Autumn Maple leaf transition and variation concept for fall and change of season

Are you starting to get COVID-19 weary? Isolation is sure to be an incredibly testing time for everyone, especially for us as therapists who, as well as the psychological strain of lockdown, many of us are also dealing with the financial fears of losing our livelihood as we depend on human contact for work.

As we begin to see unprecedented numbers of businesses and self employed individuals in our industry forced to close their spas and therapy rooms due to the sudden change in permissible operations, it is vital that we start to explore alternative options and begin to accept that it might take a while to go back to how things once were, in the meantime, let’s look at how we can embrace the ‘new normal’. What can we do in the here and now, to grow and develop, so that we come back, leaner, stronger and better than ever.

Change can be a challenging process for many, as routine and predictability allow us to fall into habits that allow us to feel comfortable and safe. However, it is important to be vigilant, preventing routines that can turn into ruts; something we struggle to break free from, habits can keep us restricted, placing limitations on what we are able to achieve, experience and deliver. In our current climate, change has now been forced upon us, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be wholly terrible. We need to think outside of the box and see what we can make out of the lemons that have been given to us…

As an entrepreneur, an aversion to change can kill your business faster than anything else; complacency is a virus to business development and is often the result of habit forming behaviour; shying away from something that moves you out of your comfort zone with the potential for new opportunities and a wider client base. Examples such as Blockbuster gives empirical evidence of the severe consequences of remaining rigid to progression. The misplaced confidence in their outdated business model allowed Netflix to engulf them and dominate the sector.

I have identified similar behavioural traits in my competitors. Their reluctance to be fluid and progressive with their delivery has led to a number of them folding, and others struggling to make ends meet. While it may feel like risk taking; behaviour that resists change and refuses to evolve will eventually become outdated, sometimes far sooner than expected, becoming a memory with no future when it could be a thriving, exciting journey to success. Regularly stepping out of your comfort zone soon becomes less scary, as you get practiced at it, it becomes the new norm, and so on.

To keep your business relevant, up to date and thriving, I would suggest you consider introducing the six R’s into your business plans; keeping mindful of these five essential elements can make the difference in these challenging times and help you to have a future business to return to.

The first, is to reset. While it can be tempting to be stubborn and push forward with original ideas that were once successful in the hope that it will flourish once more; making adjustments and reorganising business models can help enable you to pick things back up quickly and remain on a steady trajectory. Considering how rapidly industries such as ours are evolving, it is essential to make sure you are willing to hit the reset button to consider how changes can be made. What better time than now to stop, take stock and reset. Use this down time to evaluate your business, look at what has been working and what hasn’t and then start to build a new plan around what has. Write down some ideas about what it is that has been working really well and that which has not. If you are not sure you’ve covered them all then why not send out a survey asking your clients what their favourite bits are about the service you offer and what things, in an ideal world, would they like to see added or changed to help improve it.

Reboot; giving your business model a complete makeover can appear daunting, but has been proven to be immensely successful, if carefully considered and based on adequate market research. To establish a new beginning it is necessary to produce distinctly new ideas, structures and goals to keep on top of competition. There are a couple of things that you can do to help you kick start this process, you have a huge resource in the form of the internet, google some ideas and explore the many possibilities. Maybe you have been working solo for a long time but know that your clients would be better served and have longer lasting results if they made other lifestyle changes, such as movement based therapies, or nutrition, or a life coach. Hence, your new business model might now include referrals, or a closer working relation with other therapies. Now is the time to reach out and have that conversation, do you already know of other therapists that you respect, i.e. your local pilates instructor? Why not pick up the phone and have a conversation to explore how you might work together.

If you have previously struggled with adaption, it could mean you need to refine your business model. Ineffectively implementing add-ons, promotions and other short term fixes can leave communication and processes messy, unclear and insecure. It is vital to take the time to evaluate how your business looks externally, and internally and identify how these can be more polished, elegant and attractive. So what does a dirty shop window and signage that hasn’t been wiped clean for decades, have to do with promoting a business? What do you think dead plants in the ‘flower pots’ tell your clients about you? I avoid places like this, a lack of attention to detail externally will translate into every detail of their business internally. Without realising it they’re telling their clients that the service being offered is less than great. So is it time to do some external spring cleaning? Give the planters a fresh new look, choose some bee friendly plants, demonstrate to your clients that you care.

Regenerate; if you feel as though your business is dying, it needs resuscitation by regeneration. It might be that your ideas are perfect, but they need to be reorganised and made over in order to get the most out of them and in the best condition. Making this step a regular feature in business development will keep things fresh, interesting and exciting, it will attract and maintain regular clientele.

Revive old ideas that may have been before their time. Often it can take some businesses a long time to truly maximise its potential due to external factors. You may have had an idea in the past, and given up on it due to lack of time to plan properly how to implement it, or simply not giving it the time it needed to work out. Perhaps now you could dig out these ideas and see how you could make them work in the future. Maybe now is the time to bring that website to life. You’ve always known that you should have one but never seemed to find the time. Or what about that booking system that would really make your life so much easier? Maybe now is the time to research it, post on a forum to get recommendations, ask about the pros and cons of the various programs. How about revisiting that idea of using social media to establish your presence, now is the time to look at scheduling platforms and you could even plan and schedule months worth of content in advance! It is time to revive some of those ideas that have been sitting on the shelf for much too long.

Finally the last R is refresh, the word itself generates a sense of newness, it feels light, clear and clean. Now is the perfect time to integrate this principle into your plan by starting with your clinic room.. Take a moment to walk into your clinic as if it is the first time, what do your clients see, have you created an atmosphere that best reflects you? Does it feel a bit crowded with ‘stuff’, does it look tired, rough at the edges? Is it feeling a tad outdated? You can make some simple changes that are neither expensive or require massive amounts of time to do. Clearing the room of unwanted ‘stuff’, maybe rearranging it so it flows better, changing the colour of your covers, hanging a different picture, adding softer lighting… these are all things you can do that will give your clinic room a facelift.

We are undoubtedly living in an uncertain, unpredictable time where change must be accepted, embraced and implemented. While this is understandably uncomfortable and stress inducing for many who are not change friendly, the reality is, without taking on board and planning for these 6 R’s – the risk of being left behind is greater than taking the chance to stay within the curve.

If the creation and evolution of your business model enabled success, satisfaction and security; why not put these 6 R’s into practice and continue to allow opportunities to flourish and your business to not only survive, but thrive.

Susan Findlay
Susan Findlay

My name is Susan Findlay and like most of the people I teach, I came to sports massage & remedial soft tissue therapy by way of a journey.

My journey began with classical dance and gymnastics back in my home country, Canada. When your body is the tool that you work with, you learn to take notice of it and it was this interest in the human body that led me to retrain as a nurse.

After working for the NHS, I made the choice to be my own boss. Still in the health and fitness field, I worked with GPs and health centres, setting up different schemes for a range of clientele. Holding 20+ classes a week and running multiple health programmes, I discovered a love of teaching and enjoyed the rewards of helping clients reach their goals.

I retrained in 1996 and gained a Sport Massage and a Remedial Soft Tissue Therapy qualification that helped me to bring all my skills together. This eventually lead me into teaching and writing a book.  As life would have it my focus evolved into becoming a specialist in oncology massage, long before it was trendy and not considered a contraindication.  I now teach a program nationally that offers certification for therapists to offer a much needed and appreciated therapy.  

Although I am the director (and senior lecturer) of NLSSM, I have never given up the practical side of the profession and I still run my own clinic in both North London & Wales. 

Keeping up with the real world helps to keep me inspired and that helps to make me a better teacher.

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