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Hello.....Just out of school - how do I find clients?

Hi everyone,

You probably haven't heard this question before: I am a new therapist and I have my private practice. (just a room) How can I get a couple of new clients to start my business? Looking for a new idea! What did you do when got out of school?

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The biggest mistake new therapists make is sitting around waiting for business to just walk in the door. And if you plan to start a business, I advise writing a well-thought out business plan, even if you're not planning to go to the bank for money....lots of people think they don't need that written plan unless they're planning to get a loan, but I beg to differ. Having a business plan means that you have defined your goals, performed a market study (that can be as simple as driving around town to see who and where your competitors are), that you have a sense of what the demand for your services is going to be in the area--and promoting yourself in order to CREATE that demand.

Exemplary service is the key to word of mouth referrals. Be on time for every client, be personable, be professional. As Felicia Brown says, get involved...belonging to our Chamber of Commerce has been one of the best financial investments I've ever made.

Six years ago, I left my job as a massage school administrator and opened a practice with one other therapist. That has grown to 14 staff members and I am about to do my third expansion into another suite of offices. Felicia has a similar story; in less than a decade she went from 0 to having 80 employees in her spa. I believe hard work and perseverance gets you where you want to go.

I teach marketing classes, so I do in fact hear this question all the time! Good luck to you--you've joined one of the best professions in the world--we get to make a living helping people feel better!
Contact your local newspaper...many times they will do a short story about the new business in the area for free! When I started 7.5 years ago they did this for me and I had 20 new clients that week! Also, I joined Business Network International (BNI), about 83% of my business comes from that organization now! Another thing to do would be contact your local Chamber of Commerce and find out if they do an annual business fair. Sign up for a booth and bring your massage table and PLENTY of business cards/brochures. Do free chair massages at a few events like that every year and you will become very well known! (Almost everyone will stop for a free massage!)
Congratulations! I've been a massage therapist for over 20 years. The best way to build your practice is to get out of your office. Join organizations, set up a chair at different events ex. health fairs, festivals etc. Find your "target" area and see if there are any community events to participate at. Contact local community night schools and teach an intro class to massage for couples and friends - you'd be surprised how many will book an appointment with you.
What type of massage do you want to focus/specialize in??? Perhaps contact local chiropractors and orthopedists and offer a free massage so they can refer clients to you....the list goes on. Offer "Intro Specials".....Any specific question, please cnotact me. Gloria @ www.MassageProCe.com
Congrats!
I started as an independent contractor working out of a local spa. I have been working out of the same place for 5 years now. I pay rent by the massage so it works out well for me. I also try and do things for my clients to let them know they are appreciated. I offer discount prices such as buy 3 massage and get the 4th one free. We offer a facelift facial that is a 75 min long facial. It is recommended to do 1 a week for the first 4 weeks and then continue once a month so we offer a discount of 15.00 a facial for the first month and then every 6th facial is free if they continue. For referrals I give them a free 30 Minute Massage for every 3 people they refer to me. We also run coupons quite often in the local paper for $10.00 off a 60 minute swedish massage.
Good Luck to you!!

Lisa
Hi Behnam - Welcome to the massage community. Here are a few tips for practice building. Warmly, Ariana Vincent, Ariana Institute, Austin, Texas.

