This is the second episode in the Featured Practitioner series, in which I talk to a Licensed Massage Therapist in the great state of Texas who serves athletes from adult to geriatric age.
I’m so excited to share his story with you!
My Perspective on Geriatric Patient Care
When I (Grace) was growing up, I spent a lot of time visiting my elderly relatives in nursing facilities. My grandma frequently brought me to see my great-grandma Bernice, great-aunt Helen, and other elderly relatives. As an adult, I decided to worked in a long-term care facility and found a passion for serving the elderly community.
Unfortunately, geriatric care is not an area of high priority in the alternative health world, and I’m excited that this is a focus for the Revive Therapeutic Massage team. I wish more practitioners would consider it too.
If you think about it, all of us will eventually be in the “geriatric” category. Yet geriatric massage services are not widely available.
That’s why it was refreshing to find Revive Therapeutic Massage, which offers “Geriatric Massage” at their facilities in northern Texas (close to the Oklahoma border). The owner, Chris Flaig, had liked some of my posts on Instagram, and he agreed to tell me more about his business niche.
It turns out that Chris and I have a lot in common, which you’ll hear about as you read this article. Chris is passionate about restoring athletes to an active life—especially as they get older.
His company motto is:
“Work and play pain free.”
At the bottom of the Revive Therapeutic Massage website is a Bible reference:
“For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11, NIV
Here is a summary of my interview with this awesome practice owner.
Christopher (Chris) Flaig, LMT, CTB
- Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT)
- Certified in Coaching The Body™ (CTB)
- Chris is also accredited by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB)
Revive Therapeutic Massage LLC
Wichita Falls, Texas, United States
Niche Focus Analysis
Chris has a “Triple Niche” in his business—a very targeted specialization that helps him stand out in the market and reach his Ideal Customers.
Here are the elements of the Triple Niche at Revive Therapeutic Massage:
- Strategic Marketing Goals:
Committed to serving the community in Wichita Falls, Texas
Deliver therapeutic treatment, not a “spa experience”
Connect with patients and develop deep relationships
Faith-based beliefs are an integral part of the philosophy and culture
Young Adult to Geriatric age
Wichita Falls, Texas, United States
- Health Condition & Symptoms:
- Treatment or Technique:
Sports Massage (Gua Sha, Kinesiology Taping, Flexibility Therapy, Trigger Point Therapy, Massage Therapy, Myofascial Therapy)
Therapeutic Massage (Swedish, Deep Tissue, Reflexology, Cupping Therapy, Aromatherapy, Rolfing, Cranio Sacral, Flexibility Therapy)
- Body System or Area:
All areas of the body to relieve pain and provide therapeutic treatment
- Delivery Method:
Two locations (main office in a plaza, and in-home office)
Additional practitioner Andrea Reynolds, LMT
Open Monday to Saturday
Emergency sessions available
Individual sessions or 12-month Maintenance Plan, Wellness Plan, or Sports Plan
- Patient Interests:
Spiritual support and faith-based beliefs
Elder care and geriatric mobility
Living in Texas
Sports and athletic excellence
A Niche Summary of Revive Therapeutic Massage LLC
Based on my interview with Chris and research of his practice’s social media, I believe his practice specializes in this niche:
Therapeutic Massage for young adult to geriatric-age athletes with sport-related injuries in Wichita Falls, Texas.
You can read more about discovering your own business niche in What Does it Take to Develop a Triple Niche?
Interview with Chris
Q: Tell me about your background, and what brought you to Texas?
During our interview, Chris and I discovered that we share some similar life experiences.
Christopher Flaig (pronounced “FLAY-gh”) grew up in England with a British mother and German father. He then moved to the United States and lived in the state of Oregon.
Similarly, I grew up in Italy and returned to the United States at age 9, ending up in the Pacific Northwest as well.
When his daughter started attending college in Texas, Chris and his wife decided to relocate. They found Texas to offer a reprieve from the traffic and higher expenses in Oregon, as well as a milder and sunnier climate.
As an East Coast transplant who enjoys living in Washington State, I asked Chris whether he misses the cooler air and mountains of the Pacific Northwest now that he’s in a dry part of the country.
