Irene Diamond calls herself “a pain reliever and mover improver for bodies and businesses.”
She is an expert business coach, a business investor, a consultant, and a continuing education instructor, sharing best business and client retention practices for wellness professionals.
Irene has coached owners of more than 500 businesses, including wellness centers, physical therapy clinics, spas, fitness centers, and chiropractic, acupuncture and massage practices around the U.S. and internationally. She supports them in creating their precise, private practice for easy client acquisition and retention, customer service and more.
A bodyworker since 1988, Irene is the developer of The Diamond Method, which encompasses Active Modulation Therapy and Active Muscle Massage.
Irene is also a MASSAGE Magazine All-Star, one of a group of innovative therapists and teachers who are educating the magazine’s community of massage therapists in our print magazine, on our social media channels and on massagemag.com.
Karen Menehan: Welcome, Irene. The first question that we have, really, is to learn a little bit more about you. So, we’re wondering why you decided to get into the massage field as a career and how you’ve seen it evolve in the time that you’ve been in [it].
Irene Diamond: Well, as many of us, we got into the profession because of some injury or accident or pain or a physical problem that we had — and I’m no different. I was a gymnast when I was a kid and at the age of 15, I was standing on a guy’s shoulders doing acrobatics, and our balance was off; I fell and landed on my head.
I ended up with a broken neck [and] I ended up in the hospital for two months in traction. I spent those two months laying flat on my back, looking up at the ceiling. And I ended up with a spinal fusion laminectomy at C5-C6 and they basically gave me one day of PT.
People always ask, when I broke my neck, did it hurt? Well, it didn’t hurt when I broke my neck, but after the surgery, I was in chronic pain.
My mom had this brilliant idea, which was, “Let’s see if we could get a massage therapist to come to our house and see if that could help with your neck pain.” Just instinctively, I was asking, “Can you push here and hold that spot?” I would have him hold that spot, and I would move my head up and down, or I would move my shoulder, and I instantly started feeling the muscle tension release and the pain go down.
[I] got my degree from college in rehabilitation and movement therapy … I started to see really great results with my own clientele applying what worked for me and then basing that on the science, the understanding of the body, the anatomy, and physiology and kinesiology that I learned in college. I put it all together, and over the years, it developed into this method that I now call The Diamond Method.
KM: As your practice has grown in success and number of clients, you incorporated business coaching into your professional career as well.
ID: As my practice was flourishing, other practitioners or other clinic owners came to me and said, “OK, how are you getting the clients? And how are you keeping them coming back? And how are you pricing your services?” And asking me all the business questions. And so, I helped them. I advised them.
KM: What would you think of as the biggest mistake that you consistently see massage therapists make?
ID: The biggest mistake is not treating their business as a business. Oftentimes, [they] focus mostly on working in the business. And they forget about working on the business.
In the business is when you’re in your treatment room. You’re in conversation with clients. You’re in providing therapy. That’s important. But on the business [is] where you’re working on your marketing. You’re working on the computer. You’re working on collecting bills. You’re working on your branding. What we want to do in marketing is we want to stand out as the only solution.
KM: So, it sounds like then the therapist would develop very targeted marketing and a targeted clientele, is that correct?
ID: Absolutely. I’m all about being a specialist instead of a generalist. It’s easier for people to refer to you when you’re a specialist. You can charge higher fees when you’re a specialist. It’s easier to develop a reputation as the go-to person once you’re a specialist.
For example, I’m a specialist, it’s no surprise, for necks, and migraines. And why? Because I have had my own experience. So, if I get a client who has migraines, I know their symptoms. I know what their experiences are. I know what it takes to get rid of it.
And so, when I can speak their language, just even in conversation, nothing to do with what I’m doing with them in the treatment room, they already have a higher level of trust.
From the very first contact when somebody reaches out to us, we need to make sure that we are the right partner for them. I’m all about designing a dream practice; we need to make sure that that client is our dream client. So, we have to ask the right questions before we even book them.
KM: I heard you use the phrase “dream client.” What does that phrase mean?
ID: I have what I call a client selection triangle.
The top of the triangle is, are you able to help them reach their goal? Are you able to help them solve their problems, or are you able to help them achieve their outcomes? So that’s the first thing. If you can’t, they’re not a dream client for you, and I think it’s unethical for you to schedule them.
The second corner of the triangle is, do you like them? Do you enjoy them as a person?
The third is, can they afford your services? You don’t want people nickel and diming you. You don’t want people always trying to bargain [with] you and negotiate fees. You want people who can easily afford your services.
So, you have to like them, they can afford your services, and you can help them reach their clinical outcome. If all three points match and you can give it the thumbs-up, then that becomes a person that you invite into your practice.
KM: Irene, can you tell us what you think really separates the therapists who are struggling, making less than $30,000 a year and those who are really running successful, established practices and experiencing great financial success?
ID: What separates them is confidence. Confidence comes across in how you speak with people, how you show up in the world, the positioning that you take as an expert. As a consumer or the client, we want to go to experts. We don’t want to go to somebody who’s wishy-washy.
When I’m interviewing therapists to work at my center, I say, “Are you a good therapist?” And some of them will say, “Well, yeah, I’m pretty good. My clients do tell me I’m good.” And other therapists will say, “I’m damn good.”
Well, guess who I want to hire? The damn good people, the people who have that confidence — because I know that will translate over to their ability to instill trust.
KM: Thanks, Irene.
About the Author
Karen Menehan is the editor-in-chief of MASSAGE Magazine. Visit massagemag.com/all-stars to learn from MASSAGE Magazine’s All Stars, including Erik Dalton, Whitney Lowe, Joe Yoon, Tom Myers, Gael Wood, James Waslaski, Til Luchau and Anita Shannon.