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Massage Today
June, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 06

The Winner of the Game

By Jenn Sommermann, LCMT

In my opinion, massage therapists' success rates are incredibly low. Of course, success means different things to different people, but I am talking about the kind of success that means being able to pay your bills and still have some funds left over for savings.

All too often, I hear my colleagues talk about how difficult it is to make a living in this profession. Many therapists are forced to work a job in another profession to be able to support themselves and their families. There also is evidence to support the fact that many massage therapists leave the industry within three to five years. This is astounding to me, considering it takes a fair amount of time and money to become a massage therapist in the first place. Why are so many therapists not realizing success and leaving the industry too soon?

Attitude plays a large part in the big picture. I believe how you approach something has everything to do with its outcome. There is a mental strategy that might help some of you. It's a shift of mind, but it has very specific actions to back it up. Any mental practice is only as good as the actions that follow. Merely thinking about something doesn't work. What you do to make your thoughts an "action plan" will have everything to do with the results you achieve.

For the sake of argument, let's talk about success in terms of finances. Being able to pay your bills, put some away for savings and live comfortably is the goal. The first thing to do is have a mental shift in attitude. So, consider success in the massage industry a game. That's the first thing to think about. As with any game, someone comes out a winner. Everyone wants to be the winner, but not everyone can be. There have to be some losers. Unfortunately, there are a lot of losers in this industry; therapists who, for one reason or another, just can't make a go of it as a career. In my opinion, they have not taken the action steps to realize the success they want.

It's this simple. The winner of the game is the therapist who understands massage marketing and is willing to put the time and effort into it and apply it to their business. These are the action steps necessary to achieve the dream, accomplish the goals and obtain the success you desire. Without this effort and action plan, there is no success.

Amazing statistics support the notion that many more massage therapists can be successful in this industry. There also are statistics indicating the market is becoming saturated, with hundreds of graduates coming out of schools and more schools opening all the time. For example, the AMTA states there are 300,000 massage therapists in the U.S. Additionally, 47 million people received massages last year. No doubt, people are more willing than ever to spend money on their health care, paying to take care of themselves with personal training, chiropractic and massage. Ask yourself, what are you willing to do to tap into these clients and set yourself apart from the sea of other MTs?

The only thing that's going to determine whether you reap the rewards of a great economic time or suffer the pain of a saturated profession is your understanding of massage marketing and your willingness to sharpen your skills every year. That's right, every year. All too often, therapists flock to hands-on classes to sharpen their massage skills. The hope is that this will make them more successful. But this just isn't true. Successful massage therapists are the ones found in the marketing classes or the other practice-management seminars, reading literature on successful businesses and sharpening their business skills to take back to their practices. Once back on their home turf, they put the time and effort into what they've learned in order to apply these newfound skills.

Time and effort seem like vague terms, so let me elaborate with examples. When I say time, I mean about 20 percent of your anticipated client hours. If you want to see 20 clients per week, then four hours should be spent on marketing efforts per week. When I say effort, I mean doing something that might be outside your current comfort zone. Meeting new people and networking are the best ways to boost business. Commit to these things and watch your business and bank account grow.

I want you to be successful. I don't want you to be another statistic, leaving the industry after only three years. Be the therapist willing to learn about massage marketing and devote the energy necessary to achieve the dream of success. Set yourself apart from the others by committing to nothing less. This is my wish for you.

Click here for previous articles by Jenn Sommermann, LCMT.


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