Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Timothy Turnbow and I am the owner of Natural Forces Massage in Atascocita, Texas.
At my clinic, I have 10 massage therapists and we primarily focus on therapeutic massage techniques for injuries and injury prevention. Some of these techniques include trigger point therapy, deep tissue massage, prenatal massage, sports massage, and cupping therapy.
In general, our customers come from surrounding neighborhoods, however, we have clients who will even drive 30 to 45 minutes to reach us.
One thing I'm very proud of is that we already have over 400 5 star reviews on Google Maps and this month (May 2022), we are currently celebrating our 4-year anniversary.
Our sales have grown year over year, and on average we make around $30,000/month in sales.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
When I graduated High School, my dream was to become a Physical Therapist. I wanted to help people with pain relief, including my mother who had already had two back surgeries.
So, I graduated from massage school at the Relax Station in Kingwood in 2008. When I learned how many ways massage could help people, I stuck with it.
After receiving my Massage Therapy License, I started working at many different massage therapy chains over several years and realized I was pretty good at helping clients with pain relief. I was definitely in the field that I was made for.
One example of this was when I worked at a chiropractor's office and I worked on a client who was unable to reach his arm over his head due to injury. He was told he needed surgery. After working on him and researching many techniques, I was able to help him without him needing surgery.
I kept having these situations happen and I began to have a dream that I could one day have a clinic of my own and hire other massage therapists that had the same goals as me.
In 2014, I decided to go out on my own and the clients that had seen me over the years followed me. Heck, they were even willing to see me in my apartment living room. This gave me the validation that the sky was the limit.
It all comes down to how customers are treated. Being a small business, I felt it was best to focus on the people, rather than the money they bring.
God provided me with an amazing wife Mckenna Turnbow (and now co-founder) who without her, this business wouldn't have been possible. One, because of her support as a partner. Two, was because she even had a business degree.
This was all preparing me to leap opening a massage therapy clinic very soon.
Believe it or not, when I was about to have a medical procedure done in 2016, I was given some great relaxing medication.
In my loopiness, I told my wife that it was time to get things going to start the process of getting a location. I suggested moving in with her parents and saving up. I even texted my in-laws and to my surprise, they thought it was a great idea.
Take us through the process of opening your massage clinic
To open my massage clinic, a few things needed to happen:
- We would have to find a location I could rent to take care of clients.
- We would have to sell our house very quickly. This was because we couldn't afford 2 rents at the same time.
After a lot of prayers, one of my clients told me they knew someone who had a room for rent at their hair salon. Next, within 2 months, our house was sold. This was all a miracle. I worked at the hair salon for a year and I began negotiations for a place to lease.
To help with opening costs, we applied for a small business loan and were approved for $40,000 from the Commercial Resource Credit Union. In March of 2018, I signed a 5-year lease for Natural Forces Massage and reached out to a few massage therapists I knew and hired them on. I then bought all the equipment I needed to start the business off:
- Massage tables (4) Around $300 per table.
- Sheets (100 to start) Around $20 per set.
- Lotion (5gallon) Around $150. This is purchased around 4 to 5 times a year.
- Front Desk (1) Estimated between $800 and $1,000.
- Massage Table Warmers (4) Estimated $50 per one.
- LG Washer Stackable (Estimated $600).
- LG Dryer Stackable (Estimated $600).
These were just some of the many supplies needed to start the business. I would estimate that we at least spent roughly between $10,000 and $15,000 just to get started.
But, the build-out wouldn't be complete until May 1st. We started working on just my client base and their referrals. Then I hired my first receptionist.
Describe the process of launching the business.
My wife and I were teaching Kindergarten in our church and one of the parents became friends with us. We didn't know it at the time, but he built websites! So when I needed it, I asked him for help. He created an amazing website for a deal of $500 instead of the usual $1500.
Using the money from the loan, I tried a few different advertising strategies:
I spent an average of $100 to $200 per month on review platforms. I used the $10 a day option. Same with Google Ads. The great thing about both of these services is that you can pause at any time.
All in all, Google worked better than Yelp because Google doesn't remove your reviews. With Yelp, if you don’t pay consistently, your reviews will disappear occasionally.
Something that worked well for us was rewarding our clients with raffle tickets if they left us a review on Google. We would do monthly raffles and post them to our group. We quickly had more reviews than other companies around us.
Another huge blessing, and the reason I believe God brought us here, was that there was a chiropractor right next to us. We began networking and offering a discount to his patients to try us out.
Additionally, we utilized the Facebook Business Page and I created a Facebook group for our clients. The reason being would be so that more clients would see posts in the group than they would on the page. After that, I went on to the many neighborhood groups on Facebook and invited clients to try us out. I even asked my clients to post on theirs as well.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
First of all, it all comes down to how customers are treated. Being a small business, we made it our priority to be personable and loving to each of our customers. I heard one time from a leadership speaker some advice that hit me to the core: People don't do business with businesses they do business with people. So I felt it was best to focus on the people, rather than the money they bring.
