Massage & Bodywork

JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2017

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C h e c k o u t A B M P 's l a t e s t n e w s a n d b l o g p o s t s . Av a i l a b l e a t w w w. a b m p . c o m . 23 visit abmp.com things really well and let go of anything that doesn't contribute to that path. Here are some other ways to distinguish your practice from the competition. Your Work Offer a modality your competition doesn't or be better at a modality than your competition is. This means continuing education, focus, and practice. Once you've found your specialty, communicate this additional training and expertise to clients. Your Website Do you have one? If the answer is no, start building one immediately. Many clients looking for a therapist these days do so online. ABMP membership includes a free, easy-to-create website: log in to your membership account on www.abmp.com to access it. How are you describing your practice and work to current and potential clients? Your marketing language should be benefits-centered, compelling, descriptive, and understandable. Keep your website pages decluttered and organized, and use photos and video to introduce yourself and your work. Your goal is to have your practice stand out from your competition for anyone who's looking for a therapist online. Your Client Experience What's it like to receive a session from you? Put thought and effort into making the entire process as easy, convenient, and professional as possible. Evaluate every phase and aspect of the client experience from beginning to end: scheduling, office location, parking, room cleanliness, amenities, payment collection, and rescheduling. Even an easy upgrade (yes, it's really easier than you might think) like offering online scheduling can set you apart from other therapists in your area who are still playing phone and email tag with clients. AND NOW FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD Also known as, "Mary the Pro LMT versus restaurants versus movies versus cell phones versus getting your dog washed versus Starbucks versus happy hour versus yoga, etc." This is a totally unscientific estimate, but we believe that more than 95 percent of all massages in the United States are paid for out of pocket—meaning, not through health insurance or another third party. Which means all those other things are your competition, because unless you're a benevolent billionaire just doing this because you love helping people relax, you're doing this to earn a living. And all those other things are ways people may choose to spend their money instead of taking care of themselves and getting massage and bodywork. So how do you compete with, in essence, the rest of the consumer society? By focusing on yourself. Running an ad saying, "Starbucks is dumb" or "Boycott Applebee's" won't get you a new client. Your job is to be an advocate for wellness, not against all other forms of disposable income use. But you do need to make sure that your services are ranked higher in your clients' minds than a good number of those others—and that's where you appeal to your client's sense of self, along with their inevitable concern of aging and slowing down. Take it from Les—his massage therapists make sure to check in with him about his latest dumb semi-athletic endeavor, and then discuss how his massage session can be a useful tool to keep the ol' sports car running (truth: it's a jalopy and they're doing their best to keep it on the road). What's the moral of the story? Embrace, rather than shrink from or ignore, the fact that you have competition and lots of it. Then, use that to hone your practice, make smart choices, and—ultimately—grow. Notes 1. Merriam Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, accessed November 2016, http://unabridged. merriam-webster.com/unabridged/competition. 2. Wolfgang Kasper, accessed November 2016, www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Competition.html. Les Sweeney, BCTMB, is ABMP's president. Contact him at les@abmp.com and read his occasional blog posts on www.abmp.com. Kristin Coverly, LMT, kristin@abmp.com, is the manager of professional development at ABMP and creates resources and teaches workshops for therapists across the country. Both are massage therapists with business degrees who care about you and your practice. A common business planning exercise is a SWOT analysis— SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Use this process to take a good honest look at your practice.

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