Elise Palazzi Never Thought She’d Sustain an Income with Massage Therapy. Look Where She is Now!

Elise PalazziAs a licensed therapist working and living in Passaic County, New Jersey, I have many options available. When I began working in the field of massage therapy, I was a nail technician. I had four young daughters at the time. I worked part time then and still work part time as a massage therapist.

I relinquished my nail license a few years ago when I realized I would not utilize it. Presently I work for a day spa in Ramsey, NJ that began in 2002. The owner owned a full service hair salon. He was looking to expand into the spa business, which included massage therapy and body treatments. I was one of five original therapists he hired from its genesis.

As my children grew older, I was able to devote more time to the field of massage therapy. A chiropractor I had done business with from the mid 1980’s had been referring clients to me from time to time. Some of my former nail clients had been utilizing my massage therapy services at their homes. Some years later, I was a patient of another local chiropractor. She was interested in bringing massage therapy into her practice.

I rented space from her business by the hour to service her patients. I worked with her practice for almost four years. A colleague of mine opened up her own practice in Bergen County, New Jersey. She had been working on-call for both a Bergen County gym and a Passaic County hair salon. She could no longer make the break in her day worthwhile and asked if I would be interested in taking over these positions.

I have been freelancing with both the gym and the hair salon for the past year. I am a sole practitioner and plan on remaining so. About two years ago, I tried a free month of Genbook.com, an online real-time booking and marketing service. I found it to be invaluable and worth the fee that I pay for it as it allows clients to see my availability and book right into my schedule at their convenience. As of today, I make my own work hours outside of my committed hours to the day spa.

I was a stay at home mom that went to a women’s retreat with our local YMCA for the weekend. I signed up for a massage while I was there. I loved it so much and had the thought of someday being able to make people feel that great for a living. The thought moved to the back of my mind as I reentered my life of caring for four young daughters. I separated from my husband a short time later.

I realized I needed to retrain myself quickly in order to make some money to help support myself. I went back to school to become a licensed nail technician. While I enjoyed that for a time, I felt the desire to do more to help people. My youngest children, triplets, were entering full day first grade in 1998, which allowed me to pursue a massage program in Bergen County.

The school owners geared the program for mother’s hours. School was in session Monday through Thursday until 3pm. When I had visited the school the first time, they mentioned Bergen Workforce, which would pay the school’s tuition and help with after school child-care costs for someone in my situation. (out of work needing to retrain in an approved field)

I never thought I would be able to sustain an income with massage therapy for as long as I have. Even though I enjoyed school, I never truly thought it would amount to much in the end.

I would consider my specialty, my love of massage therapy and my love of helping others. I have been passionate about helping people my whole life. Although I was taught much in massage school, many of the qualities of a great therapist cannot be taught.

The fact that people trust me and like me is very helpful. Another component of my success is the fact that I make house calls, many therapists refuse or dislike this aspect of the profession. The final key to my success is I never say, “no, I cannot make it.” I figure out a way to make the appointment happen no matter when the client calls me. If I cannot make it, they will find someone else who will.

I love the flexibility of what I do, as well as the positive outcome of the service I provide to my clients. How many people can say they have had a hug after providing great service? In some ways, it means more than receiving money to do what I love. The only thing I do not like about what I do is having to deal with men expecting that I may or may not actually be a professional.

During the lifetime of my profession, I have had to change with the times and have become more visible on the internet. For example, I have a professional Facebook, I have updated my services and hours with the AMTA, I have a free website provided through the AMTA. It is through these vehicles that I have had to sidestep a few individuals.

When you get into massage therapy, you need to realize that most of your work is evenings and weekends. Those hours have worked for me up until this point in time. I would love to change the fact that people view massage therapy as a once a year treat. I would also like to be appreciated as the true professional I am, by every client I encounter.

I am very disheartened with the capitalism taking the industry by storm. The only thing I have to say on the matter is this, “can a drive through meal in the car be compared to a four-star restaurant sit down dinner? ” You get what you pay for.

I am currently attending a four-year university to get a B.S. in the Applied Health track of Public Health. I should be finished in two years. My degree is my insurance policy for steady income. I would love to be able to retire having been solely a massage therapist. Time will tell.

I am a part time college student and a part time massage therapist. I plan my schedule around my spa hours and I plan my private clients around both school and spa hours.

Right from the first day, keep a record of clients name, address, phone number and email address include the information of where you met and the date. Create a price list with a short description on decorative paper. Have multiple contact information on your business cards.

Always have a few handy. We may be gifted at massage, which means we need to work at the business side a little harder, both are important. Be available and be cheerful. (the above were not mistakes, they were helpful hints)

First, when looking at a school, location is important. Second, is the school accredited? You may not think it is important, but it may be at some point in the future. The school I chose was accredited; this allowed some of the hours to be transferred into the local community college I attended.

Check with the school and see if there are scholarships available. Also, see if they participate in the Bergen Workforce or its equivalent in your area. This is something that everyone in the United States pays into. It is a government program.

Take full advantage of social media, linked in, reconnect with old high school friends, encourage people to refer you for a small discount. Sell series of five massages for a small savings or after the sixth massage give one free. Never turn down any opportunity if possible. Tell everyone you meet what you do for a living and how much you enjoy it.

I would hate to see massage taken over by the health insurance industry. It is something I never would like to be a part of it at all possible. If this were to happen, many of the freedoms we enjoy now would be removed.

Within the past two years, we became a licensed profession in New Jersey. Although this is a great way for our state to generate more income, it does not guarantee that everyone will comply. Licensing will not stop people from using our profession as a cover for other illegal activities.

I love the outdoors, walking, biking and hiking. I love yoga and would love to practice it more than I do now. I love to cook and read. I truly enjoy the school and the major I have chosen to pursue.

Elise Palazzi is a professional massage therapy and member of of AMTA.  You can find her profile on the AMTA website, or get in touch with her on her Facebook page here.

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

Posted in Interviews with Professionals

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