Priscilla Davis is a massage therapist in California who has owned a successful massage business for over nine years. She has been a member of my Massage and Spa Success Membership and Content Clubs. I caught up with her recently to ask her about her secret to success and discover more about her journey.
First of all, I asked Priscilla to tell me a little about herself.
“I’m 38, with a husband and daughter. My daughter has Down syndrome, and I’m sharing that with you just because being a mom to a child with special needs has presented its own challenges. I wanted to make sure that I was able to take care of her and that I had the flexibility to be there for her when she needed me. Obviously, I needed to make an income too, so massage was an avenue for me to be able to use a natural ability that I already had.”
I asked Priscilla about how that was working for her now, after so many years in the massage business.
She explained, “It took a lot of work to get to where I’m at now, but I definitely wouldn’t change anything because now I have the flexibility to take time off when my daughter needs me. If she needs doctor’s appointments, hospital visits, or just the everyday parent stuff, I get to take time off. I don’t have to ask anybody for permission, and I’m not going to fire myself.”
Being there for her daughter is clearly one of Priscilla’s main drivers when it comes to running a successful massage business, and she has been lucky enough to find herself working with understanding clients who really ‘get’ the challenges she faces while loving what she does for them.
“When I went into massage school as a special needs mom myself, I was exhausted, and I was kind of running on empty,” Priscilla told me. “Then I started getting massages almost weekly, and it recharged my body in a way I had never experienced before. Here I had all this work, extra workload, and I had more energy than ever.”
“I told myself, “I need to share this with all the moms because if I’m feeling like this, then I’m sure all the other moms could use that switch in mindset.”
Focusing her practice in this way means that she gets to help other stressed moms in the same position that she is in, and the double perk is that they understand her situation. “When I do have to change up a schedule suddenly, they’re totally understanding.”
It’s great that Priscilla has such a successful niche market – but has it been difficult to stay focussed on working that niche and not trying to reach out to everybody to grow the business?
Priscilla has found that trying to please everyone didn’t work well for her practice, but only through trial and error.
“ I did make the mistake of trying to cater to everybody. Then I learned to start focusing in, and you helped me to fine tune that. I realized that if I could just focus in on the people that really needed me, then I could grow, dive deeper. You get more fish if you focus in one area, than if you cast a wide net.”
I asked Priscilla about some of the other challenges she faced when she went into the massage business for herself. Like many women, she says that she found a lack of self-confidence was something that initially held her back. “It’s a very scary thing when you’re used to the usual nine to five, and a steady pay check, and to have to switch over into making your own money because you think, “Well, what if I don’t make it? What if I can’t make ends meet?”
Priscilla dealt with these worries by starting out working as an independent contractor for someone else, and then going into corporate massage, all while building up her own massage business. Working with other employers did her another favour; it helped her to get really clear on the kind of business she wanted to build for herself and boosted her confidence in her ability to do it.
“When I first started out, I was working for somebody else, but I did house calls… That’s always scary. I was always nervous that I was going to get somebody that I didn’t feel safe with. Then, I started working for another company who did mobile service, and the screening was done for me. I eventually started doing my own screening and partnered with a ladies gym who allowed me to use one of their rooms on a part-time basis.”
Things got busy for Priscilla very quickly. She explains what happened next. “I transferred into a salon where I could keep a room full time. The room was a little smaller than was ideal, but I had to start somewhere. Then I moved into a couple other different salons. Now I’m in my own little space inside of a salon.”
Priscilla says that necessity pushed her towards taking the leap of faith she needed to start her own business after working for other people.
“Eventually I just had to get out there, and do it, and know that nothing was going to happen,” Priscilla says. “It’s scary. But once you do it, you’re like, “Okay, that wasn’t so bad.” Sometimes the fear itself is so much worse than the actual action.”
Now that Priscilla is established as a therapist, I asked her what she found worked for her business by way of marketing . Like many people, it was an area that she initially struggled with, so how did she overcome her inexperience and what really works for her business?
“My website is my number one tool,” she replied. “I highly recommend investing in web developers who can help you build a website that makes you look professional.”
Other things that have worked for Priscilla include rack cards, “I feel like rack cards really push because you get more information, and you get a little bit more of opportunity to visually appeal to your client,” and good photography. “You need photos that make you look professional and convey the image that you want to present to people, then you can place them strategically on social media, and your marketing materials.”
When it comes to social media, Priscilla believes that Instagram and Facebook work best for her massage business and adds that she also benefits quite a bit from Yelp and SpaFinder.
What are Priscilla’s plans for the future? This massage therapist is aiming high!
“The plan is to soon take over another room here in the salon. I’m going to be hiring a couple of other therapists and putting them in the other room, and potentially when I’m not here in this room. The next step is going to be, hopefully, to have my own spa, my own space.”
I suggested that it would be great for Priscilla to be able to help other massage therapists find work in a career they loved, and she agreed. “It feels gratifying because I can help them gain confidence, and then if they want to do their own thing maybe I can help them grow in that direction. I feel like that would be really helpful to our profession.”
You can check out Priscilla’s website: A Mother’s Touch Massage Therapy
Her web designers come highly recommended. She told me, “The girls at Sytbiz https://sytbiz.com/ did a wonderful job and have been wonderful to work with. They did a good job about listening to what I needed, and actually putting that feeling of relaxation, and calm, and tranquillity out there for me, so I think it’s a good place to look at for inspiration for sure.”
I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Priscilla’s next move.