Hamish

How Much Pressure Do YOU like?

This blog is about the adventures, trials, tribulations, emotions, pleasures, fears, frustrations and joys of starting a new out-call massage business in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The blog is written by T. Hamish Tear, one of the two owner / partners of Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole – which is then carried forward into the Social Media sphere by Rochelle Ganoe – the other owner / partner.

 

Last week I finished by saying I would be discussing our web site’s role in the overall marketing strategy – and I hoped to be able to link to our new and super-duper web site – courtesy of Shannon Sbarra at SkyFire Studios. Alas, the Labor Day weekend got in the way it’s not here yet…so meanwhile I’ll write about my thoughts on ‘pressure’ as it pertains to massage..

I sometimes receive pleasing compliments about the way I do certain things during a massage or use specific techniques – and many of these comments address that I just somehow know how to use the most appropriate pressure for their body and muscles – not too much, not too little, no matter where in the body I am, or within which technique I am working.

Pressure‘ is a strange word when applied to massage. I find intake forms to be a bit silly when they ask what kind of pressure the client would like. My type of client will often vote with their feet – as, really, they don’t know what they are asking for – and they don’t know ME as a therapist. And the other thing about the pressure question is…where?  And at what stage in the massage? The amount of pressure a therapist applies differs all over the body and depends greatly on the overall flow of the massage and the body type you’re working on. A massage therapist can and will go deeper once their client is more into the massage session, more relaxed, and has been having the benefit of preparatory and warming strokes, such as petrissagetapotement, and even a more vigorous effleurage. (Additionally, I use a table warmer – which goes a long way to preparing the muscles and mind of your massage client for deeper work.)

It needs to be clarified that I am working in spas in the Jackson Hole area, where clients are mostly looking for relaxation massage with some specific thrown in – such as ‘tight shoulders, neck and upper back’. Also, these tend to be ‘one-time’ clients – looking for a bit of feel-good pampering while on vacation (and the way many people vacation is very stressful). If I were a sports therapist working on a specific problem with an athlete whom I see weekly – that’s a whole different context, where ‘pressure’ is used in a whole different way.

In writing about ‘pressure’ in a massage blog, there’s a whole lot of peripheral information that needs to be considered – all the way from that silent, energy-filled ‘communication’ with the client on the table, to the much more physical aspects of the therapist’s size, weight, strength, experience with skills and knowledge of anatomy. And there’s a feeling.

My advantage is in my physical attributes. I am a 57-year-old athlete (mountaineer, skier, cyclist), 6’2″, and 185lbs. I understand the human body from an athlete’s advantage, and I take massage seriously. For me, it’s a focus and a meditation. For that 60 or 90 minutes I am completely there in that massage room with the client and nowhere else. And usually it’s more about the pressure that I don’t apply. My main skill is knowing how to hold back – how to keep what I have in reserve, and then I can use the saved strength to control the movements and pressure accordingly, slowly working into more pressure if I feel that’s where I can go, and if that’s what the client needs and /or wants. I have a hard time working if the client wants to talk – but if my ‘serious’ attitude doesn’t convince clients to settle into the massage, I’ll mention that they might want to try some breathing.

But anyway – getting down to it – once I have the client comfortable, warm, secure, and have done some over-cover work and quite a bit of warming strokes – I’ll get down to the ‘pressure’ work. I use my senses as I move along slowly applying pressure in whatever stroke is appropriate for that body part. By this time I have found the right amount of oil to suit the client’s skin type and depth of massage they’re capable of handling. More oil means a lighter massage, less oil means deeper – it all has to do with the enabling or the curtailing of the speed of the stroke. With more oil, you’re going to zoom along the surface of the muscle, not spending much time there. Less time means less pressure.

More time, less oil, more pressure. I like to be somewhere toward the less oil end of the scale as it’s much easier to control what’s going on and oil can always be added. And remember – it’s what the client has asked for – not what you, the massage therapist ‘can do’ – that counts. Give them what they ask for – a light massage can be just as fine or appropriate as any other. And you’ll probably get a better tip. I digress.

