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Organic is Organic

Organic Massage

Well, it would be a stretch to say that there is such a thing as Organic Massage, and there are of course organic massage oils such as Certified Organic Sunflower Oil, Certified Organic Safflower Oil, Certified Organic Olive Oil,Certified Jojoba Oil, and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) Vitamin E,  but this is a column about organic eating and organic massage marketing.

 

In the last couple of years, more of our local Smith’s grocery Store in Jackson Hole has been given over to organic fruits and vegetables. This could be in direct response to therecent opening of a huge new Jackson Whole Grocer just up the street. Or it could be Safeway taking a genuine interest in their customers’ health and responding to market forces. But every time I go into a store and see the word ‘Organic’ I become the skeptic and remember the discussion in Michael Pollan’s book: ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma”. He says that far too many food companies are getting on the ‘organic’ bandwagon – just to increase profits (markups on anything that says ‘organic’ are  many more times than non-organic) – when in fact there isn’t really that much of an organic nature to these foods. It’s a bit like ‘green-washing’ – when a company that pours millions of gallons of toxic waste into our rivers gets a ‘green’ award because it recycles its office paper!

 

Then there’s another kind of organic – which is how we’re growing our business at Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole. So maybe we’re getting closer to Organic Massage.

There’s organic in the way Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole is gaining positioning in the search engine rankings, and there’s organic in the way we’re slowly increasing our customer base. That is: we’re not spending money on link farms, buying Facebook ‘Likes’ or Twitter followers and so on. Those things can bring in vast numbers but it’s not a good way to go and is detected by the search engine crawlers as ‘underhanded’ and will cost  more than money in the end. It will cost of massage business credibility. Search engine rankings are being increased in three ways: 1) Rochelle is working hard (she started with one to two hours every day) participating in lively SM correspondence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.  2) Our new web site www.massageprofessionalsJacksonHole.com is totally dialed-in, with ‘responsive’ capabilities to show up on mobile devices, and  3) The blog – such as this post. It’s important to keep it rich in keyword phrases and content – although you won’t see the word ‘Massage’ or ‘Jackson Hole’ written up too much in this week’s post. Another way we’re doing it organically is simply by growing the business slowly. We recently turned down the opportunity to take over an established massage business in Jackson Hole. There are beautiful premises with four nicely decorated rooms, inexpensive rent, a customer base and a very advanced responsive web site. We turned it down because we’d rather grow into that kind of positioning than purchase it all. It just seemed like the better way to go. We’ll grow by reputation one customer at a time – and that’s organic. And then, who knows, maybe one day we’ll discover Organic Massage as well – but if we do, it will be slowly – and organically.

 

Be well,

Hamish and Rochelle

Our Brand New Web Site

About Our Brand New Web Site.

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In case you missed it – the URL (Universal Resource Locator) of our spiffy new web site for Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole is http://www.MassageProfessionals. We have also kept the ‘pointer’ URL from our previous web site that we had through the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP), which is www.jacksonhole.massagetherapy.com. We’re keeping this for three reasons: 1) Because we’ve put so much effort into building an organic following with this web site that it would be a shame to let that go and start over, 2) We are necessarily affiliated with the ABMP and their web site through massage insurance and membership – so there are numerous valuable links and associations that we maintain, and, 3) having strong ‘pointer’ web sites is important, where the landing page takes people directly to our own new web site.

 

The content for the ABMP web site had been working well for us – no need to write it again (thanks to Mariane Maffeo of www.MaffeoMedia.com) – so we saved some money by asking Shannon to export that content, with tweaking for SEO as she saw necessary, into the new web site. But it was very important that Google search bots not detect duplicate content – so the ABMP web site was stripped of all content and populated with essential, rich keywords that specifically directed viewers to our new web site.

