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Massage Tables Are Like Elegant Desserts

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Massage Tables Are Like Elegant Desserts

 

By Angie Patrick

 

It’s true, massage tables really are like elegant desserts. The best ones have the perfect balance of sumptuous and delicious layers. Go enjoy a delicious gourmet dinner. Chances are the dessert tray will be filled with items sporting layer after layer of sheer decadence. More layers really equals more luxury and more indulgence.

However, this is where the similarities with your massage table end. I have seen some therapists who will place a sheet over a table and call it complete. This can leave a client shivering and feeling more than a little exposed. I have also witnessed other therapists create the equivalent to the Leaning Tower of Pisa in an effort to make the table more comfortable. This often results in the client fussing with the table covers and struggling to keep them in place while trying to roll over, or even worse, the coverings sliding to the floor completely when the client gets off the table due to ill fitting or inappropriate coverings not created for use on a massage table.

How do you know when enough is enough? How can you be sure you have not crossed the line between cocooning comfort and overcompensation for an uncomfortable table? Often, these lines can be blurred. Let’s look at some of the regularly used table coverings in order of their layering on the table, and then you can utilize the information provided to pick and choose which would be appropriate for your specific applications.

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Massage Table Warmers

 

Table warmers come in many different forms. Some are washable while others are not. Some are suited for treatments where they might come in contact with water and others are not made to withstand moisture. Before you choose, decide whether or not you plan to practice treatments that require the warmer to be water-proof. For instance, if your plan is to offer herbal wraps, you will most likely opt for the water-proof option for safety’s sake. If your plan doesn’t include treatments utilizing moisture and free-flowing water, then a regular fabric table warmer will work fine. In all cases, check to be sure the warmer has an auto-off feature. This alleviates the age old worry in the middle of the night as you sit straight up in bed, “Did I unplug the table warmer?”

 

Some models can be programmed to work continuously for up to 99 minutes, and then power down. This is a great feature, and one I personally prefer. It takes the guesswork out of whether or not the warmer will remain on for the full treatment. Given the average massage is 60 to 90 minutes, it should cover most treatments. The trick is remembering to reset it between clients so it does not power down in the middle of your massage. These typically are washable on the gentle cycle, although it is preferable to hang them to dry to better prevent the warming filaments from breaking.

 

Ideas for Added Padding

 

Massage fleece pad  likely is the most popular and widely utilized plush covering. This covering provides additional cushion and a degree of comfort that a sheet on bare vinyl will not provide. Look for fleece with elastic corner holds or a fitted cover to secure it to the table. You have a couple of choices in the type of fleece you utilize. Some people only want wool fleece pads. Although these are very warm and cozy, they cannot be machine washed and some clients might have allergies to wool, which won’t necessarily be disclosed in the intake form. I prefer the synthetic fleece because it offers greater flexibility in washing. It can be machine washed and dried in the dryer on fluff or air dry without heat. I would suggest a therapist have a few sets of fleece so they can be changed out between clients on a busy day. Now they are more affordable than ever before, ranging from $25 to $110 depending on the material you choose.

 

Another popular option for added comfort is memory foam covered in vinyl. This is a fantastic way to soften a hard table or elongate the life of one that is beginning to show wear on the padding. It usually is 2 to 3 inches thick and is made of visco-elastic material which reacts to body heat, conforming to the contours of the body. These, when covered with vinyl, are easily cleaned and offer a very comfortable foundation for your client. While not inexpensive, they can truly provide a luxurious feel to your table and extend the usefulness of a table in the beginning stages of wear, allowing an additional pocket of time before you must invest in a new table.

 

Choosing the Right Massage Sheets

 

Once your warmer and choice of pad are in place, affix your fitted sheet to the table. The next layer is your top sheet. Please be sure the sheet sets you buy are appropriate for a professional setting. I have seen the occasional therapist use cartoon-character sheets fitting a twin bed on their professional massage table. The intent is to be cute and quirky, but the reality is you come off looking ill-prepared, childish and difficult to be taken seriously. Purchasing sheets appropriate for your practice is fundamental in being considered a professional. Be sure your sheets are in good repair, not stained and do not reek of old oil. This is more than a wee bit off putting, and can ruin the whole massage experience, no matter how expertly executed.

 

Your choice in sheet material is one that could require some additional thought. Although we all want an attractive and inviting table, being pretty may not be enough. Look for fabrics that are durable and can withstand repeated usage and laundering. Here are a few examples of the most commonly chosen sheet types, and reasons why they may or may not be a fit for your needs.

 

Massage Poly Cotton sheets: These are a blend of cotton content and polyester. These sheets are thinner and great in warmer climates. They resist wrinkling, although they are not wrinkle-free. There is little shrinkage, and they usually hold up well during laundering.

 

Massage Muslin sheets: Very thin fabric, does not offer much coverage for client modesty. These sheets might work well when used in wraps. Not a favorite among most therapists for everyday use on their massage table.