The feeling is complimented by acute use of your own senses as you massage this body with pressure strokes. Watch what’s happening – is the client reacting in any way? A quick reaction of the head or any muscle group? Is there any general tensioning? Are fingers or toes twitching or (hopefully not) curling up? Does the client’s breathing alter, change, become shallow, labored, deeper?

Most of these things indicate that you’ve probably already gone too far and it’s good to catch these signs just as they’re showing up – and then – I try to stay right there – just on the cusp of the comfort / discomfort zone. This means I’m effecting muscle massage yet still maintaining comfort – which is the (also essential)  ‘relaxation’ component of massage.

Next week – I’ll be back on track with the exciting new web site that’s nearing completion right now.

Be Well,

T. Hamish Tear

Yelp Helps

This blog is about the adventures, trials, tribulations, emotions, pleasures, fears, frustrations and joys of starting a new out-call massage business in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The blog is written by one of the two owner / partners of Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole – and is then carried forward into the Social Media sphere by Rochelle Ganoe – the other owner / Partner.

In part 1 of the ‘Marketing Your Massage Business in Jackson Hole’ last week, I was coming to the conclusion that, by a large margin, the internet is the place to advertise and the place to be seen. Why? Simply because the calls have been coming in good numbers from web searches on Google and on Yelp. So far, with the Jackson Hole News and Guide, after five 1/4 page ads in the weekly paper – we have had just one phone call (which did lead to a massage being sold). I’ll continue to monitor and report on the newspaper advertising results (we are committed) and thought on branding etc.

But this post is more about Yelp. For a massage business in Jackson Hole, I can’t imagine a more effective way to be found than to be listed on Yelp. Whilst the majority of our calls (and orders) have come from the Internet – the greatest portion of those has come from Yelp. I had never quite realized just how much people – especially travelers – use Yelp as their main search tool – not just Google.

In one example, I was called by a family who was vacationing in their large RV and were camped at the Virginian RV Park. The man of the family was in great need of a massage, and his wife did some diligent research on Yelp. Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole popped up first and, with just one great review, she called and booked a 90 minute massage right there in their RV.

After the massage, they explained their philosophies about doing their research on Yelp: “I won’t even entertain purchasing from a service or a business until I have seen it on Yelp and read the reviews.” Said the wife. But in addition to this, this family had a painting business and they have their business on Yelp too. I appreciated the advice they gave me about being on both sides of the Yelp story. Additionally, they advised me never to purchase advertising on Yelp as, like Google, it’s the organic nature of the listing that counts. Good organic placement on Yelp, with strong reviews, is what gets the travelers’ attention and makes them buy your product.

It’s all very well to be found on Yelp – but guess what – yep – there’s more to it than that. Whilst some travelers will call directly from the phone number listed right up-front on your Yelp page, many will need further confirmation and go to your web site to see what it’s all about. So…you need a nice web site – and one that is ‘responsive’ to being adapted to monitor sizes on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablet computers. Next week I’ll talk about, and hopefully be able to share with you the launch of, our brand new custom web site – courtesy of Shannon Sbarra at Skyfire Studio.

Be Well,

T. Hamish Tear

Marketing Your Massage Business in Jackson Hole

This blog is about the adventures, trials, tribulations, emotions, pleasures, fears, frustrations and joys of starting a new out-call massage business in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The blog is written by T. Hamish Tear, one of the two owner / partners of Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole – which is then carried forward into the Social Media sphere by Rochelle Ganoe – the other owner / Partner.

Our most recent ‘test of faith’ in Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole has been to continue to commit funds to consistent, repeated advertising over long periods of time when this is quickly becoming a negative cash-flow situation. The big decision has been whether or not to continue with advertising in the Jackson Hole News and Guide (and now we are considering the Jackson Hole Daily News) – in addition to the various other advertising mediums we have going on at the moment – not to mention the ‘Big-Gulp’ of a whole new custom web site. From previous blog posts, readers may recall that those other advertising mediums are:

1) Rack Cards. These were published by Vista Print. We ordered 2,500 and they have been distributed around Jackson Hole by the brochure delivery company “Pony Express”. We are having them delivered to rack card locations in hotels and public places frequented by tourists all over Jackson. Rack cards have provided us with two inquiries and one sale over a period of three months.

