using the hottest water possible to remove stains and odor. Gern and Sise say hot water only sets in stains. They recommend warm water. Dapkins insists warm to lukewarm is fine, and that even washing in cold water is acceptable. But here’s something they all agree on: get them washed as soon as possible—within 24 hours of use. “If you must wait to wash them, store them in black plastic bags,” Dapkins says. “Tie the bags shut to keep out air and light, as these are the two things that turn oil rancid.” For badly stained linens, allow them to soak in a degreaser, then launder them twice to completely remove oily residue. For stubborn stains, add bleach to the second wash so the bleach can penetrate after some of the oily buildup is gone, Dapkins suggests.

7. Special Supplies
Unlike bed linens, which are only for sleeping, massage table linens get regularly doused with oil. Simply tossing them into the wash with other linens won’t be adequate. Some sort of degreaser must be used, experts say. One possibility is dish soap, which won’t harm linens, or the spray product called Zout. Dapkins created Pure Pro Linen Degreaser, a citrus-based product, specifically with the demands of massage therapists in mind. “I got tired of hearing massage therapists talk about stained linens,” she says. “It’s a citrus-based solvent, which is very different from other products on the market that are petroleum-based. Anyone will tell you that vegetable oil is tough. It doesn’t mix with water and it doesn’t come out very easily. The citrus solvents are just phenomenal at eating vegetable oil.” She says degreasers do not remove stains. That’s what bleach is for. But before the bleach can work, massage linens may require an initial washing with a degreaser.

8. Dryer Safety
If a sheet comes out of the washer still smelling of oil, do not put it in the dryer. Drying it will only worsen the problem, because it will bake in the oil residue, making removal even harder. What’s more, there’s a safety issue involved. “We’ve had a number of people with dryer fires, because they put the stuff in the dryer and it combusted. There was simply too much residue on the linens,” Dapkins says.

9. Folding Technique
Yes, there really is a secret to folding a fitted sheet, and if you master it, your linen cabinets will be forever neater. Start by pulling the sheet out of the dryer immediately, not letting it sit around unfolded for hours. You’ll need to spread the sheet out on a table or bed. Fold it in half horizontally, then tuck the top gathered end into the pocket formed by the bottom gathered end. Fold everything horizontally in half again. Then fold the bulky gathered ends horizontally into the middle of the ten for todaysheet. Fold the smooth end over the top of the bulky end, then fold lengthwise into thirds yet again. If you’re having trouble picturing this, a number of online reference sites have step-by-step picture guides. Just type “fold a fitted sheet” into your Web browser, and you’ll find lots of online help.

10. Letting Go
Finally, if you see any sign of holes, broken elastic, fraying, or anything that looks unserviceable, it’s time to find a different use for that sheet than putting it under a massage client. And if you’ve tried every trick you know and you still can’t get a stain out, surrender to the inevitable and ditch the sheet. “If you get a year’s worth of service out of a sheet, and you do 25 clients a week, remember that’s just pennies per use. You’ve gotten your money out of that sheet,” Dapkins says.

Rebecca Jones is a Denver-based freelancer who has a new appreciation for the intricacies of massage linens. Contact her at killarneyrose@comcast.net.

 

Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals original article:
http://www.abmp.com/massagemarketplace/downloads/TenForToday_JF09.pdf
Additional resources:
http://www.massageandbodyworkdigital.com/i/196551

Preparing your Massage Practice for Winter

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Preparing for Winter
With colder weather on the horizon, it’s time to get your practice and your clients ready for the harsh realities of Winter. Follow these tips to protect your clients from the cold both during their treatment as well as at home.

Preparing your Massage Table
· Invest in a massage table warmer to provide controlled warmth.
· Dress your table with thicker sheets such as NRG Deluxe Flannel Massage Sheets.
· Keep a massage blanket on hand to offer to your client for an additional layer of warmth.

Preparing your Massage Treatments
· Use thicker massage lubricants such as massage creams or body butters to provide a stronger barrier for your clients’ skin against cold weather.

· Offer gentle facial treatments to your clients to combat the dry, dull skin tone that comes with colder climates.
· Provide paraffin treatments for clients concerned about dry skin

Preparing your Clients
Encourage your clients to continue to protect their skin against harsh weather by retailing massage creams and body butters for at-home use. To nourish dry hands and feet, suggest applying a generous coat of cream at night and cover with gloves and socks while they sleep.

preparing-for-winter

Creating a Relaxing Massage Environment

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Creating a Relaxing Environment
Prepare your massage room with these relaxing elements to create a comfortable and soothing environment for your clients.

Aromatherapy
Proper use of aromatherapy can positively impact your client’s mind and emotion. Choose subtle scents and essential oils that don’t overpower.

Massage Music
Music is an integral part of the client experience as it soothes the soul and sets a mood.