“I tell you what,” Chris told me, “I like the sunshine. It’s gray a lot in the Pacific Northwest [PNW]. Here in Texas, you wake up and go outside and it’s always sunny. I feel more energized out here. We do miss the rain and cloudiness, but I’d take the warmer weather any day.”
I can totally understand, although I’m partial to the magical mist that gives us greenery all year round! Take a look at the views we get here in the PNW:
View this post on Instagram
I learned the proper #FirstNations names for our local volcanic mountains today: Mount Saint Helens (on the L) is actually “Loowit.” Mount Adams (on the R) is actually “Klickitat.” These names are significant to First Nations tribes, who lived here long before the area was discovered by explorers from the West. I have decided to start calling these beautiful mountains by their native names out of respect and honor to those who lived here first. #MountSaintHelens #MountStHelens #MtStHelens #Loowit #MountAdams #MtAdams #Klickitat #MountHood #pnw #pnwmountains #pacificnorthwest #pnwoutdoors #pacificnorthwestseismicnetwork #cascaderange #cascades #nativenames #nativelanguage #nativeland #firstnation #firstnationspeople #volcano #volcanoes #dormantvolcano https://www.oregonlive.com/travel/index.ssf/2017/02/the_native_names_of_pacific_no.html
Since we both lived in Europe as children, Chris and I compared notes on how hard it can be to communicate thoughts in a language that doesn’t have the right words for it.
We also discussed the meanings of our last names and how, historically, many family names come from an occupation.
Chris’s last name, “Flaig,” comes from the word “to fly” (the Standard German is Fliege), which can also mean agile and flexible. What a perfect description of someone whose therapeutic treatment allows patients to have more flexibility and agility!
Before getting married, my family name was “Sheffer,” which comes from the German name “Scheffer” meaning shepherd. My father worked as a minister for many years, so his occupation fits that definition. And as a marketing strategist, I shepherd business owners into making great decisions for the future.
Our faith is another thing that is important to both of us. Chris told me that because he was a pastor for nearly 20 years, his spiritual perspective is a key part of what he offers at Revive Therapeutic Massage.
At the end of our call, Chris offered to end the interview with a prayer, which I gladly accepted.
Q: How did you get interested in the healing profession?
Chris said that when he decided to change careers after serving as a pastor for 20 years, he was faced with the question:
“What should I do next?”
Since he was involved in sports all of his life, including basketball and track (for which he won medals), Chris decided that massage offered an incredible opportunity to combine his passion and talents.
He completed training as a Licensed Massage Therapist and worked at a spa-type facility, then moved to Texas and launched his own business, Revive Therapeutic Massage LLC.
In his words:
“Massage therapy is great. You get to help people, and for me it really has been a ministry. I’m not shy about what I believe, and a lot of my clients come because they want me to pray for them. People are struggling; and when the door opens, I go through it. I’ve been combining my faith and business now for 10 years.”
Some of Chris’s patients connect with him specifically because of his religious background.
“Many of my patients want me to pray with them after a session. They also share what they’re going through, and I encourage them in different areas beyond just the therapeutic service.”
Q: Where is your practice located?
“I have two facilities: one in my residence, and one in a plaza.
“My residence is where most of my clients come. It gives me flexibility. Sometimes I get a call from people coming through town and need a last-minute massage. I am able to provide massage and also minister to people who are struggling with a variety of problems. I can be there for them if they need encouragement while going through those issues.”
“My work goes beyond therapeutic massage; we get to speak into people’s lives. That’s a great part of it for me. We encourage our clients and understand what they’re going through by being sympathetic and supporting them through their challenges.”
Q: Why did you choose to focus on the geriatric market?
Every niche practitioner has a story that caused them to be drawn to a particular area. Often, this is from an injury, accident, or trauma that caused them to seek help from an unconventional source. This is what happened to Chris too.
Chris believes (and I agree) that the geriatric market is really under-served.
“Elderly athletes deal with a lot of issues like arthritis, range of motion, and keeping muscles from breaking down. They often have hip and knee issues. As massage therapists, we have to be careful with skin elasticity and make sure our geriatric clients don’t have skin breakdown.”
“I believe the geriatric market is really under-served. Older patients want therapeutic touch. A lot of them have lost their spouse and are alone, so they are in need of touch even more.”