During our start-up months with the ABMP web site, it had become obvious that our customers were coming to us via internet search, and that our dollars spent on print advertising could be converted into internet advertising dollars. The ABMP web site, though a great way to start, was not the forward-thinking ‘progressive’ type of web site that we needed. Our customers search on mobile devices and ‘responsive’ web sites make that possible. I did have a few conversations with the web gurus and management at ABMP to see if there was anything like this on the horizon – but that was not to be. Still – it was a superb start-up site that I would recommend to any massage-business start-up (free with membership). It helped to send us on our way and proved that the internet was to be our main source of customers. Therefore it made sense to have the latest in progressive web sites built for us – and for this, we chose Shannon and Jimmy Sbarra of Skyfire Studios in Montana – http://www.skyfirestudio.com/

Image Showing Web SIte Under Construction

It’s not really my purpose here to ‘sell’ SkyFire Studios to you. I don’t have to – just look at our new web site and you’ll see what I mean. Shannon and Jimmy are a young couple who seem to me to be not just ‘sharp’ and at the cutting edge of web site technologies, SEO marketing, and design- but they also have a pleasant, yet professional business ethic. They do what they say they’ll do, on time, and at the agreed price. No shenanigans. If more work is to be done – the price is outlined fairly and agreed upon. Their price is reasonable in this industry and good for the quality of work they produce. All through the process communication has been open and at no time are we made to feel stupid when our knowledge of web sites and ‘internet na-na land’ is lacking (Jimmy is the guru). They explain it all very well. Now that the web site is built, there’s obviously some tweaking to do and on-going SEO to monitor – their associate, Caitlin, is going to come on board. So far, our early conversations with her have sounded very encouraging, and I’ll comment on that in a later post.

 

The new web site is built on www.Word-Press.org – as is this blog – moved over from www.Blogger.com. As with moving the web site – all previous content from Blogger has been deleted and that Blog deleted completely. Google web crawlers don’t report well upon seeing duplicate content.  I’m writing directly into the WordPress blog page right now – and it sure does make things easier, although it’s a significantly more robust platform with many more, and more complex options. Another thing we have had to do is change our e-mail server from www.GoDaddy.com, to www.Dreamhost.com. I’m still not sure why that was a good move – but it’s the hosting service that SkyFire Studio works with. Moving e-mail platforms has, I admit, been a bit of a pain so far – but Shannon is helping us get that together and I’m sure it will all be for the good in the long run.

Altogether, this is an exciting and significant phase in the growth of Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole. After just eight months in business, we have moved on from a start-up, free web site with ABMP into a much more aggressive, flexible and SEO-friendly web site that available to travelers on I-phones and tablet computers.

Be well,

 

Hamish and Rochelle.

 

Listen, Just Listen

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.

LISTEN, JUST LISTEN

 

When a client comes to you for a massage, the entire session from intake to goodbye is about the client. The client wants, and is paying for, your attention. Some need more, some less. Some are more demanding, others very humble. But whatever it is, a good listening ear will make this massage extra meaningful to your client and hopefully be at least part of a successful conversion from a first-time client, to a regular customer.

 

With the intake form filled out, it is of course normal and customary to review what the client has written – especially if this is a first-time client with you. Whilst the massage therapist must repeat the information on the intake form back to the client, ask questions and make comments where appropriate, it is essential to do much more listening than talking. If the client has certain specific reasons for coming to you for a massage, listen, empathize, show your understanding of what is being said – but without saying too much. Let the client do the talking.

And it’s not necessary or even advisable to get caught up in small-talk or add to the client’s complaint by adding examples of your own similar issues – just ‘zip-it’. For example, today I had a client, a young lady, who warned me that she had badly bruised her Coccyx about three months previously – and that it still hurt. Well, that was very interesting to me as I had had that exact same injury earlier this summer. I asked her how it happened (MOI, Mechanism of Injury, could be important knowledge to the massage) and she told me that she had fallen on (not off) her bicycle – and landed on the rear wheel hub with her Coccyx. Well – my goodness – there’s an incredibly strange coincidence – that’s exactly how I suffered my own injury. So in fact there was quite a conversation I could have had with her. I could have gotten into the whole story of how this same thing had happened to me and all such other time-wasting small-talk. But the that would have been about me! – And how could this possibly have helped or contributed to the massage or the way I would give the massage? Not one little bit.

