Massage Business Mistakes
Mar 19, 2019
"Never let personal opinions screw up smart business" - Marcus Sheridan
A couple weeks ago I attended a one-day social marketing conference here in San Diego. Overall, it was an educational event. I learned some new things and was reminded of forgotten ideas. I also enjoyed meeting other business owners and learning how they are using social as a marketing tool.
Several presentation slides stood out but there was one in particular that inspired this blog post. The presentation was by Marcus Sheridan and one of his slides read:
The reason this slide jumped out at me is that this is one of the main problems I see with massage business owners, both in online discussions and with my consulting clients.
And the reason I can see it's a problem with massage business owners is because I'm guilty of the very same thing! Yes, indeed. Here are the 3 beliefs that I had which I didn't realize was stunting my growth until I implemented them into my massage practice.
Really out of pure laziness than anything else. I didn't want to deal with having to set up a processor and anyway, my clients didn't mind paying cash and/or with checks. Or did they? I started considering whether I should take credit cards and then finally heard my clients when they mentioned missing lunch because they had to run to the bank for cash. Or rushed in a few minutes late apologizing because they had to stop at a cash machine first. Or calling that they would be ten minutes late for their appointment because they had to run back home and grab their checkbook.
Once I realized how inconvenient it was for my clients, I got set up and started accepting credit cards.
This one was based in fear. I was concerned that I'd have "creepers" (what we massage therapists call clients who behave inappropriately) scheduling and I'd have to waste time dealing with turning them away. I didn't use online scheduling for years for that reason.
Finally, around late 2007, I decided to give it a try. Every time a new client scheduled, I'd call them to find out what they were expecting from their session/why they scheduled the appointment. After about 3 months of that, I stopped calling new appointments. My booking rate increased by 50% and that's when I started booking out weeks in advance.
This opinion took the longest to change. You see, I was extremely proud of my sheets. I had spent a number of years trolling the linen sales at department stores and purchased 600 and up thread count, Egyptian cotton sheets. They had a nice weight to them, were very soft, and held up to years of washing in hot hot water. I loved my sheets.
I thought they helped me stand out from my competitors. Even when the evaluation forms I sent out every few years told me that 98% of my clients felt linens were the least important thing about their session. What did my opinion about my sheets do for me? They held me up at a local launder mat from 6 am until around 9:30 am every Monday. With all the lugging and folding, I wouldn't start Monday sessions until 12 pm.
Finally, when I caved in after almost 14 years of folding sheets on a weekly basis, it was pure heaven. I could start my day on Monday taking sessions at 10 am. And I didn't miss lugging around 35 sets of king sized linens and around 70 towels every friggin week. I couldn't believe I had waited so long!
Our opinions of how business should be run can lead to failure. Ironically enough, many who voice the following opinions also have complained about problems keeping a regularly filled appointment book:
~ "I give the kind of massage to my clients that I would want"
~ "I don't bother being online very often", "Having a (business) website would share too much personal info to the public", "My clients don't use the internet"
~ "I don't like getting emails", "I don't see the need to bother my clients", "No one reads emails anymore"
~ "I don't use Facebook (or Twitter)", "Social media is only for sharing with friends", "Only young teens bother with social media"
All of these business owners have one thing in common, they are allowing their personal opinions about marketing tools to screw up smart business practices.
Consumer research is helpful because it shows us how our clients behave and what they expect when looking for services. We can use these tools to build foster relationships with our clients and other business owners.
> We give our clients the type of massage we want but have we asked them what they want? About 50% of my clients who left their regular massage therapist and become regular clients at my office told me they left because they didn't feel like the previous therapist listened to them.
> We may not be online much but consider that a recent study indicates that 97 percent of consumers go online to research products and services locally.
> We might not enjoy using social media platforms but 85% of U.S. consumers said they used social media and 95% of online adults aged 18-34 are most likely to follow a business via social networks!
> We may hate emails flooding our boxes but people spend a lot of time on their smartphones looking at emails and social media. Having an email list to share valuable content is a great way to nurture relationships with our clients.
As massage business owners, it is crucial for us to keep in mind the needs of our clients. If we allow our opinions of what we want as a client to overshadow our business, we end up creating a circular effect where we are essentially running a business that serves us, not our clients.
Besides staying on top of consumer research, we can also use client surveys to find out what our clients expect from our business and get an idea of how they see our practice. Using tools appropriately, such as having a website or collecting emails, even if we have negative opinions about them, does not mean that we aren't being true to ourselves. These are normal tools to run a successful business.
It's not easy to step back and take a good look at how our massage business is viewed by our current and potential clients but without that kind of objective insight, our business may not be doing as well as it could be.