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.

Writing a Blog for your Massage Business

If you have been reading this massage blog, it has taken quite a few changes in direction, different headers, headline styles, and formats. That’s OK – a startup business has to be flexible and you have to be able to change quickly in order to respond to what is working and what is not – and what just feels good (like a good massage). I think I have finally arrived at an acceptable theme. It’s uncluttered and to the point. The blog keeps the same name as the business: Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole – issue ? And then the subject headline of whatever massage or non-massage related writing I wish to write about.

You may also remember that the main subject of the blog is starting up a mobile massage business in Jackson Hole. Simple enough concept – but there are many details. One of the necessary things to cross of your list every week is WRITING A BLOG – Why? Because it is attached to your web site (another necessity if you’re going to succeed in the massage business) – and ‘content-rich’ text is needed for the internet search engine spiders (web crawlers), that absolutely guzzle themselves on text that is written about the very subject your web site is about. Why do you think the word ‘massage’, and the words, ‘Jackson Hole’, along with ‘mobile massage’ and ‘in-home massage’ appear so often in these posts?

Are people really going to read this blog? Well, no. It’s not the Huffington Post. Or – a few readers (like you) might just come across it by accident. The main ‘readers’ of your blog are the search engine spiders. What do they do with it? They decide that your web site is absolutely and very definitely legitimate and will provide searching customers with what they are looking for. After all, if somebody is searching for ‘Massage, Jackson Hole’, Then if I write those words a few times in the blog – those words enhance my web site text and the spiders pick up on that. They give high marks for content-rich text and then your site gets bumped-up on the Google results pages. (And other search engines – but who really cares about them?)

On the business front, the blog-writing is just one task of many. The other work I must do is to continue working at Spring Creek Ranch to not only bring in valuable Dollars that off-set the costs of starting our own massage business – and keep up my skills and my confidence. Confidence in your massage technique and effectiveness is extremely important to your life as a massage therapist – and is the subject I’ll be covering in next week’s Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole Blog – Issue No. 8

One Massage at a Time

We are now in month seven of our new massage business in Jackson Hole since making the very first moves back in January. Rochelle and I remember it very well: determined to spend no money, we walked the cold wintry streets and drove to outlying areas to speak with responsible parties in vacation rental companies. Our goal was to launch in high summer season – so we felt that we had oodles of time and could build slowly.

Over the next few months we worked on our brand (which we really love – designed by branding expert Seth Nielson at WASA Industries (We Are So Awesome). Here it is again:


People just love this logo, and so do we. Seth treated it very professionally. It took time and some back-and-forth with the designer – and $500. (There are some places where you have to spend money and we felt that strong branding was one of those places.) We liked the idea that the entire name, Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole was contained completely within the logo. Then, beside that on our business card we have the words ‘Jackson’s Premier In-Home Massage Provider’. How can we be Jackson’s Premier In-Home Massage Provider if we’re just brand new? Well, it’s just advertising – we’re in this game to thrive and as long as it’s legal – we can say what we want.

Besides, we have set ourselves up as an LLC and are really going for this in a much more commercial fashion than ay ‘non-spa’ massage provider. The other mobile massage vendors in Jackson Hole (same as most all around the country) keep it small and work mostly on word of mouth, excellent service, signs on their cars and occasional advertising (all very good and valid methods which we, too must embrace). We have a vision for a bigger deal – a company with a business plan, a real presence in the media year-round, and a volume of massages requiring the contracting of independent massage services.

So how’s it going now? It’s July 18th – high summer season – and we’re rolling – right? WRONG! We have had just a handful of massages from Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole marketing efforts so far. But are we discouraged? – NO! We are flexible, we are learning, and we continue to do massages and other spa products at Spring Creek Ranch. This keeps our skill levels up and pays well while we continue to work on our own massage business. In many new small businesses, people have to work at something completely unrelated in order to make ends meet – that’s not efficient.

No – we’re not discouraged at all. What we are learning is that rack cards – distributed to about 25 hotels and tourist areas around Jackson Hole are not working. They have brought in not one call so far. Our advertising in the Jackson Hole Attraction Menu has been bringing in some calls – so we’ll keep monitoring that one – and we have had calls from Inn on The Creek, where we have been schmoozing Lindsay at the front desk. Beating the streets back in January has paid off.

