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Massage Today
October, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 10

High Tech/High Touch Can Mean Much Growth for LMTs

By Cary Bayer

At the end of the 1980s, futurist John Naisbitt wrote a book that envisioned, among other things, a more sensitive world growing out of a response to the high-tech revolution. His Megatrends camped out at the top of the New York Times best-seller list for nearly two years, selling 8 million copies in 57 countries.

Naisbitt's crystal ball was so polished that he could see the emerging trend, "high tech/high touch," a trend with much to teach massage therapists.

High tech is embodied by left-brained engineers and people like Bill Gates - people with analytical skills and a highly developed, rational approach to seeing reality. On the other hand, the eyes of high-touch, right-brained people often cross when confronted with a computer manual. But, they might be extremely gifted at undoing knots in someone's neck. High touch is embodied by massage therapists, who employ a high degree of touch (literally) throughout the day to make a difference in the lives of every client. The massive penetration of your work in the marketplace also could revolutionize the world.

Naisbitt's crystal ball saw that hundreds of millions of people would have a strong urge for a high-touch response to an increasingly high-tech world. We're forced to spend so much time on new high-tech activities like "Googling," "TiVo-ing" and "IM-ing," that we crave time with something far more high touch. Witness the phenomena of an increase in the numbers of people getting massaged and the spa industry explosion.

In 1989, just before Megatrends was published, I used to buy my airplane tickets while sitting in front of Renee, a delightful travel agent in Woodstock, N.Y. Today, I buy my airplane tickets while sitting in cyberspace. Something high touch got lost when I stopped taking a load off my feet and letting Renee handle my itinerary. So, it's not surprising that a forthcoming stint in front of my computer screen will result in a flight to Phoenix for a multi-day package at the Enchantment Spa in the powerful vortex among the red rocks of magical Sedona. High tech literally creates high touch.

In 2003, for example, there were 136 million visits to spas in the U.S., up from 95 million just four years before, according to a study conducted for the International SPA Association by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Revenues soared from $5 billion in 1999 to $11.2 billion in 2003. That's more than $1,750,000,000 more than was taken in by American movie theaters that year. The domestic spa industry was employing some 287,000 people in 2003, up from 151,000 in 1999, according to the study. That opened up a lot of work for LMTs.

Between August 2004 and July 2005, 47 million Americans received massages, up 2 million from the corresponding period the year before. Those numbers will climb. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, licensed massage therapists can anticipate a 21 percent to 35 percent increase in job opportunities through 2012. And, it will be easy for massage therapists to meet the demand because the average LMT is grossly underemployed, doing only about 38 massages per month.

Two out of every three adults are walking around with tremendous stress in their shoulders and necks. What's more, only 17 percent of men have been massaged in the past year; more than eight of every 10 men you see haven't been massaged in more than 365 days. Talk about an opportunity. If the "metrosexual" male trend continues, expect a huge increase in the number of American men who will plunk down $70 apiece for an hour of rejuvenation on your table.

When you add that to the research finding that 73 percent of people who receive massage would recommend it to others, it's high time you start asking your clients to recommend massage to their friends. Look at the numbers: The average LMT has the time to easily triple his or her business. Suppose, for example, you work at a day spa or two. At least two far more lucrative choices are available to you. Number one, you could quit and open your own massage business. Number two, since day spas are growing at a faster rate than massage therapy, you could open a day spa of your own and have others work for you, doing massages, facials and nails. Suppose you choose the latter option. Instead of having half or more of the massage fee taken from you by your spa, half or more of the fee that someone else gets from the massage they give at your spa can go to you. Talk about a 180-degree turnaround! Imagine the turnaround that could make in your financial life, to say nothing of the excitement that comes with expressing who you are in the world through the work you love to do. You're in the right line of work, with demand intensifying for a high-touch response to the painful effects of a high-tech world that's completely out of balance. You're there to help restore that balance.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, isn't any kind of a mission impossible. It's a mission very possible, a mission delightful, a mission that grows out of your heart and soul. It's a mission to start communicating: first to yourself, as to what you want, and then to others. Once you know you would like to be ready to service the soon-to-come greater demand for your talents, it's imperative to set your life up for it. That means, if you're massaging entirely out of someone else's business, carve out a slice, even if it's a small one, for yourself to do massage in your private business. Even if it's just one afternoon per week, it's a start. Once you fill that on a regular basis, add a morning or an evening, or whatever time frame works best for you. If you're already operating your own business and are considering expanding it from a one-person business (you) to include others, start looking around to find those people. The space would be the next item on your agenda. And remember ... if you build it, they will come. "They" are dozens of new clients.

Click here for previous articles by Cary Bayer.


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