“A niche has to be something that you’re passionate about, that you believe is important. If you’ve competed in sports, or if you got injured and recovered—that experience of overcoming something difficult can be part of the story that drives you.”
“Athletes, like those who do CrossFit, do it because they enjoy it and feel stress relief. But if you get injured and have to stop the workout, the stress will build up on top of the physical break from training. Injury is both a physical and mental challenge. Therapeutic massage can help an athlete to get past both of these things.”
“When an athlete gets injured and their body can’t do what their mind wants to do, it can cause depression. I really enjoy helping my clients get to a place where they can do the things they love and feel freedom again.”
I mentioned to Chris that, as a CrossFit gym member myself, taking a break from physical training is difficult because there is inevitably a loss of mobility, but also because of a loss of endorphins. The “high” you get from a high-intensity workout is somewhat addictive; so being forced to stop that level of training can be really miserable.
We also discussed how intensive training like CrossFit can lead to serious injuries, especially when you don’t have the right coach or one who doesn’t teach proper mechanics, positioning, and stretching. An athletic coach who can align with massage therapists and chiropractors will provide their athletes with options to heal from injury—and even improve their performance. This is the case for my local CrossFit gym, which partners with Victory Spine and Sport [who is an upcoming Featured Practitioner!].
Chris works alongside a CrossFit box in Wichita Falls and he is a resource to athletes on how to avoid injury and to develop proper lifting form and movement.
“After I see a client, I give them resources for stretches, positioning, and exercises they can do on their own after the massage session. Most clients won’t be able to come to daily appointments because of the expense and time investment, so there are simple things I can provide that will set them up for success.”
Q: How does your service make a difference to clients?
In my own experience, Massage Therapy changed my life after a serious IT band strain that caused pain every time I moved my leg. A few visits with a therapist in Sioux Falls completely reversed the damage [shout-out to Dr. Wayne Huber and his team at Active Spine!].
After enduring these physical challenges, I feel like my massage therapists and chiropractor were with me on the journey to recovery. That’s one of the reasons I am so appreciative of complementary health practitioners—their expertise can fill in the gaps that conventional medicine often can’t provide.
As part of the Wichita Falls community, Chris is committed to developing strong relationships with his clients. Chris says his best source of referrals is from satisfied patients. He also partners with local businesses and uses the social media business platform Alignable.
Chris likes to build deeper connections with businesses and patients that understand and agree with his business philosophy.
“I think massage therapists needs to develop a trusting relationship with their clients. Some of my clients come in every week, and they know they can call and ask me for suggestions anytime.”
“Our clients often stop in even if they’re not scheduled. It feels like they’re part of the family. You do get to know them over a period of time, and hear what they’re going through and the stresses they’re experiencing. My staff and I develop a close connection with our clients, and we let them know we’re going to be praying for them.”
Q: Who is your Ideal Patient?
An “Ideal Patient” is someone who aligns with your philosophy, expertise, and abilities as a practitioner. They can benefit the most from your services, agree to follow your policies, and pay you on time.
With a background in competitive sports, Chris can relate to the challenges faced by athletes who come to his office.
He has this to say:
“Generally, I serve sports athletes like CrossFit members, as well as geriatric folks in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who want to stay active but have pain or are working through mobility issues. I also work on younger athletes.”
Q: What are your main areas of focus?
I like Revive Therapeutic Massage’s motto, “Work and play pain free.” This is especially true for people in later stages of life, because pain can be such a restriction to enjoying the activities they love.
“We are a very therapeutic business, so our main focus is helping people with muscle issues: a lack of range of motion, or a certain body area like sciatic nerve pain. We help fix that problem so the client can work, live, and play pain free.”
“There’s nothing worse than not being able to do things because of injury, or where your body hurts so much that you can’t enjoy life. So we come up with a plan to get you back doing the things that you love to do: sports, or even getting out to walk. just getting mobile enough to play with grandchildren is a goal for many of our clients. I work with a lot of athletes, and with geriatric patients. It’s not a spa-type of clinic at all.”
Q: How long ago did you realize that you have this niche?
In his words:
“It started when I first began my training, but it’s really within the last 3 years after moving to Texas and started this business that I really got a consistent focus.”