Next week I’ll continue with this in-depth time of discovery and let you know how we’re reacting to the slowness of the business during high season – and what we have started to implement to combat this as the season moves on.

Be Well – Hamish and Rochelle.

Getting Started Staying Employed

When starting your new in-home massage therapy business in Jackson Hole, it is important to keep your financial and skills resources high while you struggle with the difficulties inherent in any new business.
Massage appointments will be non-existent at first, and expenses will always be present. If you are under-capitalized, as many new businesses are, it is important not to let that drive your new massage business into the ground before you even get started. Therefore you have to maintain that second job in order to pay not only for your massage business start-up, but also your general living expenses which, in Jackson Hole, can be very high.
It makes most sense to work at something related to massage or health and well-being so that you don’t lose touch with your skills. But of course the very best kind of work to do is massage itself – allowing to not only keep, but build upon your skills and confidence. Also, it is rare to keep working on massage and not be exposed to other elements of the massage / spa industry that will eventually be of use to you in your own massage business.
In Jackson Hole, we have a few high-end spas, as mentioned in last week’s Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole blog. By working at those spas we are being paid well in order to continue to practice our massage craft. That’s the best of both worlds and keeps the wolf from the door as your own small massage business gets up and running.
As for competition – this is completely the wrong way to look at those who just happen to be in the same massage industry. In Jackson Hole there are quite a few – and as our business specializes in in-home massage only – some call it mobile massage – we think that cooperation with those other massage therapists is our way to success. But don’t forget that it should also be their way to success and we ensure this by paying those other massage therapists the lion’s share of the fee for each massage. Fort example, a regular 60-minute massage charges at $130.00. 65% of that goes to the massage therapist. That’s a cool $84.50 and you can expect the average tip to be $20 – so that’s a total of $104.50 to the massage therapist – who doesn’t have to worry about the hassles, responsibilities and expenses of running the business – and let’s face it many don’t want those things in their lives. KISS – Keep it Simple Stupid.
More on the massage Therapist ‘competition’ next week. Meanwhile – please read our MPJH Newsletter No. 4


Getting the Phone to Ring

In any new business, whether massage business or not, there’s nothing more exciting than when the phone rings for the first time. And the second time, and the eighth time…

Each time that phone rings it means not only that you can start to pay back the investment that you have put into the business but it also means that your months of set-up time are justified – you actually have a paying JOB! (For the meantime – forget about ‘profit’ – that’s a ways off.)

Our situation as a new massage therapy company in Jackson Hole is quite unique as our economy is so dependent on highly-seasonal tourism. Also, there are several well-qualified massage therapists operating in the area with ‘mobile’ massage, and there are a number of spas offering massage in the town of Jackson.  Then there are hotels and lodges with spas like the Chill spa at Hotel Terra in Teton Village, Snake River Lodge and Spa in Teton Village, Senna Spa in the Teton Club, and there’s the Alpenhof Spa, and Teton Mountain Lodge also has a spa.

In a later post I will write about this ‘competition’ and how, really, we’re all in the same boat and can pool our resources to benefit the whole.

So what do you do about advertising your massage services so that you stick out among all this competition? And how do you decide how much to spend on it? Well, in the first season, quite frankly, you wing it – but carefully. A few well-thought-out ad placements will bring in results where you can start to examine the results in time and evaluate your expenditures. Visitors to resorts like Jackson Hole tend to leave arrangements for massage (non-essential spending) until the very last minute. It is mostly a spontaneous purchase. There are various advertising mediums in Jackson Hole for the visitors to pick up once they are here: There are rack cards distributed and managed by Pony Express to hotels and obvious visitor locations around the area. We decided to create a rack card on-line and go with the minimum number of cards and locations offered by Pony Express for $295.00. (Plus the cost of the rack cards.) Another place we decided to advertise to tourists directly is the Jackson Hole Attraction Menu. This is a well-established advertising medium and goes directly into hotel rooms and many other public places in Jackson Hole.

In addition to those ‘direct’ advertising mediums, we have had superb response from various vacation rental property management companies, who have allowed us to either include ‘tent cards’ in the vacation homes they manage, and / or list us in their preferred vendors’ list on their web sites. This, and the Jackson Hole Attraction Guide have already earned us some business, as did an off-season ad. in the Planet Jackson Hole newspaper. I will cover our efforts for off-season marketing in a future post.