PRACTICE BUILDING TIPS

• Take time to create a clear vision of what you want and need based on your values.
• Think about tangible and tasteful ways to cultivate referrals, increase your presence in your client's lives, and fill your practice, all the while staying true to your values and principles
• Examine how attitudes about money, value, socioeconomic class, and the age-old clash between commerce and healing, can affect your ability to truly useful to those you serve.
• Appreciate what you have. Focus on what you’re grateful for in your life.
• Networking – Attend networking events and let people know you offer massage
• Effective use of e-mail and direct mail – let people know you offer massage sessions
• Newsletters – add information about Massage in your newsletters
• Gift certificates – offer gift certificates for an introductory discounted massage.
• Web sites – feature massage on your web site
• Follow up – call, write or e-mail customers who have come in for a massage
• Letters of appreciation – send a letter to customers and friends who refer people for massage
• Publishing articles – publish an article about massage and share copies of the articles with colleagues and clients
• Print advertising – include massage in your print advertising
• Referral incentives – offer a free massage for every 3 referrals or offer $10 off of the next session
• Brochures – add information about massage in your brochures
• Business cards – add information about massage on your business cards
• Diversify and prosper – offer a variety of services, including massage combined with Aromatherapy
• Keep a file box on your desk with all your ideas in it on separate cards.
• Send out birthday cards with a gift certificate offering a discounted offer.
• Call customers that you haven't seen in awhile and let them know what times you have available that week.
• Do market research and find out what others in your area are doing and how they are marketing. Ask them to send you their flyer, card or brochure.
• Return all phone calls and e-mails within hours or at least the same day. Many clients and potential clients have a list of massage therapists and they schedule with whoever is available first.
• Focus on your goals and intentions. Rich people see opportunities, poor people see obstacles. Rich people see potential; poor people see potential loss. Rich people focus on rewards; the poor focus on risks.
• Ask for regular feedback from your customers.
• Call your client the next day after a session to see how he or she feels.
• Set up a regular treatment time for repeat clients.
• Develop a give away product for your clients after each visit
• Give free consultations.
• Develop a one line slogan that can be associated with your practice
• Give free lunch time seminars where people can find out about your services.
• Ask for referrals. Ask the referring people for information about themselves too so that you can refer to them.
• Have a ready made list of contacts for referrals.
• Become a great learner. Attend conferences, workshops and CE classes.
• Get set up to take credit cards through your business account.
• Set up regular business hours so people know they can count on you.
• Keep track of everyone who comes to see you and Keep your mailing list up to date.
• Focus on you. You are the root of your financial success or failure. If you work on the roots, the “fruits” will take care of themselves.
• Develop an Information kit for new prospective clients telling them everything they need to know about receiving a service from you such as location, cancellation policies.
• Develop detailed educational material.
• Research rates and price structures in your area to make sure you are charging fairly.
• Enhance your energy. Everything is energy. Money is energy. Big money takes big energy. So get into shape, eat properly and get enough rest.
• Increase your value. Become an expert in your field and be the best at what you do. To get paid the best, you must be the best.
• Keep up on techniques and methods, always improving yourself and your treatments.
• Make copies of interesting, informative articles to distribute to clients and colleagues
• Believe you can be successful. Put your attention on the traits, strengths, and virtues that allow you to believe you can – and deserve to be – successful.
• Selectively consider offering a senior citizens’ discount, a students’ discount, a teachers’ discount, a military discount, and a professional discount to colleagues.
• Volunteer your time to charities and non-profit organizations. Give back.
• Find other businesses to network with such as health clubs and gyms, beauty salons, florists, and retirement communities.
• Find several successful mentors to work with one on one. Contact www.micromentor.com
• Associate with successful people. Birds of a feather flock together. Energy is contagious.
• Utilize the services of Sherry Scott of Resource Connection of Austin.
• Review your business success plan often and share your review with supportive friends and mentors.
• Choose your thoughts wisely. You can choose to think in ways that will support you in your happiness and success…instead of ways that don’t.
• Be mindful.

ARIANA INSTITUTE
Inspiring Massage Education and Wellness for the Mind, Body & Spirit

Ariana Vincent, LMT, MTI, NCTMB
Nationally Certified Massage Therapist & Instructor
P. O. Box 684036
Austin, TX 78768
512.921.9319
http://www.arianainstitute.com
http://www.linkedin.com/in/arianainstitute

"What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others." (Pericles)
First and foremost, find a niche market. What type of work do you think you really want to do? I say think because as a new therapist that might change with time.

You cannont be all things to all people. If you try to compete with everyother therapist on the block you will have a tough time. Find your niche and go for it. Mine is pain management. I do nothing else. I do not give discounts as people do not respect that and I am worth every bit of what I charge. If your service is worth $85 (just picked a number), then why would you give it away for less? If you give someone a $10 discount then your work was only worth $75 so why should they come back and pay you more? (Yes, a few will but most won't.) The vast majority of those people will look for the next person to give them a discount and will have no loyalty to you whatsoever.

You are running a business not a charity. Charity work is something you do aside from your business.

