Kaitlin Rohowetz- A Better Body Massage Therapy

Every business can cause you a bit of stress.  A great massage is a relaxing way to relieve that stress, or at least settle it down for an hour or so.
But what about starting, running and operating a massage business?  What are the challenges and rewards for getting into the relaxing business of massage therapy?
Listen as Kaitlin Rohowetz discusses her journey as an entrepreneur in the business of massage therapy.  Her business is thriving and has navigated a few challenges in the past few years, as just about every business has.
Kaitlin is an exceptional business person and has a lot to share in this engaging podcast.

You have found Authentic Business Adventures,

the business program that brings you
the struggle stories

and triumphant successes
of business owners across the land.

We’re locally underwritten
by the Bank of Sun Prairie.

My name is James Kademan, entrepreneur,

author, speaker, and helpful coach to
small business owners across the country.

And today, we are welcoming/preparing
to learn from Kaitlin Rohowetz.

I hope I nailed that.
Yeah, you did.

Good job.

The owner of a Better Body Massage
in Madison, Wisconsin.

So, Kaitlin, how are you doing today?
I’m doing great.

Busy day in the life of entrepreneurs.
Yeah, right.

Hey, it’s Monday.
Yeah, exactly.

How’s it going to go.

The long list of things to do on Mondays.

Overall, good.
Thanks for having me.

Thanks for being on here.

You, I’m sure, have a good story.

I’m trying to think, I

guess, so that people know
you’re also a client of Calls on Call.

Yes, that works really
well for our business.

Full disclosure, right?

How long have you had
a Better Body Massage?

Well, I’m still saying this year because

it’s January, but last year,
2022, we celebrated 10 years.

Did you really?

Well, congrats.
Thank you.

Yeah, it’s pretty huge accomplishment.

Yeah, I’m excited.

So what made you decide to start
a massage therapy business?

Oh, that’s always a funny question.

I started doing massage
on a whim, to be honest.

I always knew I wanted to do something

healthcare, somewhat related,
but I thought that would be nursing

or something, occupational
therapist, something like that.

And at the time, everything had nursing

shortages and everything
was a three year waiting list.

So I was like, well, I don’t want to wait
three years to go back to school.

And I ended up taking the massage therapy

program at Madison College because
I could get in right away.

And it had a lot of the same prereqs as

And then I loved it.

I had never had a massage before
before I went to massage school.

Yeah, ever.

Oh, wow.
So I was just like, this sounds fun.

And then I did really end up loving
it because it’s still helping people.

You’re helping people with pain, tension,

stress, but it’s like night and day
difference the type of environment you’re

doing it in, like a hospital or a clinic
compared to a nice, relaxing spot.

Oh, sure.
Cold and prison like versus

Warm and welcoming.


And then just obviously

snowballed from there and turned into
celebrating our 10 year anniversary.

So when did you first get your massage?

Your first massage?

We had a project in school
to go receive a professional massage,

and we had to do a report
on it about how we liked it.

Holy cow.

So I was like, well,
that’s not a bad homework assignment.

I need homework like that.

That’s crazy.

But then part of massage
school is practicing hands on.

So I was giving and getting massages three
days a week for almost a year straight.

Yeah, I miss that.

The giving, I mentioned, just the wrist.
Or the hands.

Yeah, it is some wrist and hand strength,
but you build it up fairly quickly.

I don’t know.
It doesn’t take long.

And then in school,

you learn how to use your body so
that you’re not using only hand strength.

You’ll see the smallest,

most petite person, and they could
just give a ton of pressure.

And it’s just because we learn how to use

our core and our legs,
and it’s not just about…

Strong hands are important,
don’t get me wrong.

All right.

So when you go to school,

at Madison College,
how long program are we talking?

It was, I think, 10 months at the time,
it was like a certificate.

That was part of the reason I did it
because I was like, it’ll be short

and then I’ll go back to school
for nursing, and I never did.

Did you start your business right.
After you got out of school?

Not right away.

I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I
went to Massage Envy, corporate chain.