 

Massage Cotton Sheets: Natural fiber, flat-spun fiber finish, and soft to the skin. For client modesty, look for sheets with 300-350 thread count. These are a bit thicker and offer greater coverage. Buy sheets a bit larger than your table to allow for inevitable shrinkage. These will launder well although they will wrinkle substantially if left in the dryer unattended after drying.

 

Massage Flannel Sheets: A tried and true staple in any therapist arsenal. This is a natural cotton fiber that has been spun to allow fibers to be “unruly” and then brushed to allow fibers to loosen and become lofty. These sheets offer superb coverage and long wear. The more they are washed, the softer they become. Flannel is not gauged in thread count, but it is rated by weight per square meter. For durable flannel that will wear well, look for flannel with weight of 150 g per square meter or greater. These weights will launder well but will wrinkle if left in a basket after washing. Again, be sure to buy sheets large enough to accommodate shrinkage.

 

Massage Bamboo Sheets: A new fiber in the massage-sheet arena. This fiber is incredibly soft to the touch. It feels almost silky and can provide a very luxurious feel to your table. It is also a nice “trendy” component to say you are using greener products. Even though there are several positive reasons to choose bamboo, it also has a few setbacks. It can be price-prohibitive in many cases, and it often can have substantial shrinkage and wrinkling if laundered in any way other than described on the packaging. It also is still somewhat fragile in its longevity, allowing the stitching holes to stretch and become somewhat unsightly. If you have the budget, time and opportunity to truly care for these sheets, they might be a good fit. If you are looking for a workhorse, you might decide to opt for another material.

 

In all sheets, you will want to be sure the pocket is deep enough to accommodate the table warmer, and fleece or memory foam pad, as well as the table. In the top sheet, you likely will wish to find something measuring 59 to 65 inches wide and 80 to 90 inches long. Not only will this allow nicely for any shrinkage, it will continue to provide adequate coverage for the client following laundering. This is why most household sheets for twin beds do not always offer a perfect fit.

 

The Proper Massage Blanket

 

There are many schools of thought in regards to blanket materials. Again, it is driven by your needs and usage. I will provide you with the most common offerings, although there are many more on the market than I can list here.

 

Massage Cotton Thermal blanket: Likely the most widely used blanket in massage. It is loosely woven, thicker yarn cotton that will remain breathable while retaining warmth. It is prone to shrinkage and does have a tendency to become snagged. These are affordable and come in an array of designer colors.

 

Massage Fleece blanket: Softness is the hallmark of this fabric. It harkens to days when we were children and all things we snuggled with were fluffy and soft. It evokes an instant relaxation response and is widely used in the industry. It will launder well, although it is prone to shed in the first few washes. Most will not have appreciable shrinkage. These will also wrinkle, but not much.

 

Massage Bamboo blanket: This fabric makes a lovely blanket; offering softness and luxury to any table. This is not a very durable fiber so handling and laundering of the blanket must be done with care. It is prone to pilling, so it should be handled with greater care. It will also shrink if dried in a heat setting. Tumbling on low heat or no heat is preferred to extend the life of the blanket.

 

Massage Down Comforter/Duvet: Incredibly lush and totally cocooning. It’s downside is the expense and the upkeep of the duvet covers between clients. For a similar feel without the expense, look for down alternative comforters. These can also alleviate the allergy reaction to down.

 

Making Your Table a Sanctuary

 

Many therapists have different ideas about the way they would like their table to look and feel to the client before they climb on. Some would opt for a clean, luxurious spa feel with a crisp, white duvet covering a plush, down comforter. Others may prefer a world-traveler look, complete with colorful saris from India or Pakistan accompanied by a decorative pillow of silk or satin. Still others may opt for a more ethereal feel, with thin gossamer fabrics covering their table, lending it a cloudlike quality.

 

I have seen tables with flower petals scattered on them, or simply dressed with a bundle of freshly cut rosemary sprigs tied with a piece of raffia placed in the center of the table. I have seen the table scattered with chakra stones, as well as beautiful bowls of water with a Beta Fish swimming in it on the floor beneath the headrest for a lovely view while face down. Any one of these ideas can evoke a serene feeling of calm and relaxation. The truth is, there are no real wrong ideas when it comes to the decorative part of the table. Just, as in all things, present a professional appearance.

 

I hope these bits of information will be able to assist you in the decision of what to use on your table. The possibilities are truly limitless, and we have only scratched the surface here. There are more beautiful massage linens coming into the market every day and there are many great suppliers bringing these to the forefront. Enjoy the search, but always remember to present yourself, your practice and the supplies you use professionally.  View more of Angie Patrick’s articles at Massage Today.

 

At MassageWarehouse.com, massage therapist enjoy a one-stop shop for professional quality massage products at the lowest prices available.  Rely on Massage Warehouse massage therapy supply and equipment needs.

Gaining and Retaining Massage Clients: Eliciting Emotional Responses

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Gaining and Retaining Massage Clients: Eliciting Emotional Responses

By Angie Patrick

Humans are emotional creatures. This is neither good nor bad. It simply is.

