The Myth of Rolfing® SI

Year: 2013
Dr. Ida Rolf Institute

Structural Integration – Vol. 41 – Nº 2

Volume: 41
Editor’s note: Business coach Renae Bechthold has imagined this dialogue with a Rolfer™ to highlight elements she deems necessary to building a strong Rolfing Structural Integration (SI) practice.

Rolfer: What is the myth of Rolfing SI? Why do you say it’s a myth?

Renae Bechthold: The myth is not exclusive to Rolfing SI, but is something perpetuated by many small business owners, in particular, those providing personal services.

Rolfer: So what is that myth?

RB: Here’s the myth – and it has many variations, but I’ll phrase it this way: “If I’m a good enough practitioner, I won’t have to sell or market myself and people will seek me out – that is, IF I’m good enough.” What happens when the typical Rolfer starts out in business and people don’t immediately flock to him – sometimes not even in the first few years of business? What do you think the Rolfer starts to think about himself?

Rolfer: That he must not be a good enough practitioner.

RB: Precisely. And no one is around to tell him to “knock it off.” Building a great business really has nothing to do with whether you are a great practitioner or not. Plenty of average practitioners have built full practices and are making a really good living.

Rolfer: So what’s the secret?

RB: There is no secret, unless you also think there’s a secret to learning the skill/ art of Rolfing SI. Is there a secret to learning Rolfing SI?

Rolfer: Not really. To get better and better, you learn it, then practice it and continuously apply it, while improving your skill.

RB: It’s just like that when building a business or a practice. Business is a learned skill, just like Rolfing SI. It takes information, training, a system – “a recipe,” practice, and another ingredient I like to call “universal alignment.” The myth is in thinking that Rolfing SI is all you need to know in order to make a great living financially. You can make a good living as a Rolfer, if you also combine it with sound, foundational business, marketing, and sales skills that you implement consistently and that are aligned with each other and your purpose.

Rolfer: Whoa! You’re losing me now – I’m not a salesperson, I hate sales, I never want to sell anything. That’s why I went into bodywork.

RB: I get it that you don’t like sales. I don’t know too many people who love it. However, you cannot have a thriving business without having a sales process. When someone says, “Yes, I want to do a Rolfing series with you,” and then writes you a check or pays with a card, that is a sale. You didn’t realize it because you were not being “sales-y” and you were focused on helping the potential client with a problem and educating her on a solution. That is how sales should be. In a personal-services profession like Rolfing SI, sales are all about education. When given enough information about how Rolfing SI can help them, your potential clients make the buying decision. You never have to “sell” them. Are you educating your clients in such a way that they can hear you and understand you in their own words? Your job, as a business owner who delivers Rolfing SI, is to make that process, that system, so consistent and so aligned that you can predict and project how many clients you’ll have over a given period of time. There are a few things you need to educate yourself about to do that well. For example: Do you know what motivates your prospective clients? Do you know what they want? Do you know how to educate them? Do you know how to speak to them in a way that they understand how it applies to them? These are skills you can train yourself to do. The more you are aligned with your current clients and prospective ones, the more you are connected with them and the better they can actually hear what you are saying. Other business systems and structures are crucial to have in place if you want to create a thriving business.

Rolfer: Are you saying I need to go back and get a business degree just to have my business be successful?


RB: No. Absolutely, not. Most business schools are designed to educate people on management skills so that they that can be hired into larger companies with a management team. As an entrepreneur, you can learn these skills and get really good at them without going into the academic world.

Rolfer: How do I do that? Specifically, what kind of skills do you mean?

RB: First, create a game plan on paper. Avoid running your business by the seat of your pants. I’m sure most Rolfers don’t take that approach when working on their clients, but I see they tend to be a bit scattered in their business domain. One aspect of that is that they usually don’t have their business goals and plans worked out on paper to see if they have merit and if those plans will actually get them the results they want. If you have a habit of keeping your goals in your head, it’s not very likely that you will ever consistently generate a six-figure practice. That approach just doesn’t have enough clarity behind it. To start, write down a good solid plan of action complete with written, attainable goals, completion dates, and milestones.

Rolfer: Should I hire someone to help me write a formal business plan?

RB: If you are already in practice and don’t need capital to start your business, then you don’t really need a formal business plan. For the most part, their purpose is to convince a financier/banker that you and your business are a good risk. Everyone who has come to me with a really well-written business plan ahead of time has never actually followed their plan or known how to put it into effect. You require a basic business plan with basic foundational structures and systems. You can get better business results if you just start with a simple set of actions that you know how to take consistently and have them mapped out on a calendar or a time line. I call this an “action plan.” Another approach that I’ve seen literally turn practices around is having the owner create and live by a calendar schedule that states when he will see clients, when he will work on growing his business, what he will prioritize, and how he’ll manage his time. It’s like a mini-miracle structure. Most people lack the discipline to do something so simple and basic. I’ve seen it happen over and over again – having a more structured calendar can turn a floundering practice into one that is growing. I insist that my clients put this structure into place or I won’t work with them.

