To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Best Practices: Melanie and Robert Sachs,” in the June 2012 issue. Article summary: Melanie Sachs, 57, specializes in Indian and Tibetan ayurvedic bodywork. She graduated from the Ayurvedic Institute in 1986 and from Hirudaya Massage School in 2006. Robert Sachs, 59, has been a licensed massage therapist since 1983. He trained at the Central Ohio School of Massage, London’s Kushi Institute, and under the guidance of Indian and Tibetan doctors. He specializes in Indian and Tibetan ayurveda and is the author of Tibetan Ayurveda: Health Secrets from the Roof of the World and other titles. Melanie and Robert Sachs live in San Luis Obispo, California, and co-direct Diamond Way Ayurveda, a company founded in 1994 that provides education, books, DVDs, organic products and spa equipment to ayurvedic massage-and-spa practitioners.

What advice do you have for massage therapists who are thinking of specializing in ayurvedic massage?

Melanie: Seek the best education you can find and keep investing in your training.

Robert: Ayurvedic methods are quite diverse and beautiful, and the root underneath much of the bodywork one learns in school. But even if you don’t learn the specific methods, the paradigm of ayurveda helps anyone to learn how to touch more effectively and use the best product for the client. Thus on many levels, learning the ayurvedic approach makes any therapy you employ better for your client and deepens your skills.

What is your best client-retention method?

Melanie: I feel connecting from the heart will draw those you are able to help.

Robert: Being effective.

How do you balance your work life and family life?

Melanie: I work from home. My computer is in my kitchen and I make family meals together a priority.

Robert: In many respects, I feel the nature of massage demands an understanding of how to balance one’s life and commitments. You can’t offer effective massage if you are off-kilter and over-extending in too many directions in your own life.

What was the best business decision you made?

Melanie: To have my own business. I love the creativity and flexibility of working for myself. Also, working with my husband; we make a strong team.

Robert: Probably getting online and developing a Web presence. It has helped locally, as both Melanie and I teach and publish, [and] it has brought more attention to our work internationally.

What was the worst business decision you made?

Melanie: To put too many of my eggs in one basket and have too little financial redress when things went wrong. We set up a year’s work with one large spa chain that was then canceled every month by unforeseen circumstances and never had a fee for that included in the contract. When training, especially with big companies, be sure to have signed agreements that cover unfortunate circumstances for both parties.

Robert: I think this decision was only bad in hindsight. It has to do with a major new spa group internationally that wanted us to do training around the world and develop new products for them. We cleared our schedule and began to put things into production, and then the economy collapsed and the company could not use our services or products as anticipated. We over-invested and have been digging our way out ever since.

In five years, where do you see yourself and your business?

Melanie: I’ve never had a five-year plan, but my thoughts are toward more local and less international activity.

Robert: In five years, I shall be 64. I may do more energetic bodywork, but focus more on another one of my careers, which is as a social worker and counselor. I still would like to be doing training.

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