We are wired to respond to situations, stimulation, sensory input and vocalizations in an emotional and sometimes even subliminal manner. Loud noises startle us and make us wary of danger, the smell of bacon makes us hungry, the sight of beauty can make us weep, and watching a puppy’s antics can make us laugh. Whether we want it to be or not, our entire response to the world is highly weighted on emotion. Once you understand this basic fact and embrace this as truth, it makes interaction and involvement with others more easily managed.

Business and marketing professionals bank on emotional responses from their clients in order to gain a stronger bond with their prospect. Banks and law firms often employ the use of blues and greens in their advertising to instill a sense of professionalism and strength. Fast food places focus on red and yellow hues to remind you of catsup and mustard, all with the idea of making you hungry. The same can be said of spas, as purple and violet hues, along with other soft or earthly colors, are used in the hopes of putting you in a peaceful state of mind and one that promotes being grounded, centered and relaxed. While not overt, the use of color can trigger emotional responses in us that can help sway our thinking to the mindset of the marketer, making their message more easily received and understood.

Just as sight is a sensory input that can trigger emotional responses, so is scent. Have you driven by a steakhouse or other food establishment and smelled the delicious aromas coming out of the stacks atop the building? I would bet smelling these scents immediately makes you think of the food you smell and entices you to treat yourself to their wares. Have you ever stood in the shampoo aisle of the store and opened the top of the bottle to smell the product before you purchase? Have you ever returned one quickly to the shelf because it was unappealing, while lingering over a bottle that you found pleasing? If shopping with another, did you offer the pleasing smelling bottle to your companion to also smell to gain their insight and opinion? It is likely you do the same sharing mechanism with food you enjoy as well, offering your companion a taste of something you have that has brought your senses pleasure and provides a happy emotion. We share what we love, and that which brings us joy. Be it knowingly or subliminal, what we experience as soothing, pleasing, or enhancing our positive emotions is something we will share with those who are important to us.

So, understanding the basic need for humans to be impacted emotionally in a positive way in order for us to be satisfied and share our findings with others, it makes sense for us to examine our practice and surroundings to see what we offer and work to make the experience one that will be remembered and recommended to others. I encourage you to take a few minutes and consider the following as a means to understand how what you do, how you present and how your interactions can evoke emotional responses, and help gain and retain clients.

Whether you have a brick and mortar location, a rented space or are a mobile therapist, you bring to the table a palette of color and an array of scent opportunity that can set the mood for your services. Depending on the impression you wish to leave with your client with your hands on skills, you can also add visual and olfactory stimulus to add emphasis and help make your clients experience a deeper, richer one. While we are each individuals and each have our own style, it makes sense to help reinforce the positive emotions felt by your client by utilizing a few additions to your marketing and regular treatment.

Consider your business cards. Do they send the message you would like your clients to know about you without reading any of the text? In other words, are your business cards an accurate depiction of the feelings your services provide? I once received a business card from a therapist that was black, with red writing and red tribal art. My first thought was this was a card for a tattoo artist or musician. These colors evoked that mental image for me and the use of tribal art was reminiscent of a tattoo and the all black card and red font reminded me of rock and roll. The therapist was actually a mobile therapist, focusing on relaxation and chair massage. And while the card was indeed attractive, nothing about it spoke to the business or the care the therapist would provide. In the mind of the client, or prospective client, this impression can be a lasting one and when the need arises for a massage they may not correlate your name and business to the need, as it may not be in sync with their visual and emotional expectations. I am not saying to copy everyone else, I advocate your individualism. However, if you are working to build a clientele of people who will be interested in what you do and call you when they have a need, then being synchronous with your visuals and your services makes sense.

So how about your treatment room? What message are you sending with your décor? Consider the colors you use and the way your room smells. Let’s take the example from the above card and extrapolate that to the treatment room. With the marketing tool I was given by this therapist, I would envision a dark treatment room, dark linens and a bit of a vampire feel. Not really the feeling I would want when going to a therapist for stress management and relaxation. While the services of this therapist may be absolutely nothing of the sort, mentally I already see this image and will likely not choose to call upon them for my needs. In my mind, and certainly in the minds of other consumers, softer colors and soothing scents are what they often think of when they think of stress relief. Make sure your surroundings, whether they are static or brought along for the ride, are consistent with your treatment.

Bring soothing colors into your space by thinking about how they make you feel when you see them. While you may adore the latest shade of passion-neon-pink, jarring or unusual colors may create a negative mental check mark in the checklist of your clients mind. Keep in mind, soft palettes of color help sooth the mind and firm colors such as blues, greens and whites often create a more clinical feeling. Soft, earthy tones such as browns, beige, plum, slate, sage and taupe are wonderful neutrals that can work in any space, as they lend themselves easily to any services.

