One of the most frequently asked questions I hear from massage therapists across the country is: “What advice do you have to build my private practice?” It is the million-dollar question and one I have thought a lot about over the years.
As an observer in a massage school setting, I don’t think schools are realistically educating students about the length of time it takes to build a sustainable private practice. On average, a practice requires 2-3 years of foundational work before it begins to thrive. In many cases, it can take even longer.
Ask any marketing or advertising expert what the best avenue for generating business is and undoubtedly, they will say word of mouth. It is no different with respect to massage therapy. Many therapists rely on their clients saying wonderful things about them, and telling everyone they know.
Aside form word of mouth referrals, I believe educating potential clients is a close second when it comes to filling your practice. The public perception of massage therapy is still shrouded in mystery. Simply put, there is an unlimited amount of potential clients out in the world. With education and time to dispel some of the age-old misconceptions about massage, many will be led directly to your door.
Having said that, what is the best use of time to educate potential clients in your community? Contact your local senior center, PTA chapter or organized community group and ask to give a free, one-hour educational presentation about massage therapy. Title it something like, “What to expect during your Massage Therapy session.” Bring your table, dressed with sheets and walk the audience through the entire process. From the initial phone call to the actual massage, empower them with as much information as you can. Explain concepts around communication, draping, and therapeutic benefits. Remember to leave plenty of time for questions from the audience.
In my opinion, this is a better use of time for therapists than that of “giving away” free table or chair massage. While 4 hours of free chair massage at the local coffee shop might attract one client, spending 1 hour in front of a group of twenty-five people could attract much more. In addition, it is easier on our bodies. Information is power, and when people feel empowered, that will often lead them to take action.
Therefore, I invite you to take action! Invest in your practice and at the same time, educate the masses about this wonderful healing art called Massage Therapy. Your potential clients are out there, waiting for you and the gifts that you have to share with them.