Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2013

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My ths and realities Myth Reality Lower Rates May Decrease LongTerm Revenue Many new massage therapists fall into the trap of not valuing their work enough and charging way too little in order to acquire clients. When their confidence increases and they feel they can raise their rates, they may be worried about losing clients by charging a higher rate. This can happen if a client was initially attracted only to the low rate in the first place, in which case the massage therapist is left having to market himself all over again. This re-marketing can be costly in terms of time and revenue lost. The same scenario plays itself out when using discount programs directed to large numbers of people. Tip If you are starting out and feel you need to charge a lower rate, charge an introductory rate, but always let clients know what your regular rate is. Clients need to be aware of your regular rate so they can be mentally prepared to pay it when the time comes. 102 massage & bodywork Myth Myth Reality Lower Rates Attract More Clients Reality Always Be Available for Clients Keep Boundaries With a Structured Framework I used to think that if I didn't always make myself available to my clients, they would move on and find another bodyworker. I would leave my schedule fully open, seeing clients early in the morning and late in the evening on the same day. It wasn't until I tried an experiment that I realized I didn't have to leave myself so open. I set up a fixed schedule for a few weeks, then compared the number of clients that month to the previous month. I blocked off time in order to have a six-hour day, and also to have a day off. At the end of the experiment, I noticed that I had just as many clients booking under the new schedule as I had the previous month. I also had the predictability of a set schedule that allowed me to work on other projects or see friends and family. Tip If a client asks to see you on a time that you blocked off, let her know you are unavailable; however, let her know you can accommodate her with several other times, making sure she feels like you listened to her needs. september/october 2013 The Customer is Always Right The Customer is Always Right (Sometimes) When I was a kid, I worked at a fastfood restaurant, and the manager gave me an important saying that I still use with my students: "The customer is always right, sometimes." What this means is that although your clients may have the final say with what happens to their body, they may not necessarily know the best course of action, the proper amount of pressure, the best area for work, or the ideal number of sessions they may actually need. This is not to say that we, as practitioners, know more than clients. Instead, it means that in order to run a successful practice, bodyworkers need to see their business not as a health-care or wellness business, but as a business of relationships. This means that we need to open a dialogue with clients and ask questions that will provoke thought and give our clients new insight, an idea emphasized by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book Guerrilla Marketing (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). Tip If a client tells you to give him more pressure and you don't think he will benefit from it, you could say something like, "Let's see how this current pressure works and we can assess in a couple of minutes." After a couple of minutes, ask your client how he is feeling. He might be surprised that he feels better without having to receive a "no pain, no gain" type of massage.

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