Massage Table Sheets
Aside from your hands, your table linens are the items which come into direct contact the most with your client. Soft, clean sheets that are in good shape and odor free are a must for a quality massage experience.

Massage Candles
Candles add warmth, soft lighting and an ambiance that is conducive to rest, relaxation and stress reduction.

relaxing-environment

 

Massage Business Building Blocks

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Business Building Blocks

By Angie Patrick

Massage Equipment Amortization 101

At some point in our lives, we have all had an expectation that was proven to be unrealistic in the normal course of life. This might be expectations we have from family, from friends, from our car, maybe our relationships, even down to the products we buy. I think it is only human; we all want what we want, when we want it, and how we want it. It is the society we live in and it is an incredibly common happening.

While I am no expert in on human behavior or interpersonal skills, I am an expert on products. And I have had the good fortune to be in this business for over a decade and have pretty vast experience with various manufacturers, products and suppliers. I have seen things happen to therapists and spas in the course of business that could be easily avoided with a little information. Below is some insider information intended to help make buying massage products and equipment a bit easier, whether it be from a supplier or direct from a manufacturer.

Tips on Buying Goods

Buying goods should be a task in which you have full confidence. I believe buying Professional Grade Products can help you make certain your products can withstand the rigors of professional repeated usage. Manufacturers and suppliers want nothing more than to please a client. (It is our prime directive!) But sometimes meeting those expectations are not so easy.

A product warranty is a miraculous thing. Most Professional Grade Products offer a limited or lifetime warranty to protect the buyer against manufacturer defects or shortcomings. These are especially handy when something breaks down within the warranty timeframe, and you can get a replacement or repair in a timely fashion. Often, the warranty is offered as a safety net for the buyer, given the buyer follows and complies with all usage directions and procedures.

And while manufacturers should have no problem whatsoever in caring for items in the marketplace still under warranty, there is always a segment of customers who have overinflated expectations about product performance. The purpose in sharing the following scenarios with you is not to say there are any issues with particular products, rather to point out some common unrealistic expectations of product performance.

Scenario One

Customer: “I am very disappointed with my massage sheets (XYZ product), I am seeing them begin to pill and fade, and I want my money back.”

Me: “Oh I am so sorry to hear you are dissatisfied, let me pull your order up in my system so we can get your issue handled.”

After a few moments of searching for the XYZ product in the order history, the manufacturer notices they purchased the item in January 2009.

Me: “I am looking in the account, and I see this was purchased in January 2009.”

Customer: “That’s right! I cannot believe how these things are showing wear, I am very disappointed with the quality. What can you do for me here?”

Me: “Well, how many times a week are these used?”

Customer: “4-5 times a week, we launder them often.”

Me: “And just to confirm your usage of these items since 2009 is that correct?”

Customer: “Correct”

After some quick calculations, I came to the following conclusions:

107 weeks in usage
535 washings
535 clients
Original cost: $14.99
Cost Per Client Use: .03 cents per client

I shared this with the customer, and suddenly they saw things in a whole new light. Even cars depreciate after two and a half years. And they are not laundered every day! Suddenly, someone who was very disappointed with the product in the beginning was impressed with the same item, once they considered how much use it had provided. They purchased more massage sheets happily. They began to see the product replacement after due course of usage as a cost of doing business rather than a failure of manufacturing or supply.

Expecting items to last forever with daily and repeated usage is unrealistic. Just as people age, so do products. One way to see if you have actually received substantial benefit from your investment is to amortize the cost of your product across the number of clients seen since you purchased it.

Another thing to consider is timing. Consider this, you have bought an inflatable Christmas decoration from the Big Box Store down the street and have used it for the past two seasons. Now, in season three, it no longer inflates. But the likelihood of getting a replacement is really remote since it is three years since your purchase, and it might not occur to many to even try. It is accepted that things wear out, or can deteriorate with poor storage and lack of usage.

Scenario Two

A customer is opening up a new location, and has ordered various massage equipment from various manufacturers. The items arrived, but are not inspected before they are signed – stating they are in good condition. They are put into a room to store until the location opens, which may well be two or three months later. These items may need to be moved within a facility a couple of times before the facility is ready to open.

Nearer the opening date, the items are finally opened and it is found the item may be damaged due to shipping, the wrong color, or even non-functional. Obviously, this is a problem. However, because it was not inspected upon receipt, months have now gone by, and the opportunities to file any claims with the shipping company have long passed. Additionally, if the product is just simply the wrong color, or not what you expected, you will likely now have to pay the shipping back to the manufacturer and possibly pay a restocking fee. This is the best argument I can provide for taking the time to inspect your equipment upon arrival and ensure it is in working order. Once you have stored it for months, moved it from room to room, it is very hard to prove an item was improperly working from the start. Many manufacturers are now cracking down on this type of return.