Creating a space and environment that enhances your treatment can include the sense of smell. Have you taken a good sniff of your linens? Do they smell fresh and clean or do they have a faint smell of old oil? Try hard to be objective, as the client’s sense of smell regarding your linens will likely be more acute than your own, as they are not in contact with your linens as much as you are. We can grow accustomed to a scent and even become immune to the objection as a direct result of familiarity. If your linens have become a bit less than enchanting, wash them with enzyme rich detergent designed for oil removal. If this is still not enough, invest in new linens. Your client will be enrobed in your linens, and anything less than a comforting and cocooning experience will leave a negative impression. You work too hard to have your client be put off by this highly correctable issue.

Consider the massage lubricants you use and whether aromatherapy may be of benefit. Essential oils are a powerful tool in bringing about the desired emotion within your client. Floral and soft, woodsy and earthy, clean and crisp, or citrus inspired, each can help you set a tone and feel for the treatment while helping to quiet the mind and stresses of your client. Think of your desired outcome and then set the tone by using sensory stimuli to help evoke this desired response. Just as a realtor stages a home, even going so far as to bake cookies during the open house to make people think of “home” and “family,” you can use the tools in your arsenal to help direct the client toward a mindset that will enable your treatment to have greater impact and a lasting positive emotion.

In total, the most important way you can encourage a client to return is to be an educated and capable therapist. Also take into consideration how what you do, offer and provide makes them feel. Consider how what they see and experience inside and outside your treatment impacts them emotionally and work to make those feelings be those of enjoyment, ease and success. When we feel good about something, we share the information with others, and return for more of what makes us happy. This can mean repeat clients and referrals which can bring you great rewards, both financially and emotionally. After all, who would refuse happy, returning clients who send their friends and family to you, too? In this scenario, everyone is happy!  View more of Angie Patrick’s articles at Massage Today.

 

At MassageWarehouse.com, massage therapist enjoy a one-stop shop for professional quality massage products at the lowest prices available.  Rely on Massage Warehouse massage therapy supply and equipment needs.  MassageWarehouse carries many brands including Earthlite, Bon Vital, Oakworks, Soothing touch, Biofreeze, Stronglite, Biotone and many more

 

Your Massage and Spa Business on a Budget

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Your Massage and Spa Business on a Budget
Smart shopping will allow you to grow your business while sticking to your budget!

Shop Massage Supplies Sale Items
When stocking up on supplies, start with the sale items. You may be surprised with how much of your supply needs you can find at a discount!

Buy in Bulk for Massage Lubricants
If you find yourself purchasing the same products every week, you can save big time by buying larger sizes or stocking up with larger quantites! Did you know many of our lubricants are available in 5 gallon pails?

Explore Massage Supply and Equipment Packages
Whether you’re looking for new equipment to expand your business or you just need to refresh your table linens, there are several opportunities to save with bundled packages!

buisness-on-a-budget

 

 

 

 

 

 

At MassageWarehouse.com, massage therapist enjoy a one-stop shop for professional quality massage products at the lowest prices available.  Rely on Massage Warehouse massage therapy supply and equipment needs.  MassageWarehouse carries many brands including Earthlite, Bon Vital, Oakworks, Soothing touch, Biofreeze, Stronglite, Biotone and many more

Gaining and Retaining Massage Clients: Eliciting Emotional Responses

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Gaining and Retaining Massage Clients: Eliciting Emotional Responses

By Angie Patrick

Massage Warehouse – Spa supplies and equipment provider

Humans are emotional creatures. This is neither good nor bad. It simply is.

We are wired to respond to situations, stimulation, sensory input and vocalizations in an emotional and sometimes even subliminal manner. Loud noises startle us and make us wary of danger, the smell of bacon makes us hungry, the sight of beauty can make us weep, and watching a puppy’s antics can make us laugh. Whether we want it to be or not, our entire response to the world is highly weighted on emotion. Once you understand this basic fact and embrace this as truth, it makes interaction and involvement with others more easily managed.

Business and marketing professionals bank on emotional responses from their clients in order to gain a stronger bond with their prospect. Banks and law firms often employ the use of blues and greens in their advertising to instill a sense of professionalism and strength. Fast food places focus on red and yellow hues to remind you of catsup and mustard, all with the idea of making you hungry. The same can be said of spas, as purple and violet hues, along with other soft or earthly colors, are used in the hopes of putting you in a peaceful state of mind and one that promotes being grounded, centered and relaxed. While not overt, the use of color can trigger emotional responses in us that can help sway our thinking to the mindset of the marketer, making their message more easily received and understood.

Just as sight is a sensory input that can trigger emotional responses, so is scent. Have you driven by a steakhouse or other food establishment and smelled the delicious aromas coming out of the stacks atop the building? I would bet smelling these scents immediately makes you think of the food you smell and entices you to treat yourself to their wares. Have you ever stood in the shampoo aisle of the store and opened the top of the bottle to smell the product before you purchase? Have you ever returned one quickly to the shelf because it was unappealing, while lingering over a bottle that you found pleasing? If shopping with another, did you offer the pleasing smelling bottle to your companion to also smell to gain their insight and opinion? It is likely you do the same sharing mechanism with food you enjoy as well, offering your companion a taste of something you have that has brought your senses pleasure and provides a happy emotion. We share what we love, and that which brings us joy. Be it knowingly or subliminal, what we experience as soothing, pleasing, or enhancing our positive emotions is something we will share with those who are important to us.

