In the massage profession, most of us follow the traditional business model of trading dollars for hours.
The tricky thing is, this model takes a toll on our bodies, as massage therapy is a physically intensive type of calling—so integrating leverage is a smart thing to do for your sustainability and success.
I will share with you some practical and simple tips to add leverage to your business model in order to increase productivity, thereby generating passive and leveraged income—which means income not directly related to your one-on-one work with clients.
Leverage comes in many different forms, and you can implement it at any time with just a little thought and planning. As you practice leveraging, you will begin to see new ways and new opportunities to enhance your business and life. Using leverage can magnify your potential to create a purposeful and profitable practice.
Let’s explore how you could potentially use leverage to create the outcomes and achieve the goals you intend to reach in your business by embracing leverage in these following three areas: your time, others’ time, and your experience and talents.
Remember, in order for leverage to be truly effective, it must be applied correctly, just like using a lever to move objects.
Leverage your time
Let’s first take a look at your time, as this is probably the easiest and most effective way to create leverage for yourself. One way to leverage your time is to take a look at how you spend your time. Ask yourself where you can improve your business by making sure you are effectively engaging in necessary and income-producing tasks.
Time is so often eaten up by many things that demand our attention, or we give our attention to out of a lack of discipline. Is your time eaten up by things that appear urgent or as a crisis but could truly have waited? Before being diverted from your tasks, take a look at what takes you out of the game or derails your good intentions to accomplish important activities.
Sometimes it is far easier to do something we are really comfortable with and is relatively routine than break out of our habits and take new action—but by changing just one habit, you can change the course of your business.
For example, it is easy to spend time on Facebook or Twitter, and then before you know it, you get lost in reading more posts than you intended. You sat down with a plan to simply update your page, but somehow an hour (or more) has passed. This means you have lost—forever—the opportunity to be truly productive during that time.
One way to manage this type of time-wasting is to set an alarm before engaging in an activity that is a potential black hole of time. When you manage time effectively, you can then take advantage of those bits of space in between appointments to work on your marketing items, connect with a client or brainstorm new ways to increase your clients’ visits. This ensures your valuable time during work hours is used for income-producing tasks.
Another area in which time can be leveraged is by understanding your practice’s prime times and filling in your appointment book accordingly.
Between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. is when many clients enjoy receiving massage, so that might be your practice’s prime time. By booking clients in earlier time slots when possible, you will thereby leverage your schedule by leaving prime-time appointments available for other clients who need them.
However, you should take a look at your business to determine what your practice’s prime-time appointments are. Your ideal clients might like to come in mid-day or some other time; in this case, try to book clients in the less-popular timeslots first. You could potentially add an additional 20 percent to your revenue just by maximizing your schedule to take advantage of prime time.
Leverage others’ time
Are you doing all the work in your practice, working late and not taking any time off for your own health and relaxation? Because a small-business owner often does it all, it is easy to get caught up in continuing to do it all by yourself. The problem with this is you will just create more work for yourself and end up feeling frustrated and overworked. Is this familiar? You don’t deserve to feel overworked and underpaid for the time and effort you are investing in your business.
There is one simple thing you can do to change this: delegate, or leverage others’ time. Did you just shudder and think, “Oh no, that is definitely not possible?” It is not only possible, it is necessary for the health and well-being of your massage practice.
In addition to delegating, you can hire others; bring in experts, outsource noncore tasks, or even engage friends or family to assist you. This is what is meant by leveraging others’ time.
Hiring other massage therapists is one great way to leverage others’ time and increase your profit potential. For example, if you rent a room and have hours that sit empty because you don’t work during those times, then contract with or hire another therapist to sublet your unused hours, or hire him to provide services to the clients you generate. (Of course, check your lease to find out what you can legally do.)
Hiring someone else serves your clients by making available a wider variety of times for them to choose from, and is of service to the therapist who works for you as you are providing a space and opportunity for her to work. How exciting would it be for you to leave town and still be making money because your business stays open? That would be leverage in action.
You can also hire out the tasks that take you a long time to accomplish or you are not good at. Look at your practice and determine the areas that create frustration for you, and what tasks you avoid doing because you don’t enjoy them. Those areas are generally the ones to delegate or hire out.
For example, are you doing your own bookkeeping? If so, how good are you at it and how long does it take you? Naturally, our books are an important part of running a business in order to track our income and expense. They are the metric that shows us the health of our company. Compare the amount of time you spend doing the bookkeeping—including thinking about it and stressing over it—to hiring someone to do it for you, and determine if hiring your bookkeeping out would be beneficial to you. My guess is it will save you money in the long run, by freeing up time when you could be making money.
I bet you are probably thinking, “I do the bookkeeping at night when I wouldn’t see clients, so I am saving that $25 an hour.” But let’s take a deeper look at this. You are probably stressed about doing the books, or it isn’t fun, or you find out what you have been doing isn’t correct and you have to pay to have it rectified anyway at the end of the year.
You could, instead, spend that bookkeeping time designing your new marketing ventures, thinking about how to joint venture with someone else to create a great promotion, or even just relax joyfully so your body and mind are refreshed and ready to jump into the next day. Look at where you struggle and move that task to someone else. You may even have the expert you need in your client base with whom you could trade massage sessions for bookkeeping expertise. Work out an equitable agreement and free yourself up.
Leverage experience and talents
Leveraging our personal strengths, talents, thoughts and ideas can have extraordinary results. Take some time to write out what you do well, and how you can use your talents to the best effect. Then, identify how you can help others with your talents.
For example, if you know of a colleague who has awesome marketing ability and this isn’t one of your strengths—but you are a fabulous organizer—maybe you could create an event together. Your colleague could handle the marketing and you could handle the organizing. You would then present this event as a service to both of your client lists.
Also, think about what knowledge, education and hands-on experience you have that you could turn into a training program to help others. Perhaps you have developed a new type of treatment that has been extraordinarily effective on your clients.
Or, if you are a whiz at marketing, create a marketing course to sell to other massage-practice owners. Or find speaking engagements, and then create a tip-oriented speech designed to engage others in asking for your help. You could even design a coaching program to help them through your material.
By applying the concept of leverage, you can, with a little thought and effort, increase your income exponentially. Take small steps by asking your friends, family or loyal clients to hand out coupon cards for you; use an alarm to manage your operational business time; and look at the areas you struggle with and brainstorm ways to move those off your schedule.
Leveraging your time, others’ time, and your experience and talents through the effective use of awareness, connections and self-inquiry will accelerate your growth.
About the Author
Shelene Taylor turned her struggling massage therapy career into a multimillion dollar, multilocation success. She now shows other massage practice owners how to create purposeful and profitable businesses. Through the International Association of Massage Business, she shares the time-saving, proven and practical tools and strategies she uses in her own company.
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