Pulse January 2023 | Page 44

Karen Rutschmann
licensed and certified , and then go get a job . There ’ s a little shift there that might have dialed down some of the people who might otherwise be interested , namely those woo-woo people you mentioned earlier .
One other thing is that we have a big population of people who want to be served , but a small population of people who want to serve them , whether it ’ s in restaurants , hotels or spas . I feel like we ’ ve lost a lot of people who just want to take care of others .
Pulse : Do you have a message you would like to give to the spa owners and managers about what might help them create a therapist-friendly culture and reinforce these are good careers ? R : Don ’ t set up a culture where people have to compete with each other in order to get bookings . You want a team that works together and has each other ’ s backs . You ’ ll have a more cooperative group of therapists if they ’ re not competing with each other for money .
One thing I appreciated so much about Canyon Ranch is that they let me totally embrace my interest in neuromuscular therapy . Initially , I still had to do regular massage , but eventually they let me do just neuromuscular therapy . I performed the service I liked best , and I did it well . People would come back just to see me . When you have therapists who have special skills that your client base finds valuable , they come back .
In exchange , give those specialists the opportunity to work at hours that are less popular , because now you ’ ve got your rooms being filled with somebody who ’ s going to book at any time of day , and you save your primetime hours for people who have a more general session and are not specifically coming to see a particular therapist . Take that handful of special therapists and let them work at the weird hours that tend not to book , and you have your rooms busy all the time .
It ’ s also okay to offer a higher rate of pay for people working nights , weekends and holidays . If you ’ re going to ask somebody to work on Christmas , pay more money . If you want people to work until 10 o ’ clock at night , pay more money for the evening hours . Give an incentive for work in a shift that nobody wants to work . If I was running a spa , I would give them a choice — you can work during the day , and you may not book as much and you ’ re not going to make as much . Give people more choice .
KRISTINE HUFFMAN LICSW , formerly a partner with Hutchinson Consulting , is a semi-retired hospitality consultant and former ISPA Board member . She brings
And then it comes down to what ’ s really sustainable in the world of massage . If people are actually busy 28 hours a week , that ’ s not sustainable for very long . If you ’ re doing straight hands-on work , you are going to hurt yourself . You ’ re going to burn out . It ’ s got to be a reasonable number of hours to work . Otherwise , it ’ s going to be a revolving door .
Pulse : Is there any other message you ’ d like to get out to the ISPA community ? R : I think the other thing is for people in management to recognize the individuality of the staff members . Meet them where they are and try to lead them to where they need to be . Don ’ t try to make everybody the same because that ’ s just not right . Let them shine where they can shine . I think my experience was that encouraging people to do 15 or 20 different modalities to maximize their ability to book made for a situation where you had a lot of people who weren ’ t good at anything .
When you allow a few people to say , “ All I really want to do is shiatsu . I don ’ t want to do body treatments . Or basic massage . I just want to do shiatsu .”— initially they may not book as much and make as much money for the company . But when they master shiatsu , you ’ re going to have people who come to your spa and return to your spa to see that person for shiatsu or cranial sacral therapy or whatever . Therapists really get good by finding a passion and developing it . So , allow people to find their passions . It would benefit both the therapist and the profit of the spa . n

Karen Rutschmann

B . S ., N . M . T , NSCA-CPT
Karen has a B . S . in exercise science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst . She graduated from the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy in 1993 , and received her certification in neuromuscular therapy from the NMT Center in St . Petersburg , Florida , in 1995 . She became certified as a personal trainer in 2017 though the National Strength Conditioning Association ( NSCA ). With additional training in Tom Myers ' s Anatomy Trains as well as Orthopedic Massage and Russian Clinical Massage ; Karen has many years of experience in a premiere resort setting as well as in private practice .
Karen is an instructor for the NMT Center and is an adjunct faculty professor at Berkshire Community College , where she teaches anatomy in the Allied Health Services department .
When not studying or working , she enjoys hiking , playing her trumpet with the Eagles Community Band of Pittsfield and volunteering with Lee Middle and High School ' s musical theater department .
more than 30 years of experience in hospitality and human services , including providing leadership , psychotherapeutic services , staff training , program development and brand direction for the award-winning Canyon Ranch , Miraval and Travaasa Resorts .