I firmly believe in taking care of the loyal customers that come to your business. A lot of businesses can offer better deals to new customers than they can to existing ones. I found that unfair.
One way we do this is by offering great referral discounts. For example:
- $25 off each time a customer brings in another one.
- Offering birthday month discounts!
- $10 off treatment during their birthday month.
As mentioned above, it is important to get your customers to stay connected. We do this in our Facebook group. A couple of times a week, we post some fun poll questions or other things like that. We then reward our clients that participate with raffle tickets. This is a great way to keep clients connected to your business so that they dont forget about you. Plus, it shows we have a fun personality and we don't have that corporate feel.
Below you can see an analytics chart between May 2020 to May 2022. Unfortunately, I wish I understood google analytics before this period but that's something you should learn before starting up.
In my opinion, 3 things led to the big spike.
I started working with my website designer on a ‘do it yourself-back link strategy.’ The more backlinks you have (internal links and external links to other sites) the more Google's algorithm will see you are reputable.
Another thing that led to more sales was having our Facebook group grow. Adding clients, keeping them connected and they would invite their friends to the group.
Referral discounts are extremely valuable. Ours is $25 off for each referral.
- I trained my sales team properly as I got to know the business.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Natural Forces Massage is currently celebrating its 4th anniversary and is starting to become more and more profitable.
In the first year, we had between $150,000 and $200,000 in gross profits. We just now finished 2020 tax returns and our gross was a little over $350,000.
Over the last 6 months, we are averaging between 500 and 600 clients a month!
Now that we are more popular, we spend next to nothing on ads:
- $150 a month on both Yelp and Google Ads
- $250 per month on SEO, Backlinks, and other website ranking help
We are currently in year 4 of a 5-year lease and are in negotiations for a slightly bigger place in Kingwood, Texas. This would exponentially help our growth.
We started with just 5 massage therapists and 3 receptionists. Now we currently have 11 massage therapists and 5 receptionists. God has truly helped us grow at the right speed.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
When I opened Natural Forces Massage, I had it in my mind that all my employees would have the same dream for the business that I had. I learned that some employees will be here for that reason; to grow with the company. However, some will just be here for a season. This doesn't mean they are less valuable though.
One of the mistakes I made was when starting out the business, I was afraid of getting everyone's card on file and enforcing our cancellation policy. I didn't want a bad review. Also, if a client was unhappy my instinct was to give away something free to try us out again. I learned there is a middle ground that could be met. It wasn't black or white, or all or nothing, thinking that was going to work.
As a business owner, you should always try to make people happy. Realistically though, that is impossible. Just do your best!
Another leadership video taught me not to focus on beating my competition. Rather, just focus on making my product the best I can. Competition is a good thing. They are not the enemy. If it wasn't for competition then massage therapy wouldn't be as popular in our area.
One of the best decisions I made, in the beginning, was going to different businesses around and offering a discount to the employees there to come to try us and leaving our business cards with them.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
In the beginning, and sometimes even now, there were several tools that I used that helped me more than anything. Some of which did not cost any money.
I knew I couldn't afford to advertise like other businesses so I focused on reviews. I learned just simply asking clients to leave a review rarely works. You have to make it super easy! So I found a review link generator called whitespark review generator.
Next, your website has to be fast. People have short attention spans and like things to be easy. I used the website Fiverr and paid for someone to speed up my site. The WP Rocket plugin works great with speeding up your site. Another part of the website that helped me was personalizing it. Make clients see you are a person, and not just a corporation. I did this by posting a picture of me and my wife on my home page and telling a little bit of our story on it.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Youtube helped me a lot when learning how to run a small business. When it came to online marketing, advertising, and website rankings I would listen to different videos by experts. One of which helped me the most was Adam Earhart. He is very entertaining and helpful.
When it came to learning how to treat customers, employees, and leadership qualities I listened to Simon Sinek.
The good thing with Youtube is you can pretty much search for anything you are looking for. Also, the Ted Talks are great as well!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
If I were to give future entrepreneurs any tips it would consist of the following.
- You learn more from your failures than your successes.
- Don't give up. Believe in yourself.
- Be humble and open-minded to learn from others.
- Don't become cynical when things are down or when clients or employees aren't happy or are driving you crazy. Try to give the benefit of the doubt and think about all the people that you have helped.
- Don't focus on the negative. Learn from it and move on.
- Believe in your product. Don't let others make you charge less. There are always people that would pay more.
- See a Physiologist! They can help you with stress. This doesn't make you weak. It just means you are trying to better yourself.
- Make time for yourself and don't only think of work.
- When you are with friends or family dont talk only about work. It drives them away.
- Download the app Insight Timer and do meditations. They help ground yourself and release anxiety and stress.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Currently, we are looking for a part-time massage therapist. We start our therapist at $22.75 per hour plus tips. They are paid as Independent Contractors with 1099.
Where can we go to learn more?
Check out all of our links to our business including social media and our website!
- What Makes Natural Forces Massage Unique
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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