It was a great place to get my foot

in the door when I had no
idea what I wanted to do.

Then I was going to actually bring this up
because I was like, this is kind of a fun story.

I ended up starting my business because
I was having a garage sale and

some person comes and she goes,
see something in the back of my garage.

It wasn’t for sale.
She goes, is that a massage table?

I was like, yeah.
She goes, you’re a massage therapist?

I go, yeah.
She goes, me too.

She goes, I’m actually looking to

rent my own place right now and looking
for someone to rent one with.

So I met this random person
at a garage sale.

She seemed nice and we decided to rent
a space together and start a business.

So you got a business partnership

just from a random person that you
met at your own garage sale?

Basically, yeah.
And it ended up being…

I mean, I don’t necessarily
recommend that as a strategy.

How to start a business,
open a garage sale.

Find some nice person at a garage sale.

So, yeah, it ended up being great.

We rented space together,
but it was basically

her first starting her business and me,
I didn’t really know anything about

starting a business, but I was like,
Let’s give it a try.

All right.

So how long did you work at Massage Envy
before you got together with this garage sale?

Like a year.
It wasn’t very long.

So I
started my business about a year after

working at Massage Envy,
and then I was only doing both for about

three months because I figured
I wanted to have a safety net.

I wasn’t going to be like, Oh,
I’ll just start my own business and hope

everything goes well,
even though that’s kind of what I did.

But I had that safety net in case.
All right.

Things didn’t.
And at the time, rent was so affordable

compared to now at least that I did
the math and I was like, Well,

worst case scenario, it’s not like
I’m going to lose that much money.

I’d have to I think I equated it to like,

If I do 12 massages in a month,
I’ll break even or something like that,

whatever the math. Wow. Okay,
I’m glad I’m glad.

We were over at the clock Tower buildings.
On Indiana.

Oh, nice.
That’s not too far from here.

So funny.

Yeah, cheap rent.
All right.

Not super involved, but yeah.

You shared a room or not shared,
but I mean, she did her massage.

Is that in the.
Same space?


So she just had her own separate
business in her own room.

Then I had mine was still my own separate

business, and I had my own room,
and we each had our own clients networked

and did whatever we wanted
to do to get clients.

I had no idea what I was doing,
but I just had a lot of ambition.

Well, I imagine working for massage Envy.

I mean, you get to see some
systems and stuff like that.

Good or bad.
I was just going to say that.

I definitely figured out some things.

I don’t want to say anything bad about

them because for me at the time
in my life, it was like the perfect.

It’s a really good job
for what I needed at the time.

But then once you are on your own and you
figure out what you want to do,

there were just a ton of things that I
knew I was going to do differently.

Have more one on one time with clients.

That environment just to me as
the therapist felt rushed sometimes.

That was thing number one, build more
relationship, get to know my clients.

It’s not just random walk ins.

I wanted to see people and develop
care plans for them and actually see them

get better and see them
on a regular basis.

So that’s what my business turned more

into is, yes, massages are relaxing,
but they’re also very therapeutic.

The therapy side of your shoulder hurts.

Let’s have you come

in two or three times in a row closer
together until you stop having that pain.

And then we’ll spread the massages out,

but you’ll still come in every four
to six weeks to preventative maintenance.

That’s basically what I preach a lot
of now is preventing things rather than

running yourself down
and trying to fix everything.

It’s probably easier to prevent.

I imagine.
Usually, yeah.

This day and age, with all of us having so

much stress and everything,
it’s inevitable you’re going to get aches

and pains for life,
but prevent what you can.

Yeah, there’s a lot of.


Joking with my wife
the other day, because…

Well, we had to reschedule this because
we were both sick at different times.

But my wife’s like, How are you feeling?

And I’m like, I think there’s not a day

in my life that I can
remember where nothing hurt.

There’s just always an ankle shoulder.
You got a sore throat.

Just always something.

I can still feel my shoulder
from when I played dodgeball.

When did we play Dodgeball?

