June 16, 2012

The Top 5 Things I have Learned About Mending Hands (since I knew I would be relocating)

A short time ago I announced that my husband had taken a job in Sarasota and that we would be moving to the Sunshine State. We had just 5 days to decide what we were going to do with this huge life changing job offer.  A leap that would only leave about 6 weeks before needing to close Mending Hands in Brooklyn. I have recieved a few requests from readers, colleagues and the amazing Facebook massage community to take a little time to write about my experiences as I make this transition. So I thought I would start with the five things I have already learned about Mending Hands (since I knew I would be relocating). 

1. I don't like my job. I love it.
Getting myself licensed in Florida is going to take some time. I have to pass their required exam, plus a few new classes (mainly Florida specific laws and such). Add a few weeks of paper work with the office of professions - mailing, stamping and signing documents will take some time. Which means I won't be giving massages for a few months. This is so weird to me. Yes, I will be more than busy with packing, unpacking and exploring our new city. I also promised my husband I would…what's the word? Relax. I promised him I would take some time to relax and enjoy this break (being that I will be near white beaches and clear water, I think I might be able to give into it a little).  Yet when I think of the fact that I will not be massaging for a few months. It makes me sad. I love being a massage therapist. I love the work, the creativity, the care and connection. Knowing that this part of my life will be taking a back seat for a few months makes me realize how much I love it. 

2. I don't like my clients. I love them.
When I sent out my newsletter announcing this move, I had knots in my stomach the entire day. I knew that this was going to be hard for me but I had no true gauge of how my clients would react. It has been about 3 weeks since my clients were told and the amount of love, support and sadness I have heard from them is incredibly humbling. The first time I had a client tear up after a session when they said "I can't believe you are not going to be here, these sessions just aren't going to be in my life anymore." had ME in tears! Then the next client comes in and said "Right. So I have no idea how you think you are moving to Florida when I'm obviously kidnapping you and keeping you in my guest room!" which only made me laugh. I thought saying goodbye to my friends was going to be hard, but saying goodbye to my clients is going to be heartbreaking. I have loved watching their babies grow and come into the world, to hear about them placing in their latest race, being the recipient of their stories from around the world and those amazing moments when they just say thank you. I am invested in my clients for the people they are. And they are invested in me for the care that I bring to them. To me, that is not about liking - that is love. 

3. I have a specialty. 
I ran into one of my mentors on the street last week. He practically tackled me with a bear hug and congratulated us on our bravery with such a big move! We got to chatting about the clients I am leaving, and my hope for clients I will meet in Sarasota. He asked me if I had "found my speciality" yet. I thought about my clients. Ages 3 weeks to 92 years old. All the teachers, athletes, moms, dads, lawyers, artists, musicians, moms-to-be, actors, architects, loggers, fireman, trainers, authors, publishers, advertising and marketing specialists, executives, nannies, poets, politicians, massage therapists, accountants, acupuncturists, chefs, students, fashion designers, journalists, marathon runners, filmmakers, yoga teachers, small business owners, dog walkers, non profit champions and so many more. That's when it dawned on me. I have a specialty. I specialize in passionate people. I think that is the most amazing specialty I could have ever asked for, and it found me. I think passionate people suit me quite nicely and have a way of making my life lovely and full! 

4. Mending Hands is not all about the money. And never will be.
So much so that there have been times that I have sent clients out of my place after a full session with a hug and wave having forgotten to ask for payment. Most of the time one of us remembered (usually before the elevator arrives, but not always). Yet the reactions have been the same "You must really love this when you don't even remember you are doing it to earn a living!". Many massage therapists can report that although you can make a solid living, you don't go into massage to make yourself rich. I limit myself to four clients a day, specifically so no one ever feels like a number or aren't getting the same attention and energy that the first client of the day gets. Limiting clients is a good idea for a massage therapist's care - but not for that profit margin. I never really knew how much I did NOT think about my clients as just additions to my bank account until recently. I announced my relocation and recommended two local private practices. After blogging about my recommendations, I received an angry passive aggressive email from a spa eluding to the fact that they were insulted I didn't just send my clients directly to their company. Do you know what I did? I cried. Here I am making a huge sudden life altering decision, having to tell some amazing clients that I am walking away from our rewarding work and commitment and then I feel like someone is mad at me for not just handing over my "paycheck" to them. Yes, I admit I am an emotional person. No, I didn't cry in front of any clients. But it made me so sad that someone was looking at me leaving as just a whole lot of dollar signs up for the taking and be angry with me for not just handing them over. Most of my clients like the relationship that occurs with a private practice. They like knowing that every cent is going to the livelihood of the person those hard working hands belong to. Even when having to say goodbye to my New York clients, I'm trying to be client centered and suggest like minded therapists who would also value the relationships that can grow. That's not about money. That's about care.

5. Running a business that makes you proud of yourself is priceless.
I have learned so much from starting Mending Hands in Brooklyn from scratch. Although in many ways I am starting all over again in Sarasota, I have much more knowledge to take with me. I hope to take some time to blog the details about finding a space, making marketing fit our new neighborhood and the different ways I will try to get my name out there in our new community. One thing I can tell you is this; if you run your business in a way that makes you feel proud of yourself, clients will feel that. They will feel that, they will come back and they will send their friends and loved ones. There are a ton of resources where you can find "how to" tips to be brave and smart and successful as a small business owner. Use these tools! They are extremely helpful!  I intend to use them, well…forever. But for me -  at least right now, I'm going to hold this thought; when I open Mending Hands in Sarasota, I will think of the things that made me so very proud of Mending Hands in Brooklyn. And when I get that first client I hope that it will be the start of something even more wonderful.

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