Last, but not least is our web site: and all that it takes to make that higher in the search engine rankings. That topic will be covered in next week’s blog.

See you then – and meanwhile, please see this week’s Newsletter



Massage Therapy Business in Jackson Hole – Getting Started 

Taking Care of Business – The Good, The Bad, and the Boring

It all starts with the first step and if you don’t take that step – then you won’t take the step that follows it either. This is the point where massage therapy and small business management and administration collide. It is well known in the massage industry that the business end of things tends to be antithetical. And besides – its boring and not nearly as much fun or a physically rewarding as perhaps helping someone gain relief from painful muscles with a nice sports massage. But the business details have to be done.

You don’t need anyone’s ‘permission’ to start a massage therapy in Jackson Hole. And who cares about what others in body work / healthcare / massage / spa the industry may think? They had to start out somewhere and somehow themselves. They had early days too, and waiting for long periods of time to get ‘on the map’, Get their name out, become more professional, and profitable. But what you DO need is proper business and legal set-up before you earn your first dollar.


Make sure you are legal by deciding on what kind of business entity you are going to become (Sole Proprietor, Corporation, sub-chapter S Corporation, Limited Liability Company etc) and then register with your State Secretary. Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole is an LLC – this means that if there is ever a law suit (hopefully not, and there are very low incidences of law suits in the massage industry), the ‘limited liability’ protects the personal assets and funds of the company owners.

See what other licenses you are required to have by law – county permits? a local town license? Oh – and make sure you keep your operating insurance up to date. We purchased ours through American Body and Massage Professionals – on whose web site you are reading this massage blog.

And that’s about it for the legal side of things – at least in Wyoming where there are few restrictions on operating massage businesses. Some states require hundreds of hours of massage school and certification in order to operate.

Our business model is to be the go-to source for massage therapists in the Jackson Hole area. Therefore you need to seek out those other therapists, find out their specialties and experience, and interview them as potential candidates to become contractors. These people do not become employees, which simplifies matters greatly as you are not responsible for their tax reporting etc and complex employee payroll considerations such as withholding etc.

Be sure to write up a contract with your contract massage therapists. It is important that they, and you, are clear on what is expected of both parties. Everything should be outlined from dress expectations to how best to represent the massage company. Of course, pay should be included in the contract – what is the commission or split between the massage company and the contract massage therapist. This document should be signed by both parties and is a legal document.

An umbrella insurance policy for the massage business should also be considered and we are looking into that now. Even though each contract massage therapist has their own insurance, it is possibly wise to cover the entire business in case of unseen eventualities. What if your massage therapist is in an auto accident on the way to work a job for the company? What happens if an accident happens in the home where the massage is taking place? What if the contract massage therapist’s insurance has run out or is otherwise invalid?

That’s about it for the legal side of things to get you up and running. It’s not really smart to start conducting business, or even advertising that you can conduct business until you have those matters in place. Once that’s done – you’re fully legal to start advertising, operating – and taking in some dollars.

Next week in Massage Therapy Business in Jackson Hole – Getting Started – I’ll discuss our marketing plan and how we started to decide how, where and how much to spend on advertising, and the vast array of opportunities to spend your dollars in various advertising mediums.

As always, I leave you with our latest Newsletter – No. 2 in our fledgling (but growing) business.

Pleas see MPJH Newsletter No. 2

See you next week.

Getting Started From Sucks to Success in less than two years.

Just 20 months ago – when Rochelle Ganoe and I first met, we were ‘almost’ like the 12 million Americans who are currently unemployed. We were ‘under’ employed in low-paying jobs that we loathed and had no opportunities.
Now we’re loving life with our own in-home massage therapy business in Jackson Hole and this blog will be sharing how we did that, along with great advice and insights about massage and its modalities – and healthy life choices in general.

