Did you know that the CEO of MassageBook was also the founder of MassageWarehouse? And that he was a practicing massage therapist who also struggled with marketing his massage business while also trying to do that massage business.
Yep. And that was the inspiration behind his newest venture, MassageBook.
You may have heard of MassageBook, but you may not know just why its CEO and former LMT is so dedicated to making his new business model work to the benefit of all massage therapists and people looking for a massage!
Q: What is MassageBook?
A: It’s a range of things. On the most basic level, MassageBook is a business solution so massage professionals can manage their business reputation and control their schedules with a great website that lists the information clients want in order to schedule a massage – services, skills, prices, reviews.
But we perceive it being much more than that. It’s a tool to take some burden off of therapists who work really hard to do massage and don’t have time to learn html coding, search engine optimization, graphic design, and a load of other things it takes to have a really good online presence as a business.
Q: What are some of the highlights of MassageBook?
A: The best thing is that we make it simple to have a really sleek website. And if you already have one, then this is just one more way to get people there. Our business sites and individual profiles tell clients the important stuff – background, education, license number plus business hours, services offered and prices.
We have online scheduling and booking plus a range of client management tools – SOAP notes, email campaigns, gift cards – so that the entire business can be managed on your MassageBook account.
We also offer an easy integration with managing and publishing reviews, a one-click setup for a Facebook business page and easy set up on Google+ Local.
It’s easy to do, it looks good, it’s integrated with local search engines and social networks, and it’s comprehensive. You can’t go wrong.
Q: What compelled you to take on this project?
A: As a former massage therapist, I have a deep debt of gratitude to my fellow therapists and the massage industry as a whole. This is my way of repaying part of that debt. To keep this idea bouncing around in my head and not do anything about it would be selfish.
There are a lot of highly skilled, passionate therapists who struggle with managing their careers or practices. I see them all the time.
I also see a lot of people who could really benefit from receiving massage. It frustrates me to live in a world where people want to help others who could really use some helping, but the sides are unable to connect. So I had to come up with a solution.
MassageBook is all about giving therapists an easy way to reach out to new and existing clients and providing people seeking a massage a very convenient way to find and book a service.
Q: You were the founder of MassageWarehouse. Where did that idea come from?
A: The idea for Massage Warehouse came when I was a therapist in Atlanta in 1997 and had to order my supplies from a number of different suppliers. It was expensive and wasteful, both in terms of shipping and my time. The Internet was booming, and I saw an opportunity for doing business a better way that could save therapists time and money and simplify the lives of suppliers as well.
Q: A lot of massage professionals will recognize the MassageWarehouse name today, but what was it like early on?
A: (Laughs) We had no idea what we were doing. Really. We started off with the mindset of “How hard can it be?” Make a website, answer the phone, put something in a box, and send it off. It sure sounded easy enough.
We made just about every mistake possible. Fortunately Internet use was taking off, and we were very fortunate to have customers – my fellow therapists – who were very kind and understanding as we figured out what we were doing.
I also had an amazing team of people working hard to improve how we did things within the company every day. We needed a lot of reassuring hugs in the early going, though, no question.
Q: Why did you sell Massage Warehouse?
A: It was an extremely difficult decision. By the time I sold MassageWarehouse in 2006, we had a 75,000-square foot building with a call center, retail showroom, marketing and catalog production team, and a warehouse with tens of thousands of items stocked. We had figured it out.
I was almost 40 years old and had spent my 30s focused on a single thing. I wouldn’t change it for the world, and the experience was deeply fulfilling, but I definitely felt like I needed a break. My wife and I wanted to start a family, and I just couldn’t see myself balancing the demands of running the company with being a good husband and father.
Looking back, it was clearly the right decision. Seven years later, we have two amazing boys that are a full-on challenge for their elders, but I can’t imagine life without a family now.
Q: What lessons did you learn that you’ve brought to your new venture at MassageBook?
A: We learned a ton over those eight years and all of it has been useful while starting this business. I mainly try to remember the big picture – why I started MassageBook – so that I can keep moving forward and not get too caught up in the details day-to-day that can be so frustrating.
And having that perspective reminds me what I felt as a massage therapist too.
We get in to the massage business because we want to help people. And sometimes the drudgery of washing sheets and keeping the books and dealing with difficult clients makes us tired, and we forget why we wanted to do this. But if we step back and focus on the big picture, then we can relax and take those difficulties in stride.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with MassageBook?
A: Aside from getting all 46,000 therapists on board? (laughs).
Q: Yes, of course, aside from that?
A: I remember very vividly what it was like trying to grow my massage practice while also trying to do massage. It was difficult.
And with all the online opportunities now, there’s a lot available for therapists but it still means more time and energy focused on creating a website, learning how to use social media, keeping up with the latest online marketing trends, etc. It’s insane what you have to know in addition to massage.
So I want to make it easy for therapists to do what they’re good at by providing simple tools to not only handle the business-side of massage, but give them an easy way to promote themselves in today’s online marketplace.
- Author: Mark Volkmann
- Published: February 10, 2014