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Innovation in your Massage Practice

How’s business? Fantastic and running smoothly, or could it be better? How about patients? Got enough or want more? How about work-life balance? Whatever the question, if there is something about your practice that you would like to improve, then it is time to innovate.

When a business is new and enthusiasm high, creativity flows and it is easier to see new business opportunities. As the business settles with regular patient numbers and work-flow becomes comfortable and routine, there is often less creativity and urgency to continually innovate and grow. Like a plant that you need to fertilise, prune and water so that it grows and remains healthy, you also need to look at ways to innovate and grow your business to keep it profitable.

Innovation is about looking at ways to improve what and how you do something and implementing it. It is about addressing an area of the business that requires improving, coming up with one or several possible ideas and then turning the best idea into a solution that adds overall value to your patients.

By focusing on how you can improve your business and enhancing the way you run your practice, you ultimately impact your patients’ experience with you. It’s the little things that you do in business that have a flow-on affect and make a difference to patients. The greater their experience, the better the relationship and willingness of the patient to remain loyal to your practice and refer people to you.

Being skilled at massage is only one (albeit important) part of customer service, as all aspects of your business impact your patients’ experience; everything from the way your potential patients find you, the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software you use, to the physical layout of your clinic.

Innovation is not about making changes for the sake of change. It has to add value to the business in some way; efficiency, financially, environmentally etc. Also, it is not only about making positive changes that improve your current business operations; it is also about creating and implementing new ideas and a vision for your business’ future.

At all times remember that what you want or need to improve and change in your practice will affect your patients either directly or indirectly. For example; being exhausted from working to many hours will impact your physical, mental and emotional ability to optimally deal with patients, which may require you to cancel patients due to illness; possibly giving an unsatisfactory treatment and potentially losing business. An innovative idea could be to sub-contract work out to another therapist to ease your workload. Although this is not a new idea, as it is new to the way you currently do business, it is innovative.

Whether or not you implement the proposed idea will be based on various factors that you need to consider. Is the innovation realistic? Does it match your business model? Can you afford this innovation? How will it impact your patients? And so on.

The point is, innovative thinking enables you to look at all possible solutions and ideas. Not the innovative idea you can work with? No problem; be creative and come up with an innovative solution you can work with; that will benefit both you and your patients.

Remember, the key to innovation is being creative and doing something new or different to the way you currently do it, so that it adds value to your business. Innovation is not necessarily about inventing something new; E.g. an App for your business.

There are a number of simple ways to enhance your innovative creativity. First, do some market research. Find out from your patients what they consider you and your business does well and where there can be improvements. Once you have this information, come up with innovative solutions that can improve your services. If the innovation is feasible, implement it.

Next, monitor competitor activity and trends and find out what they are up to. Look at other similar allied health businesses, such as a Physiotherapy or Osteopathy practice and utilise any innovative ways they operate to enhance your business. See how they service their patients and operate their business. In what ways can you implement strategies and ideas they use to enhance your business?

You can also draw inspiration from non-allied health related businesses of similar size to yours and even those that align with where you see your business growing. For example you may rent a shop and have two therapists who sub-contract to you. In comparison you may know of a dressmaker who also rents a shop with two sub-contracting staff. What innovative ideas can you learn from them to enhance your business?

Be innovative by introducing new products and services that add value to your business. E.g. upgrade your qualifications from Remedial Massage to Myotherapy, or maybe work public holidays when most therapists are closed and people have the day off work.

To operate a successful practice your focus needs to be on the ‘patient/customer’. Yes, it does seem obvious, though often, like many tradespeople, the massage therapist focuses their effort on the tools of the trade (working in the business) and giving excellent treatments, while neglecting to work on the business and looking at what innovative and new ways can be implemented to improve their business.

Ask yourself the following; How can I use innovation to:

• Keep my current patients?

• Find more patients?

• Grow the business?

To generate growth you need to continually innovate the way you do things over an extended period. For example, developing a new way of adding value through the way your current product/service is sold, delivered and viewed, or by implementing new products and services.

When considering innovation, keep referring to how a potential and existing patient may benefit from what you intend to do. Think of yourself as the patient and draw upon those experiences when you were a customer seeking a service or product. What was your customer experience like? How could they have served you better? What did they do well? And how can you use this information to improve how you do business with your patients?

When thinking of innovation, it may be helpful to organise your innovative ideas into sections. Consider the following:

• Administration - Assess your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software or your manual record keeping processes

• Look at your business policies and procedures. Do you have them? How do they enhance efficient business practice?

• Networking, Marketing, Advertising and Promotions – Where, when, how, how often?

• Innovative ways to attract potential patients

• Innovative ways to maintain current patients

• Your physical space; e.g. the building, clinic room and vehicle if offering mobile services

The areas for potential innovation are abundant as a long as you remember that is has to add value to your business and ultimately your patients. Keep asking yourself, “Is what I am proposing going to enhance the productivity and profitability of my practice?” To answer these questions you may require further insight and advice from other professionals (e.g. your accountant) and key stakeholders who have a vested interest in your business.

Here is a sample list to help you start thinking about innovation in your practice.

Start by focusing on what makes it easier for the customer to access and purchase your service.

• How can you make the decision for them to buy easier? Are they able to try the product/service before they buy?

• What information does the customer require to make the purchase?

• What other customer values can you tap into? Perhaps environmental or social. E.g. using environmentally friendly products; donating to a charity.

• What ways can the product/service be developed or enhanced to increase the value to the patient?

• How are you keeping up with the latest industry trends?

• What innovation are you implementing to keep ahead of the competition?

• Diversify. How many ways can you offer your services/ products to patients?

In summary, first assess, plan and rectify what requires improvement and satisfy the immediate need of patients by providing better services / products, hours etc.

Look ahead at new emerging markets and plan for changes in economics and social consciousness before they occur. When coming up with ideas, revise or delete old outdated areas of your business and let your creativity guide you. Come up with as many options as possible and brainstorm your ideas with others. Once you have your extensive list, start with the easiest, most profitable innovations you can implement.

Remember that true innovation will benefit the way you do business and ultimately the way you deal with potential and existing patients, leading to a long and successful massage career.

Derek Miglietti is an Integrative Therapist who has worked in health and fitness for 30 years. He has qualifications in Business and Marketing and divides his time between running a private practice in Rowville (Vic) and working as a Business Advisor. You can contact Derek via his website at www.healthspectrum.com.au

©Derek Miglietti Sept. 2018


This article was printed in the Australian Massage and Myotherapy Journal Vol. 16, Issue 4 - Summer 2018

About Spectrum Health & Wellbeing

Spectrum Health & Wellbeing Myotherapy, Reflexology and Reiki is located in Rowville, near Knox, Boronia, Bayswater, Ferntree Gully and Scoresby. We provide specialised integrative solutions for children, teens and adults using Myotherapy, Reflexology and Reiki.

CEO and Principal Therapist Derek Miglietti, has been working in Health and Fitness since 1988 as a therapist, instructor, lecturer (16 years) and consultant. As a specialist Integrative Therapist Derek has worked in nursing homes, with children, the AFL, elite athletes, state-sporting teams and in the corporate sector.