2) Jackson Hole Attraction Menu. This map and calendar of events carries advertising within it and is distributed alongside rack cards and is also found in many hotel rooms and lobbies. This has brought in three inquiries so far and has resulted in one sale.

3) The Jackson Hole News and Guide. We started with a 1/4 page ad and are now running a slightly smaller ad. for six weeks – the total contract being for thirteen weeks. This has brought in one inquiry, which led to one sale.

Those are our current advertising efforts and on-going expenses. In the past we have also advertised in the half-off special section of JH Weekly (aka Planet Jackson Hole). Yes it seems steep and scary and the question is…do we have faith in Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole to keep it going with that kind of negative cash-flow? Fortunately, we have our contract massage work at Spring Creek Ranch, and at Sena Spa in Teton Village, and at Olga’s Day Spa at Snow King Resort to keep us going. Rochelle also has a handful of fairly regular local massage clients from the past couple of years that keep her cash coming as well – although those are well discounted prices.

But what we also have to thank for cash coming in – by far our most efficient advertising medium (although we’re still talking small numbers) is the internet – yes – our web site, its SEO and Rochelle’s SM work – are performing. Usually when the Massage Professionals phone rings it is a request for a massage from having been found on the internet. And those customers have been mostly un-phased by our basic one hour massage price of $130 – and they leave extremely generous gratuities. This is why we have decided to go for the big splash of having a new custom web site built for us. We consider that the previous web site, a free template web site that comes with membership of the American Bodywork and Massage Professionals, to be ‘adequate’ but no more because it is not a ‘responsive’ web site – and other reasons. (Although it is a really good place to start with a brand new massage business with little start-up capital – and it has already gained a very respectable organic Google placement.)

This blog Post will continue next week with details of how we have decided to construct our new web site, who we hired to do so and why – and how expenses being poured into the web site can be justified and balanced against or with those other advertising mediums in Jackson Hole.

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle.

When The Massage Room Door Closes

This blog is about new massage therapists (a couple) starting a new massage business in Jackson Hole, Wyoming…

Here it is again, and I don’t mind repeating it…I AM A NEW MASSAGE THERAPIST. In fact it’s sometimes embarrassing that I don’t have much to offer about myself when it comes down to describing my experience in the ‘about’ page on our web site. But, hey, I’m 57 years old. Circumstances have led me to the point of starting over and I’m doing my best. So far, in addition to 100 hours of Swedish massage instruction, what I have to offer my massage clients and the massage business, is ‘life’ experience – which means experience of people on a broad spectrum. It means I can empathize, listen, understand, be free of judgments or pre-conceived notions. It is also handy that since my teens I have considered myself to be an athlete – sometimes reaching into the realms of ‘endurance’. Working-out regularly has become a necessity and, with that, comes an understanding of the human physique and what it can tolerate…and what it can’t.

We are fortunate to be able to work as massage contractors at a few spas in the Jackson Hole area – this brings us in valued cash and experience as we plug away at starting our new business. The guests are in their robes in the reception area while the therapists ready the rooms. Water or tea is given, and intake forms are reviewed with the guests. Most times there’s small talk about the vacation so far, I always ask about how long they have been at this altitude (Jackson Hole is at 6,200 ft.), and I also ask about what they have been doing here so far. (People often overdo it – even whilst on vacation. Even though I disguise it as chit-chat, I get an idea if they’re golfers, tennis players, climbers; carry small kids about, what they do for a living (computer work?), and if they’re generally stressed or not. 85% of the time people are needing a massage because of upper back, neck and shoulders pain and stiffness – and that mostly derived from computer work or at least desk-sitting all day. At this juncture I am truly tempted to suggest that they change their lifestyles – but of course I have to hold back and simply do the best for them in the hour that they are with me.

Resort guests can create an interesting dilemma because, mostly, the massage therapist only sees them ONCE. So what can you do? In normal massage practice when a massage therapist will see  clients regularly – it’s wise to use the first session or two just to get to know the client and their body type, their ‘condition’ and how they receive massage. It gives the massage therapist a chance to go in gently – exploratively, and then make a game plan for future massage sessions.

