The Fitness Zone
By Karolina Wojciechowska, massage coach Parramatta, BA, Dip RM, Dip Aroma
It happens to most of us, that as soon as we graduate from our massage course and we start ourselves in the industry, we lack of confidence as good therapists and we don’t know how to make our first clients to return to our service.
Apart from putting your marketing strategies into place and building your beautiful website, your open and positive attitude, caring personality and willingness to improve your practice are what really matters in order to make your clients come back to you.
Here are a few cues for you:
What does it actually mean? Does it mean being punctual, running your appointments on time, wearing your spotless uniform and a big smile on your face? Yes, but it is not all.
A professional practitioner has integrity, listens carefully to his clients, works on his communication skills and has a professional code of conduct. It basically means that he/she is an honest person, genuinely wants to help their clients and thinks about their safety and wellbeing (sticks to the scope of practice and basic WHS protocols).
Professionalism is important not only to the relationship with your clients, but with your co-workers (if any), your neighbours and people who work in other business in the neighbourhood. If you gain the respect of others as a person, you will also be respected as a professional. Word of mouth is very powerful, and it can also work against you, especially when someone is not happy with how you treat them.
Learn from others
Observe other practitioners in your clinic and ask them for feedback/advice for improvement or network with others from the industry through variety of ways. Association of Massage Therapists (AMT) is currently trying a mentorship program to match experienced therapists with those who start themselves in the industry, stay at the lookout for opportunities like that. Visit other business for massage and reflect on their communication and treatment skills.
A good communication ensures that people understand each other. They don’t necessarily have to agree, but they feel heard and acknowledged, and that their needs are appropriately addressed. If you are new to the industry, trust yourself and be open to learning from others and from your experiences. If you don’t know something, don’t try to make it up, simply do your research for next time. Be honest with yourself and with your clients, no one knows it all.
Stick to your scope of practice
Listen to your clients’ needs and reflect on them. Establish clear and realistic goal of the treatment with the client, stick to what you were trained for and your code of practice.
Accept that every client is different and may have different needs/expectations, therefore it’s very important to listen and communicate effectively. Establishing achievable goals to the treatment is always helpful in avoiding misunderstandings and unrealistic expectations. If the problem is beyond what you have been trained for, explain it to your client and advice a modality/therapist that you believe would help them.
Have clear goals for your professional development, but accept that you are limited by experience, give yourself time to practice, reflect on your performance after each treatment and review your training notes and professional journals regularly.
Build effective relationships
Show your clients that you care about them. Allow extra time for a little chat, listen to their stories, be understanding and serve with a lifestyle advice whenever you can (show them a stretch, encourage exercise and healthy lifestyle, advise appropriate modality).
Work on your time management, do not rush the treatment to try to do too much for them in one session or if you feel you are running late. Do not give them extra time either, be fair to them and to yourself. Establish clear goal of the treatment based on your client expectation and on your observation, if they want a full body massage and to treat particular areas, then you need to explain the time limitations and focus on what would be the priority for them and suggest to brake the plan into two or more sessions.
Think carefully about what you say and the way you say it, as your message may be interpreted in many different ways, especially if you are dealing with people from different background.
Be ready to explain the benefits of different techniques you use and clarify some bias beliefs they may have, such as: ‘no pain no gain’.
Make sure your needs are addressed
Look after yourself physically and emotionally, and increase your workload gradually. Make sure to apply to yourself the advice you give to your clients. Build up and maintain your strength through regular exercise and correct techniques of treatment (use mirror, peer review). Remember to get regular massages yourself, through your clinic if possible, through other businesses (useful for reflecting on your own practice), or use your networks (for example, stay in touch with your classmates, AMT Facebook group/ regional meetings and conferences).