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7 Tips for Hiring in Your Massage Practice

So you’re finally ready to hire, to bring on more massage therapists, a receptionist, other bodyworkers, service pros, or healthcare providers. Whatever their skills and whatever type of massage business you’re looking at growing, there are some critical steps to take when it comes to hiring. So let’s dig in…

#1 Create an Ideal Employee Profile
Now, if you’ve followed my content for any amount of time you know I harp on having an ideal client profile worked up. And just as you need to know the intricacies of who you’re marketing to when it comes to your massage clients, the same goes when you’re putting out a job ad and looking for an employee. You want to have a detailed understanding of exactly who you want to hire so that you’re speaking to them in a way that resonates in your job advertisement, in the interview, and throughout the whole hiring process. It will clearly define who you want to take the job as well as who you don’t want. Because let’s face it, not everyone who reads your ad or applies is going to be an ideal candidate for your business. And when you’re investing the time, effort, and money into new hires, you want to be sure you’re hiring well. Getting the right people to work for you makes all the difference. So sit down, and just like you would work up an ideal client profile to identify the massage clients you need to market to, work up an ideal employee profile that fits the exact type of person you’re looking to hire.

What’s their training and skill level? What type of personality do they have? What’s their work ethic like? What type of hours do they need to work? How do they handle conflict? Are they entrepreneurial themselves? Are they passive or firm? What are their client relation skills? What kind of customer service experience do they have? How willing are they to learn? This is most definitely not an exhaustive list, but I hope this gets your wheels turning on what you’re really looking for in an employee.

#2 Create a marketing strategy just for them
When you bring on a new employee, you want their books filled quickly, right? Even if you’re currently dealing with an overflow, a waitlist, or otherwise feel like you could get a good number of clients on the books for them right out of the gate, there’s no guarantee that will happen, nor that it will be a permanent full schedule for them. Just as you market yourself and what you do specifically, your new employee needs to be marketed too. And that means having a detailed marketing strategy that’s centered on them. So within your current strategy, you’ll need to put the pieces into place that will highlight their specific services, their ideal clientele if it varies from yours, the types of promotions you’ll run or ways you can entice clients to try this new therapist, and the branding change-ups you’ll want to make as you start this new chapter in your business. It’s not just business as usual when you bring someone else into the company; you need to evaluate what you can do to ensure their book is as full as possible, as quickly as possible so they have a steady paycheck and that you and the business are benefiting from the extra work and expenses of bringing on an employee.

#3 Know your numbers
Y’all…I know I harp on this a lot. Like a whole lot, but seriously, if you’re going to bring on an employee, I cannot stress this enough…Know. Your. Numbers. Backwards and forwards, inside and out. You are going to be responsible for someone’s paycheck. The way I see it, when I hire someone, I am now responsible for providing for their family. Because that’s essentially what it is. I cannot mismanage my money. I cannot scrape by and just hope everything works out to keep their bills paid. I cannot ensure they get full paychecks all the time while I am behind on my own bills because the business isn’t making enough or I can’t pull a proper paycheck myself.

You have to fully understand where you are financially and make some realistic projections on what you can afford. Just like any other budget, you absolutely need to understand what you can actually afford and build your budget and plans around that. I’ve seen a lot of therapists who make really high projections, assuming their new employee is going to be fully booked and therefore bringing in X amount of dollars, so they pay and expand based on that or based on what others are paying or a prospective employee demands; but then reality hits, they don’t market well, slow weeks happen, and they suddenly “can’t afford” that employee anymore.

So first, once you know your numbers, determine what you can actually afford as a total commitment to pay out every month for your employees. This means at minimum, looking over your profit and loss statement and determining your basic breakdown of expenses so you can see where your employee costs will fit in that equation. I went over a bit on what some realistic numbers are on this sort of thing in my video/blog from a few weeks ago on Why You Make What You Make. I’ll link that below.

#4 Come up with your pay and benefit package
Now that you know that total number, now’s when you can split it up into a real package of pay and benefits. So how much of that total is going to go straight to wages and how much do you want to spend on benefits that aren’t direct pay, like health insurance or retirement contributions, health and wellness incentives, bonuses, and whatnot. You want to be competitive in the job market, but you can’t dig yourself into a financial hole that makes your company go bankrupt and puts your employees and you out of a job entirely.

Don’t forget the extras on this by the way. You’ve got taxes and extra accounting costs that have to figure into this total monthly amount, so be sure you understand how much you’ll be paying out for those so you can adjust the pay and benefits to still fit into your employee budget.

#5 Save
You want to give yourself some wiggle room, a safety net and financial cushion, so to speak.
So for several months, I want you to pay into a savings account just like you would if you were cutting a check to an employee. This could be based on half of the projected pay since you’re not pulling in ANY extra revenue yet, but the full amount is best if possible. What this does is help you to see just what you can really afford and where you may have not thought things through enough…all without the stress of actually having someone dependent on that money. Plus, this savings account you’re building up during this time gives you a cushion to pay that employee out of if they start out a lot slower than projected or you otherwise aren’t able to cover their checks as quickly as you thought you could. I always recommend having at least a good 3-6 months of employee wages and benefits saved up before you hire so you can fall back on that safety net if some major catastrophe hits, like you know…a pandemic or something.

#6 Create systems, procedures, and policies
This is the part a lot of people just kind of skim over. They have their cancellation policy and the like and think, well it applies for my employees too, so that’s it. Nope. There’s a lot more to it when you start bringing in other people. Every system you have needs to be outlined in detail and made into a formal procedure that employees are required to follow. How to answer the phone, the dress code, social media codes of conduct, how grievances are handled, customer service, rebookings, reminder calls, all kinds of systems that you have in place, you need to sit down and write these out in detail. You may just do these naturally but you can’t expect your employees to do things just the way you do and the way you want, unless you tell them, unless you make this a standard procedure within the company and you train them on it.
Handbooks, policies, and procedures are necessary whether you have one employee or 50.

And last but most definitely not least…
#7 Get comfortable with confrontation
As an employer you will face confrontation. You may not like it, but you’re going to have to deal with it. As much as you may think you’ve hired perfectly, employees may not get along with each other, a great employee may still need to be corrected to follow those procedures and policies you set down, someone you thought you knew well may start changing and their behavior needs corrected, and yeah, you’ll probably end up firing some people along this crazy journey of being an employer. It’s part of it. You are their boss, not their friend. It’s great to have a team-based culture, to make things feel like it’s a family, but at the end of the day, this is a business and you are the boss. So you can be cordial and polite, handling even the toughest situations with grace and kindness, but that doesn’t equate to being a pushover. If you’re going to bring on employees, you’re going to have to put your foot down from time to time and deal with confrontation. Just get used to it.

So that’s my 7 tips to hiring. Whether you’re bringing on another massage therapist or other service providers, this is your business, not a hobby. So run it like a business.

Savanna Bell LMT

Hey there! I'm a massage therapist, educator, writer, and business pro helping massage therapists around the world build successful businesses. My goal is to give you everything you need to start, run, and grow a profitable massage practice that supports a life you love, all without the headaches I went through learning how to do it myself.

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