ŠKunz and Kunz 2004
Hints from the Pro's for Your Reflexology Business
Some perceive the full-time professional reflexologist to be a rare species. Considering that almost all reflexologists are entrepreneurs and that 70% of entrepreneurs fail, this is hardly surprising. However, the full-time professional reflexologists who survive the rigors of launching a business in the field do so because of reflexology skill, persistence, and business acumen. To get an idea of successful tactics, we list here tried and true hints for economic survival.
"I work on their feet and then they don't come back for a second session," lamented a former client who had moved to another state and subsequently started a reflexology business. Years ago a reflexologist typically launched his or her business following practice work on family and friends. Such practice inevitably lead to stories of success that were repeated to a wider circle of people. A professional career began when the budding reflexologist found himself or herself approached by an individual who wanted work on his or her feet but who was beyond a circle of familiars. The reflexologist did not feel that he or she could work for free and a career started.
Today, whether you have taken a class, an extensive training program or you are a self-studier, the fact remains that there is no substitute for the valuing of your services by satisfied paying or nonpaying clients. Whether you have achieved a word-of-mouth reputation through working with family or friends or a paying clientele, it is the cornerstone of your practice. In other words, it takes work on feet even after you feel that you have mastered the necessary reflexology skills to establish your work. The more feet you work with, the more opportunity you have to get results and the more people will talk about you and your work.
For example, at the beginning of his career, Kevin Kunz worked with four generations of one group of family friends, achieving results with each as one part of reputation-building before "going professional." At times a single client can trigger the spreading of your reputation. Gwen Dara, a full-time professional in the Los Angeles area, notes that a client recovering from plastic surgery found Gwen's reflexology work speeded up her recovery. The next thing she knew, the word had spread and Gwen was seeing more clients seeking to recover from plastic surgery. At one point in his early professional career, Kevin was surprised by an increase in the number of clients suffering from emphysema. It turned out that several emphysema sufferers, identifiable to each other by their oxygen carts, happened to be standing in the same line at the hardware store and Kevin's successful work with one came up.
Having the client compare one foot to the other is a means that members of the Foot Reflexology Awareness Association, who have plied their trade at numerous conventions, have found to prove something has happened with the application of reflexology work helped sell their skills. Quite simply, after work on one foot, the reflexologist asks the client to get up and take a few steps. The questions to then ask are, "How does that feel? Does one foot feel different than the other?"
Calling the client the day after the first session is a method Gwen uses to see how the individual is doing. The advantage of this approach is to see if a reaction has taken place and working with the client to see if an effect was achieved.
Consider also the service you are offering. Frankly, one reflexologist's technique application caused so much pain that no one wanted to go back. Another reflexologist worked with such a light touch that clients did not feel anything had happened. An easy way around this problem is to inform the new client that you have a "variable speed thumb," that you want his or her input to help determine the amount of pressure he or she is seeking.
What image of expected results from your reflexology services does the client receive? Does the client anticipate being "cured?" Or, are you able to project a service that is geared to an obtainable goal, relaxation? The goal of reflexology technique application is to reduce the stress level in the foot and, thus, the rest of the body. With each successive session, the body learns to better cope with stress. The client who understands that reflexology is a process of helping the body better adapt to stress is a client who will stay with you. The questions to ask at the second session or the next day on the phone are "Did you feel better after the last session?" and "How long did that feeling last?" The goal becomes applying a sufficient amount of reflexology work to achieve the level of adaptation necessary to effect a change in the body's operating process.
Keep in mind an active picture of the client's feet. This will enable you to note changes within the session and from session to session. Value is, thus, added to your service when the client sees that change has taken place. It also makes you a more credible practitioner by showing that you can objectively gauge the changes taking place within his or her stress pattern.
Pricing can be an issue. "No wonder this reflexologist has so many clients. She only charges $15 a session. I could increase my client level if I was willing to charge less," as one reflexologist reported. Consider whether or not your fees match the locally accepted levels and your skill / experience / reputation level.
Office ambiance is yet another issue. Working out of the den of your home, for example, can be cheap but does your work space match the fees you charge? Value is added to your service by your surroundings. Larry Clemmons, for example, has rented an office in a professional building (among other tenants are some 900 dentists) in the downtown, central area of Chicago for years. Kevin rents an office in a professional building on a main street in Santa Fe. Value is added to his service with a session room that includes a top-of-the-line LazyBoy recliner, a stereo, scented candles, and attractive windows that showcase bird feeders and birds drawn to them. The clients enjoy watching the birds and feel that it adds to a relaxing session. Good location, easy parking, good signs, and the availability of an elevator if the office has stairs all contribute to the ease which the prospective client can access your services.
What hours do your work and are you willing to make house calls? Early in her career Gwen worked with entertainment business people who kept unusual hours. She worked at meeting her clients' schedules and continues to make Saturday appointments today. Do you consider working evenings to accommodate your clients? Also, what about house calls? One long-time Santa Fe resident noted that many reclusive people live in the area. They much prefer not leaving their houses and prefer to receive a home visit.
Do you have good relationships with other professionals? A holistic doctor and several acupuncturists and massage therapists have proven to be sources of client referral for Kevin. Naturally, he keeps them in mind when the client indicates a desire for services outside of his range. Know when to refer out to other professionals. Not only is this in the best interests of the client, but it is also a good professional practice. Straying into areas outside of your professional practice also lessens your credibility as a reflexologist.
Consider your work habits. Are you on time for the session with your work space prepared? We have heard reports of practitioners showing up late for the session then ending the session at the scheduled time AND charging a full fee. Establish a routine for preparing for your work area: note taking, setting the room temperature, turning on lights, adjusting music, lighting candles, checking that the area is clean and neat, putting the phone on an answering machine or whatever else is involved in setting your work place. Treat the client with courtesy. Focus on them and make eye contact during your work.
Add value to your service by offering self-help advice. Not all clients want to work on themselves but for those who do, your self-help lessons convey the message that your goal is to work with them to achieve their goals, no matter who does the work.
When the prospective client calls, have an established procedure to describe your work, fees, and location. Get their phone number and address for your records and just in case you need to reschedule.
When the client arrives for a first session, do you have available a client package of information such as a business card, a description of your rates and what reflexology is, foot and hand reflexology charts, and any other information that adds to your credibility? The overall impression of such an approach is stability and professionalism.
Are you listed in the "Yellow Pages" of your local phone book? In 1980 reflexologists, lead in a letter-writing campaign by Kevin and Barbara Kunz, were granted a heading of "Reflexologist" in the "Yellow Pages" of the Bell System. Take advantage of it.
Consider your local marketing resources, such as, health food stores, smaller specialty newspapers for announcements & advertising (health, church, or community). Demonstrations at the health food store, church group, singles group, senior citizens centers, libraries, and so forth can build your presence within the community.
Finally, how committed are you to establishing your reflexology career? Like any other business it requires time, money, and effort. The beauty of a reflexology business is that you can start small and build. There is a point, however, where you make a decision about your commitment level. Clientele can tell if your practice is a serious professional pursuit.