So, understanding the basic need for humans to be impacted emotionally in a positive way in order for us to be satisfied and share our findings with others, it makes sense for us to examine our practice and surroundings to see what we offer and work to make the experience one that will be remembered and recommended to others. I encourage you to take a few minutes and consider the following as a means to understand how what you do, how you present and how your interactions can evoke emotional responses, and help gain and retain clients.

Whether you have a brick and mortar location, a rented space or are a mobile therapist, you bring to the table a palette of color and an array of scent opportunity that can set the mood for your services. Depending on the impression you wish to leave with your client with your hands on skills, you can also add visual and olfactory stimulus to add emphasis and help make your clients experience a deeper, richer one. While we are each individuals and each have our own style, it makes sense to help reinforce the positive emotions felt by your client by utilizing a few additions to your marketing and regular treatment.

Consider your business cards. Do they send the message you would like your clients to know about you without reading any of the text? In other words, are your business cards an accurate depiction of the feelings your services provide? I once received a business card from a therapist that was black, with red writing and red tribal art. My first thought was this was a card for a tattoo artist or musician. These colors evoked that mental image for me and the use of tribal art was reminiscent of a tattoo and the all black card and red font reminded me of rock and roll. The therapist was actually a mobile therapist, focusing on relaxation and chair massage. And while the card was indeed attractive, nothing about it spoke to the business or the care the therapist would provide. In the mind of the client, or prospective client, this impression can be a lasting one and when the need arises for a massage they may not correlate your name and business to the need, as it may not be in sync with their visual and emotional expectations. I am not saying to copy everyone else, I advocate your individualism. However, if you are working to build a clientele of people who will be interested in what you do and call you when they have a need, then being synchronous with your visuals and your services makes sense.

So how about your treatment room? What message are you sending with your décor? Consider the colors you use and the way your room smells. Let’s take the example from the above card and extrapolate that to the treatment room. With the marketing tool I was given by this therapist, I would envision a dark treatment room, dark linens and a bit of a vampire feel. Not really the feeling I would want when going to a therapist for stress management and relaxation. While the services of this therapist may be absolutely nothing of the sort, mentally I already see this image and will likely not choose to call upon them for my needs. In my mind, and certainly in the minds of other consumers, softer colors and soothing scents are what they often think of when they think of stress relief. Make sure your surroundings, whether they are static or brought along for the ride, are consistent with your treatment.

Bring soothing colors into your space by thinking about how they make you feel when you see them. While you may adore the latest shade of passion-neon-pink, jarring or unusual colors may create a negative mental check mark in the checklist of your clients mind. Keep in mind, soft palettes of color help sooth the mind and firm colors such as blues, greens and whites often create a more clinical feeling. Soft, earthy tones such as browns, beige, plum, slate, sage and taupe are wonderful neutrals that can work in any space, as they lend themselves easily to any services.

Creating a space and environment that enhances your treatment can include the sense of smell. Have you taken a good sniff of your linens? Do they smell fresh and clean or do they have a faint smell of old massage oil? Try hard to be objective, as the client’s sense of smell regarding your linens will likely be more acute than your own, as they are not in contact with your linens as much as you are. We can grow accustomed to a scent and even become immune to the objection as a direct result of familiarity. If your linens have become a bit less than enchanting, wash them with enzyme rich detergent designed for oil removal. If this is still not enough, invest in new linens. Your client will be enrobed in your linens, and anything less than a comforting and cocooning experience will leave a negative impression. You work too hard to have your client be put off by this highly correctable issue.

Consider the massage lubricants you use and whether aromatherapy may be of benefit. Essential oils are a powerful tool in bringing about the desired emotion within your client. Floral and soft, woodsy and earthy, clean and crisp, or citrus inspired, each can help you set a tone and feel for the treatment while helping to quiet the mind and stresses of your client. Think of your desired outcome and then set the tone by using sensory stimuli to help evoke this desired response. Just as a realtor stages a home, even going so far as to bake cookies during the open house to make people think of “home” and “family,” you can use the tools in your arsenal to help direct the client toward a mindset that will enable your treatment to have greater impact and a lasting positive emotion.

In total, the most important way you can encourage a client to return is to be an educated and capable therapist. Also take into consideration how what you do, offer and provide makes them feel. Consider how what they see and experience inside and outside your treatment impacts them emotionally and work to make those feelings be those of enjoyment, ease and success. When we feel good about something, we share the information with others, and return for more of what makes us happy. This can mean repeat clients and referrals which can bring you great rewards, both financially and emotionally. After all, who would refuse happy, returning clients who send their friends and family to you, too? In this scenario, everyone is happy!  View more of Angie Patrick’s articles at Massage Today.

