business challenges

Let’s examine the skills you have already learned from succeeding in massage school to help face business challenges

All of us have challenges in life. Most of us remember, during massage school, there was some challenge we experienced in completing the program. It could have been the death of a loved one, marital issues, injury or other health issues. These things did not stop us from completing our goal. Over the last 19 years, I have watched hundreds of massage students step out of their comfort zone and work with the challenges of life while improving themselves. 

As a profession, with the coronavirus, we are currently dealing with a change that can alter the way society looks at massage therapy — and, we can look at the successes we have had in our own lives to develop a path forward. Let’s examine six of the skills you have already learned from succeeding in massage school:

Work to Your Strengths. We all had a subject in school that was our favorite. We usually ended up excelling in it. We have a unique set of strengths that others do not have. Be proud of those strengths. Practicing and challenging our skills helps us get better. We have skills we have not yet perfected. Just because a task is easy does not mean we have mastered it. If we want to get better at draping our client, we need to practice. Suppose we want to get better at wearing a mask.

Practice. Suppose we want to be more knowledgeable on a pathology. Study. It is a simple formula that works.

Ask for Help. We had classes that gave us difficulty. Many of us had that awesome friend who explained it to us. In this current environment, starting or reopening a massage practice, or meeting business challenges, we may need some help. We have friends who can help us.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can sometimes be much like a 600-page textbook. Professional associations and publications can break things down for us locally and nationally. Many of us will also have help from an employer, like the owner of the spa, who will provide personal protective equipment (PPE). Remember, we don’t need to know it all. Sometimes, we just need to know who to ask. 

Ask Questions. If something does not make sense, ask. I got this idea from my 3-year-old son. I told a class of 30 massage students, “If you have any questions, ask.” Everyone had questions about everything. I found myself baffled because the lesson I was trying to teach stopped. I quickly realized other teachers had not given this guidance, and the students were frustrated and overflowing with questions. After we finished the question-and-answer session that lasted about two hours, there was a lot less stress and frustration for the students. We could all smile more. In life, this is also true. If we do not know why things are a certain way, we can get frustrated. If we simply ask, we feel more informed and happier.

Hold High Standards. Our teachers held high standards for us in massage school. It is our responsibility to maintain those high standards in our professional life. Just because other people’s standards are different does not make ours incorrect. It merely shows the quality we expect in our profession. Be proud of your high standards. Standards are what clients will talk about when they say, “My massage therapist is the best because …”

Trust Your Clients. In student clinics, client feedback usually affects a student’s grade. If a therapist does not have a simple client feedback form, they will never be able to improve client perceptions. If you work for a franchise, they have a system in place to inform you of what your clients liked or did not like. Take that to heart and trust their perception. All feedback is good feedback. 

Celebrate Achievements. In school, so many of us got bogged down in daily work. We were studying, filling out worksheets and doing homework. Massage school’s main goal was graduation. Now we have to make our own goals. Maybe your goal is having 100 monthly clients. Maybe it is mastering a new skill. Creating your bigger picture can help you feel accomplished once the goal is achieved. And just as you celebrated completing massage school with graduation, remember to schedule your goal-success celebration.

About the author

Nathan Nordstrom

Nathan Nordstrom, LMT, BCTMB, is the founding director of Educated Touch and provides in-person and online training for massage therapists. He has served on various boards of massage organizations, including those of the Massage Therapy Foundation and American Massage Therapy Association, and has been a massage program instructor and director. He is currently the director of massage therapy training at Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa.