As part of your journey toward entering the rewarding world of massage therapy, you've probably wondered what it takes to become a successful massage therapist. While there are many steps needed to accomplish this, some of the most essential ones relate to creating and maintaining a professional image.
After more than 18 years as a massage therapist, educator, business owner and coach, I've learned a few secrets for this first step to success. Read them and see where you might have room to grow.
Besides acting ethically and following applicable licensing laws, it is essential for a professional massage therapist to be friendly, courteous and honest, as well as skilled in the art of communication. Therapists need to be able to anticipate, understand and respond to clients' needs and requests on and off the table. Additionally, remembering clients' preferences, likes and dislikes of temperature, pressure, scents and sounds shows that a therapist is committed to service and details.
It is also our responsibility to educate and guide clients about relevant self-care as well as particular treatments or products that will help them achieve their desired goals. This includes knowing what is and is not allowed in our scope of practice and referring to other professionals as needed.
Other qualities that create a professional image and identity include being flexible, focused, caring and persistent as well as thoughtful, organized, prompt and polite. In general, therapists who are able to create a demand for the services and healthy practices they provide are much more than talented technicians-they are well-rounded individuals who are always striving to be better, seeking to learn more and embracing the opportunities available to them.
The first impression
Everything that touches clients or prospective clients and helps them make the decision to do business with you, or not, is part of your marketing. These touches, or impressions, start the second someone visits your website, picks up your business card, walks in your office or meets you in person. As such, it is vital to consider exactly how you are touchingthem before they even get on your table.
Some things to review:
- How easy your website is to find, read and navigate
- The safety, location and accessibility of your office
- Your social media profiles, pages, pictures and posts
- How neat or cluttered your treatment room and waiting area are
- Your own grooming, attire and appearance
- Your outgoing message, e-mail address and e-mail signature
- How long it takes you to respond to incoming messages, texts or e-mails
As you review each of these areas, ask yourself if you would be proud or embarrassed if any or all of these were seen or experienced by your mother, grandmother, child or boss. Consider each area from your perspective as a patient in another medical professional's office. Would you trust a physician or chiropractor who dressed the way you do? Learn to think through the discerning eyes of your potential clients and prepare each area of your business accordingly.
If you're not sure where to begin, take a deep breath and commit to receiving outside feedback about the impression you make, from your clients, classmates, teachers or friends. Ask them for positive feedback about what they like most about any of the areas above and what one improvement they would suggest. Catalog their answers and determine where you can take one or two immediate action steps toward improving your professional image.
Creating a professional image as a massage therapist takes care, attention to detail and a commitment to showing the best of yourself and the profession to the world. Start by examining the aforementioned areas and look for new ways to share the best of yourself and massage through your practice. Like the rest of us, you are an amazing work in progress.