At MassageWarehouse.com, massage therapist enjoy a one-stop shop for professional quality massage products at the lowest prices available.  Rely on Massage Warehouse massage therapy supply and equipment needs.  MassageWarehouse carries many brands including Earthlite, Bon Vital, Oakworks, Soothing touch, Biofreeze, Stronglite, Biotone and many more

Business Building Blocks

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Business Building Blocks

By Angie Patrick

Massage Warehouse – Massage equipment and products provider

Defining Change and Learning to Understand Why People Fear It

My cousin used to say, “change is change” and I thought it was one of the strangest things a person could say. Well, of course change means change. I mean, what else could it mean? But what exactly is change? How do you define it? How do you quantify it? How do you even begin to endeavor upon making a change if it is such an esoteric term? Why do people fear it so much? Why is it so hard to do? Why are we so resistant to change?

According to Merriam-Webster, change can be defined as the following:

A. To make different in some particular.

B. To give a different position, course, or direction to.

C. To make a shift from one to another.

D. To undergo transformation, transition, or substitution.

So, none of the definitions listed above say to maim, mutilate, slay or dismember. They do not suggest the end of life as we know it or the approach of the apocalypse. It simply means something is about to become something other than that in which we have become accustomed. This can be for the worse or for the better, but at the center of any change is either action or inaction. The outcome of change often depends on the person, business or entity’s intentions and motivations, so clarity of the reasons for change can remove many of the inherent fears we all feel when we hear the word change.

In business, I can say with a very high level of acuity that I have been the catalyst for, as well as the recipient of, change. Change can mean positive outcomes when you are trying to do all the right things for all the right reasons. When you know you need to make a change for the better for your massage practice, you set about making those changes by educating yourself on what your next steps should be. That may mean hiring a consultant to provide direction, or even accomplishing tasks yourself to get the ball moving. It might mean taking a class or two to gain specific knowledge in a new massage technique or protocol so you can impact change in your own practice. It might even mean taking a hard and honest look at your business, where you are in your personal growth, and look at the most difficult thing to change: YOU. Sometimes, our fear of the unknown can cause paralysis in our business because we become so comfortable in our cocoons we resist the driving urge to spread our wings. To do this means a transformation must take place, and sometimes this transformation can be scary. But also, the transformation can be cathartic.

Sometimes, you simply need to break out of old thought patterns that can contain your creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. The excuse, “this is always how we have done it,” does not mean, “this is a new way to do it,” is a bad thing. Opening your mind to possibilities is a huge harbinger of positive outcomes. Thinking outside your comfort zone can make you stretch to meet your desired goals. Get out of your own way; step out of the fear box and into a world of potential. It really has to begin with your own thoughts and perceptions, because no change will ever be positive in your mind if you will not open up long enough to examine the possibilities.

This is true of changes that are business related, but also personal in nature. I have personally embarked on a mission to change myself and my health. This is not an easy thing to do, because old habits die hard. Eating balanced meals and exercising has never been my forte, and now it is becoming my norm. It is a change I made with will coming from deep inside and with great determination. My goal is simple, be healthy, reduce my stress levels and lose this weight that has plagued me my whole life. It is slow going, but it IS going. And I am thankful I recognized this need for change before it was too late.

In your world, you may have concerns about where you work, what you do, who you do it with and where you are headed. Change means many things to many people. And it happens all around us every day. The world is in a constant state of flux, and changes with each moment that passes. It happens because someone is brave enough to do that which has never been done before. Someone has found a need and strives to fill it. Technology finds a faster more user friendly interface and rolls it out to the masses. It is a constant, and it requires a first step.

As we hear the “economic experts” say we are emerging from the past few years of downturn in our economy, I have to stop and think what would make these changes? In the housing market, it is because people need a place to live, and are beginning to simply step out and invest again. In sales, people are beginning to feel more confident, albeit ever so slightly, and are willing to turn loose a dollar while watching the bottom line. So in essence, people are making these changes, one by one, stepping out and testing the waters. This is seen as positive growth and momentum by the experts. It took a shift in mindset, and a bit of bravery, but it is happening all around us.

Ultimately, change is up to you. If you do not like where you are, move. If you do not like what you are doing, do something different. If you do not like what you see, speak out. If you want to grow your business or even within yourself, you have to take the first steps. Toughen up, cupcake and be brave! No one said change was easy, but anything worth having is worth working for. If you desire it, it is worth the effort. Don’t settle for “what is” at the expense and forfeiture of what “might be.” Be open, be honest, and most of all, be true to your own self worth. You are the only one who can better yourself and your circumstances. I promise, you are worth it. View more of Angie Patrick’s articles at Massage Today.

Which is Right for You? Entrepreneur or Employee?

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Entrepreneur or Employee? Which is Right for You?

By Angie Patrick

There is no denying the massage and wellness industry is here to stay. People are becoming far more proactive with their health care and are looking to alternatives to heavy medications and a costly doctor visit.

