This is how one massage business became a successful provider of corporate massage in the U.S.

A client’s employees enjoy a little R&R during their company wellness event

When Amelia Wilcox was young, she suffered from chronic headaches. She went to a chiropractor and various doctors to try to solve the problem, but the doctors merely told her to stop putting her hair in a ponytail.

She thought there had to be a better solution.

It was only when she got a massage that she finally had relief from her headaches.

“I felt good and it [massage] helped my headaches,” she said. “I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”

So, in 2003, Wilcox graduated from the Utah College of Massage Therapy in Salt Lake City and started her journey into the field of massage. When she started out in the massage field, she said she knew that she wanted to help other people with massage.

However, instead of going in the direction of working for a massage company or going into private practice, she started her own business, Incorporate Massage, which markets massage to corporations and businesses. Two of the companies the business has worked with are Clearlink, a call center in multiple states, and Entrata, a software company in Utah and Texas.

The company is now doing business in 49 cities in the U.S. as well as in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It employs around 500 massage therapists. Wilcox said her company has grown quickly in the area of corporate massage and consistently hires new massage therapists.

How the Business Began

An on-site company health fair is the perfect opportunity to give employees some chair massage

Wilcox started her company the way many massage therapists do: through word-of-mouth.

“I just started growing the business by reaching out to personal friends and having them reach out to their employers and see if their employers would be interested in having massage at work,” she said. (Read a Q&A with Amanda Wilcox in Best Practices in the July print issue of MASSAGE Magazine.)

For her first event, she hired three massage therapists. The employees loved the massages, and she said it was a great experience for everyone. “That company still uses us,” she said.

There is no current data available that shows the number of companies that offer massage therapy as a benefit to their employees; however, according to a report from a national association, the massage field has been consistently growing and from July 2015 to July 2016, about 19 to 25 percent of adults in the U.S. received a massage at least once.

Wilcox said that the marketing strategy for Incorporate Massage has played an important role in the overall success of the company.

There are so many different avenues online to promote any type of business that it can be overwhelming, but choosing a venue that is both easy to access and convenient, as Incorporate Massage, has been the key to the company’s success.

“Using social media effectively has really helped the company,” Teresa Freckleton, a massage therapist who has worked with Incorporate Massage for three years, said.

According to Hubspot, a marketing and software developer, “92 [percent] of marketers agreed that social media is important for their business” and that social media has helped their company reach a wider audience.

Some of the Incorporate Massage team at a vendor fair.

Social media serves as an important part of any business strategy and the massage field is no exception. Not only does it help increase your company’s following but it allows for your business to develop a loyalty and connection with your audience.

This is why Wilcox says giving free demos to friends or family members whose employers might be interested in massage has been key to helping Incorporate Massage grow.

“People are going to have a stronger connection to you because they can see you, your personality and your techniques,” Wilcox said.

Besides its marketing strategy, the company’s culture has played a huge role in its growth.

Before Freckleton worked at Incorporate Massage she had her own practice but, she said, she didn’t really know what she was doing. After that, she worked at a chiropractic clinic and then at a spa before eventually landing at Incorporate Massage after taking a year off from her practice when her daughter was born.

“There’s a lot more freedom with the scheduling,” she said. “I can work part-time and still be a mom.”

Freckleton said she can text her schedule and pick the hours that she wants to work. A lot of the employees appreciate this kind of scheduling because it gives them the flexibility to decide if they want more or less hours on a given week, she said.

“I’m very loyal to the company,” she said. “I’m not quite sure how to explain it.”

Additionally, the company offers in depth training at company meetings. The topics vary from meeting to meeting, but Freckleton said some of her favorites have been ways to protect yourself from getting injured during massage and chair massage techniques.

“If we miss a meeting we can go back and watch the YouTube link and still access it,” she said.

Massage in Businesses

Massage therapists provide chair massage at a company party.

Erin Malus has been a massage therapist for two years. Shortly after she graduated massage school she started working at Incorporate Massage as its content marketing manager. She has a background in writing and publishing and thought that in combination with her massage therapy degree she would be able to have a more self-directed career while also helping people.

She said a large part of Incorporate Massage’s growth is due to a growing number of companies realizing the positive impact of healthy touch for employees.

“Companies are acknowledging the benefits of massage for their employees,” Malus said. “The appeal of that is widespread and growing. Massage isn’t a luxury to do once in a while.”

A 15-minute massage can help a company’s employees reduce common workplace injuries and improve a company’s culture, Malus said. “It shows that a company cares enough about their employees to give them that weekly treat,” she said.

One of the challenges of building her company, Wilcox said, was that the first few years of building the company she wasn’t giving massages so she could solely focus on building the company.

“Know what your intention is at the beginning,” she said, “You’re not going to take a pay check for the first three years. But for someone who wants to work, if you envisioned yourself running a business, you have to focus on the business.”

No matter how successful the business has been, Wilcox still remembers what the massage field was like when she first started and how long she has come since then.

When she went to massage school, financial aid wasn’t available. She said she wants to help someone have the tools that she didn’t have when she started her business so they can help others through massage. She wants other people to have the opportunity to help others through massage.

This is why Incorporate Massage is launching a series of scholarships aimed at helping women entrepreneurs. This year, Wilcox said, the scholarship targets students in a massage therapy program. The scholarship is for $2,000.

“Women have a different perspective and skills,” she said, “and I feel like anything we can do to support women in these roles will be better for business and the economy as a whole.”

Wilcox said that only 4 percent of CEOs in the U.S. are female. She hopes that this scholarship will help to change that statistic.

The job has been one word for Wilcox: rewarding.

“It’s been a ton of fun, and I love it,” she said. “We provide a lot of jobs for people and opportunities for advancement for massage therapists. There aren’t a lot of jobs [like] that.”

About the Author

Hannah Fell is the associate editor for MASSAGE Magazine and Chiropractic Economics magazine.

 

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