Why did I get into the Medical Day Spa business in the first place?
I was first introduced to massage therapy by a co-worker back in my 20’s who saw that I was stressed out from my full time job and advised me to try a massage. Since I am not shy about trying new things, I took the lady’s name and number and set up an appointment. I went to her condo and when she opened the door, I had doubts about what I was getting into. She had a long dress on, with clogs and she wore small round glasses and had bowl type haircut. She had a room set up in her condo. The room seemed nice enough so I filled out a form and told her about my stress, neck and shoulder tension. She nodded through my explanation and then asked me to lay face down on the table. After I did, I started to hear bongo music. I chuckled to myself and said “Oh great! I hope she doesn’t put a spell on me” Even though I was anxious and joking about the whole atmosphere, she was able to help me relax, relieve my tension and I fell asleep. When it was over, I thought, how awesome would it be to help people feel this way, to help people with their anxiety. After my session, I immediately started to research massage therapy schools and decided I would sign up to get certified on the weekends.
I talked to my husband about it, he wasn’t sure why I was doing it and I don’t think he understood why I would want to touch other people’s bodies. I think is exact words were “Ewwww”. However, he was supportive of me going to school. The school was located in an building located right near the Pacific Ocean in Carmel, CA. It was a beautiful outdoor setting. I walked in on the first day of class and I was nervous at first. But, after I meet the teacher and my classmates, I realized that these people were my type of people. I felt very comfortable there. It was very much a touchy feely place and everyone had the same goal, to learn how to help people. They were healers. Now I had a vision of owning and running a Day Spa after massage school.
After certification, I started to massage my friends and family for practice. They referred me their friends. I was growing and realized that I needed a small office somewhere near my clientele. I rented a very small place above a hair studio. That was all I could afford. However, no matter how small it was, I was able to build a very steady clientele through referrals. I did very minimal advertising. I did give discounts for people who wanted to come more frequently. I made sure I was within the going price range. I treated people with respect, listened to what they needed, and when i was not able to help them, I referred them to doctors that I knew would treat them well. This built the customer’s trust in me and built a long lasting relationship. Keep in mind, this was before all the computer, phone and social media we have today. Some clients I had for over 10 years. I knew about their lives in a very intimate way.
Soon I realized after a few years that I had to expand. I found another place to rent above my cousin’s gift shop and rented it there with an esthetician and hired another therapist to work with me who was trying to build up her own clientele. Through my client relationships, I found an opportunity to open a Day Spa in the same town but in a new developing area. I was able to gather other therapists together in the Day Spa and as a team we built the business. The space allowed my business to expand and I was able to offer classes in Yoga, Pilates, Nutrition, and even bring in massage therapy teachers to train massage therapist in other modalities.
Dreams do come true. Successful dreams take dedication, hard work and consistency with a positive attitude. They also take a lot of support from people around you who believe in you. My business was built without loans, and gave me a steady stream of income to support my growing family. Some clients I had for over 10 years. I knew about their lives in a very intimate way. Whatever they share with me was kept between us and I never violated their trust.
In life, the unexpected happens. In 2008, the stock market crashed and I had a dramatic decrease in clientele, I was not able to recover from that. I did not have enough in reserve. I had to sell my business and it was very difficult for me. I did not want to let it go. This experience taught me to make sure I keep enough in reserve for what might happen. In addition I learned that if I do this again, I will focus on doing massage therapy work or running the business, not both. As you expand your business, you need to think about passing down your legacy. I did not do any massage work for 6 months after that because every time I tried to do a massage, I would start to cry.
Remember the experience as a success. At first I was devastated that I lost my business. However, in this whole journey because I was able to help thousands of people over the course of 13 years in reducing their pain and anxiety. I created some deep and meaningful friendships. I was able to keep the business growing and I experimented with different marketing techniques and found out which ones worked. No regrets. Even if your business fails, never miss the opportunity to go after your dreams.