“After I got out of massage school, I worked for a national chain in ‘spa work,’ where I saw one person after another. Once I started a business on my own, I was able to focus on helping people therapeutically instead, which gives clients better long-term results.”
“There’s a lot of competition in massage therapy. Being in a niche is important [as a massage therapists] because of them say they can do different things, but this isn’t as effective. When you pick one niche, you attract people who can get the most help from your skills.”
“I’m not going to be able to help people who want a “spa” experience, and that’s okay with me.”
“A massage therapist might say ‘I’ll help anybody who comes through the door,’ but I don’t think that allows them to use their full potential. A niche helps set you apart.”
Q: How do you advertise?
I asked Chris how he reaches new clients—was it from involvement in community events, or free talks, or local advertising to attract new business?
His answer echoes that of many successful practitioners.
“The one way I have found that gets me any new business is actually Google. I have Facebook and Instagram and I advertise there, but the number one thing people do is to Google ‘massage’ and ‘pain,’ and the location. And word-of-mouth referrals is important, as well as reviews.”
Solving a physical problem requires patients to develop a very personal relationship with their doctor or therapist. So they don’t just rely on the recommendation of someone (although that is by far the most important). They also want to see whether that practitioner is qualified, if they’re close by, if they’re available, and if they can help with their particular problem.
Many studies show that having a clear, SEO-friendly website is a vital step in converting new clients. Your website should include testimonials, an authentic introduction with pictures of you and your staff, and a scheduling option that allows patients to immediately start the process of using your services.
Chris also encourages his patients to give online reviews. After their massage, each client is sent an email that says:
“Hopefully you enjoyed your massage. Is there anything we can do better? If you liked it, leave a review,” along with a link to the review page.
Unfortunately, hearing negative reviews and suggestions for improvement can be really difficult to hear as a business owner. I think this is because some owners feel that criticism is an attack on their business, and this causes them to feel fear… and to have a Fight, Flight, or Freeze response:
Chris takes a different approach:
“I always figure that if one person is experiencing something negatively, other people probably feel that way too.”
“I think updating your website and Facebook makes a difference. When a business doesn’t have anything updated on their website or Facebook page, clients won’t be able to find them.”
Q: What are some benefits that your niche provides to patients?
I asked Chris if his patients ever tell him that they appreciate his focus on therapeutic massage for sports injuries, or if they demand that he offer “spa-type” massages.
“A lot of the people who schedule with me say they chose me because they see that I will actually do something to help with the problem. I won’t just put lotion on them; there’s a therapeutic side to what I do. They see that I specialize in certain types of injuries and problems. So most definitely, being niched has attracted people who are looking for what I do.”
Chris believes that patients want outcomes, not just relaxation.
“I don’t get a whole lot of clients that call to schedule an appointment who say, ‘I just want to relax.’ I would call that a spa. Spas have their place, but our goal is to fix a problem area. When we’re fixing an area, you’re going to feel it.”
“Massage therapy clients are looking for an outcome. They want something that will fix their pain.”
“As a Massage Therapist, you have to follow your passion. You could do spa massages all day… but are you really enjoying it? When you don’t enjoy your work, your client is going to know. You’ll put out that vibe, and it will change your relationship with the client.”
Q: What are some positive things that happened after you niched?
“I hired a female staff member that is specialized in therapeutic massage. Being a male therapist isn’t easy; some female clients (or even male clients) don’t want to be treated by a male. But when you’re hurting, you just want somebody who’s going to fix you. I can understand the hesitation some clients have, so I brought on a female therapist to work with those clients.”
Here’s a photo of Revive Therapeutic Massage’s newest member, Andrea Reynolds, LMT:
Q: Have patients connected with you specifically because of your specialization in geriatrics?
The elderly population have a set of needs and circumstances that require careful expertise and knowledge.
Chris says that elderly patient and their family members often have trouble finding a therapist in their area who can help with their particular needs. He is frequently contacted by people who find his information online and want to see him precisely because of his specialty in treating elderly clients.
“Do I hear from people because of my specialization? Most definitely. A lot of my business comes from word-of-mouth referrals, especially older people, because a lot of them not as familiar with getting online or using email. After a session, they’ll tell everyone ‘You’ve gotta see my therapist! I can move better, and he’s really helped with the arthritis in my hands!’”