My clients come to me for pain relief or structural changes and nothing else. They go to someone else for feel good work. By doing this, people are not confused and it is much easier to justify my pricing which is well above the going rate in my area.

Again, it may take you awhile to find your niche, but when you do you will fly.
Behnam,
It looks like you have quite a bit of advice posted! I am an administrator at a massage school in Oregon and I have seen our students have success by setting up public speaking. One therapist even spoke at the local Mennonite Church! Others have spoken to support groups of various kinds, Worker's Unions and even at the Portland Macintosh Users Group! Take along a relevent article about the benefits of massage with your card stapled to the article.

Elizabeth Halsey
Dean of Admissions
East West College of the Healing Arts
www.eastwestcollege.com

East West College's mission is to educate and enrich our community through the art and science of massage.
I took Laura Allen's marketing class! Fabulous! Can be adapted to any local culture in which you practice.
Congratulations, Behnam!

Like you, I am fairly new to massage. After completing school, I opened up my own practice by renting a room in an acupuncturist's office. Here are a few things that got me started:

1) I volunteered chair massage for wellfests (ours is BuffaloWellfest.com), as well as other corporate and sports events. Luckily for us, we have an organization here in Buffalo called Harmony Expositions that hosts small wellfests throughout the year. Perhaps they have a similar organization where you live.

2) With the chair massage contacts, send emails/postcards/intro letters/coupons every month. It is amazing how many people turn up on your doorstep 6-12 months after their first communication from you.

3) I just started a website approximately 3 months ago and it has been a big hit! Google yourself (your website) daily that way you find yourself up in the top 10 hits for your area.

4) if you're in an office with different modalities, get to know the other clients. I have had quite a few of referrals from the acupuncturist because they had met me in the office and asked who I was. The usual response is, "Ooh, you're a massage therapist? I could use a good massage." There's your opening to hand out a business card and an intro discount!

5) Offer gift certificates at a reduced rate during the holidays - I raised over $600 dollars through gift certificate sales alone the 10 days before Christmas! Also donate gift certificates (or put together small basket with brochure, business card, gift certificate, etc) for any fundraising events. The basket will do the advertising for you and you'll get a new client through the door!

You've gotten a lot of other great ideas from the rest of the therapists here, so I wish you the best of luck!
Congratulations!

I think there is some great information here but would add in internet marketing.
With the advent of speedy and precise search engines the internet is often the preferred method used to garner information purchase goods and locate service providers. To make your product and services easier to find by the search engines utilize free blogging searches! Drive people to your site through nothing more than time and effort...this is FREE!!! Here are some videos that walk you throough setting up your blog. Let me know if I can help.

I just posted those 2 videos on how to start a blog in less than 10 minutes on youtube....the first is just over 6 minutes and the second is just over 4 minutes.

Video #1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59xNcdtQ3QA

Video #2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UV0K85r6dX8

Eric Beard
Very cool, thanks Eric!

Eric Beard said:
Congratulations!

I think there is some great information here but would add in internet marketing.
With the advent of speedy and precise search engines the internet is often the preferred method used to garner information purchase goods and locate service providers. To make your product and services easier to find by the search engines utilize free blogging searches! Drive people to your site through nothing more than time and effort...this is FREE!!! Here are some videos that walk you throough setting up your blog. Let me know if I can help.

I just posted those 2 videos on how to start a blog in less than 10 minutes on youtube....the first is just over 6 minutes and the second is just over 4 minutes.

Video #1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59xNcdtQ3QA

Video #2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UV0K85r6dX8

Eric Beard
Hi Behnam,

I would suggest you offer your body wellness service to people you are currently doing business with, such as the person who cuts your hair,- this way they will not only benefit from the treatment but often will share the experience with those who are in the chair - clients. Get business cards, I would suggest looking at PS.Prints they are very reasonable and the quality is great. Also a website at ABMP with allow those you do hand your cards to see that you are a professional business. Also look at spa hotel's in your area often it is on-call so maybe not the best money to start with but you will be getting experience and keeping you around other professionals that you can get ideas from too. This is an exciting time for you, it may seem crazy but it is the beginning of a great career.

Enjoy

Mary Ann Schroeder

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