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Massage Today
May, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 05

Practice Building: Systems for Success

By David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

As healthcare providers, we understand the concept of "cause and effect" as it applies to the systems of the human body. When one system is compromised, others are affected. For example, when the muscular system is stressed due to trauma, poor posture, overuse or improper biomechanics, it affects the skeletal system in numerous ways; from limiting joint range of motion to increasing joint pressure and creating dysfunctional movements that can permanently damage joints.

For the body to be in a healthy state of homeostasis, all of systems must be balanced and working in harmony. This same concept applies to each interdependent system that combines to form the unified whole we call our practice. When one or more systems of our practice are out of balance, stressed or "dis-eased," the affects over time are cumulative and could even be fatal. It is of vital importance that you make the transitions and integrate the systems needed to build a successful, sustainable and profitable practice.

Goal Setting

First, you must know where you are going. Effective long- and short-term goals are created with a system of asking quality questions and providing honest answers. This process will help you design your dream practice and identify the systems necessary for it to be healthy. See my previous articles on this topic: "The Power of the List," (MT Jan. 2008), "Massage Your Balance Act" (MT, June 2008), "Practice Building: Taking Your Massage Practice to the Next Level" (MT, November 2009), "The SMARTER Approach to Achieving Your Goals" (MT, February 2010), "Creating Your Path to Success" (MT, September 2011), and "Survival Tips for Massage Therapists" (MT October 2011). Once your goals are clearly defined, the management of time and money are next.

Time

Allocating and utilizing time efficiently, inside and outside of the treatment room, is critical to the success of your practice. Begin everyday by taking time to assess, organize and plan the top three or four items on your goal list that are most important for you to accomplish throughout the day. See my previous articles, "The Power of a Minute" (MT, June 2007), "The 80/20 Rule: Maximizing the Return on Your Investment" (MT, March 2008). Asking patients the right questions and listening to the patient's response will save time and establish clear treatment goals. (Read "Questions With Direction" MT, September 2008).

Muscular, skeletal, trigger point and other wall charts are great visually aids or systems that save time during patient education. Portable flip charts provide a quick professional presentation in any environment and are easily moved from one location to another. (Read "Charting Your Progress: Visuals for Success" MT February 2008, and "The Initial Treatment: Generating Thousands to Your Practice" MT, July 2010.) Are you utilizing the technology available like an iPhone, smart phone, tablet or iPad, to save time and work most efficiently? These mobile devices let you make calls, schedule appointments, take pictures, read e-mail, do research online, get directions, watch videos, take payments and more.

Are you looking for a more efficient, time saving system for depositing money? Did you know there are services that let you take credit cards on mobile devices by attaching a free credit card reader? Your patients swipe their credit card and their money, less a processing fee, is deposited into your bank account. We all know the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words." Doctors have a system using X-rays and MRIs to quickly assess and educate. You can implement a system of taking posture photos using the built-in camera and screen of a mobile device. Showing patients a picture of their posture, leaves a lasting impression of your ability to quickly identify the musculoskeletal cause of their pain while providing visual evidence of your objective findings. (Read "Practice Building with Postural Analysis" MT, January 2012, and "Practice Building: Getting Inside Your Patient's Head" MT, January 2011).

Money

Massage therapists can use postural analysis photos as a system to assess, educate and document a patient's musculoskeletal health. Accountants and bookkeepers have systems that provide a "picture" of the financial health of your practice. Posture photos make it easy for you to show patients their high shoulder or forward head posture and how they contribute to their pain. Reports are the "pictures" that make it easy to see the expenses creating financial pain. When people have muscular pain, it is logical for them to schedule a treatment with a massage therapist. The therapist will assess and educate their patients about different "systems" for maintaining muscular health that include: regular stretching, exercise, eating nourish foods, rest and massage therapy treatments. Similarly, if you are experiencing financial pain or want to avoid it in the future now is the time to schedule an appointment with an accountant or certified bookkeeping trainer. They have the education and experience to evaluate your practice and recommend the systems needed to develop and maintain financial health.

Other systems of generating additional income without spending extra hours in the treatment room is selling topical analgesics, pillows and essential oils. Many clients use topical analgesics between treatments. There are several types on the market. One company offers free samples attached to a flyer with your name and contact information printed on it. This is also beneficial in promoting your business. Integrate the use of topical analgesics into your treatment routine and give your clients a few sample packs to use at home. Free samples often lead to future sales. If your clients want to buy a topical analgesic, it's better for you to make a few extra dollars selling it than sending them to the drugstore or the Walmart down the road.

Self Care

Throughout your career, if items like your massage table or massage chair are not properly maintained they will wear out quickly and need to be replaced, costing you time and money. Are you practicing what you are preaching to your patients? Your overall health is the most important component of all the systems that combine for your success. If you are not maintaining optimum health, other systems in your practice are affected and suffer. You only get one body and need to take care of it. (Read "Preparing For The Game" MT January 2009.)

Implementation

These tips are based on decades of experience as both a therapist and clinic owner. Failure to anticipate and or react to competition, technology, or other changes in the marketplace will cause you to fail. Everyday focus on improving the systems needed to build your successful, sustainable and profitable practice.


Click here for more information about David Kent, LMT, NCTMB.

 

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