Enjoying helping others? Are you a self-starter that can work autonomously? If this sounds like you then massage therapy may be a good career path. During a massage therapy program, you will build the right mix of massage therapy skills to be successful, whether you want to work for someone else or decide to build your own massage practice. So, what are the skills you need to become a successful massage therapist?
What is The Right Mix of Massage Therapy Skills?
There are a lot of different skills that will help you be successful as a massage therapist. From good communication skills to business savvy, having the right skill set will set you up for success as a massage therapist.
Skill #1: Communication
A large part of your job as a massage therapist is talking with clients. You will need to be clear and concise so that the client understands what will happen during the massage and there are no surprises. Clear communication is the best way to set your client’s expectations for the massage and let them know what will happen during and after the massage appointment.
If you decide to work at a massage franchise business, part of communication will involve colleagues. Whether you are communicating with your fellow massage therapist, the receptionist, or supervisor, it is important to have good communication skills so there are no misunderstandings. You don’t want to double book a room or leave your client waiting while you find the right massage equipment. When communicating with coworkers, it is important to stay professional. The clients are listening and being unprofessional can push a client to another massage therapist.
Part of communication is knowing when not to say anything. Some clients will want to relax in silence. Before the first appointment, ask the client if they like to chit chat during a massage or if they prefer not to talk. Every client is different. Some will want to talk about their day, others will not.
Body language is also a good communication tool. During a massage, if your client winces from pain or jerks their body, ask them if they are experiencing pain. They may have a sore muscle or knot that needs to be worked out. Some clients will think that the phrase, “no pain, no gain” means they shouldn’t say anything during a massage, if it is painful. Once you know a client and they come back for repeat massages, you will be able to interpret the client’s body language better. You will also have a closer relationship and the client will trust you more, so they will be more likely to speak up if something isn’t quite right.
Skill #2: Active Listening
Part of good communication is actively listening to clients. It is important for you to hear what your client is saying before you respond. Ask questions and make sure your client is comfortable before and during a massage appointment. If you didn’t quite hear what they said, clarify before beginning. The client will tell you what they want, you just have to listen.
Skill #3: Customer Service
In conjunction with communication is good customer service. A client expects a certain level of customer service during a massage appointment. Make sure to always have a friendly attitude because negativity can make a client uncomfortable. If the client is uncomfortable, they may not come back for another massage.
Remember that they are your client and that you should keep the relationship professional. After a few massage appointments, you may build a relationship with the client, which is good because they will be a loyal client. Just remember that a poor experience or getting too comfortable and saying the wrong thing can hurt the relationship. If you keep the relationship professional, the client will never feel awkward or decide to stop seeing you for massages.
Skill #4: Compassion
An important skill for every massage therapist to have is compassion. Many clients will see through you if you just go through the motions. If you show a little compassion the client will feel like you care about them. They will be a loyal client.
Skill #5: Self-Starter
When you are a massage therapist, you may have a supervisor, but it will be up to you to manage yourself and your clients. You must have the initiative to prepare yourself and show up on time for your appointments. As a self-starter, you are motivated to offer good customer service and manage your time wisely. You don’t need anyone to tell you what to do and when to do it. Especially if you start your own massage practice and work for yourself.
Skill #6: Time Management
Managing your time is important, especially when working with clients. Ever kept a client waiting? Did you see them the next time they needed a massage appointment? It is important to manage your time, and equally important to respect others time. Make sure you are well organized and plan out your day. With good time management, you may even see more clients and make more money.
Skill #7: Organization
Staying focused is important. You don’t want to double book clients or run out of massage oil before the end of the day. Make sure to keep your calendar organized so that you don’t leave any clients waiting. Keep an inventory of supplies and equipment so that you don’t run out when you are unable to procure more.
Also, organizing your physical space is important. Nothing is worse than going to a massage studio and seeing everything out of place. Dirty towels on the floor, cracking massage table vinyl, or clutter can be off-putting. This will give the client a poor experience and will reflect negatively on you.
