The past few months for many of those in the massage and bodywork community here at MassageBook have been filled with a mixed bag of emotions. Simply being able to get back to practice safely has offered a glimpse of hope that business might actually start booming again one day. However, as these uncertain times continue to trudge on, new routines and protocols that are in place are making it easy to feel overwhelmed and defeated.

What we’ve always known though (and why we love going to bat for them every day), is that this group of independent practice owners is filled with warmth, resilience and awareness that can help us all push through these ongoing challenges head-on.

We reached out to massage therapists and bodyworkers all across the United States and Canada to see how things are going on the frontlines and find out how they’re making changes to their business strategies in the time of COVID-19.

Thanks to everyone who shared insightful stories with us! It’s clear that the hardships are far from over, but know that you aren’t alone in what you’re experiencing. Those across the industry are facing similar obstacles daily.

Below you’ll find insider tips from other massage and bodywork pros that you can start applying at your own business today. We hope they serve as an inspirational reminder that even though life at practice isn’t what it used to be, a lot of persistence and a little old-fashioned hope can go a long way toward getting back on solid footing.

How Massage Therapists Are Getting Clients to Book Again

We know that regular clients and steady income are the backbone of any successful massage or bodywork practice, so we first asked how owners are seeing success in terms of building the type of trust that’s needed to make clients feel comfortable booking again. As with all trustful relationships, the key we see is transparency. Transparent policies and communication have been essential to gaining back regular (and new) clients. Here’s how others are doing it:

  • Keep up with your state’s regulations and guidelines and make sure your clients know that, too. Post your safety precautions and sanitation practices on your website, on social media, around your office space, send out a few emails, and use MassageBook’s COVID-19 intake forms and reminder emails to help put those who are leary about scheduling at ease.

  • Personally call each client who has booked to make sure they’re comfortable and know your new policies that are in place. Follow up post-appointment to get feedback on what you did right and where you could improve.

  • Be honest and empathetic in your messaging. Go the extra mile to have a heart of service, not salesmanship. Cultivating relationships at difficult times like these can help establish trust that lasts for years to come.

We have also seen that a few of our members have taken to tech to get their messages out, which we always love to see! Remember that social media is a great place to publish new information about your practice. Here are some techniques that are working for others:

  • Go live on social media and use someone you’re close with as a client to show how safe the experience is at your practice.

  • Make social media graphics with your new rules, the precautions you’re taking, and what your new online booking and intake form experiences with MassageBook look like.

How Massage Therapists Are Adapting Their Business Models

Next, we wanted to know how massage therapists and bodyworkers are innovating, pivoting and creating different ways to save and earn income during the pandemic. We know that many small business owners are reluctant to offer discounts — as they’ve lost enough income this year already — so it’s encouraging to hear other ideas like these:

  • Require all clients to prepay so that you can accept as many touchless payments, including tips, as possible.

  • You’re spending more time sanitizing between appointments. Stop offering longer sessions if they’re getting in the way of accommodating more clients per day.

  • Save time by keeping a strict schedule and clustering appointments together — especially if you’ve had to limit the amount of clients you can see per day.

  • Save on gas and other expenses that come from commuting. Take one day off of your availability and extend the hours for the days you’re still working.

  • Raise your prices by $5 - $10. Your clients will understand that the extra cost is going toward the additional cleaning, laundry and supplies. (Side note: Done any competition research lately? You might find that you are underpriced, and raising your rates is a quick way to earn more income. Here’s how to tactfully increase your prices.)

  • Try outdoor outcall appointments if it’s permissible where you live. Ask clients to provide their own sheets to make it safe and easy for both of you.

  • Operate your front desk from home and shift your focus toward getting clients to book and prepay online or enrolled in a membership plan. Clients can come straight in and out with limited interaction.

  • Have an extra room in your office? Rent it to a fellow massage therapist who needs a safe place to practice.

New Challenges Massage Therapists Are Having to Overcome

Our aim at MassageBook is to consistently provide massage therapists and bodyworkers with new tools and resources to help them grow and maintain successful practices. In order to keep doing that as we look toward the future, we also wanted to hear about new daily challenges that didn’t exist before the shutdown back in March. The feedback has already gotten the wheels turning with fresh ideas, but unfortunately, many of these are issues that we simply can’t solve by ourselves. Even though our community is made up of independent service providers, we hope we can help you learn together and lean on one another just by sharing the experiences of others. If you’ve been feeling like it’s just you on an island lately, here’s a portion of what others are dealing with that might sound familiar:

  • I’m having a hard time getting clients to book again, especially since most of mine are older. They feel vulnerable and are afraid of returning to their regular routines.

  • Every minute between sessions is spent cleaning and doing laundry. I feel like I don’t have any time to visit with clients and build rapport after appointments. It’s making it hard to schedule follow-up appointments too.

  • Working with my hands all day is tough enough. This mask isn’t making things any easier. Don’t even get me started on how hot, dehydrating and distracting it is to work while wearing PPE.

  • Each day I am confronted with these questions: Will I contract COVID-19 and bring it home to my family? Will I unknowingly transmit it to a client who then spreads it to their loved ones?

  • I don’t have childcare and can’t run my business while the kids aren’t in school. I don’t have the support at home that I need right now.

  • I’m still closed. It’s not safe yet and we haven’t been allowed to reopen where I live.

  • I miss my regulars who haven’t returned. I have plenty of people who have expressed interest but haven’t booked yet. Plus, I’m worried about new clients because I can’t be sure that they have my well-being in mind.

  • I’ve never dealt with so many cancellations and reschedules before. But, I have to remain calm and understanding because we have to be much more lenient about last-minute changes.

  • I have a constant fear of being shut down again without assistance.

Stay positive and safe out there! We’re still rooting for you every day. Remember that our friendly support is just an email, live chat, or phone call away.

Your biggest fans,

The MassageBook Team

Know some friends or peers who could use some help getting back in business? We’d really appreciate it if you helped pay it forward by spreading this good news!