Rolfer: Really? Most Rolfers I know have and keep a schedule.

RB: Probably for clients and client treatment times. However, I bet many of them let the client dictate when the practitioner will work on them, not the other way around. Plus, most likely there’s no time scheduled for consistently working on developing and growing the business, only a hope that they are good enough so that their current clients will refer them to others. I never heard of “hope” growing a thriving business.

Rolfer: Can you give me some concrete examples of these basic principles?

RB: Sure. A Rolfer who sets a goal of making $8,400 a month and charges an average of $120 per session would need about seventy clients per month to reach that goal. Let’s say there are twenty-two days in the month to work, that’s about 3.2 clients per day. So let’s make this easy and say you have five business days and four hours scheduled each day to see clients. You now have a structure within which $8,400 a month can happen. Your calendar has very specific blocks marked off for scheduling clients and, just as important, the number of blocks in the calendar matches the stated goal. Without this alignment and clarity, struggle ensues. In the above example, you have clarity on several things you didn’t have before you started: 1) you have some flat numbers; 2) you know what and when to block into your schedule; and 3) you have a road map to earn $8,400 each month. Don’t mess it up with emotionality or disempowering beliefs or lack of self-worth. Those things don’t belong in a business action plan. Another critical time management structure that is missing for most practitioners is blocking off time in their schedules to work on their business, not just on clients. Another eight hours per week, at least, should be devoted to specific business functions such as practice management, finance, marketing, and sales. Block these functions into specific days and time slots or you won’t do them regularly. Taking action consistently across time when it comes to the growth of your business is a hugely important habit to develop. Just like you wouldn’t flake on an appointment with a client, don’t flake on these very important appointments with yourself when it comes to focusing on marketing, financial, and other business systems.

Rolfer: I’m starting to see what you mean. What can I begin to do about it?

RB: Realize that what is required to grow a Rolfing practice doesn’t take ten years to achieve. Because the structures I’ve been discussing are so simple, people tend to ignore them while waiting or looking for the “real” secret – something so esoteric and intellectual it would take your breath away. Now that’s magical thinking. That doesn’t exist. It’s the simple, the basic, the foundational stuff that everybody ignores that will actually grow your practice in a short time – if you are patient and persistent. It usually takes less than two years, if you have the right guidance or get the proper business coaching in systems, structures, mindset, and energetic alignment for these kinds of businesses. Earlier, you asked me if there was a secret. The answer is simple, but it is not always easy because most of us lack discipline. I have a lot of faith, however, in the quality of person that is drawn to the Rolfing profession. I’ve worked with quite a few Rolfers now and I really “get” the level of commitment and heart the average Rolfer has for her work and clients. Here’s the “secret”: consistently implement basic structures and systems along with the qualities of focus, attention, intentionality, persistence, and consistency. Educate yourself in these basic practice structures and gain some training in the key areas that will grow and develop your business. That’s what I help Rolfers do. I advocate following a good business coaching program that focuses on performance and results and keeps you focused.

Rolfer: What’s the difference between a coaching program and other books or online services that sell marketing programs or practice-building courses?

RB: A lot of really good information and knowledge is available, but information and knowledge aren’t enough. Practicing the right actions is critical. Can you learn how to be a great Rolfer by reading Ida Rolf’s book? Coaches help you improve your performance exponentially. I’ve never heard of an Olympic athlete competing without a coach. Gaining some facility around business skills is no different. Most business owners or executives who excel and are known to have had very thriving profitable companies usually had a mentor or coach of some kind. It’s taking consistent action and having consistent focus over time that produces really outstanding results. The kind of business coaching I advocate comes from enlightened principles and foundations. “Business” doesn’t have to be a dirty word. You can truly make a profound difference for others and be prosperous yourself. Being aligned with higher universal principles of integrity and purpose and service give you a completely different perspective on how to do business. That’s what makes it easier and more fun.

Renae Bechthold is a professional business coach with thirty years of business-building expertise. She is the author of several ebooks on various topics of business growth for holistic-health professionals. Her programs and coaching style create an environment where owners can grow their bodywork businesses beyond what they thought was possible. Contact her at http:// metromassage.net or 1-877-239-0340.The Myth of Rolfing® SI[:]

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