“Adult children who want their elderly relative to get pain relief will tell me ‘Hey, I think you need to see my Mom/Dad/Aunt/Grandma.’ They see I have a heart for elderly clients, and I think that makes a big difference. I work financially with them too, because I know they have a limited budget. You need to have a good personality to work with geriatric clients; sometimes they can be difficult and grumpy. Some of them have never had a massage, so this is their first experience.”
Q: Do you have any particular challenges with working in this niche?
“When you have a niche, you really need to have patience and stick with it. You have to build clientele and work harder. Your specialty is not going to interest everybody.”
“In a spa practice, you’ll get a lot of people coming in for a high volume of one-time visits. In a niche practice, you can develop stronger relationships and make more of a difference in their therapeutic outcomes.”
Q: Are there situations in which a niche would not be a good idea for a massage therapy practice owner?
Although a niche specialization is one of the best ways to stand out in a crowded market, sometimes it is not advisable. Here is what Chris has to say about this.
“I think it would be difficult for a massage therapist who is not sure what they would like to do, or not determined to go in one direction. When you go into a niche, you’ve got to study within that niche. You’re not going to come out of massage school ready to do a niche. So you’ll need to do extra work, put in extra CEUs, and take extra classes.”
“I think for somebody who may not have a passion, a niche isn’t going to be good for them. Because if they go for a niche but they don’t put in the effort, they’re not going to be as good as they could be. They might realize it’s confusing to explain what they do.”
“I think a niche is really best for someone who has a specific passion or a special connection to it. So if you’ve spent a lot of time around elderly people, and you build a positive relationship with that group, then entering into that field wouldn’t be as hard to do. But if somebody decides to say, ‘I think I’ll pick… geriatrics!’—and then they start to spend time with older people who are hurting, who can get snippy and snap at you, and they don’t know how to deal with that—it can fall apart quickly.”
“That’s true for athletes, too. Athletes have an A-type personality; that’s how they became good athletes. You have to know how to speak to athletes and how to relate to them. They can tell if you don’t empathize with what they’ve been through and don’t know what you’re doing. They’re going to see right through you. Athletes need reassurance that you know are well trained and that they can trust you.”
“If you want to enter a niche, you really need to know your desire and passion first.”
“When a niche is your passion, it allows you to do a better job. You’re able to help people in a meaningful way.”
Q: What are some tips would you give to someone who wants to pick the right specialization?
“Look at what is involved in doing that niche, and decide if it’s something you connect with and enjoy doing day after day.”
“For example, some people love working on FEET. They could do a whole niche with reflexology, just working on feet. Others will go, ‘Aw man, I don’t like feet; I don’t even want to touch feet.’
“Look at different areas and ask yourself: ‘What’s one that really speaks to you? Which area do you think you could do the absolute best?’”
Q: What are your goals for Revive Therapeutic Massage?
Chris sees a number of clients who struggle with mental illness and body images and eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating. In addition to the physical connection and therapeutic touch treatment, he and his staff can also offer a sense of connection and acceptance.
“I believe God brings specific people across our path.”
When asked about his goals for the practice, Chris says he wants to continue providing high-quality services to the community in which he lives and works.
“My goals include continuing to grow the business, and having a consistent clientele. We want to be known in the community as ‘the place to go when you need help.’ We care about people, and our clients can see the difference. I also want to keep giving back to our community in any way we can.”
Find out more about Chris and his practice, Revive Therapeutic Massage LLC by visiting these links:
Are you are a licensed provider with a niche marketing focus? Interested in being part of the Featured Niche Practitioner series? I’m always looking for practitioners to interview for upcoming episodes! To be considered, review the requirements and fill out a brief questionnaire.
And if you are wondering how to create a niche that attracts more patients to your practice and increases your profit margins, schedule a free 30-minute consult with me today.
Grace LaConte is a Strategic Niche Marketing Expert who helps healthcare practice owners to develop a high-profit specialization in a crowded market. Using her experience as a Risk Officer and Marketing Director for hospitals and IT services, Grace shares a refreshingly honest approach to uncover hidden risks and opportunities. Learn more at laconteconsulting.com, or connect with her on Twitter @lacontestrategy.