With Over 20 Years’ Experience, She Passionately Enjoys Supporting Her Clients Health. Meet Owner Nancy Saunders, of Saunders Massage Therapy
Q: So, tell us about Saunders Massage Therapy and the support you can offer those in pain?
NS: In 2006 I opened Saunders Massage Therapy in Denver, CO.
I feel it is important to spend extra time with my clients, listening to their physical/emotional concerns to support optimal wellness. I have established strong referral relationships with Denver area Doctors, OB/GYN and Physical Therapists to help provide the most comprehensive care.
This is the core of my practice:
- Specialize in Orthopedic Massage for chronic pain conditions & injury/surgery rehabilitation.
- Provide Certified Prenatal/Postpartum Massage Therapy care.
- Support Clients and their Caregivers living with life-altering disease like MS, Parkinson’s & Cancer.
Q: Can you share with our audience even if you’re not in pain, the many benefits of including massage in our lives?
NS: Massage Therapy provides the inspiration to start or maintain the healthy habits in our lives for the Mind, Body & Soul.
After a massage session:
- The mind feels calmer and the mood is happier. We are more patient with friends & family. We’ll even let cars merge in front of us in traffic. Feeling clear-headed can lead to new perspectives.
- The muscles and joints feel loose and flexible. You seem lighter, taller. The arms & legs feel longer. Now that the tight, bound-up feeling is gone, stretching and exercising seems appealing again.
- Humans need nurturing touch. Loneliness, depression, and grief can overwhelm a person. Emotions can manifest into physical ailments. A massage session can feel like a giant hug, encouraging people to seek out Professional Counseling and a strong support network.
Q: Why did you decide to go into Massage Therapy?
NS: As a teen, it had always felt natural to sense & relieve someone’s shoulder or back pain.
I gravitated toward helping people feel better. Friends & Family thought I was really good at giving back rubs and would seek me out. What a gratifying feeling! It felt like a calling, but I didn’t know what to do with it.
After seeing a health story featuring a Massage Therapist on the TV news, it clicked. So that’s what it’s called! That’s what I want to do!
I grew up on a farm in southwestern Minnesota near the town of Jeffers, with 465 people. In my region, this career choice was a bit avant-garde. Now, 30 years later, Massage Therapy has mainstreamed into our regular health maintenance routine. And I’m happy to say there are several Massage Therapists near the Jeffers area relieving the aches & pains of the hard-working farming community.
Q: How often do you get a massage?
NS: My Clients ask me this all the time. The short answer is several times a month and sometimes every week. I also see a Chiropractor regularly, stretch & roll on a foam core or lacrosse ball.
Being a Massage Therapist is a physically demanding profession. Like many of my full-time colleagues, I usually see 5-6 Clients a day: 25-30 Clients a week. Similar to a marathon runner, we gradually work up to this pace adding Clients while our bodies adapt. I have been at this pace for 28 years.
In Massage Therapy School we are trained to practice good body mechanics; keep a bounce in the knees to use body weight and gravity while leaning into the massage strokes.
Career longevity depends on how well you take care of yourself while you are taking care of others.
Q: How has Covid-19 impacted your business and what adjustments did you have to make?
NS: Whew! Where to start?
First of all, let me give kudos to CO Gov. Jared Polis and Denver Mayor Bill Hancock for consulting the Scientific & Medical Experts for guidance to update & direct Citizens and Businesses.
They have kept us calm while giving resources to help us make informed decisions.
Throughout this process I have been monitoring website information from the CDC, WHO, DORA (Dept. Of Regulatory Agencies), AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) and ABMP (Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals) following their suggested protocols.
Colorado went into official quarantine and all non-essential “service businesses” were closed
Friday, March 20th. We were allowed to re-open Friday, May 8th.
I am so privileged to have an amazing loyal and caring Clientele!
No income for (7) weeks can be devastating for a commission-only business.
My Clients supported me, pre-paid for massage sessions and have been filling my schedule again.
I wanted to let them know I missed them and reassure them I would still be there for them.
I maintained communications through emails, sending snail mail cards, and exchanging funny COVID memes & videos.
During the quarantine shutdown I thought I would get much more reading, housecleaning, and organizing of the closets done. But I actually stayed very busy collaborating with colleagues and the Boulder Massage Therapy Institute. We inspired each other to be more creative in protecting our businesses, prepare to reopen, yet encouraged self-care & rest to rejuvenate our bodies.
It was also a time of desperately searching for PPE such as face masks, cleaning supplies and establishing new office protocols. These include:
- Clients will receive a temperature check, sign a COVID consent form, and wash their hands.
- One Client at a time in the office.
- The Client and Massage Therapist wear a mask in the massage session.
- No hugging or shaking hands. This is torturous for me!
- All surfaces, doorknobs and touch screens are regularly disinfected throughout the day.
- There is time between each Client for cleaning.
- A new air purifier cycles the air 5 times an hour.
- Magazines and decorative pillows are eliminated.
As I walk Clients through the new protocols, I let them know I take post-quarantine seriously. I want us to protect and respect each-others health and safety. I let them know how happy I am to be back at work, that I missed them, and we will take the necessary precautions to avoid a second quarantine. I actually see a look of relief and receive a thank you because they trust & appreciate the extra efforts done for them.
Q: After high school, where did you feel your career path would take you?
NS: I graduated in 1989 and knew I wanted to be a Massage Therapist while IN high school.
My HS Principal thought I was nuts. My Parents believed in me yet wondered if I could really make a living. They have master’s degrees in agriculture and Education, and we researched to find the best school. Senior year I applied to the Boulder College of Massage Therapy because they had the most comprehensive 1000-hour program. But BCMT declined and said I needed to be 21 to attend.
