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Massage Today
December, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 12

Year in Review

By David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

As 2008 winds down, I am reminded of all that I have to be grateful for: good health, my friends and family, and, for the most part, a thriving business and practice. Yet at the same time, I am concerned about the future.

The economy has reached record lows and has negatively impacted massage therapists everywhere. Right now, you may be wondering if it's possible for your clinic, spa or outcall practice to weather these storms. The answer is yes. However, surviving these challenging times will depend largely on how resourceful and creative you are when it comes to your business.

During the course of the past two years, I have had the privilege of writing numerous articles for Massage Today that offer practical solutions about how to create a flourishing massage therapy practice. I'd like to take a moment to refer you to them now. Whether you are a new or experienced therapist, this article will provide you with a cheat sheet to my previous articles. Think of it as a solutions guide that will help you find new ways to energize and reinvigorate your practice.

Eliminating Blind Spots

Our thoughts determine our focus, which influences our actions and effectiveness. If we think negative, unproductive thoughts, we produce outcomes at a lower level. An example of this would include looking for your keys while continually saying, "I can't find my keys." Stating that you can't find your keys over and over simply reinforces the negative situation that you are trying to avoid. Or at the very least, it creates a blind spot in your thinking. Are you creating blind spots in your career? Then you need to focus on solutions. If business is slow, don't focus on how slow it is. Instead, focus on what needs to be implemented to turn things around. One rule of thumb is to focus 80 percent of your time and energy on 20 percent of the things that matter to most to you. (Read: "The 80/20 Rule: Maximizing the Return on your Investment," MT March 2008.)

Attaining Your Goals

We must take a few minutes every day to work on attaining our goals. What are three things you could do right now that could help your practice, but that you have delayed because you are fearful of the unknown or of possible rejection? To put those thoughts and fears behind you, be proactive. Make a list twice as long of all of the good things that will happen by taking action. You will immediately have clarity and a desire to move forward. (Read: "The Power of a Minute," MT June 2007, and "The Power of the List," MT January 2008.)

Balancing the Systems

Just as the body has many systems that work in harmony with one another, so must the systems in your practice work in harmony. Is your practice operating as efficiently as possible? What isn't working that you would you like to change? (Read: "Massage Your Balancing Act" MT June 2008; "All Systems Go" MT August 2007.)

Keep Your Skills Sharp

They say "If you don't use it, you lose it." I still regularly treat clients at my clinic and love to receive massage. I learn a lot from every treatment I receive. When was the last time you received a massage? Are you following the same recommendations that you tell your clients?

What about hands-on seminars? Have you studied anything unique lately? (Read: "The Body Is in Charge," MT February 2007; "Feeling Is Believing," MT April 2007.) What textbook could you read to improve your knowledge and skills? Are you reading any articles on treatment? (Read: "Safety Protocols: Carotid Artery," MT October 2008; "Subscapularis: Overlooked and Undertreated," MT November 2008.) For many, DVD programs with accompanying photo manuals are aids. This type of tool supports hands-on seminars by allowing you to study prior to or after a training.

Maintaining a Polished and Professional Demeanor

Imagine walking into a store to buy a specific item. You locate the item, which is manufactured by two different companies and sitting on the shelf, side by side. Each is priced the same. One box is nice, new and brightly colored; the other box looks like it was run over by a truck. Which one would you buy? Now imagine that you are a potential client or employer looking to hire a massage therapist. Do you think that a therapist's overall appearance and actions might influence your purchase? Are you dressing or "packaging" yourself in the right light? What sets you apart from other therapists in your area? Do you specialize in a particular modality or possess special training? Are you setting high standards of care by asking your clients the right questions? Are you communicating to clients that you are highly skilled and knowledgeable in your field? (Read: "Questions With Direction," MT September 2008.)

Tools of the Trade

All health care providers use paperwork, instruments and devices to gather information, as well as to evaluate, educate and treat their clients. Pain scales are great tools to show progress over a series of therapy sessions. Many massage therapists take postural analysis photos to document their client's progress and educate their clients about the benefits of treatment. Trigger-point charts help you explain referred pain patterns to your clients, which gives them confidence that you can design a treatment plan to help them. (Read: "Charting your Progress: Visuals for Success," MT February 2008; "Simple Answers Create Positive Results," MT May 2008; "Getting Comfortable With Postural Analysis," MT July 2008.)

Building Your Practice

Does the community know about you and your business? How do potential clients contact you? Have you distributed your cards and/or brochures in health food stores, gyms, and chiropractic and medical offices? Have you met the tennis and golf professionals in your area? Have you considered writing an article for the local paper about the benefits of massage therapy and/or your particular specialty? Do you have a Web site that is up-to-date? If you are a new therapist, are you communicating your availability with phrases such as "Now Accepting New Clients," "Outcalls Available" and "Introductory Specials"? Are you taking a few minutes to follow-up with new clients after their initial visit? Are you sending thank-you cards to your clients and referral sources? Always remember to show your clients and your referral sources your appreciation. A little acknowledgement goes a long, long way. (Read: "Building Raving Fans: Consistency Is Key," MT April 2008.)

As we move into a new year, I encourage you to stay focused and positive. Times are tough right now, but things will get better. In the meantime, continue to educate yourself and improve your craft. Check out for unlimited resources to help you build a successful practice, and stay tuned for more great articles in next year's "Keeping It Simple" series. Happy Holidays!

Click here for previous articles by David Kent, LMT, NCTMB.


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