In the one-time-only massage business it’s a different story. The client usually wants one of three things – relaxation, soothing of specific aches and stiffness, or a combination of both. Often this is accompanied by a request for ‘deep tissue’ work. It is important to listen to the client’s wishes and, for the sake of a good tip, register that you will pay attention to those specific areas. However, I feel that it is also important to pay attention to the whole story – that the primary thing you can probably do for this guest is provide relaxation (without that – what’s the point?) – and the last thing I ever want to do to a one-time only guest is to hurt them – cause them to recoil, stiffen.

The guest has been heard – led to the treatment room, asked to disrobe (while I step out) and asked to (usually) lie face-down on the table…”And I’ll give a knock before I come back in…” I step outside, take some breaths. I replay what I have heard from the guest and void my mind of all else, preparing to do nothing other than give that guest the best of my attention, based on the information gleaned over just a few minutes of preamble, for the next sixty minutes.

I knock, get permission to enter, walk in, dim the lights even further, and the door closes behind me…

Be well,

Hamish & Rochelle

Learning As We Go

We are now into our eighth month since creating the LLC for Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole. This is only issue number 10 of this blog about our experiences so far – and yet I am already able to back-track, learn from my mistakes and assumptions – and share with readers.

Earlier this summer, when I started the Blog, I did so with reluctance – who wants to be a blogger? Who wants to spend any more time sitting in front of a computer (why many people come to us for massages these days)? Who would ever read this stuff  even if it could be found among the millions of blogs that now completely bung up the internet? In fact – I even wrote that the reason for writing the blog and including strong key words (for us they’d be massage, body work, deep tissue, Jackson Hole, Spa, and so on…) – has nothing to do with human beings actually reading the blog – but it’s all for search engine spiders / robots / crawlers that comb web sites and blogs looking for rich content.

Therefore, I admit, I wrote a load of drivel stuffed full of key words. I didn’t really care if the blog had form or consistency in style or in the way I set up the headers – because nobody would be reading it. You will notice I still don’t have a fancy header or any graphics and so far I have decided that images and lots of linking etc. is too time-consuming and a bit tiresome. After all – how many images of anything to do with massage are truly unique? And how relevant are fancy graphics when what I really need to spend my time on is writing the blog and getting the rich text in there?

But I was stunned to learn that people (so far other massage therapists) DO read this blog and have relevant, positive comments to make: Jen Ryan who is a life-long Jackson Hole and Star Valley massage therapist, and Yvonne Clapper of Massage by Yvonne in La Habra, CA, both commented on my recent blog post: Gaining Confidence as a (Male) Massage Therapist.

Jen and I work together at The Spa at Spring Creek Ranch in Jackson Hole. Again – I was completely taken-aback that somebody would read my blog and was grateful that I had put a little more care than usual into what I wrote. Jen loved it and was just generally very complimentary – most important to my confidence as a massage therapist and a startup business owner.. I made a note to myself that I need to pay more attention to this blog-writing thing.

Then Massage Professionals received an e-mail from Yvonne Clapper whose response to that same post about homophobia in the massage industry (not wishing to be massaged by a male therapist) is here: I really enjoyed reading this.  I’ll be sure to look you up if I’m ever in the area!  I am a massage therapist, but must admit I have a hard time relaxing when I receive treatment from a male therapist.  School helped with this tremendously, however, I still have insecurities when it comes down to it.  I agree 100% with your reasoning, but would like to add body image issues, and a history of abuse to your list of reasons.  Thank you for sharing! Thank you Yvonne this is a most useful and informative insight.

The learning curve in starting this new massage business in Jackson Hole is steep – at this very early stage I have already learned that not only are people reading this blog, but that their input is genuinely worthwhile.

In Massage Professionals JH Blog Post No. 11 I will describe how this blog, combined with Rochelle’s phenomenal job of keeping up with a strong Social Media campaign is helping to boost our position in the search engines.

Be Well,

Hamish and Rochelle