Recognizing there is opportunity for those who choose to chase it, there are many ways you can be involved in the massage health care field. You can be your own boss and open your own practice, you can contract your services to other entities, or you can become an employee. Let’s discuss these opportunities and I want to offer you some points to ponder as you are making your decisions regarding how you will proceed in your career.

While I am cognizant and wholly recognize and respect that those who choose to enter the massage field are compassionate, giving, kind and generous, I am also here to tell you that you must be able to make a living in order for you to be all these things while utilizing the education you have paid to obtain. I know many therapists who feel somewhat guilty for having to even charge for a massage and then hugely undervalue their services as a result. This makes making ends meet much harder than it should be. While I applaud this giving nature, and I certainly do not knock this in any way, (as heaven KNOWS the world could use more people with a giving heart) I would say this type of individual may not make the best entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur means building a business to make a profit. If you find you feel a twinge of guilt to charge the appropriate and customary rates to provide your skills, you might want to look at becoming an employee.

Entrepreneur or Employee Entrepreneurship means being competitive. Do not get me wrong, I do not consider being competitive a bad thing in the least! (I have been known to be quite competitive and it is part of my nature.) Nor do I consider it a bad thing to wish to provide your skills free or nearly free of charge. (I have also been known to do that on occasion as well.) What I am saying is it takes a specific mind set to build a prosperous and profitable practice. You must be willing to take chances, to take charge, to stand fast on your pricing, to manage your marketing, your brand, your retail, your facility, your overhead, your ordering of supply, your capital expenditures for equipment, and your own book keeping to name just a few of the responsibilities of owning a thriving business. Many are satisfied with making only what is needed to survive, while others feel the drive to build a bigger, better more “bionic” practice that can support them in a bit grander fashion. Neither is a bad decision, but being honest with yourself about the inner desires you have, as well as the skill set you have is paramount to your success in either direction.

As an employee, you have the luxury of not having to order your own products, you often have benefits and you can usually count on a pretty regular paycheck. This is less risky and can allow you to do that which you love while not having to work at the actual upkeep of a business. You come in, you do your thing, you complete your side work and you go home. You can leave it and not think about it again until you go back to work. For many, this is a blessing. I have to say I can certainly see the appeal of being an employee, especially from a personal time perspective. An entrepreneur rarely has the opportunity to “clock out” and not think about their business. It is always on their mind, and they are constantly vigilant for any opportunity they might find to increase traffic and support more clients. Rarely are they ever “off the clock.” The actual time performing massage is just the tip of the iceberg for the entrepreneur, while for an employee it is the crux of the job, with little or no additional responsibility for operational expenses or further financial risk. Depending on how your personality is wired, both might have appeal.

For those who see both sides of the coin as appealing and would really prefer to have a little bit of both worlds, I might suggest becoming a contract employee. Being a contract employee is really being your own boss, as you will regulate the hours you work, the facilities you will work within, and the number of clients you see daily. You may or may not have to provide your own equipment or supply, as those needs can change with the contracts in which you enter. You are responsible for your own taxes and reporting, but you get many perks from an earnings perspective that you can use at tax time. These should be discussed with your tax professional for greater clarity, but it is certainly something to entertain when you are deciding to become a contract employee. This can be a rewarding and positive way to enter into the field, but it is not without risk.

An example of a contractor relationship would be that of a chiropractic office that works closely with an independent therapist, sometimes even leasing them space within the facility, and paying them per client. Depending on the agreement with the doctor, you may receive all or only a portion of the charges to the client. You should be skilled at negotiation and not be afraid to ask for what you want. Contract employment is not for the timid, and you are your own best advocate. Without the ability to negotiate in the contractual relationship, you can often find yourself with the fuzzy end of the lollipop at the end of the day, working and making little for your efforts. Savvy relational skills are a must for a contractor.

Just as it is with the world around us, it takes all kinds of people to make a community. No way is better or more glamorous than another; it is simply a different means to the same end. We do not enter this field without the desire to help others. This is really the ultimate goal. How you go about finding your niche in this growing marketplace is really up to you. You need not choose only one option. As a matter of fact, I encourage you to try each of them on for size and see where you feel the most comfy. At the end of the day, you have to pay your bills and you need to be sure you are doing something that makes you happy. Find your happy spot and dig in. You can have it your own unique way, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.  View more of Angie Patrick’s articles at Massage Today.

Massage Warehouse – Massage products and equipment provider

Is Saving Money COSTING You Money?

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

by Angie Patrick

Strange question, Angie! How on Earth can SAVING money actually COST you money? As improbable and counter intuitive as that statement may seem, there is some truth in there that can be easily overlooked, and cost you big bucks on your bottom line. There are smart ways to save, and there are ways that are not so smart. Let’s start with the not so smart ways first.