Two weeks ago.
Oh, yeah.

But it’s one of those,
we don’t play Dodgeball every day.

But when you do, you’re like,
pick up a ball, throw it, no warm up.

I hear that a lot.

Clients will tell us, Oh,
it just seems like…

I don’t know if they attribute
it to just getting older.

Everything hurts.

yes, things do get harder as our bodies

age, but also things start
to accumulate over time.


So tension that goes unresolved,
your body compensates.

If things are tight and you get your hip

flexors and you start to bend forward
at the waist, well, your body is not going

to let you walk hunched
over in your 30s or 40s.

You’re going to stand right back up,

but then it’s going to arch your lower
back and create a different issue.

Our bodies are incredible the way
we compensate, but I can’t tell you how

many times people say, Oh,
I just woke up with this pain.

And to me, that signals
you probably didn’t wake up with it.

It’s been building because you haven’t

necessarily been doing everything
you could to take care of yourself.

But it’s hard taking care
of yourself is a full time job.

Yeah, I suppose.

Not necessarily top of mind
because you’re going.

Yeah, it’s not really part
of our culture either.

You’re just like, Hey, pause for a moment
and do some pre workout warm up stuff.

Or whatever.

When’s the last time you had a day where

you just are like, oh,
there’s nothing on my agenda today.

I’m just going to relax and stretch.

I think it was in the womb.


It wasn’t recent.

I don’t think if I ask any business owner

that there each day,
they could remember a day.

No, I had one of my employees

when I told them that I was sick, so I’m
not going to be on the Zoom, whatever.

They’re just like, Oh, just take a day.
I’m like, Yeah, that’s.

Not happening.
That’s not a thing.

No, I.

Will just do what I always do
and just pretend it’s not a problem.

I’m going to live my life.
It doesn’t exist.

Yeah, no.

Well, I just had a baby in May,

and people are like, Well, how long are
you going to take for maternity leave?

And I was like, Well, that’s a weird
question for me because I own a business.

So technically, I’m not going to be there

every day giving massages, but I never
actually took a maternity leave.

We moved into this space
the same month I had the baby.

Did you really?
He was three days old from the hospital,

and I came in here to check
how the paint was going.

That’s awesome.

My husband’s like, Are you
sure you want to do this?

I’m like, Yeah,
they better not mess it up.

I think they did a great job.

You scheduled.
The move, right?

It wasn’t like a spontaneous light.

Switch thing?
Yes and no.

The clock Tower buildings, we were there

the whole time up until May,
so almost 10 years.

Holy cow.

We got the word that they were thinking
about demolishing the buildings.

They just didn’t have a timeline.

Basically, what was going to happen,
they snuck in there when people renewed

their lease, that at any time they could
give you 90 days notice to vacate.

And I was like, Well, I don’t want to be

stuck in that situation where all
of a sudden I have a newborn baby.

I have to find a place to move
and move my business in 90 days.

So I was proactively looking.
Got it.

And that’s just how it
happened to work out.

But things have a way of falling

into place sometimes because
we love the space.

So you were in the same office building.

Was it the same office?

So the person who I originally rented

with, she just moved
on to different things.

At one point, her partner got a job in
New York and they moved.

Now they’re back in Madison,
but she’s not really massaging anymore.

So when she moved is when I hired my first

other massage therapist to do massages,
like my overflow in her space.

So garage.
Sale lady.

Garage sale lady moved on.

Moved on.
And a few years.

Or how long were you guys?
I think two years.

It was okay.

Looking back, everything blends together.

It’s tough.
Yeah, I get it.

But yeah, so she wasn’t
there for too long.

S he was all worried
about breaking her lease.

I was like, No, I’m super busy.

I could use another room
and I’ll just hire someone.

All right.

So you take over her half lease, whatever.

Now, I love talking about employees
because I don’t feel so bad then.

How do you hire your
first massage therapist?

Because you’re talking about you got
to hire personality, skill set, and

I’m going to say tolerance,
for lack of a better word.

Just tolerance with yourself and.

