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The hardest lessons you'll learn being a Massage Therapist

Female client lies on a massage table receiving a massage treatment from a female therapist

Are you a new therapist looking to set up your own massage therapy business? 

Have you been running your own clinic for a while but feel like you are constantly fielding issues? 

Take heart, because we have asked established massage therapists what was the hardest lesson they learnt along the way and some of the answers might sound familiar....


Being bold is tough 


Facebook post from Alison Sue Adams about asking for referrals



Putting yourself out there can be scary for some people. Asking for referrals is one of those moments where you have to dig deep and ask for what you deserve! There is never a better time than when you have just delivered a kick-ass treatment, so when your client pays you a compliment, strike while the iron is hot and offer them an incentive if they refer a friend. You could offer; 


  • Free extra 15 minutes for every referral that books. 
  • 10% discount on their next treatment for every referral that books. 
  • Free 15 minute head massage for every referral that books.  


Don't undersell yourself 


Facebook post from Elizabeth Cassie Christensen about setting your prices

A great piece of advice from Elizabeth! Working out your annual expenses can help you be more strategic when you want to run a promotion! It will also boost your confidence when you have tricky customers who ask questions about your costs! 

However, your value doesn't just relate to money...


Facebook post from Crystal May about finding your value


Do you have a client who is always cancelling last minute? Or have you been chasing a corporate contact for ages but just never get the final nod on their business? Knowing when to cut your losses and focus your attention elsewhere is a lesson massage therapists learn over time. A three strike policy can be a handy way of keeping track of clients who are draining your time. Three last-minute cancellations with no good reason, look to move this client along. Called three times and sent three follow up emails to that company, time to look into new opportunities. 


Maintaining your distance


 Facebook post from Vicki Ebel about maintaining your boundaries as a massage therapist


As an empathetic bunch, it is easy for us as massage therapists to develop unhealthy relationships with our clients. Working closely with people over the years it is easy for a business relationship to turn into friendship. However, if you are consistently letting your guard down you could be setting yourself up for a fall when previous clients start asking for mates rates, or worse freebies! 

The other side of this problem is that clients can start to relate information to their massage therapist which is really beyond the scope of our practice. The intimate atmosphere created by massage therapy can lead clients to share issues that fall more into the realm of a counselling session. Read more here about why it is vital massage therapists keep their boundaries, for your own wellbeing as well as your clients.  


Put yourself first 


Facebook post from Sandra Sanford about taking care of yourself as a massage therapist


Lots of massage therapists mentioned the lesson they learnt the hard way was to take care of yourself! Working as a therapist can take its toll both on our bodies and our minds. Take time to introduce these simple exercises into your routine to keep your body in tip-top shape! 


Facebook post from Tamara Freebird about finding the right amount of massage treatments to deliver each week


Tamara raises a good point. Find your flow and stick to it! Space out treatments to give yourself time to recover and make sure you give yourself a couple of days off each week, you deserve a break like anyone else! 


Facebook post from Ramona Trudeau about ensuring you save money as a massage therapist so you can take care of yourself


As anyone who is self-employed can attest, holidays, sick days and pensions are often the first things to get neglected. Don't bury your head in sand, make sure you are putting money away to cover yourself when you are sick and so you can enjoy yourself a little in old age. Get on top of your finances and plan some vacation time each year. Clients worth keeping will respect your need to get away to rest and rejuvenate! 


Work smart not hard


Facebook post from Paula Wojtan Nedzinskas about there being a massage therapist for every type of client


Perhaps the lesson therapists find the hardest to learn. Not every client is a good fit for your skills. Think about it, how often do you feel frustrated when you see a therapist nuzzling in on your turf, offering a type of massage you know for a fact they aren't trained in! 

But frustrations aside, clients won't appreciate you fumbling your way through a sports massage, for example, if you have no training in this technique. You might end up doing your reputation harm and losing more money than if you had just referred the client to another therapist. 

Take this lesson, and your massage therapy business, to the next level by choosing a niche. It might seem counterintuitive but by delivering fewer treatments targeting a specific issue you can charge more. Read more on how you can boost your massage therapy business by becoming a specialist here. 


Keeping yourself up to date


Facebook post from Erin Boroughs about difficulties in attending training courses


It is important to keep expanding your skills and learning new massage techniques, to refresh your passion for massage and ensure you are keeping up to date with the latest research. However, if you are a massage therapist working in a remote area or working in a particular niche it can be hard and expensive to attend courses each year. Online training can be a good alternative for massage therapists in this situation. Allowing you to refresh your knowledge whilst saving up for hands-on training courses as often as you can afford to attend. 


Remembering the basics 


Facebook post from Laureen Anne Gaeta Moses about remembering to listen to your clients


Over time as we develop as massage therapists it can be easy to think we know what's best for our clients. However, the reality is most clients have expectations in mind and when those are met they aren't likely to come back. Take time to speak to your client so you can make sure you address the problem as they see it, then wow them with some extras you assess along the way! 


What was the hardest lesson you learnt in your journey as a massage therapist? Let us know in this Facebook thread

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