When I first opened my massage practice, I was a strict neuromuscular massage therapy (NMT) practitioner. I believed that NMT could get any client out of pain. Period.
Twenty years later, things have changed for one reason: I get better results for certain clients when I collaborate with and/or refer to other health professionals and experts. An added bonus to collaboration is that my massage practice grows.
Why I Became a NMT Purist
One of the things that drew me to neuromuscular therapy is the idea that I could resolve clients’ pain and soft tissue conditions using a “scientific” framework. (I use the quotes because NMT is actually based in theory, not hard science.)
If a client didn’t get better, I’d go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate my course of action.
Hmm…maybe I should I work the right longus colli 3X more than the left longus colli…
Why I Became a Multi-Disciplinary Guy
But often after re-evaluating, I’d find myself deeper in the rabbit hole because the new thing I had tried on the client also didn’t work.
I wish I could say that I got out of the rabbit quickly. But it didn’t happen like that.
The move towards the light of day was gradual and promulgated by failure, like a hammy that didn’t resolve or a neck that got worse. Eventually the failures added up to where I had to admit that my purist approach to massage wasn’t working. And, finally, I started looking for answers elsewhere.If one massage modality had all the answers, the rest of us would be out of business. Click To Tweet
Losing Money in my Massage Practice—NOT
I began to connect and collaborate with chiropractors, PTs, personal trainers, exercise physiologists, functional exercise therapists, orthopedists, podiatrists, acupuncturists, and sports coaches.
On a whole, my more challenging clients improved when I took a multi-disciplinary approach and collaborated or referred out to other health professionals and experts.
From a business standpoint, this sometimes meant I lost clients because they started to go to someone who could help them better than I could.
But, interestingly, this didn’t mean I lost money.
Some of those practitioners who I referred clients to, referred clients back to me. In addition, those practitioners indirectly or directly connected me to other health practitioners and my referral network grew.
And there’s more…
The more I collaborated with other health practitioners in my referral network, the more they connected “massage” as a component of care for their own patients/clients/athletes and “Mark” as the person who should be doing the job.
The Long and Short Roads
If you want to start or expand your referral network there’s a long and short way to do this.
The long way is to let the system grow naturally without a plan.
The shortcut is to narrow your focus and build connections within a niche market.
A niche market can be defined as a group of potential customers who have specific characteristics and a common need.
Anyone who goes to the gym and works out is a general market. Crossfit is niche market.
A niche market makes the world smaller. That means your name will spreader faster than if you were trying to make connections in a big market.
Referral Network Shortcut for Your Massage Practice
Here’s my referral network shortcut recipe:
- Develop a niche market.
Here’s how you do that: A Niche Market = More Clients.
- From that niche, connect with other health practitioners who will collaborate with you to help your clients in that niche.
Here’s what I did: Start a Massage Business: Connect with the Right Physical Therapist
- Promote yourself by being accessible and demonstrating value.
I’m a big fan of demonstrating value through demo massages: How to Grow Your Massage Business With $0.
Not a Huge, Hairy Deal
If this is starting to feel like a big, hairy deal, let’s back up.
When I couldn’t help certain clients, I reached out to other health practitioners and experts. They started to refer back to me. And my network of health practitioners and experts grew.
Then I focused on helping clients in a niche market and in-coming referrals really took off.
This showed me that if I focused on a niche market, I could really increase the number of referrals coming my way.
Here’s what you need to do to grow your massage practice with a referral network:
- Pick a niche market,
- Connect with other experts servicing that niche market,
- Promote yourself by being accessible and demonstrating your value.
P.S. It works. If you follow these steps you’ll serve your clients better and your massage practice will grow. And if you need more guidance, sign up for my email group. I’ll let you know when new articles, tutorials, downloads and videos are out. The subscription is free and you can unsubscribe anytime.