Them, vice versa.

I will say I have gotten much better
with it over the years about being

a little bit more
defining what I’m looking for.

That’s been my strategy over the last 10

years anyways, because I have
a habit of just diving into things

and being like, Yeah, I’ll do this
and figure it all along the way.

T hat’s great in some situations,
but other times you want to be more

detailed about exactly what you’re
looking for and have a plan.

So the first massage therapist
I ever hired did not last.

Was a great massage therapist,

but then all the other things like
personality, reliability, the timeliness,

the cleanliness, all those other
important things that I just do naturally

that you naively assume other people
can be great at, and then they’re not.

So as far as massage goes,
she was great, very talented.

Perk of my job is I have to receive
a massage in the office.

Oh, nice.
All right.

Let me see what you got.
Let me see what you got.

Yeah, it’s a perk in the job.

So that part went well.

But then over the years, I

made note of the things I look for,
reliability, show up to the interview.

Even just like five minutes late,
I’m like, a strike one.

People show up late.
To interview?

Recently, we just hired,

you met Antoinette up front, she’s our new
administrative assistant, just part time.

We’re still going to use
calls on the call.

There’s other things I need
to help with around here, too.

But before her,
I interviewed two other people,

and both of them were almost 10
minutes late for the interview.

You’re kidding?

I’m like, I’m hiring an assistant
to make my life easier.


I don’t know, people just have different

ways of thinking, but now I’m
a little more clear on what I want.

Got it.

Now, reliability, customer service
is a huge thing we look for.

It’s not just being good at massage.

It’s about how well you can talk
to people and relate with people.

Somewhat sales.

I don’t like to think
that we’re salesy at all.

Everybody’s in sales, though.

If there’s a transaction of money.

How to basically

facilitate those conversations
without it feeling unnatural, that thing.

The first one good while it lasted.

I’m not unhappy about the experience
because I learned something from it.

But it quickly grew from there because
she was my first one.

Then I’m trying to think again,
the timelines all start to jumble.

But at some point, I started teaching
at the massage school just part time.

I was in there.
Over here?

Not this one over here.

It was at Madison College
where I went to school.

Oh, really?

The program director
at the time reached out to me and was just

like, We could use an extra
instructor in our clinic.

So once they’ve gone through the program,
they would do a clinic that just operated

as a massage studio where clients

from the public would come in and get
massages from the students.

And it was my job to
oversee that part of it.

So that was a lot of fun because I loved
being back in a learning environment.

But then also I could

handpick people I liked and be like,
You guys can work out a better body.

So I still have two people that were my,
I call them my OGs, my original people.

That’s awesome.

From the massage school,
they still work here.

That is cool.

So once I fine tuned what I was looking
for and what I needed and had a better

screening process, then I ended up having
a really good retention rate that I’m.

Proud of.
So you’re the pick of the litter.

Do you still do that?

Massage school is
unfortunately closed now.

Oh, it is?
Well, Madison College is.

They’re still East West and Aveta in

Madison, but they’re very
sporratic with their program.

So there’s just not a lot of massage
therapists entering the field.

Is that a universal thing or
is it a Madison area thing?

I think it’s both, but Madison in
particular is really struggling with it.

Do you have a reason why?

Covid leads us back to the inevitable

conversation about COVID. But
during the pandemic,

massage was just one of those industries
that you couldn’t get around it.

It was weird because we were technically
allowed to be open because in Wisconsin,

massage therapists are considered
health care professionals.

So we were written in the orders
that we could be open.

But then some people were like,
Why are you open?

You shouldn’t be open.

So we didn’t really advertise
the fact that we were open.

O ther massage therapists
would be super judgey.

It just became a very

weird and stressful environment
for the massage therapist because

clients needed us, but we also
had our own stuff going on.

And so self care, it was like,

we’re preaching this, but we’re
not taking care of ourselves.

So a lot of the massage therapists
just left the profession in 2020.

I’ve been doing this for 12
and a half years now.

Basically, I have a lot of friends who
they don’t work for me, but I know them.

