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Avoid these mistakes in your massage therapy business! Ask the Muscle Whisperer Series

by Samantha Jenkins September 17, 2021

Avoid these mistakes in your massage therapy business! Ask the Muscle Whisperer Series

We hope you have all been enjoying our "Ask The Muscle Whisperer" series. This month we asked the UK massage industry's top thought leaders to share the mistakes they made in their massage therapy business and what lessons these mistakes taught them! Read on to hear their thoughtful tips.

    Earle Abrahamson profile for Ask The Muscle Whisperer

    For Earle as a massage therapist you are always continuing to learn and grow. You will have elements of your massage therapy business that you will need to change and new ideas you will need to adopt. The biggest mistakes Earle made when starting out his career as a massage therapist was to act too hastily when developing his consultation forms. Earle went online and googled a template and handed it straight to his clients! It was only when clients started to ask how should they answer certain questions that to Earle's horror he discovered there were lots of elements on the form that were completely irrelevant to his massage therapy setting! 

    Earle's first tip is to not just go for convenience. Take time to alter forms to make them specific to your scope and practice not just to avoid embarrassing situations with your clients but to start demonstrating your value. Be critical and analyse each question. Ask yourself is this relevant? Why am I asking this question? What information am I trying to get from my clients? 

    The other mistake Earle made when starting his massage therapy business was one that is very common. When starting out it can be incredibly difficult to know how to price your services and you can easily end up being vague with your clients out of embarrassment. Being clear from the start and demonstrating what is included can save you a lot of hassle and heartache. You also need to be sure that you have factored everything in when setting your prices. This includes all your treatment costs but also things like CPD training.

    Watch Earle answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below!

    You can find more details on Earle's latest book 'Muscle Testing – A Concise Manual' by clicking the images below or find out more details on the next Hands On Training courses by clicking here.



      • Making Sense of Human Anatomy and Physiology - Lotus Publishers 2016


        • Concise Manual of Muscle Testing - Handspring Publishers. Due out October 2019 
      Earle Abrahamson
      Nikki Wolf
      Jayne Burke
      Emma Gilmore
      Nikki Wolf joins Ask The Muscle Whisperer from Massage Warehouse

      For Nikki from Orchid Massage Academy the mistakes she made with her massage therapy business in the beginning have led her to her current work as a business mentor for fellow massage therapists. It took Nikki years to fully understand her massage therapy business and she would like to help other therapists fast track their way to success!

      The mistake that Nikki made, is one she sees other therapists making as well. In the begining Nikki spent a lot of time really concentrating on the techniques and anatomy side of being a massage therapist. Nikki focused on learning new techniques, learning more about the body and how she could help her clients feel better. Of course this meant Nikki grew to be a fantastic massage therapist but it meant she neglected the business side of things.

      Nikki had great clients but for the first 10 years of her massage therapy business her books were hit and miss. Sometimes she would be busy and things were great, at other times it was client and she was struggling to find new massage clients. Nikki didn't have a way of getting new clients,or knowing how to raise her prices properly,. She didn't have a way of making sure that the clients I got were a good fit.

      Nikki realised she needed to step up as a business owner and start putting strategies and procedures in place to protect her hard work. It took a while to learn these business skills but it has made a huge difference to her career as a massage therapist! While focusing on anatomy and techniques is very important Nikki would really recommend taking time to educate yourself on business skills, marketing skills, and strategies and systems to put in place to make sure that you have a steady stream of massage clients, that you have a way of getting referals and a way of getting clients to rebook. This can be overwhelming so just take a deep breath, understand that you've got a business to protect and then just start to implement some learning into how to make that business work for you!

      Watch Nikki answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below!

      To find out more about Orchid Massage Academy, click here or find more details on Nikki's mentorship program, here. Alternatively you can follow on Facebook here

      Orchid Massage Academy

      Earle Abrahamson
      Nikki Wolf
      Jayne Burke
      Emma Gilmore
      Jayne Burke joins Ask The Muscle Whisperer from Massage Warehouse
      For Jayne there are a couple of mistakes to avoid when starting out your career as a massage therapist. Firstly as a new massage therapist it's best to keep your expenses as low as possible while you build up your books with new clients for your massage treatments!

      The easiest way to save is to rent a room by the hour rather than by the month. This way you can rent it for the hours you need and avoid paying for it when you don't have appointments and income coming in. As your massage therapy business builds you can then look to take on a monthly lease for your treatment space. 