A business owner/manager/director should be responsible to make sure the items arrive in-tact. If something looks amiss, the packaging is damaged, do not sign the paperwork that says everything is fine without notating on the delivery slip that there are problems with the packaging. Notating it can help the manufacturer file a claim and get your issue resolved far faster with this information, but you have to let the manufacturer know upon delivery. If too much time passes, it will be harder to get your issue resolved. Also, if you are buying equipment that must be assembled, a smart rule of thumb is to do it in the first 30 days following purchase. The reason for this is to be proactive and report any issues with your equipment in a timely fashion to the manufacturer or supplier you have utilized, and gain resolution proactively rather than a delayed report months down the line.

Making sure your business runs efficiently is in large part dependent on the products you utilize. Taking a moment to consider the information in this article can help you make sure your next expansion goes well with your equipment and product needs. They may also help you determine if there is a basis for complaining about performance or whether it may just be time to replace your goods. As with most suppliers and manufacturers, the whole reason we exist is to serve our customers.

I hope the scenarios I shared can provide you a behind-the-scenes glance of what may be entailed in a return and how you can help yourself (and the manufacturer) by notating and documenting issues, while considering the age and longevity of usage. No doubt your massage supplier will work hard to provide you the best service possible, and that is made far easier by utilizing these tips along the way!

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Raw Material Costs on the Rise for the Massage and Spa Industry

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Raw Material Costs on the Rise

April 21, 2011

By Angie Patrick

Some might say, “So What, Angie? I am not a manufacturer, this will not impact me!”

Ahhh,… not so! It impacts everyone, even in places you weren’t expecting! Let me share with you a quick snapshot of some of the manufacturing landscape and how it might impact your bottom line.

Raw materials are the components purchased from all over the globe that enable manufacturers to create and produce the items we use everyday. It is a delicate balance that industry strikes when it comes to manufacturing goods while remaining competitively priced for the finished goods. In the last quarter, there have been some tell tale signs that some of the items commonly used in the Massage industry may become a bit more pricey, or worse yet, unavailable entirely. This can impact you and your practice in a few ways. Below are a couple of things you may begin to see in the marketplace.

The Argentinean Jojoba crops, which are a significant percentage of the world jojoba crops, were damaged by frost this year. Ordinarily, one might expect the plants to bounce back and thrive, albeit a bit later than usual. Unfortunately for us, the frost hit at a crucial time in the growth cycle of the plant, damaging it at the seed pod level. Once they sustained freeze damage, many of the soon-to-be-plants died. This loss was unrecoverable, and thus the price for Raw Jojoba Oil has skyrocketed. This has been reported to be a temporary situation, but it can likely impact product production nationwide.

Many massage lubricants depend on Jojoba, as it is a magnificent product for the skin, and a go-to ingredient for formulators. You may begin to see some goods temporarily discontinued, and for those remaining on the market, you could in fact see a slight price increase. This is the nature of business when you manufacture goods and depend on crops for your raw ingredients. My advice, buy jojoba now, especially if you love to use pure jojoba oil. Given the shelf life is years and years as long as it is stored properly, it is a good buy that will keep well.

Mother Nature impacts us in many ways and it extends to the world cotton supply as well. The cost of cottonhas been on a steady increase over the last three years, varying from $.40 cents per pound to over $1.89 for completely raw goods. How does this impact the Massage and Spa industry? ALL OVER! From the spa slippers, to the robes, towels, hand cloths, and above all, Massage Sheets! These items are all pricier now than ever before to manufacture, and I have watched the market creep up slowly in terms of price to the end user.

One market that we may potentially see increase in the coming quarters may be foam production. With the unrest in the Middle East, and oil prices moving the full gamut to even exceed $5.00 per gallon some experts predict, we can almost assuredly expect the costs of foam to rise. This is in portable massage tables, massage bolsters, massage chairs, massage stools, and more. A great alternative may be soy foam in some applications, thus reducing the dependency on petroleum as a raw product.

Which brings us to oil… Oil is fluctuating at the time of this post by 2-3 dollars a gallon day by day. This means increased prices for gasoline which impacts a mobile therapist in obvious ways, as your costs for fuel to run your business is going up. But it also impacts your shipping costs for anything your purchase as well. From the grocery store, to the big-box retailers, everyone is sustaining rising shipping costs. No one is immune to this cost increase, with added fuel surcharges being assessed with each shipment of goods to distribution centers and retail outlets, it is a cost that will in many cases be felt by the end user. With this in mind, you can save some money by planning your purchases biweekly and in greater bulk. This can reduce the usage of fuel, and the need for repeated deliveries.

The world is a series of interconnected happenings that singly may not seem to Amount to a hill of beans, but when you dig into the far reaching implications as well as examine how these implications could impact you personally, you begin to see the world as it is…A living and breathing thing we all depend on in ways we may never have even considered before.

Find more articles by Angie Patrick at Massage Today.