You also don’t want to show up for a massage client’s appointment without all your equipment and supplies. Did you forget to bring the pillows to put under their knees? Did you pack the massage oil? Remember to clean the massage table in between clients. Good organization skills are paramount for any massage therapist to succeed.
Skill #8: Problem Solving
Inevitably there will be a problem that you will need to solve. Maybe a massage chair will break, and you need to source a new one quickly. It is important to identify any problems and find a solution that works for the situation. If the massage chair is not ready, maybe you get a temporary massage chair until your regular chair is in stock or is ready to ship. Be methodical about solving problems. Identify the problem, figure out the many different solutions and then pick a solution that makes the most sense.
Skill #9: Adaptability
Part of working as a massage therapist is being able to adapt to any situation. When you enter into someone else’s space, you have to use what you can to create a positive experience. Clients will expect a certain level of customer service when they get a massage. The ability to adapt to your surroundings is especially important when performing massage at a client’s home.
Make sure you can also adapt to your clients. They may need to change or cancel an appointment. If they give you enough notice you can fill the slot with another client and adapt to the new schedule.
Skill #10: Dexterity/Stamina
When performing massage, you will spend most of your time on your feet. You will also be stretching, bending and working with clients an hour at a time. It is important to train for massage like you are an athlete. Being in good massage therapy shape means exercising, stretching and preparing yourself for a long day of massaging clients.
As a massage therapist, you will be working with your hands and fingers to identify tense muscles and apply pressure to relieve those muscles. This takes strong hands. If you treat yourself like an athlete, then you will spend some time strengthening your hands and fingers, in addition to working your core, legs and arms. A good exercise routine with aerobics and stretching will prepare you for those long days of massage.
Skill #11: Commitment to Learning
There are ever changing techniques, massage equipment and other massage accessories. It is important to stay up to date with all the news and new tech that is introduced to the massage therapy profession. During a massage therapy program, you will build a foundation of knowledge and skills that will help you become a better massage therapist. If you want to give your clients the best massage, with the right equipment then it is important to keep up with the changes in the massage industry. Whether it is a new technique or new essential massage oil, keeping up with the new technology and trends will make sure you are providing the best massage you possibly can for your clients.
Skill #12: Proper Hygiene
During a massage, you are in close contact with a client. It is important to adhere to proper hygiene through sanitation. Whether you wash your hands between clients or wear gloves, it is important to not pass bacteria and germs between clients. You will also want to clean off massage tables and equipment between clients, so everything is fresh and clean for each new appointment. The client will expect it of you and having proper hygiene will keep the massage area clean.
Skill #13: Business Savvy
Part of being a massage therapist is running a business. This means you need to get customers to book appointments. In addition to traditional advertising like television, radio and print, a business savvy massage therapist will be able to navigate social media. Using the latest social media will put you in front of new people. Take the time to build a following, that way when you do a good job and have happy customers, they offer testimonials without you even asking.
Good business savvy also means the ability to run your own massage business. During a massage therapy diploma program, you will learn how to start and run a massage business. You will become familiar with light bookkeeping, managing staff and marketing for new clients. After you graduate from the massage therapy diploma program and get a little experience, you will be ready to strike out on your own and work for yourself.
Do you have some or all of these skills? If not don’t worry. You will learn a lot of these skills while attending a massage therapy diploma program. You will learn all the different massage techniques, anatomy, physiology and kinesiology of the body, and proper sanitation to keep yourself and your clients safe. If you are ready for a career that is in demand, then you may want to learn more about becoming a massage therapist.
Want to Learn More?
If you are interested in the healing powers of massage, you can begin your career in massage therapy at Minnesota School of Cosmetology. Our short-term massage therapy training program is designed to be completed in as little as 12 months. Our massage therapy training program is designed as a holistic program that will prepare students to focus on body mechanics of their clients as well as develop positive habits for the therapist. Together, those two areas will provide a foundation that can lead to longevity in the career field.
Contact us today to learn more about becoming a massage therapist and starting a rewarding career in the massage industry.