      Another tip Jayne shares is to be selective with your advertising. It can be tempted to try and spread the word as far as possible but in Jayne's experience local magazines worked best for her. Leafleting can also be a great way of attracting new clients but only if you take the plunge and deliver yourself. Depending on your location this might not be suitable for your massage therapy business. But if you are based in a small town or village it can be a fantastic way to spread the work and keep fit! For Jayne advertising in restaurants or doctors surgeries proved too expensive and not particularly lucrative so she recommends sticking to the cheaper local advertising options wherever possible.

      Jayne's final tip it don't be a busy fool! Make sure you are doing your sums and setting your prices right. Otherwise you could be making your life as a business owner more difficult if you need to raise your prices by a significant amount to cover a miscalculation.  

      Watch Jayne answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below!

      Click here to find out more about Jayne Burke Holistic Therapies or you can follow on FacebookTwitter or Instagram. Earle Abrahamson
      Nikki Wolf
      Jayne Burke
      Emma Gilmore
      Emma Gilmore profile for Ask The Muscle Whisperer

      For Emma a common mistake we make as massage therapists when we are starting out is to not spend enough time selecting our domain names and thinking about our branding. Putting some serious thought into how we want to represent ourselves as a business can pay off in divendeds down the road. In Emma's experience the massage therapists who pick a name that really sums up the essence of their massage therapy businesses are the ones who go on to be the most successful. Another tip Emma has found is that if you can include your location in the name of your massage business you will also do better in the online rankings when people search for a massage service!

      Emma's second tip is to learn how to delegate. At one point in her career Emma was seeing around 40 clients a week! She was too busy but didn't think to take on help straight away. If you are finding you are overwhelmed with an aspect of the business don't be afraid to delegate! Whether that is finding another therapist who you can work alongside or outsourcing some of your admin. Think about which parts of the business you don't enjoy or find difficult and see if you can get some help!

      Emma's final observation is about pricing. After qualifying lots of massage therapists continue to underprice themselves despite putting lots of effort and money into their training. While it might be tempting to start with lower prices when starting out it could actually put off clients who are looking for a serious treatment from a knowledgable therapist!

      Watch Emma answer your "Ask the Muscle Whisperer" Question below!

      You can see the latest courses on offer at School of Bodywork by clicking the image below! You can also follow on Facebook and Instagram.

      School of Bodywork logo

      Earle Abrahamson
      Nikki Wolf
      Jayne Burke
      Emma Gilmore

    Samantha Jenkins
    Samantha Jenkins


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    Massage Table Size Guide

    Massage tables comes in many different shapes and size. It can be confusing for you, the customer, to choose the right one but we are here to help!

    A lot of customers call us up after they have bought the wrong size massage table elsewhere and we would like to help you avoid this mistake. It normally goes something like this; they like the look of a picture of a massage table on a website, they like the low price and then they check the carrying weight is ok. If the carrying weight fits their needs they click add to cart and the new massage table turns up at their doorstep in a few days. They unfortunately assume all massage tables are pretty much the same width and size.

    The standard size of a massage table is 28 inches wide (71cms) and 73 inches (185cms) long. One of the reasons many "lightweight" budget massage tables are so cheap is because

    1.  They are smaller in size (normally around 61cms wide) and as such have less materials
    2. They are sold by specialist retailers who also sell anything else they can import and turn a profit on. As such they just buy the cheapest massage tables they can find in China. They go for smaller sizes as they are cheaper.

    Make sure the massage table is the right size for you and your clients as the narrow massage tables at 61cms can be very uncomfortable for anyone who isn't petite and many clients cannot relax with their shoulders and arms unsupported.


    The Width of the Massage Table:

    Almost all therapists choose the standard 28 inch wide massage table. All our massage tables are the same length so it is only the width and shape our customers need to decide on.

    Your massage table should be wide enough to cater for the wide variety of shapes and sizes of your clients. It needs to be wide enough to comfortably accommodate your treatment style, while being narrow enough to ensure you don’t have to strain your own back during treatments.

    Each therapist's postural training and ability is different, so only you will know what massage table width you can handle. We have spoken to therapists who are five feet tall and get the wider 30 inch massage tables, and we speak to six foot therapists who have back problems and go for a 25 inch wide massage table. Everyone is different.