So of course I made empathizing noises, said ‘Ouch’ to show that I, as a massage professional, understood the nature of the pain of an injured Coccyx, and left it at that. Therefore she got to do 95% of the talking at the time of discussing the intake form, and I’m sure she felt satisfied that she had been listened to. And after all, what is it we’re after if it isn’t a satisfied customer?

Be Well,

Hamish and Rochelle

 

 

Breathe

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.

BREATHE.

 

You hear it all too often…”Don’t forget to breathe.”  Zen masters and casual meditation practitioners will tell you that the breath is the very core of our being – it’s where we ‘go’ to meditate. Therefore it stands to reason that our massage clients will be better off if their body and mind are receiving this massage from the inside out – and we can achieve this through encouraging them to breathe. And why not have the massage therapist sympathize with the breathing that’s going on in the massage room? You might as well…it costs nothing, has immense health benefits for you and allows you to become in a more harmonious state with your client. If they can feel and hear you breath – they’re likely to take a ‘hint’ and remember to do it themselves.

 

Now, of course, everybody breathes – otherwise we’d be dead! – I’m talking about a more conscious breathing on the part of the client. It’s the kind of breathing that takes the mind into just itself and I’m not shy about letting the client know I expect them to concentrate on their breathing. I also add in that they might like to try being aware of where my hands are, following them as they go and keeping track of where they’ve been. Breathing and setting the mind to keep track of where the hands are will create a profound meditation which will make it so much easier for the therapist to do their work – much in the same way as a simple electric table heater will do much of the work for you.

The above applies mostly to relaxation Swedish Massage, although it also applies in sports massage and other more ‘physical’ types of massage – although breathing there can be used in a very different kind of a way, for example, exhaling to allow a certain range of motion to be reached. The beginning of my Swedish relaxation massages almost always involves quite a few minutes of ‘over-the-drapes’ work. There are several reasons for this which I will get into in a later blog post.  But during this time, after a brief ‘hand-walk’ up the body I’ll stand on one side of the table with my hands on the ‘other’ side of the body, and do some good compressions of the shoulders, rhomboids, erector spinae. Each time I compress I work with the client’s breath to make sure that I’m pushing down on the out-breath (therefore you have to be able to see the body moving with the breath if they’re quiet breathers). This results in a complete expulsion of all air from the lungs – something that the body rarely achieves – and something that my clients tell me feels absolutely wonderful. It’s a sort of ‘assisted breathing’ and you’ve been doing some of the work for them.

After a good spell of this on both sides of the body, I and the client are ready to have the sheets pulled back to expose the back and get some oiled Swedish massage started. The client’s body and mind are more than relaxed and ready to start with the massage that’s to come.

Be well,

T. Hamish Tear

 

 

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

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

Jackson Hole’s Massage Culture

This Blog is about the progress of a new massage therapy company being created in Jackson Hole, Wyoming – by two people who are starting from scratch in the massage industry. My writing is about our discovery and is designed to share it with others who would start their own massage business – not necessarily in Jackson Hole. I write not from the ‘expert’ point of view (most blog articles are advice from ‘experts’) – because we are certainly not that (but we are working on becoming so); but I write from the exposed situation of the newcomer. I write about our successes and failures and welcome any massage industry newcomers, professionals, business owners and massage clients to come along with us on our journey.

