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Massage Today
November, 2010, Vol. 10, Issue 11

You Have a Massage Business, Not a Massage Practice

By Cary Bayer

The extraordinary amount of time that you spent studying massage prepared you expertly in the art of giving another person a professional massage. I refer to this part of your knowledge as your massage practice.

I use the word practice because you literally practiced it many times before you mastered it. When you were a small child, you practiced the multiplication tables and, in time, you mastered it. Years later, as a teenager, you practiced the conjugation of verbs in Spanish or French and, in time, you mastered that, too. Still, years later, as an adult in massage school, you practiced massage modalities and, in time, mastered that, as well. In fact, one of your assignments as your education unfolded was to practice on real human bodies the techniques that you were taught in textbooks and in the classroom.

In massage school, you learned different modalities and strokes, anatomy, and so forth. This knowledge, coupled with all your years of experience, comprises your massage practice. A simple way of thinking about it is that everything you do on your table is your massage practice. On the other hand, everything you do that gets people to your table is your massage business.

Another way of saying this is that everything that you do outside of your massage room is your massage business. If you were lucky, maybe you had five to seven hours of training on this in massage school. That would account for 1 percent of your total training. Most therapists were not lucky enough to get even this. This is something that you didn't learn professionally how to do.

grow business - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark It's not surprising, therefore, that few massage therapists actually know how to operate their businesses professionally. Too many massage businesses are essentially all practice and virtually no business. These are also the businesses, I'm sorry to say, that are likely suffering the most financially, especially as the economy temporarily goes south.

Wherever I teach my CE classes, many arms go up when I ask LMTs if they've heard of The Secret. The best-selling book and DVD trumpets the power of the Law of Attraction that states that whatever you focus on expands, or where attention flows, energy goes. So it should come as no surprise, even for those who are versed in the Law of Attraction, that if you devote only a tiny amount of time to your massage business, you'll likely only receive a tiny amount of growth. However, a more generous amount of time dedicated to your massage business should yield some generous results. In other words, the Law of Attraction works, whether you're putting your attention on writing affirmations or doing visualizations for your business, or simply networking to generate new clients.

If you're like many of the massage therapists whose handiwork I've sampled, you're exceedingly generous to your clients in your massage practice. Almost all of you give of your hands, your energy, and your love to help your clients heal. Some of you do this so thoroughly that your hour-long massages often go an hour and a quarter at no extra cost to your client. This is great generosity. However, you're very stingy regarding your massage business. Marketing time rarely spills over from an hour into an hour and a quarter because there's usually no hour of marketing to spill over in the first place.

My wife and I both know a number of massage therapists who have terrific practices. Now if you read this sentence without having read the first paragraph in this article, you would naturally assume that these were thriving LMTs. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. These are therapists who had to give up their massage practice because they no longer had a viable massage business. In other words, they didn't have enough clients to pay their monthly bills and sustain themselves. So they took what most people typically call "straight jobs" to pay their monthly nut and, tired from these labors, ran out of the physical and psychic energy that it takes to consistently support clients on their tables. Eventually, they stopped doing massage at all. That was a great loss for everyone who happened to benefit from their healing hands.

The reason that these extremely talented therapists were out of the massage business was because they put almost all of their attention on becoming great therapists, and almost no attention whatsoever on becoming successful therapists. Great as in skilled hands; successful as in money in the bank. It was this that helped inspire me to dedicate myself to helping LMTs becoming wiser about supporting their massage businesses. Sometimes it takes a personal loss to take positive action to create chaange.

Here's my recommendation: decide to spend some generous time on your massage business, and you'll have more clients than ever before on your table to perform your massage practice.

Click here for previous articles by Cary Bayer.


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