While I fully understand the need to get clients in the door quickly, get money…
Many massage therapists get caught up in marketing and advertising, just trying to get clients in the door and hopefully keep them coming back. But what if that’s not working? What if all your efforts don’t seem to be paying off? What if you can’t get enough clients to book? What if you’re getting clients but they’re not coming back? What if you’re struggling to pay your bills even though business seems to be doing alright?
These are common concerns because they’re common problems. And while every entrepreneurial guru out there is promising you ways to get more clients, that’s not the full picture. They may push certain marketing tactics, talk about funnels, or certain ad types, explain all these great ways to get people in the door, and even convince them to come back a time or two or buy a big package; and while those things are great (I’m sincerely not trying to downplay the importance of getting clients), none of it really matters unless you have your business fundamentals covered. You can do all the great marketing in the world, but if you don’t have a client experience developed that keeps them coming back, those one-time clients will never sustain your business. You can be raking in the money, but if you can’t handle your finances and weigh investments, then your bank account may still be empty at the end of the month.
So, what are these fundamentals that your business should have and how in the world do you make sure they’re taken care of at all times? Here’s the 6 parts of your business that are often considered the fundamentals. If any of these falter, you can be heading toward major trouble.
#1 A Business Plan
A thorough and detailed business plan is essential to building, sustaining, and growing your practice. It doesn’t have to be perfectly spelled out from the get-go. It will be tweaked and altered as you go down the crazy path of business ownership. And even if you’re years into your business, it’s never too late to step back and develop a business plan.
Think of it like GPS. You wouldn’t go on a cross-country road trip with a specific destination without understanding how to get there. Once you hit the road you may take a detour here and there for site-seeing, get lost a time or two, or otherwise stray from your initial travel plans, but otherwise, the basics are there. You have to go in this general direction and follow these particular roads in order to make it to your destination.
A business plan gives you this same structure. It outlines where you’re going and generally how to get there. You may take some side-journeys, and change some of your plans along the way, but the destination is the same…success! In order to get to that, you need to determine how you’re going to get there. This business plan will often encompass many of these other fundamentals, but it’s going to spell out every aspect of your business in detail. From your ideal clients to your dream location and amenities, the theme and purpose behind your brand, and so much more.
There’s two parts to this – the operations that affect the front-end of the business and those that affect the back-end of the business.
So the front-end refers to your client experience, the type of experience that sets you apart, builds trust and a loyal following, and one that your clients will never forget. Basically, this is all the things your client experiences. It’s the standard of care that you weave into every aspect of your day-to-day practice.
And the back-end refers to the systems and practices on all the behind-the-scenes stuff. When and how exactly you carry out things like bookkeeping, emails, returning phone calls, paying bills, dealing with vendors, and all that other stuff involved in the upkeep of running the business side of things. Proper systems and protocols go a long way here.
While it may not be the most exciting of subjects, if you’re not following the legal requirements of your business, you could be shut down, face fines, penalties, and all kinds of other stuff, so it must be considered a fundamental part of it. Your legal business formation (DBA, LLC, S Corp, whatever), your business and professional licensing, your financing and tax obligations, and the codes and standards for your establishment; these are all vital components that must be handled appropriately in order to proceed with your day-to-day work with confidence that the rug won’t be pulled out from under you.
Your brand, the identity of your business, is a basic concept that should be consistent throughout your practice. This isn’t just your logo, colors, and those sorts of visuals. Your brand runs much deeper than that. It’s the personality, the core mission, and the overall theme of your business.
#5 The Numbers
This comes down to finances and what’s known as KPIs, or key performance indicators.
Detailed tracking of these is necessary to any business. How do you know if you’re making money at all, much less how much money you’re actually making, if you have no way to look of it all? How do you know if a marketing attempt was successful if you’re not tracking the associated metrics? If you’re not keeping track of your money and the important numbers of your business, you have no concept of the real health of your business. Just because you can pay the bills or just because you have a full book of clients…that doesn’t mean you’re profitable, it doesn’t mean your business is healthy, and it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to still be open in another year or two. In fact, I’ve consulted with many businesses who were on the brink of financial ruin because they had been just skating by because things were seemingly okay on the surface but underneath were massively out of control.
Of course, in order to track all that money, you’ll need to make some. And you only make money when you have clients coming in the door, right? So marketing has to be a part of the fundamental structure of your business; whether that’s through digital means, such as a website, social media, or email, or more direct forms such as massage events, networking, or handing out flyers. Whatever forms you decide, you’ll need a strategy around it all. Figure out who your ideal client is, where they are, how you can get in front of them, and what they’ll experience once you are. Having a solid strategy not only lays out the who, what, when, and where for you, but it also gives you the reference to look back on for what’s working and what’s not as you go along.
While there are countless components to any business, each as unique as its owner, these fundamentals are universal. Letting any one of these slip can have detrimental effects for you and your business. Take care of them before you find that out the hard way.