What Rochelle and I find is helpful is simply to go with your passion. Work hard, be diligent, define your goals – and go for it. Don’t worry about what other people think. I used to be concerned that we, as newcomers and inexperienced massage therapists were stepping on the toes of other well-established massage therapists in town. Well – so what? There’s no law against it, they say competition is good – and who can really criticize us for ‘going for it’ in an economy where nobody else is going to look after you and working for other people just sucks! Everybody has to start somewhere and every journey starts with the first step. But the truth is that other massage therapists are supportive and happy for us – and as indicated in a previous blog post we see them not as competition but colleagues in the same collective business – and some of them will hopefully become our assets as we offer them contracts to provide our out-call massages. So we hope that this proves to be a win-win situation for other out-call massage therapists as our commission share with them is quite generous – 65% goes to the massage therapist with massage prices starting at $130 – and the contractor keeps all tips. I don’t mean to suggest here that all massage therapists in the Jackson Hole area are falling over themselves to be associated or affiliated with us as quite a few are deservedly booked solid after years of building a clientele.

Of course, Rochelle and I have to take on the lion’s share of the initial work as we have now quite a substantial investment in the company. Any good business owner will tell you that you have to regain or at least control those expenses as soon as possible –  not only that, but we need the income.

However, our goals with Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole include establishing significant volume where Rochelle and I perform about two per day, five days per week – and are otherwise administering the out-call business – and taking ‘normal’ time off to enjoy our favorite things: hiking in the Tetons, Rafting the Snake River and socializing in Jackson Hole.

Be well,

Hamish Tear

Gaining Confidence as a (Male) Massage Therapist

As mentioned in previous posts, it is important for new massage therapists, and new massage therapy businesses to keep the momentum going. From the business perspective, all I have mentioned before is necessary – the advertising, the business identity and vision, the branding and so much more.

However, the momentum of continuing to perform massage work is just as important and it is especially valuable if, while setting up your new business, you don’t have to do unrelatedwork – that just takes you away from your skills and denies you the possibility of adding to your relevant experience. Also, in the highly seasonal resort of Jackson Hole, you have to make hay while the sun shines because the off-seasons can be challenging indeed.

Having such experience and work in spas, while the business develops, has been particularly important and beneficial to me – especially as a male massage therapist. In fact my confidence has been boosted so much by the favorable reviews I have had from my massage clients that, even in my newness, I feel that I am every bit as good as my experienced female counterparts.

Now, I have to be careful what I say here. There are many ‘intricate’ and specific deep tissue and sports massage functions and manipulations that I am not trained to perform. But if we’re talking about a good and relaxing Swedish massage with varying amounts of pressure – I can deliver. The accolades I receive are quite remarkable: “Perfect”, “Can I take you home with me?”, and “The best massage I’ve ever had.” These are just some of the nice things I have had said to me – and in fact I’ve had none that were even slightly in the negative.

Male massage therapists face a certain amount of homophobia. There are three incidences of this:

1) Guys who don’t like guys touching them and would rather have a female. Hey – I’m the same myself – but this isn’t about sex – it’s about massage – and if I’m hurting and needing a good deep massage I will often ask for a male. (Not to say that females can’t give a good deep massage.)

2) Women who don’t like guys touching (or seeing) them. Again, there’s an unawareness here about what good professional massage is all about. There’s also probably an amount of long-standing shyness or even prudishness. I am fortunate to have had male requests from females for quite a few massages now and that builds tremendous confidence.

3) Guys who don’t want their girlfriend or wife being touched (or seen) by another guy. Control freaks are everywhere.

I had one experience recently where I had been booked to provide a massage to a man who had requested a female massage therapist. Mistakes are made and it was late in the day with no female massage therapist available. Besides – I wanted the work. I went out there and told him the situation and he said he was OK with receiving a massage from me. Well, this guy was in pain. A typical Jackson Hole visiting golfer of about 70 years old with stiffness in the shoulders, hips, sore legs – uncomfortable all over with a golf game in the morning.

Long story short – he fell asleep on the table and afterwards he told me with a big smile…you did good. And I received the largest tip for a one-hour massage I have had so far.

Such confidence builds and works wonders for your massage performance because you KNOW you are good. You don’t hold back and can really get into the massages you are giving without holding back. But don’t let it get to your head – and remember to always deliver what the customer has requested on the intake form.

Be well.

Hamish Tear

Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole.