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Is being more human the key to growing your Massage Therapy Business?

by Samantha Jenkins March 27, 2019

Is being more human the key to growing your Massage Therapy Business?

At the start of the year, we set out 12 steps to growing your massage therapy business in 2019.

A trend which emerged was the need for businesses to offer a more personalised service to tackle the widespread consumer scepticism after a difficult year in 2018. Whilst researching this trend, we came across Tim Leberecht’s Ted Talk 4 ways to build a human company in the time of machines’

It is undeniable that over the next few decades, the way we work is going to change dramatically. As Leberecht points out, businesses built on a human connection will be spared the robot revolution, which is lucky for us massage therapists! But this did get us thinking. How can we as massage therapists future proof our businesses and take advantage of this shift as much as possible?  

Tim Leberecht identifies 4 methods to help businesses be more human in an age of machines. So let's jump right in and look at how this can relate to our work as massage therapists. 


1. Do the unnecessary




This technique can often be seen as frivolous and the first to go in tough times. As we know, often our massage therapy businesses don’t have tonnes of resources, either in terms of time or money, but you can use unnecessary gestures to spark interest in your services and cultivate deeper customer loyalty.  

  • Reward loyal customers - make a note of the number of appointments each client has had when you arrange their next session. When they reach 10 sessions contact them beforehand to remind them of their appointment, thank them for their business and offer them a free 30-minute extension on their treatment. 
  • As we saw in our blog post, in 2019 marketers are targeting their audiences by location. Sponsor local events, such as charity runs, by offering your massage services for a day. Get involved with the promotion for the event and make sure you have someone to take lots of pictures and videos on the day for your social media. Give great treatments and take lots of business cards to hand out to everyone at the end of their massage. 


2. Create intimacy




    Whilst your team is unlikely to take a retreat to Cambodia, creating opportunities to connect with employees, clients and even your own emotions can unlock frustrations and potential pitfalls or develop stronger bonds with your clients. Make space to sit down with your team and talk about what is working well and what isn't. If you work alone, have these check-ins with yourself, be honest and use it as a springboard to change the areas of the business you find difficult or tiring. 


    Facebook post from Karina Lake about the frustration of not being paid for no shows

    Facebook quote from Jessi Gates Brock about the frustrations of enforcing a cancellation policy


    Connecting to your work in this way will draw out what makes you passionate and this will spill over into your interactions with clients.

    Another way to create intimacy and connection is when clients share their struggles with you. Always being careful to maintain appropriate client/therapist boundaries, if your client is sharing their concerns, speak from the heart if you have had a similar experience. For example, if a client is struggling at work, reply with a simple comment like "That must be hard, I can only imagine how you are feeling, I know when I had a tough time at work in the past I found it really draining, let's see how we can help you relax today." This shows your empathy and understanding without straying from the treatment you are giving.

    If you have experienced the same tension areas as your client, demonstrate your knowledge by sharing your experiences and explain how the massage techniques you will be using helped your symptoms in the past. 


    3. Be Ugly




    A daunting prospect for anyone who runs their own small business. 

    If you work as part of a team, make time to sit down together and celebrate your successes but also to speak frankly about problems your employees are facing. Your team will appreciate your concern and by addressing the challenges you are facing together you can grow closer and avoid losing employees. 

    If you work alone, try to imagine yourself as your own employee. What are your current frustrations, what parts of the job do you like the most and the least. Write them on post stick notes and put them in categories in front of you. Through this technique, you might unlock a niche that you want to explore or finally tackle something that has been draining your energy. 


    4. Remain incomplete




    An easy way to use this technique with clients is to run an annual survey. Keep it short and offer an incentive like a 15% discount off their next treatment.

    Ask your clients to give their honest feedback and explain you are always trying to improve so you can offer them the best service. Be bold and ask them what holds you back from seeing me more? Showing your willingness to grow and allowing yourself to be vulnerable in this way will strike a chord with your clients and the answers you receive might surprise you. 

    Some clients might find it hard to fit their treatments in with the hours you are offering. You might seriously increase your massage therapy business by accommodating clients schedules by offering slots one evening a week. For clients who cite money as an issue, you can make a note to subtly send them a loyalty offer in a few months, or offer a discount when booking a series of sessions upfront.  

      Let us know how you get on with these techniques in the comments below! 

      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!