They’re massage therapists
and they’re great.

And a lot of them aren’t doing it anymore.

Then with the school closing last year
was their last class that graduated.

That sounds pretty recent.

And even then, the class that graduated,

normally their class size
would be about 15 students.

I think the last one
was like six or seven.

And that was part of the reason to close
it because the past

few classes had just been so small that
they got our business to run and they can

use that entire space at the school
for nursing or dental hygiene

and fill the space with programs that are
a lot more lucrative for the school.

It’s a bummer.

Yeah, it’s one of the things about

the pandemic that was very
interesting for me to see

as a business that does a lot of business
with different businesses,

the way that different business
owners reacted to the pandemic.

I mean, it’s changing every day.

You read the news and you’re like,
what’s the problem now?

It was very interesting how just
the range of how people reacted.

And some just closed up shop,

board the windows, game over, and others
are like, let’s figure this out.

And others are like, sit and wait.

And it was a weird It was.

And I feel like every industry
was a little different, too.

Certain industries, it’s super
easy to just go work from home.

Our industry, you literally can’t do that.

I saw some funny videos where people were

blown up rubber gloves to the end

of a broom handle and standing 6 feet away
from the massage table, massaging people.

But it’s just a hilarious way to look

at our reality of, yeah, we can’t keep
six feet from you, giving you a massage.

Then for a while,
both people were supposed to mask,

but some people were cool with that,
and other people didn’t want to mask.

So we have the trouble of navigating

people who came in here
and would freak out and didn’t want

to wear a mask at all and were
offended that we were wearing masks.

And then we’d have people on the complete
opposite side of the spectrum

that would freak out if you pulled
down your mask to take a sip of water.

So it’s just like, you can never please
everyone, but you have to just do what’s

best for your industry
for the most amount of people.

And that included my staff.

I had some staff that just
weren’t comfortable working,

and I didn’t force them to because we were
pretty slow anyways.

I was like, We can handle the client load.

That’s your decision, basically.

yeah, it’s weird to navigate all

of that as a business owner because
you’re on top of the client side, but also

managing your staff and your people
and making sure they’re happy

and comfortable
and want to come back when it’s all over.

Whenever that’s going to be.
Yeah, it’s just a light switch.

It’s all done.
I kept waiting for that headline, right?

It’s all over.
I know.

Yeah, it’s all done.
Oh, it’s funny.

The bars are open.
Yeah, right.

In Wisconsin, that’s all
people needed to hear, right?

That’s it.
That’s it.

is when that I figured that the whole

pandemic thing was more of a big
deal than I was thinking it was.

When they said that the bars were closed.

Wait, what?

We can’t.
Even drink?

You closed the bars in Wisconsin?

That’s not even a thing.
Is it?

So apparently.

It was.
Then we knew it was serious.

Then I was like, Okay,

let’s just take a look at this
again and see what’s going on.

But yeah, it was very interesting.

It was still just interesting
how different people reacted.

And how not only how they reacted,

but then how it changed those industries,
whether for good or for bad.

But for forever, I mean, going forward,
people just do things differently.

And I think some good
things came out of it.

And then some…

Yeah, there’s some.

I don’t know.

I think it made people
take a better look at their policies.

And when you’re forced to make changes,
sometimes those changes can be good.

And you’re like, Oh, we’ve been
thinking about doing this anyways.

But yeah, with the massage industry,

I think the biggest strain it put is
on hiring for us.

At this stage, at least
in the pandemic, I will say.

Gone through phases.

Your customer base has the volume
of people looking for massage grown?

Oh, my gosh.

That’s after

we were, I would say, around September
of 2020, things had been open for a few

months already, but that’s when we noticed
people starting to trickle back in.

And then by January of 2021,
you could not get an appointment.

Not just us, anywhere.
Holy cow.

And it was just like a switch flipped.

And I hired
Grace, one of our massage therapists,

she went to massage school
during the pandemic.

So they had, how do you learn how to give

a massage when you can’t
practice in person?

