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Massage Today
September, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 09

A Return on Your Investment

By Cliff Korn, BS, LMT, NCTMB

In case you haven't noticed, massage therapy isn't a high paying profession. While it's one of the very best ways I can think of to make a living, the sheer work involved in establishing a viable practice, the physical limits on how many clients can be seen in a day and the economic variables of what can be charged per session, all combine to make darn few six-figure-earners in massage therapy.

Because of that, we attract many into our profession who are motivated less by money than by the ability to have a positive impact on the lives of others. Because we are richer in skills and capabilities than we are in dollars, it's important for us to squeeze every bit of value out of the investments we make in our businesses.

It was with particular delight that I made an investment of my time and money to attend the annual convention of the Florida State Massage Therapy Association. The FSMTA runs what is, in my opinion, the biggest and best educational and networking opportunity for massage therapists in the country.

I've mentioned the benefits of attending conferences and conventions for massage therapists many times in this editorial space. The FSMTA's offering in this arena certainly is one others can emulate. As I see it, there really are four separate areas of interest in a venue of this size: continuing education, the exhibit hall, business networking and vacation.

The continuing education component is the one that makes it possible for massage therapists to attend and expense it to their businesses. I have never seen any other organization do as good a job of bringing a diverse and useful collection of educational opportunities to attendees. They even provided one session designed specifically for new therapists to give them the business and mindset tools necessary to grow into their new profession quickly. Billed as the "Successful Start Program," more than 400 individuals learned how to promote their practice from some of the most successful businesses in the massage industry. In addition, the experienced therapists attending this convention had three full days of educational opportunities broken into 48 distinct workshop sessions to choose from, taught by 22 of the country's top presenters. It doesn't get better than this.

The exhibit hall was a trade show conducted by more than 6o of the industry's major companies. Equipment manufacturers, continuing education providers, suppliers, media companies and others providing service and support to massage therapists were all located in one place and available to answer questions about what is new and different in the industry and how they can help you become more successful.

Being in a situation where you can't turn around without tripping over another massage therapist makes it easy to network. I love getting into discussions with my peers about practice issues. The in-depth discussions over lunch or dinner and the quickie exchanges in the elevator were all helpful. The opportunity to discover what is coming up in the profession and plan for future time and money investments based upon the experiences of others is invaluable.

The fourth area of interest is one rarely discussed, but very underrated. The FSMTA tends to hold its conventions at wonderful resort locations. This year it was at the Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate, a luxury resort hotel only a short drive from all the Orlando attractions. I believe many attendees and their families found this resort to be a perfect vacation spot and used the opportunity to combine a business event with personal rest and relaxation. One of my highlights was drifting along in the 850-foot, winding lazy river making its way throughout the pool area. The fact that convention attendees were able to take advantage of a luxury resort at room rates more closely associated with mid-range motels makes this type of dual-purpose event a no-brainer. The fact that a needed vacation is possible in combination with deductible business expenses takes some of the sting out of lost income from being away from your practice.

I enjoyed having discussions with a representative of one of the newer support people in the industry. A business coach, she was learning more about the massage profession so she could better help practitioners and business owners plan and execute effective business plans. I think it is indicative of the great progress we have made in the last 10 to 15 years that we can now support (and need) these ancillary businesses other industries have taken for granted for so long. I think the emerging increase in practice-building seminars coupled with coaches and business-development resources speaks well for where we are as a profession.

So, to me, this was not just a business expense, but an event in which I received a good return on my investment. I was able to recognize my friend and Massage Today sports massage columnist, Michael McGillicuddy, as he passed the gavel after four years of service as association president; I was able to share a golf cart with a long-time friend I rarely see; I learned something completely new to help my clients by completing a workshop in Kinesio taping; I renewed professional contacts and met new people who help me remain current on what is happening in our profession; I enjoyed dinner and a glass of wine with some life-long friends I first met professionally; and I came back to my practice with new capabilities and renewed "heart." I don't know how you can expect success without investment, and I think the very best investment is made in one's self.

Thanks for listening.

Massage Today encourages letters to the editor to discuss matters related to the publication's content. Letters may be published in a future issue or online. Please send all correspondence by e-mail to , or by regular mail to:

Massage Today
P.O. Box 4139
Huntington Beach, CA 92605

Former editor of Massage Today, Cliff is owner of Windham Health Center Neuromuscular Therapy LLC. He is nationally certified in therapeutic massage & bodywork and is licensed as a massage therapist by the states of New Hampshire and Florida. Cliff is a member of the International Association of Healthcare Practitioners; a professional member and past president of the New Hampshire chapter of the American Massage Therapy Association; a certified member of the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, Inc.; and a past chairman of the board of directors of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork.


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