If you feel trapped in your massage job, you need to build a trapdoor. Start by creating an independent referral base.
What is an Independent Referral Base?
An independent referral base is a person (persons, group) who refers massage clients directly to you. This means that you have the option to schedule and collect payment from the referrals yourself.
Sometimes you may think that you have an independent referral base, when you actually don’t.
Early on in my massage career I worked for a chiropractor. At first, my client base grew only because the chiro was feeding me his patients. But then some of those clients started to refer their family and friends to me.
This was not an independent referral base because the referrals were doing business through the chiropractor, not me. And if I wanted to continue to work for the chiropractor it needed to stay that way.
I Got the Itch
As time went on, I got the itch to venture out on my own, but I had reservations. For one, not only would I lose my source of introductory clients if I left the chiropractor’s practice, I would also lose potential referral sources (the intro clients who continued with me and referred clients to me).
And though I knew some of my clients (his patients) would follow me to my own practice, I wasn’t guaranteed that any of them would be referral sources.
Because of my referral situation, I felt trapped.
Building the Trapdoor
Fortunately, the chiropractor’s office was in a fitness center. And since I liked working with pain and injury cases, I started to get know the personal trainers. One trainer, John, became a good referral source because he valued massage.
One day when John was tired of hearing me gripe about my work situation, he said: “Dude, I’ll send ‘em to your apartment to get a massage.”
It was an aha moment! I had a trapdoor.
The quickest way to create an independent referral source is to target someone. (In a good way.)
First, identify a potential referral source that might like the type of massage you do. By the way, you don’t need to specialize in a modality to establish an independent referral base. Check out New Therapists Can Be Good Therapists to see what I mean.
Next start to build a relationship. For example, my massage fits well with chiropractic. And for 15 years, Heather, a chiro and my friend, referred her patients to me. But recently she retired.
So I started to search the area for a chiro that didn’t have massage tied into his business. And
I found one. Bernie.
I have to admit that I needed to stalk…I mean be persistent with Bernie to get a return call. But after we talked, we scheduled a time where I would do demo massages on his patients. One demo lead to more demos. And soon the referral spigot was on again.
Don’t Wait Until You Have a Place
What if you don’t have a place to work on the referrals? Have them go to where you work until you have something set up.
That hurts a little, I know. It feels like you’re giving your money away to your employer. But here’s what you get in return: a client.
If you decide to go out on your own, it’s likely that the referral client will follow you. And if you decide to stay the course at work, you can have peace of mind knowing your independent referral source spigot is turned on if/whenever you are ready to see some clients on the side.
My Crude But Effective Trapdoor
After my aha moment with John, I started seeing the clients he referred to me in my apartment while I continued to work at the chiropractor’s office. (Jack, my cat at the time, only jumped on the table once.)
My trapdoor was crude, but it worked. Shortly after that I opened my first office in a new fitness center where John had set up home.
If you’re feeling trapped, build a trapdoor. Target a potential independent referral source. Connect. Then get your hands on him or his customers/patients/clients. Show ‘em what you got. Then decide how you want to handle the referrals.
If you’re not sure who to target, let me know about your situation. And we can figure it out:-) firstname.lastname@example.org