Monday, October 21, 2019

Learn How Community Involvement Can Improve Your Business


Absolute Therapy is a clinic in Victoria BC, home to an amazing team of fifteen talented practitioners and a collaboration-based treatment environment that epitomizes the ideals of client-centered care. 

However back in 2010 during our humble beginnings, I was the clinic’s sole practitioner – it was just me. With a brand new lease in place and tenant improvements complete, it was time to sink or swim. 

I knew I loved being an RMT, but how would I fare as an entrepreneur? How would I succeed? Well, there’s that old saying: it’s not what you know but who you know.

Anyone who has spent any time in Victoria will tell you that despite its size, it behaves very much like a small town, so to me, just getting out and getting involved seemed a good place to start.

Getting Involved In The Community

I started by offering free educational opportunities (about injury prevention, stretching, workplace wellness – you name it!) to any group keen to host me. 

I did casual talks for office groups in my area, banks, local fire halls, or sometimes more formal engagements such as ProD workshops with schools – I was happy simply to chat about wellness and provide education that would make massage therapy more accessible. Initially, much of my motivation with these talks was of course to promote my practice and business, but the more time I spent with local groups made the larger impact I was having become evident. 

Not to mention the support I was receiving for my business was inspiring. The more connections I made, the more motivated I became to find new and different ways that I could engage with and provide value to this community that was supporting me in my own entrepreneurial journey.

That same year, a friend of mine suggested I join a local business networking group (Business Networking International, or BNI), and it was through this group of connections that Absolute Therapy became involved in its first on-site fundraising gig. One of the members of my group was married to an organizer for Turf Burn, a local soccer tournament. 

The second year of the event was being planned and the organizers were excited about the opportunity to have a couple of RMTs present to provide short treatments for participants (by this time I had one other RMT working with me). We agreed to provide the treatments by donation and, in return for the exposure and the marketing we received, we would donate all the proceeds back to the tournament to go towards their fundraising initiatives. 

And so it began.

 The model of “help-us to help-you to help-them” was officially adopted by Absolute. (Side note: we had our 10th consecutive year with Turf Burn this past Summer; it has grown into a much larger tournament with a great following and now fundraises big bucks for local non-profits – so cool!)

I began researching other local events in which the participants or people involved could benefit from on-site massage therapy and reaching out to the organizers to pitch our “in-kind” sponsorship. We soon became involved in the Victoria Dragon Boat Festival, another event that we would end up sponsoring for many years to come. The Victoria Dragon Festival Society has been a long-standing supporter of the BC Cancer Foundation, and the participants were very appreciative to have the option of pre and post-race treatment. 

The resulting donations we collected on behalf of the VDBF for the BC Cancer Foundation were sizable, and I was once again filled with gratitude for the opportunity to be included in such an amazing local event and awed by the fundraising potential of our involvement.

Building A Reputation By Helping

Event by event, and year after year we gained more notoriety as a clinic passionate about being involved in local events and fundraising initiatives. We became more established in Victoria’s healthcare community, and through our events and other marketing endeavors, garnered a large client-base able to sustain new practitioners on an ongoing basis. 

Throughout all of this, I volunteered with a number of event committees, which of course led me to know other event organizers, which led to more events. As a clinic we have been lucky enough to work with so many local organizations over the years; groups like MEC who tirelessly fundraise for non-profits like Power To Be, or the Victoria Goddess Run who have raised countless dollars for groups like the Victoria Transition House and the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre. 

Trust me when I say that in the amazing community we live in, the opportunities are endless.

I am immensely proud of the efforts that the Absolute team members contribute each year at our on-site events. They come out to events on Saturdays and Sundays in the middle of Summer (when I’m sure there’s a part of them that would much rather be at the beach!) and provide treatment after treatment – and they do it with smiles on their faces.

Sure, we make it fun; we have good snacks, and we goof around and we treat each other during the downtime – but I do not want to minimize the amazingness of how much this team gives. It is part of OUR community – our clinic culture. When I am considering new practitioners for our team – we talk about this. I always endeavor to be clear that this is not a clinic where you can come in and do your daily treatments and leave; we expect greatness, but the personal and professional support one can expect in return from simply being a part of this remarkable team is pretty great too.

I asked our friends at the Victoria Foundation (a registered charity that funds hundreds of initiatives large and small, both locally and throughout BC and Canada – if you don’t know them please look them up) to help me summarize the important part that local business plays in Victoria’s community:

“The Victoria Foundation has a vision to make our community stronger, and our shared quality of life better now, and for the long term. We’re inspired by the shared commitment of the local businesses we’ve worked with to help make this vision a reality, and by their passion to make positive changes in Greater Victoria and in communities across B.C. and Canada.”

-Sandra Richardson, CEO

In short – just get out there and get involved. Your clinic will receive recognition in the community, your practitioners will thrive, massage therapy as a profession becomes more accessible, events have more to offer, and local non-profits and charities receive more support to continue doing all the awesome things that they do! Everyone wins.

from Beauty Salon, Spa, Massage

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