I don’t know.

So you.
Basically don’t know?

They basically had.

To find people in their bubble.

For her, I think a lot of times it was her

kids or her siblings would come
over and she’d give them a massage.

And then they had to log their hours.

But I was like, you

get gyped because you’re not
getting the hands on instruction.

But Grace is an anomaly
because she’s amazing.

She’s one of the best massages I’ve
had from someone who was brand new.

So I was like, Please come work here.
She’s still here.

She’s great.

But yeah, it was so weird how that

whole thing happened
with the schools being closed.

And then I told her, I was like, You’re
going to be really busy really quickly.

Because normally when I would hire
someone, I’d say it takes about

two to three years to really
build up your steady clientele.

I’m going to market for you and get
clients in the door,

but then it’s your job to get them to
like you and tell them to come back.

And yeah, exactly, retention.

So normally, two to three years was

the time frame I gave people to have
a steady, full, consistent schedule.

It took Grace three months.

And it’s been like that since then.

Antoinette Up Front was just trying to get

two people scheduled, and we’re scheduling
until like mid March right now.


Holy cow.

So we’re booking two months out
on average right now.

Holy cow.
So it’s great.

Like I said, good things
have come from it.

Yeah, right.

So it’s interesting how

the, I guess, demand has gone
up and supply of therapists.

Has gone down.

And that’s the stress part of it.

It’s a good problem to have because all
the people who are here are super busy.

But then we have clients frustrated
like, I can’t get in.

I’m sorry.
I don’t know what to do.

So with this space,
can you add more employees?

We can, yeah.

We have plenty of room to
hire more people.

So if anyone’s listening to the podcast

and want to become a massage therapist,
you make good money.

All right.
You just got to.

Find them.
Yeah, exactly.

So before, I.

Guess, before pandemic,
was this a problem with therapists?

Not really.

So this is how I used to put it.

I used to say help is easy to find,
but good help can be hard to find.

Yeah, right.

So I could find massage
therapists pretty easy.

But to have one who I’m like,
you’re going to be here long term.

You’re a really good fit for our culture,
everything personality wise.

Now you just help is hard to find,
let alone good help.

I don’t even think
good help exists anymore.

It’s the feeling I get.
It’s rare.

It’s rare.
Very rare.

I think we’re in a similar situation

because we’re essentially selling services
that other people are performing.

And so you have a level

that you’re selling and a level
that you want people to perform at.

And you don’t necessarily know where they

perform until you hire
them and keep going.

And then you learn like, hey,
you’re a unicorn or hey, you’re.

A donkey.

Yeah, a donkey with a birthday cone on it.
Or something.

So it’s interesting.

I guess I just realized that now.

But it’s tough.
It is.

It’s very tough.
It is.

And you do your best
in the screening process.

And it’s so hard because you also want
to be selective to maintain

the value of your brand, but
you’re also desperate for help.

So it’s like you’re literally…
You need to lower the bar.

But I learned, fortunately before,

that if you lower the bar,
although it solves your more immediate

problems, it just adds more problems
down the line.

So I won’t anymore.

I’d rather be
the place where it takes two months to get

in than the place to get a bad
massage or have a bad experience.

Totally fair.

Unfortunately, I’m just still
dealing with that struggle.

I get it.

We tried to lower the bar a little bit,
and that was a train wreck.

It doesn’t.
Go well.

It just doesn’t, unfortunately.

You’d think

how I was when I hired my first person,
that people, they can learn.

They might not be the most personable

in the beginning,
but they’ll pick it up easy.

I was like, No, they don’t.

No, can’t train personality.
No, exactly.

That’s what I’ve learned, too.

I can teach massage.

If you’re mediocre at massage, I will work
with you hands on and make you fantastic.

But I can’t teach you to have a good

No, that’s fine.
That part, I’m sorry.

You’re on your own.

Let’s talk about your space here.

We’re in a couple’s.
Room here.

This is a couple’s massage
room here, so we do.

Some of those.
Then you have.