    Generally speaking, if you are of smaller stature, you may do better with one of the narrower 25-inch massage tables. If you're quite tall, or are particularly keen to offer your clients a very spacious experience, a 30-inch massage table might be more suitable.

    If you are in doubt, see if you can go into your local training college and see whether the massage tables there suit you. However, there is another way to get a feel for what will work of you don’t have access to a couch when you are deciding:

    Cut out a piece of cardboard to the dimensions of both sizes you are deciding between. Put it on top of the kitchen table and lean over it. Visualise a client lying there, and see which width will suit you and your client best.

    measuring the width of a massage table

    Make sure you can get close enough to the table that you can pivot at the waist and have your shoulders squared to the clients hips, with your hands parallel to the clients' spine. Working in this position will ensure an injury-free career, so it's an important factor in your decision.

    The most popular massage table widths are 28 and 30 inches. We sell 25-inch massage tables but you should really only choose this width if you are shorter in height and having a wider massage table might put your own back at risk over the course of your career.

    You can also choose the 25-inch if you want to have the lightest massage table possible. By reducing the width of the massage table, the weight is also reduced. Now, this can mean a trade-off of some client comfort, but this trade is often worthwhile if you are a fully mobile therapist and use public transport frequently, where saving a kilogram or two will make a difference to you over time.


    The Height Of the Massage Table

    Nowadays, almost all portable massage tables come with height adjustable legs. Whichever massage table you choose should come with a large height range to accommodate you, and to cater for a broad range of therapies.

    A common height range of massage tables is between 60 to 80cm, and this height range should cater for everyone. To check which height you need your massage table to be at follow this rule of thumb:

    1. Stand up straight with your hands by your sides. Clench your fists.
    2. Measure the distance between the floor and your knuckles
    3. This distance should equal the height of your massage table.
    4. Add a few inches in height to allow for the body of the patient on the massage table.

    The height of a massage table is usually only adjusted when different therapists are using the same massage table, or if you have a client that is outside the average size you normally treat. So for example, if someone with a lot of body depth comes for a treatment after an average size person, you may need to adjust the height a notch or two.

    You should be able to adjust the height of a massage table in just 2-3 minutes. Even though you mightn't adjust the height very often, the faster the better when you do have to!

    There are 2 types of height adjustment mechanisms found on modern massage tables.

    1) Twisting knobs (found only on wooden massage tables):

    If you are working with a wooden massage table, it is better to have two knobs on each of the four legs for greater strength and reliability. When buying online, make sure to check how many knobs are on the legs. Cheap massage tables often only have one knob, and when you raise the legs to the highest heights they are less stable and have been known to snap.

    2) Telescopic push-buttons (found only on aluminium massage tables):

    The mechanism to adjust the height of an aluminium massage table is much the same as the push-button method on aluminium crutches. It only takes a few seconds to adjust each leg, and the mechanism is very reliable. Check out the video to see how it’s done.


    Massage Table Shape:

    The following are the different shapes of massage tables on the market.

    1. Rectangle shaped with square corners 

    This is the traditional shape of a massage table and the one you are probably familiar with seeing. Our Combi-lite 3 in 1 and Affinity Portaflex are shaped like this.

    2. Rectangle shaped with rounded corners

    Same as no 1 above in every way except the corners are rounded. Does not affect function in any way, just a different design/look.


    3. Hour glass shaped with gradual gradient 

    A fabulous massage table innovation in recent years, which solves a lot of the problems around choosing the correct width is the hourglass shaped massage table.

    This style of massage table is wider at the ends, and tapers somewhat at the middle. This provide a spacious and comfortable experience for your client (as the shoulder and feet area are 30 inches wide) without compromising your own posture and health, as the middle of the couch where you lean over is a much narrower 26 inches wide.Having recently upgraded to one of these hourglass massage tables myself, I can vouch that my working days are much more comfortable, and many of my clients have commented on the extra comfort from the wider shoulder area.


    4. Hour glass shaped with sharp gradient
    Same as point above but instead of the it gradually going from wide to narrow, the massage table changes quickly from normal width to narrow width so people of very short stature can get in close.
    5. Oval Shaped

     The name says it all! There are no corners on the massage table. Therapists normally choose this for one of two reasons. They simply like the look of this massage table and it is aesthetically more pleasing in their treatment room and/or they find it easier to move around the massage table during the treatment without having to side step the corners. This is particularly handy when space is limited in your treatment room.

    oval massage table


    Have any questions or comments about anything above? Please let us know in the comments below!