If, for the sake of saving a few shekels, you have backed off of your service level, needed staffing, benefit programs, multiple visit discounts or any other program you had in place to differentiate your business from your competition, you have cost yourself money. Why, you ask? Well, you have built your business on the backs of all of those things you are now looking to cut. Without them, will customers perceive you as the same company, or will they search elsewhere for the service, perks, and discounts you used to offer? Yes, you may save cash in the short term, but if you calculate the cost of obtaining a customer, plus the cost of keeping them, you will find that cutting in the wrong places has cost you far more than you may have thought you saved! Customers are golden, and losing one hurts not only for the moment, but for the long haul. If you ever want to reclaim that customer, it will now cost you twice what it did to gain them in the first place as now you need to incentivize them to return, which leads to surrendering your profit margin to correct an error on your part for giving them a reason to look elsewhere.

Consider even the smallest cuts and how they will be percieved. If your clients are accustomed to a lovely cup of herb tea or bottled water after their treatment, they consider it part of the experience you provide. Cutting this is tantamount to cutting service level in the eyes of your client, as they have now become accustomed to the perk. Without it, they may perceive your business as failing, and have a small excuse to look elsewhere. Once they do, and are successful, you have now lost a client over a cup of tea /bottle of water. You saved 20 bucks at the store, but you lost a client and therefore revenue totaling far more than tea for 100 people. Sounds small, I know, but EVERYTHING is about perception. You may well be the most magical and amazing therapist on the planet. You could even make people levitate with your skills, but if you begin to let your client see you tightening the belt on their experience, you will lose them. It is that simple.

Find other ways to save without sacrificing anything to do with the client perception of your business. Smarter ways to cut back are ways that impact your personal knowledge of the business, not cutting in the eyes of the client. One way may be to look at your expenses, and see if you can consolidate some of them. Let’s take a look at how you might be able to do this without much upheaval in your daily life.

Take a long look at your vendors. Is it possible to combine your purchases and consolidate 3 vendors to one? In our hometown, you can get special incentives and discounts when you bundle all of your utilities into one package. I save about 20% when I utilize this service, and while I did have to pay a set up fee, I can lessen my monthly bill and therefore free up regular cash flow.

Read more at Massage Today

Separating Business from Pleasure…

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

By Angie Patrick

In the past weeks, I have had two emails asking me advice. In both instances the Massage Therapist is asking me how I would suggest handling friends and family as a client, especially when they sometimes pay less for the same work, and often do not show up for appointments on time.

I can certainly see how having family and friends as massage clients can be beneficial, but then you have to also consider the “dark side” if you have friends and family that really push the envelope and take special allowances because they “know you”. It can put you in a very difficult position indeed and finding a way to salvage the friendship while putting your foot down can be a daunting task.

If you find this is happening to you, and you can read the words above and identify completely, then you need to read below. You can have business and pleasure together, but there have to be some lines of delineation drawn. Once you have these parameters set up, then you should be able to either enjoy working on the friends and family that can respect your position or you can politely cull those who have questionable regard for your livelihood from the herd.

One thing you can do before entering into any kind of “friendly” client arrangement would be to make sure you are crystal clear in your expectations, and that you communicate this to your friend or family. Be sure you take the time to explain while you are so glad you have that person in your world, you also have a massage business to run. Set the ground rules up front about timeliness and cancellations, and set a fair price from the start. If you choose to discount, that is certainly your prerogative, but be sure you stand fast on this. Waffling is weakness, and it is bad business. While you are trying to dance around and save the feelings of a friend, you are spending time on something other than growing your massage business with full paying customers. Be concise and clear from the start and avoid this dilemma.

If you are already in a relationship with a “friendly” client that is wearing on you and you feel you are being taken advantage of, then it is high time for a face to face conversation among friends about your feelings. Honesty, regardless how painful, is always the best policy. Friends and family may not even be aware they are impinging on your professional livelihood, and may well be open to listening and working to make things better.

When you have these conversations, summon your courage and make the following points:

  • You love that person.
  • You want to speak with them about a difficult subject, but you hope the relationship is strong enough to be wholly honest.
  • Massage is not a hobby for you, it is your career.
  • Management of your time is paramount to you and to your practice. When the client runs late, you cannot adjust the remainder of your calendar to accommodate the single late client. You hold this rule with the rest of your massage clients, and you need to have the same hold true for them as well.
  • Because you want them to benefit from massage and from the education you have obtained, you would like to set them up on a regular basis, and for this massage treatment your pricing will be _____________.

If after this conversation, the person is less than understanding of your point of view, and does not see it as a problem, then it may be time to make some hard choices and politely refer them to another massage therapist for treatment. I know that sounds hard to do, but in the long run, it may be best for you, your practice, and your peace of mind. Ultimately, it is up to you how lenient you wish to be with friends and family. You may be able to handle the issue with no troubles! But for others, it is not so easy. Taking some steps at the onset of the relationship can prevent an issue later, and being honest with yourself and your client about expectations and pricing can alleviate misunderstandings leading to angst on your part.

If you have faced situations similar to this, share with us how you worked things out. More people than you may realize find themselves in this boat, and could likely use some additional pointers and tips in how to hand it.

In the mean time, love your family, love your friends, and be sure to draw your lines clearly whenever the twain shall meet.

Other articles on Massage Today.

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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