Other so across the hall,
we have a skin care room.

I have one provider who does facials,
so she does clinical heals.

We do fun stuff like
peppermint scalp treatments.

In the fall, we’ll do
a pumpkin spice facial.

You got to have that.

A pumpkin spice everything.

Yeah, exactly.

It’s obligatory.

Then in the back,
we have six massage rooms.

Oh, wow.

There’s eight of us right now,
but massage therapists don’t do 40 hands

on massages a week,
so most people are part time.

Got you.
That’s why I was like, we’d be

probably in the space where now have the
space capacity to about double in size.

Oh, wow.
Well, that’s still a healthy room.

All right.

So it’s nice.

Basically, everybody has their own…

Technically, it’s not their own rooms,
but because we have that ability right

now, there’s only a handful of us,
we pick our favorite rooms and you can

decorate the way you like and leave
your things the way you like them.

Have your own space.

I’ve always been curious about
this with massage places.

Sound, I imagine, is a problem.
Inevitably, yeah.

Because massage is quiet,

generally speaking,
but when you’re in a shared space

or there’s people, traffic, whatever, it
always seems to be a fire truck anywhere.

Oh, I know.

There’s not really
a great way around that.

You just hope your clients are so
relaxed that I call it massage drunk.

When they’re just
half in an awake state and half out where

you aren’t as aware of external
noises, that’s my hope.

But yeah, we do everything we
can to minimize the sounds.

But yeah, if an ambulance goes by on the
street outside, we can’t control that.

But we have music playing in the rooms,
this room, not because we’re talking.

And then we also have white noise
machines, like, don’t.

So that helps drown out a little bit.

And then we also dim the lights once you

get further back into the space, so it’s
like a visual signal to lower your voice.

More of that.
And it works.

It does work.

What have been some of your biggest

challenges with the massage
business in general?

Besides employees, I suppose.
That’s a big one.

That we haven’t covered yet.

Covid, hiring.

I think just figuring out,
like, retention.

Everything else is like…
Employees or clients?


We have a service,
luckily, that people want.

It’s not like we’re selling…

We’re not doing your dialysis.

We’re not forcing you to come get an MRI.

It works. we’re giving people
a service that primarily they enjoy.

I hope so.

Right, exactly.

We don’t have to twist
your arm to come back in.

It’s more so
getting people to understand the value

of long term massage and how
important it is for your wellness.

And so

a part of that is people get attached
to the massage therapist that they see.

So when I went on maternity leave,
I was trying to ask a lot of my clients,

What do you really like about my massage
specifically that I do so that I can

have you see whoever I think
would be a good fit then?

Because I could guess.

I could say, we normally work on hips

and legs, so I’m going to book you
with Khai, or you really like cupping,

so I’m going to book you
with Persefany, whatever.

I could guess, but I
wanted their feedback.

So I asked them and I was like, Well,
what do you really like about my massage?

Because then I want to match you

with someone who’ll be a good fit while
I’m on maternity leave.

And I think a couple of people could

articulate it, but most people
were like, I don’t really know.

I think I just like you.
And I was.

Like, Well, thank you.
Yeah, right?

You have magic hands.

Similar situation, I guess, right?

Because our clients get
attached to our employees.

Employee goes away for whatever reason.

Then clients are like, What the hell?

And we’re like, Sorry, people don’t.
Last forever.

Yeah, it just happens.

It’s not anything people
generally plan for.

It’s like people

move or people decide they want to do
something else with their life.

Yeah, life.

Happens from people go.

It’s funny that you mentioned the hair

thing because I had the same hair person
for, oh, man, I bet it’s 12 years.


Then COVID came around
and they’re like, We’re closed.

I mean, not permanently, but just
like, hey, we’re closed.

So then like, okay, well, I’m not
going to grow my hair out forever.

So I find someone else and then
then someone else became my go to.

And that’s how it goes sometimes.

It’s not the intention to leave.

You weren’t unsatisfied with
the services you were receiving.

It’s just how it worked out.

So we’ve definitely had that happen, too.