Educate Yourself
When we met, Rochelle had already enrolled herself to study Swedish Massage at theMcKinnon School of Body Therapy in Oakland, California. By October, she had disappeared out of my life for seven weeks in order to take her courses. In addition to her core Swedish Massage Curriculum, she was able to take elective classes in Reiki.
Coming back to Jackson with 100 hours of Swedish Massage enabled her to get work in a local foot massage parlor (that also does regular massage) and get a small number of private clients – simply by offering her services for free to friends. That grew into paid massage jobs which helped her to gain confidence, pay her expenses, and then apply for work at local spas. The spa work pays exceptionally well when you consider your input in time and Dollars.
Seeing Rochelle’s earnings and successes, and now realizing more and more that we wished to stay together, I also decided to do my Swedish 100 hours at the McKinnon Massage School. Therefore the following October, we both drove to Oakland and attended massage school classes at the same time. Rochelle up-graded her qualifications and credit hours by studying Deep Tissue Massage, myofascial release, and sports massage. In addition to my Basic Swedish Massage, I attended classes in chair massage, back, shoulders and neck massage, and took two practical classes in business and body mechanics for massage therapists.
Yes, it costs money to attend massage school and pay for lodging while you’re there – welcome to life. Investment and up-front funds are needed in any business. But in our view, the return on this investment (ROI) is well worth it. In real terms – it’s just not such a great deal of money. Chances are there’s a less expensive way to do it – but we just liked the idea of being in still-summery Oakland during the dull early winter months of November and December here in Jackson.
In the next issue of Massage Therapy Business in Jackson Hole – Getting Started, I’ll continue with our little success story to bring you up to speed with where we are now – and what lies ahead.
Meanwhile, reading blogs, internet posts and watching videos are all great ways to enhance your massage, and massage business learning. So I leave you with the very first of our weekly newsletters from Massage professionals of Jackson Hole.  Newsletter

Teenagers Benefit from Massage

Teenagers Benefit from Massage

Yes, it’s true – teenagers benefit from Massage. Massage has been shown to help different issues that occur during adolescence.We have all been through those sometimes dreaded (and just as often wonderful) years between childhood and adulthood. We go through massive changes hormonally and physically – and while regular doctors’ visits are recommended for the hard, medical aspects of this growing-up stage, massage can also be an important component of a teen’s health and wellness. Here are 3 areas where teenagers benefit from massage:

1. Poor body image and eating disorders.

Depression, social pressures regarding appearance, and participation in sports where leanness is valued (such as gymnastics, wrestling, and diving), are all associated with the development of eating disorders. Needless to say, high school provides ample opportunity for all of these.

Studies done at the Touch Research Institute with women who struggle with either anorexia nervosa or bulimia showed that regular massage decreased anxiety levels, increased levels of the feel-good hormone dopamine, and reduced depression scores. Participants in the study also showed better scores on the Eating Disorder Inventory, indicating better body awareness. While counseling is obviously of paramount importance, massage therapy can be a powerful adjunct to other forms of treatment for eating disorders. It’s just another example of how teenagers benefit from massage.

Teenagers living in Jackson Hole, or those visiting the Tetons, are not exempt from these health and mental concerns, so regular massage therapy with companies like  Massage Professionals of Jackson Hole should be a part of life.

2. PMS and menstrual pain.

What’s worse than menstrual problems? Menstrual problems when you’re a teenager. Between the irregular cycles, the inexperience with managing symptoms, and the embarrassment about getting help, adolescence can be a rough time to have a uterus. Effective treatments like hormonal birth control can have negative social connotations, and require a pelvic exam to obtain, a procedure that most teen girls have yet to experience and may wish to avoid.

Massage therapy has been shown to help with pain, anxiety, and feelings of depression related to PMS, as well as other symptoms like water retention. Girls can also benefit from learning self-massage techniques to use when experiencing menstrual cramps on a day-to-day basis.

3. Athletic injuries.

While high school athletes are injured at around the same rate as professional athletes, their growing bodies mean that they’re often injured in different ways. Since bones grow before muscles and tendons do, youth are more susceptible to muscle, tendon, and growth plate injuries. Sprains, strains, growth plate injuries, repetitive motion injuries, and heat-related illness  are among the most common injuries among young athletes. Boys are most likely to experience athletic injuries while playing ice hockey, rugby and soccer, while soccer, basketball and gymnastics lead to the most injuries in girls.

Sports massage has a long history, and can be especially effective when dealing with repetitive motion injuries like tennis elbow and runner’s knee. Massage therapists are now found at every kind of sporting event, from the Olympics all the way down to your local 10K. Given that teen athletes can be more vulnerable to injury and overuse than their adult counterparts, it makes sense to offer them the same opportunities for healing and pain relief.

Do you know a teen who could use a massage? Go to today and book your massage online. Please see our weekly newsletter No.5 for more massage news.