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Massage Today
October, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 10

Different from the Rest of Us

By Perry Isenberg

We all know managing a business encompasses a number of responsibilities. One of the most important considerations is the hiring and supervising of staff. However, for some businesses, the hiring of employees is not nearly as important as the retention of employees.

Certain business services and products are just more personal than others. I don't think you would notice a change in counter help at your local fast-food chain, or a change in cashiers at your local grocery store or gas station. You would, however, be a little taken aback if the therapist you've gone to for years was no longer at the clinic you go to, or if your stylist was no longer at the salon you visit.

Many people oversimplify business. I hear time and time again how common business issues are resolved with cookie-cutter solutions. Although these issues may be common, meaningful solutions are not as common or universally applicable to individual businesses.

For example, some restaurants use "early bird" specials to create an early "push" for the dinner time period. I don't believe this strategy would work well for a massage business. In fact, I believe it could cheapen the position of professional massage. It is important that massage therapists understand the unique attributes of their services (as compared to other businesses) and recognize that certain issues need to be handled accordingly. Not only is your field specialized in many unique ways, but it is also built on relationships with the client.

Additionally, if you are constantly turning over therapists in your practice, you are losing business and wasting time and money to of hire and train new staff. The clients who have come to depend on your practice, and have found a therapist they like, are likely to be upset when they do not have their regular therapist. They probably won't want to come back to your business, and will follow the therapist instead. It will become expensive for if you do not stop this from happening.

In the massage profession, more than almost any other profession, high employee turnover may be the single "kiss of death" to a business trying to grow. Review your current business strategies to ensure turnover is kept to a minimum. How do you persuade an excellent therapist who has his or her own list of clients to work evenings and weekends to work for you? Let's face it, people leave jobs for a variety of reasons, and not all of them are bad. Some leave because of a better offer; some leave because they're in the wrong profession. When you start seeing a high turnover of therapists in your own business, you definitely have a problem. If this is the case, you will need to ask yourself some serious questions

The first question to ask yourself is: What kind of supervisor are you? Do you unknowingly foster an inhospitable environment? In that case, only the toughest of employees will succeed and stay with you. Is that what you want? Do you have meetings on a regular basis in which the employees are free to speak their minds?

Second, have you ever found yourself ignoring an employee when he or she is talking to you? Do you ask your employees how their jobs are going, or if they are comfortable and happy in their work environment? Do you encourage employees to better themselves? Do you reward your employees when they do an exemplary job? And are supportive of their needs, recognize when there is a problem, and try to find a win-win solution for everyone involved?

Don't be a cookie-cutter supervisor with cookie-cutter solutions, or you could be stuck with a lot of crumbs! Reward and value your employees. They make a business grow. The rewards and incentives do not always have to be monetary -- give a gift certificate for lunch somewhere, or an afternoon off. Make it fun, like a contest. This strategy makes goal-setting much more palatable. Also, when you give your employees independence and trust, employees become self-motivated, ready to take the initiative and devote more energy to doing their jobs. In the end, you will have happy employees who just might be in for the long haul!

Until next time, be healthy, be good, and stay focused and motivated.

Click here for previous articles by Perry Isenberg.


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