I was crushed. But possibly relieved because I actually had my own self-doubts.
I took it as a sign to pursue my other interests in vocal musical performance and Radio DJ communications as career options.
So, Plan B: I attended Bemidji State University in northern MN for two years and received an Associated Arts Degree – Go Beavers! Sadly, I never became the next Linda Ronstadt or Dr. Johnny Fever from “WKRP in Cincinnati”. I did realize my passion was still becoming a Massage Therapist. “Hello Boulder? It’s Nancy again!” Back to Plan A and time to pack my bags...
I graduated as a Certified Massage Therapist in 1992 and have been working full-time in Denver, CO ever since.
My first position was with Colorado Athletic Club where I was an employee and the Massage Dept. Director till 2003. My responsibilities were hiring, scheduling and payroll of the massage therapy staff, marketing and ordering supplies. My favorite role was collaborating with and inspiring the therapists to increase clientele. We achieved this by promoting their unique strengths/knowledge as an MT through interaction with members and creative marketing.
In 2003 I left CAC to create my own business as an Independent Contractor at the Healing Way Massage Therapy Clinic. This opportunity let me utilize my experience with injury rehabilitation and my certification in prenatal/postpartum care to establish network relationships with Doctors, Chiropractors and OB/GYNs.
In 2006 I opened Saunders Massage Therapy as a Sole Proprietor and I LOVE being my own Boss!
In 2020 I added a new phase to my career; sharing the skills I have learned with the next generation of Massage Therapists. I am currently teaching Entrepreneurial Skills, Client Communications and Ethics at the Boulder Massage Therapy Institute.
I also provide private mentoring by utilizing my career experience. I help people that are leaving a “Corporate” Massage setting and want to open their own office. Or an MT that has a private practice and is on the tipping point of closing their office or getting a boost of good business management skills that promotes success.
Q: If we interviewed all your clients … what is “one” common word that comes up when they describe working with you?
NS: Good listener.
The massage session belongs to the Client. The Therapist follows their lead. If the Client is quiet, I am quiet. If the Client wants to talk, I will respond.
The Client starts by describing their aches & pains. But probing deeper into what caused these symptoms can reveal the REAL story. They may be carrying life-style or emotional baggage that is wearing them down physically.
I am a Professional Listener. I’m honored when Clients open up to me as their sounding board.
People need to vent, tell their stories, or air their anxieties out-loud. I provide a nurturing and safe space. There’s no need to offer advice. Just be there and let the Client talk it out.
Q: Can you tell us how you manage your work life balance?
NS: Oh man, sometimes not very well. When I’m lost in computer projects after dinner, my husband Patrick encourages me to turn it off and my puppies’ paw at me to play outside.
As a Sole Proprietor of Saunders Massage Therapy, I am shaking hands with the clock every-day.
In order to be successful, the office need to be run like a business and not a hobby.
My Client schedule is M-F 10-7. And then many hours of paperwork, bookkeeping, promotions, and cleaning squeezed in before or after Clients. There are always (2) “To Do” lists – Office & Personal – that hound me...I mean, keep me on track.
Asking for help and assembling a team of professionals such as a Graphic/Web Designer, Tax Accountant & sheet service utilizes their expertise and eases the workload.
Organizing thoughts & ideas in a 12-month calendar allows me to plan three months in advance.
This is extremely useful for tracking client communications, gift card promotions, ordering supplies as well as predict revenue fluctuations. It’s also important to monitor the analytics trends of social media posts to better connect and attract future Clients.
My husband Patrick is very supportive and encourages me to keep making a difference in people’s lives. Fortunately, we both have flexibility in our day to day work. We can take a break, cross out time in our schedules and head up to the mountains for kayaking, skiing, or hiking with our golden retrievers.
Q: Which woman inspires you and why?
NS: Alexandra Ocasio Cortez
She is the future! She terrifies the white dinosaurs in Congress and puts them on notice that change is coming.
Q: What advice would you give to young women who want to purse their dream and start a business?
- Be a CEO - Run the office like a Business, not a hobby.
- Respect yourself and you will be respected. Have a Professional demeaner and you will be treated Professionally.
- Organization + Communication = Trust. How a company is Organized, such as the business plan or the physical space, Communicates to the Client in subtle and overt ways whether they can Trust in the product or service.
- Collaborate with Industry Peers. Share ideas, insights, or predictions on the current and future status of your businesses. Do not fear competition or letting a Client go. You cannot be all things to all people. The Client will recognize and respect that their needs came first.
- Accept challenges as learning experiences and an opportunity for growth & change.
- Don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for help.
- Treat Clients like a guest in your home.
- Assemble a support team of Professionals such as a Lawyer, Tax Accountant, Graphic/Web/Social Media Designer, Personal Banker, Financial Advisor for investments and retirement.
- Keep a written record of Business transactions, communications, and agreements. Always consult with a Lawyer and or Tax Accountant before signing paperwork.
- Maintain a Reserve bank account separate from the daily Business bank account. This will hold monies to withdraw when gift cards are redeemed, quarterly tax payments and a safety net for financial emergencies or another COVID-19 shut down.
Five Things About Nancy Saunders
1. If you could talk to one famous person past or present, who would it be and why?
Bruce Springsteen. Patrick & I saw his performance on Broadway in NY. His life stories were so compelling and relatable that we were crying and then belly laughing throughout the show.
2. What’s your favorite movie?
3. Favorite dessert?
Peanut Butter Cup Ice cream
4. What app can’t you live without?
Facebook keeps me connected with Clients, Friends & Family
5. Favorite type of food to eat when you dine out?