How to use Chair Massage to your advantage

I teach at a massage school at home in Knoxville, TN. In bodywork, we start our students out learning chair massage (before they move to tables). Once the students get to the table, someone always says, “I hate chair massage.”

I have to admit; I have a sort of love/hate relationship with chair massage myself. I love what it can do for my business, but sometimes I hate the limitations of chair massage. I find that I can do so much more for a client when I have them on the table, when I can use a product so I get better glide, when I have more time to really work a certain trigger point. But I go back to this…I love what chair massage can do for my business.

David Palmer, the inventor of the modern portable massage chair, had a vision. His goal is to make touch therapy a positive experience in our country and our culture. Bringing a massage chair to a public space does just that! The more people that we, as therapists, can expose not just to touch therapy, but specifically to our touch, the more potential clients we reach.

Several of my best table clients came to me first by chair massage, at an event or from an office where I have a regular gig. Chair massage is such a great way for someone to experience your touch, without the time or financial commitment that an hour service requires. Chair massage, in many ways, is also a more comfortable situation for someone who has never experienced massage before. The uninitiated always ask “What if I don’t like massage?” or “What if I don’t like the therapist?” With chair massage, a therapist can take the guessing game out of massage for these skeptics.

Try to set up a weekly or semi-weekly engagement with an office space or organization near you. This is one of the best ways to let many potential clients experience massage. It probably won’t be the highest paying job you will ever have as a massage therapist, but it can pay huge dividends by allowing you to show these clients your expertise. And, best of all, I’ve yet to see an unhappy face saying, ”The massage therapist is here!!”

Don’t get scared by referring out!

Does referring out make us look like less competent therapists? The short answer is “no,” although I think the process makes a lot of therapists feel like that is the client’s perception. I promise it’s not. Knowing your skill level and not risking your client’s health by trying to “figure it out as you go” will make that client appreciate your service and expertise much more.

If we are members of the healthcare profession, then we must act like health care providers. A general practitioner isn’t doing surgery, radiologists don’t deliver babies, and every massage therapist cannot give every massage to every client. In fact, if we try, we aren’t being professional. We are risking our clients, we are risking our personal reputations, and we are jeopardizing the perception of massage therapists across the country.

Your clients don’t expect you to have all the answers, and they won’t respect you if you act like you do. If you can quickly find the answer, do it! But if you know that the best lymphatic practitioner in the area works across town, and that your client would benefit from working with them, by all means make that suggestion. If you attempt to BS your way through an MLD service when you don’t know what’s going on, your client will be able to tell. Then, suppose your client hears about this great MLD practitioner from her doctor and asks you why you didn’t refer out, what are you going to say? “My pocket book is more important than your progress?” “I didn’t want to risk losing you, so I hoped you wouldn’t find out about them?” No. Honesty is the best policy.

Do you know how many people that disgruntled client is going to tell about her experiences with you? Do you think she’ll tell her doctor? Do you think she’ll tell the nurses in that practice? I bet she will, and I bet they will remember your name. Not in a good way. And that will certainly not benefit your practice.

Now what if you DO recommended that practitioner to her, and then her doctor does the same the following week? Wouldn’t you like her to tell the doctor, “That’s the same person my regular therapist suggested I see for MLD! Beth is such a great therapist, she really has my wellness in mind!” What do you think the nurse who hears that conversation is going to say?

The best outcome for our clients should always be foremost in our mind if we want to build a long-lasting business. Clients will come and go, but they will remember you. Even if a client leaves your practice for this reason or that, they will remember how you treated them and how knowledgeable you were; not just in your work, but in how well you helped them find the correct solutions.