An employee works on a workplace laptop computer, to illustrate the concept of computer literacy and knowledge that is now necessary to being a massage therapist.

One of the setbacks with being a massage therapist is we literally do not have to have a business computer to perform our job. Our hands and massage table are all we need to perform massage. However, to efficiently run a successful business, it is essential to know how to use a computer.

Stuck in the Past?

I recently helped my mother set up a new, personal computer for herself. She has spent years opposing the idea because, as she states, “I don’t know how to run one of those things” and rationalizes she does not need one because she has a smartphone. (And her children to run a computer for her!)

The reason I set it up for her is simple: Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, more of our everyday life has been converted to on online world. Day-to-day life simply does not work without having some online connectivity that manages the interfacing of our personal life and the world we live in.

Everything from email notifications for bills, portals for doctors’ offices, and banking now expects, if not requires, that one participates online. Most businesses are attempting business simplification, which, for us as a customer or client, means automation—and automation relies on connectivity.

There are some businesses that operate so heavily online that you physically cannot call and talk with a live person to answer your questions.

But my mother wants to continue her past behavior, even with businesses that no longer provide service in the manner she is expecting. The frustration level is high for both my mother and the businesses she uses to handle her life needs.

As an online CE provider, I am observing the identical issue happen with some massage therapists who take classes online. Many therapists tell me they do not understand computers, have not worked on one in years, or are afraid to try and operate one.

In fact, over half of the emails and phone calls I receive from students are for technical inquires specific to how to maneuver through programs on a device. Often, these people are unable to find what they are looking for because they do not understand how to work through a program.

I believe the reason for this is as the world moves increasingly online, these individuals are simply lacking practice as to how to use a computer and not realizing a smartphone is sometimes a difficult way to interface with websites.

The downside to not having some familiarity with a computer now is that familiarity is not going to get any easier in the future—nor are we going to shift back to a world that does not rely on computers and technology to function.

Why You Need a Business Computer

Beyond using a computer for email and social media, this machine is a gateway to advanced marketing and business techniques.

For example, learning to utilize the packaged technology and software programs available to massage therapists frees up time and energy. This is also appealing to clientele, as most people now expect an online experience to book appointments. According to research firm Zippi:

•  40% of appointments in the U.S. are booked after business hours;

•  67% of American consumers prefer booking online compared to making a phone call; and

• 72% of respondents say online booking appointment platforms encourage them to keep appointments, because such platforms send out automatic appointment reminders.

For many appointment-based businesses, clients are expecting a shift in your behavior to be more available online. For some clients, efficiency has become an expectation that could increase client retention just as much as a quality massage service.

Many of the programs—whether for appointments, SOAP charting, tax-paying or learning CE, are simply easier to maneuver through and utilize on a computer than on a smartphone. Smaller isn’t always better. You can’t carry your computer in your pocket like you can your smartphone—but you can’t carry your massage table in your pocket either.

Choose Efficiency in Your Business Computer

As a business coach, I counsel solopreneurs frequently about how learning to utilize a computer will help them run a more successful business. Your computer can provide or assist you with:

• Business-management tools for banking, expenses, taxes and reports

• Selecting and setting up booking software

Gift certificate sales programs

• Digital marketing products and client emails.

• More defined target marketing for boosting a post on social media post

• Getting the most out of websites, especially those that run programs such as for continuing education.

Wondering What to Buy? Start Here

The best advice I can offer you to bring your computer skills up to speed is to start using one and to take some time to just learn how use necessary programs.

Good-quality laptops and monitor-and-tower combinations do not have to be an expensive purchase. I personally have purchased new laptops as well as refurbished computers at lower costs.

Are you unsure of what to buy? Just start asking friends or family to teach you about computer basics and you will begin to understand the language, just like you learned anatomy for massage. Do make sure your operating system is current and, you choose a PC, Windows 11 compatible.

Here is a list of options for learning to use a computer:

• Free basic computer skills through GCF Global.

• Free digital training from Grow with Google.

• Free SEO-specific training from Google Digital Garage.

• Paid training from LinkedIn Learning

 • Search for technology training and get results for online classes

• Many computer software systems, which any massage therapist should be using at this point for scheduling, sending invoices and taking payments, provide online assistance to help with set up.

Buying a computer to enhance and simplify your business activities is a worthwhile investment of time for your business and personal life. Make the commitment to yourself that 2023 is the year to elevate your business by purchasing—and learning to use—a computer.

Amy Bradley Radford

About the Author

Amy Bradley Radford, LMT, BCTMB, has been a massage therapist and educator for more than 25 years. She is the owner of Massage Business Methods and the developer of PPS (Pain Patterns and Solutions) Seminars CE courses and an NCBTMB Approved CE Provider.