Happy Price, Sad Price

I know that exhaustion and worry are directly opposed to prosperity.  The question is, how do you find a good groove with creating money when you are in worry?  The irony is that when money is tight is when you have to be in a state of positive expectation and gratitude to turn it around.

Energy is magnetic.  It attracts like to itself.  I don’t believe that you just send out good vibes and lo, all that you need shall come to pass!  No indeed.  Being actively in service is what it takes to prosper.  The trick is to be in service joyfully, from our fullness.

So, the sad price is the price many of us go to when we think we are in need of more business.  I got this idea from John Eggen, who is one of the entrepreneurs whose work I subscribe to, and this message came to me in my inbox. It seemed particularly relevant to massage therapists.

If I ask you to give me a massage for $30.00, does the idea of doing this make you happy or does it make you sad? Of course this depends on a lot of variables.  Are you just starting out?  Are you experienced?  Where do you live? What’s “the going rate”?  Do you need to get your first clients to get you going?  Are you busy but you feel you need more money to get by?

23 years ago, while I was still a student, I decided that my student rate was $35.00 for a massage.  I was influenced by one of my instructors, who said, “I wouldn’t want a massage that was worth less than $40.00.”  I deduced from her statement that my rate right out of the starting gate was going to be $40.00.

Since I was still in school, getting any paying clients at all was a win.  I figured that for my clients, getting my massage, which I knew was good, for a student rate was a win.  So I told any prospective client that my student rate was $35.00 and that the day I graduated it would be going up to $40.00.  The week I graduated, I had 12 clients booked.  It was a great start!

These prices made me happy.

When you are working at your happy price, you enjoy your work and do it well.  When you work at your sad price, you are resentful, exhausted, and feeling devalued.  This is not a prosperous, magnetic state!

You may naively suppose that I am suggesting that you charge top dollar for your massage, as a lot of business coaches do.  Nope.  The right price is the price you feel good about, because it is a win for all, and it will change organically.  You’ll have to shoot me before I’ll do a massage today at $40.00.  Not here, in the Bay Area, not with the experience I have under my belt, not with my current client load.  What I charge sounds like riches to some of my massage therapist coaching clients, and one of my colleagues who works with Hollywood movie stars says I charge too little.  It’s all about what you feel good about, and feeling good makes you magnetic.  If I had a dollar for everyone who has said they want to work with me because “I just love your energy!” I would have a tidy stash!

Cultivate the energy of joy and your love for your work will ease the path for you in ways you can’t imagine.

“I work for goals.  Miracles work for me.”  -Stephanie St. Claire

My “happy price” for mentoring massage therapists is a great value right now, while I’m beta-testing my practice building materials!  Let’s have some fun practice building together!  Check out my current programs here.

How to Compete with the Spas

How to you go to bat for precious clients when there are spas springing up all over your neighborhood?  How does a skilled, qualified and experienced Massage Therapist compete with Massage Envy and their ilk?

How do you respond when people ask you what you charge, and then quote Massage Envy prices?

I think the answer is this:  The local spa has familiarity and visibility working.  They are top of mind.  They spend lots of advertising dollars, follow up and signage to make this happen.  The massage from your local spa may or may not be comparable to yours, but that is not the real issue.  Massage Therapists can compete with the massage mills by developing visibility and trust in the community.

Massage Envy in particular has worked hard to equate the name with affordable massage.  If someone is new in town and needs a massage, he or she may not know any other place so that’s the first choice. With a few small changes in your approach and a willingness to be visible consistently, you can be the first choice.

Independent massage therapists definitely can compete effectively with the spas.  We just need to work hard at getting to be top of mind for the people in our communities.  Now, how to do that?

1.  Get people’s minds linked up to you when they think of massage.  Talk about your work often.  Give your card to your friends and neighbors.  Offer advice when appropriate about muscle pain.  Be willing to do five minutes for someone who’s suffering.  They may not be in the market for massage, but they will know someone who is!  Wear your corny “Every Body Needs Massage” t-shirt or equivalent.  Don’t be shy!

