The Key to Financial Success
By Treena Hein
"The most important thing for therapists to remember when building their practices is to be consistent in everything they do,” says Donna Micallef.
By Treena Hein
“The most important thing for therapists to remember when building their practices is to be consistent in everything they do,” says Donna Micallef. “This means the hours they keep, the services they provide and their use – and sales – of quality products. The general public is very knowledgeable and demands reputable products, and the use of products with integrity directly reflects on how a practice is perceived.”
|Donna Micallef, co-owner of Know Your Body Best. |
Micallef co-owns Know your Body Best (KYBB) in Toronto with Constance Rennett. It was Rennett (a full-time practising RMT at the time) who had the idea in 1992 to open a retail store with Micallef for other therapists besides her clinic, and since then, the pair has never looked back. The product supply business was a booming success from the start and kept the two so busy that they sold the clinic shortly afterwards. KYBB now sources, wholesales and ships internationally, supplying massage therapists, physiotherapists and spa operators, as well as the general public.
“Prior to KYBB there was no full-service supply store in Canada for massage therapy or other complementary therapies,” Micallef notes. “The industry really needed a company dedicated to providing therapists and their clients with quality products.” She adds, “With Constance being an RMT, and me having many years of business experience, it was a great fit for both of us in the beginning and still is today. We feel that our efforts over all these years have contributed to massage therapy growing to where it is right now.”
From the start, Micallef and Rennett travelled to places such as California to educate themselves on the best and newest products on the market. “From the beginning, we also wanted to have an educational component, offering books and anatomy charts,” says Micallef. Their large product line helps therapists meet the needs of their clients, ranging from pain management and mobility products to relaxation and feel-good items. They offer herbal bath products, relaxation CDs, candles, slippers, bath robes, inflammation and pain-reducing lotions, as well as a range of handheld tools to increase circulation, stimulate healing and more.
HELPING OTHERS BUILD THEIR BUSINESS
But the owner and staff of KYBB support the massage therapy profession by doing more than just selling products. “We wanted to develop a business that helped other people build their businesses,” says Micallef.
“We always have an eye on selling products that massage therapists can trust are safe and beneficial for patients, products that help them maintain integrity in their business practices.” From time to time, Know Your Body Best runs in-house workshops and seminars and Micallef and Rennett are available to talk to RMTs in other ways as well. “We’ve featured Don Dillon who teaches practice management and Paul Lewis who teaches various advanced massage techniques,” Micallef explains. “We’ve also had suppliers do presentations, teaching the value of using their products in treatment.”
Micallef and Rennett make sure their staff is knowledgeable and skilled about each product, with each person able to provide the right guidance and advice on which products would work best for each customers’ needs. “Customer service is number one in our minds,” Micallef says, “and we work hard each day to give the help and advice that is needed.” New staff members spend the first four to eight weeks working with a senior team member, learning about each product and how the business systems work.
“They do a lot of reading, feeling, smelling and experiencing the great products,” says Micallef. “We make training very interactive.” She says new staff members are chosen for their good character, commitment to customer service and love for the industry, along with their individual skills that will complement the existing team.
CONSISTENCY IS CRITICAL
Micallef can’t stress enough that consistency is the number one key to financial success for massage therapists. “Inconsistency is a very common pitfall that can be easily avoided,” she says. “Because therapists are self-employed, they can find it easy to take time away from their schedules and not provide consistent hours and services. They not only must not do this, but be consistent about marketing their services, and working their referral networks to maintain and grow their client base. It’s about regular general discipline.”
She says marketing and networking should include regular visits to other therapists in the area to help find your “differential advantage” – what you do that others don’t. Micallef also recommends working together with other professionals as a community dedicated to providing great care. “In this way, you can share clients, build a full spectrum of services and consider advertising together,” she says. “Introduce yourself to other therapists, get known and capitalize on your differences.”
Beyond offering quality treatment products, KYBB puts a focus on patient safety as well. “For the safety of patients and to avoid liability issues, quality tables are a must,” says Micallef. “CSA-approved electrical products are a must as well.”
Micallef adds, “Clients will feel well-taken-care-of when your linens are good quality and clean and fresh.
And offering a selection of quality lubricant products allows them to customize treatments to what they prefer – gel or oil or lotion – which in my experience, they greatly appreciate.”
Micallef strongly believes that offering a selection of products to treat a problem area at the end of treatment is a caring touch that massage therapists should provide – one that also brings back clients for follow-up visits. “Having these products for sale to your clients is a convenient and thoughtful service to offer and adds to your profit,” she says. “You should definitely consider having on hand a few thermophores and antiflamme, or pain creams, for pain relief. Your customers will be grateful. By using quality, reputable products and equipment, your image will only be enhanced but so will the image of your entire profession.”
Treena Hein is a freelance writer and editor based in Eastern Ontario. She has also created educational resources and runs her own seasonal historical walking tours. Treena is the proud winner of two awards: the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists “Star Prize” and the Canadian Farm Writers Federation “Gold” feature award.