2.  Get visible in your community.  Go to small business meet-ups.  Offer a free evening workshop at your local Parks and Recreation center.  Show up at your local Farmer’s Market with your On-Site Chair (get the appropriate permission first).

3.  Start a mailing list, if you haven’t already.  You may naively suspect that you will use it to sell massage…no indeed!  You will use it to offer value to the people on your list, so they get in the habit of opening your mail to see what new goodies about being well you are offering to them.  And, incidentally, you’re the massage therapist!  Anyone you know can be on this list.  You are not bugging them, you are offering value.  Be sure you do and no one will be unhappy.  They’ll be glad to open your communications and they’ll remember you when they need a massage.

4.  If you don’t have “Certified Massage Therapist” or something similar as your email auto-signature, get it on there!  Every time you send an email to anybody, they will receive a reminder of who you are and what you do.  The next time they have back pain or feel over-the-top stressed they’ll think of you.

If people know you, like you and trust you, how many dollars they have to spend to see you instead of a stranger at a spa will hardly matter.  If it does, then there are better clients waiting for you!

A word-of mouth Massage Therapy business builds slowly over time.  It takes persistence and diligence, but if you stay focused your efforts will certainly pay off.

For more tips on how to work smart, not hard, please subscribe to my email list.  You will also receive my free report, Five Ways for Massage Therapists to Earn More and Work Less.


The Path to My Dream Job Was Just Not Giving Up.

The other day I was giving a massage to a kid who was recovering from a number of health challenges.  I knew that after his massage that day he would sleep well, something that has been a challenge for him.  I was reflecting on how amazing it was to be working with kids, working with medical conditions, working with caregivers…my dream job.

I work one day a week in a hospital, with oncology patients and kids who struggle with eating disorders.  This is my idea of a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.  I would not be thrilled tearing athletes apart, but you might!  It doesn’t really matter what your dream job is.  What I am noticing is that the longer I do this work, the more credibility I have, and the more likely people are to trust me with their bodies, and the more likely parents are to trust me with their precious children.

When someone asks me, “How long have you been doing this?” and I tell them it’s been 23 years, they frequently pull out their appointment book.

This is not to say that staying in the business was easy.  It wasn’t.  Building a practice in massage therapy is a challenge in every way.  It is hard in the beginning.  It can take an extraordinary amount of faith and deep soul-searching.  Entrepreneurship is self-development, plain and simple. It’s so much easier just to get a job!

The hard part can be just hanging in there getting clients, week after week, sometimes in ebb and sometimes in flow.  It takes skill to keep them engaged, because I noticed in the beginning of my career that as soon as people started feeling better, it was easier for them to forget how dire their need was in the beginning.  Then I would not hear from them in awhile, until they were back where they started.  Then we would be back almost at Square One.  I learned over time how to circumvent that by keeping the benefits top of mind.

Even if you work for someone else, you still have to keep your clients engaged so they keep coming back.  Unless the skills to do that become habitual, it can feel like a struggle. The thing is, your dream job in massage therapy is built by tending to these basic nuts and bolts skills, day after day, until they are just habits.  Maybe your practice is not your dream job in the beginning.  Maybe you are one of the fortunate ones who create that right away.  Regardless of who your clients are, anyone you work with will help you develop the skills to build a practice that you can shape to your liking.

When I started, I wanted to work with women.  I wanted to work specifically with women who were struggling with emotional or self esteem issues.  When I was in school, they called me the “emotional release queen” because people cried on my table.  During clinic, the sounds of emotional release would emanate from my cubicle.  I was excited and prepared to go out and help women.  Woo-Hoo!

It didn’t work that way.  My significant other had a friend who was suffering from shoulder pain. This friend was an architect, and his neck and shoulders told the story of hours over a drafting board.  This man was happy with my work and referred his friends.  Before long, my practice was full of young male architects!

To this day, I am really good at unlocking necks and shoulders.  I learned fast.  It was a great skill to have early in the game.

If you take the long view of your work as spiritual practice (for me that is clearly true), then your practice as it evolves will grow and stretch your skills in every way.  Just embrace the curriculum and don’t quit.  One day you’ll realize you’ve created your dream job!