Whenever someone leaves,
we have someone who went back to school

and she’s just going
to do school full time.

So we called all her clients and we said,
it’s really important to us that you get

matched with someone who you’re
equally as happy with.

Tell us a little…

We reviewed your file and if you want
to tell us anything else about what you

really liked about that provider will
happily recommend someone.

Some people rebook.

Others are like, I’ll just
wait and I’ll go book online.

It’s unfortunate
because you know those people are like,

I’m going to see if I can
get in somewhere else.

But to be honest,

what did happen with a lot of those people
is all of a sudden you see them trickle

back in because they
can’t get a name anymore.

All right.

Yeah, it’s the name of the game.

But retention is always a struggle.

But I’m aware of that, too.
So it’s really important to me.

I think when you enjoy your job,
you’re going to provide a better service.

I would hope so.


So if you’re happy
here, that pours into your clients.

Your energy is better.

You’re in a better mood around them.

So naturally, you’re just going
to do a better job is my philosophy.

So I do work really hard to

make an environment and provide
a space that they’re happy with.

I feel like I’m a pretty cool boss.

I do too.

But sometimes my employees
tell me otherwise.

I know.
Not recently, but yeah.

I mean, it can’t be perfect for everyone.


I spend a lot of one
on one time with them.

We do a lot of learning trades.

So it’s usually a group of three where
one massage therapist will get

on the table
and the other massage therapist will start

giving them massages and we’ll work on new
techniques and I’ll get my feedback.

I’m great at certain things.

I’m not an expert in every single massage
technique ever invented,

but it’s also not my agenda to completely
change the massage that they’re doing.

It’s more so to pick up what they’re
already doing and enhance it.

You could probably get more pressure
if you come at it from this direction.

Or how about if
you change the direction of your pressure

this way, and that’ll help avoid
the chop flow or whatever,

just give it live feedback,
which you really don’t get anywhere else.

I think that’s one of the things that, A,

makes us unique, but then B helps them
be happy here.

Because the longevity
of massage therapists,

even if they want to do it forever,
the average burnout rate is 3 to 5 years.

Is it really?
That was a statistic before the pandemic.

3 to 5 years.

You go to school for almost a year and
now you get 3 to 5 years and.

Then you’re…
Because people burn themselves out.

I mentioned before.
Like physically?

It’s pretty physical.

Most massage therapists,
doing five massages in a day is a lot.

I imagine.

Most people do that 3 to four days a week.
So you’re doing like…

We’ll just say 20 massages a week is
like full time for a massage therapist.

Then even after that, you’re tired.

So most people have to try and either, A,
figure out how to do more massage,

and then they burn themselves out, or B,
try and figure out a career that’s

flexible enough to do both part time,
and then they get frustrated.

I think it’s a little bit of both physical
burnout because they’re like, Well,

in order to do
enough hours that I need to do,

I got to work 36
hours of hands on massage each week.

And then all of a sudden you got carpal
tunnel or tendonitis or frozen shoulder.

Yeah, it’s just they literally
physically burn themselves out.

A nytime I see my team in the break room

and they’re like, you know, massaging
themselves, I’m like, Are you okay?

What do you need?
Did you get a massage?

Have you been to the chiropractor?

Like, have you taken care of yourself?

Did you try some cupping?

I’m just on top of them because their
health is the health of my business.

If they get hurt and they’re not taking

care of themselves, all of a sudden
we have two months worth of clients

to reschedule that are already mad because
it took them two months to get in.

Yeah, right.

Got it.

When you said something earlier about when

a new employee comes
on and they give you a massage.

I’m just thinking, how weird would
it be to give the boss a massage?

Oh, it’s so funny because I
know they’re always nervous.

I think hands are shaking.

I have had one.

I’ve done very few
interviews that I haven’t hired because I

do a preliminary screening
interview, like a Zoom call.

It’s basically interviewing
your personality.

If your personality is good and you pass

interview number one,
then you come in for the hands on.

I think it would be nice for me to just do

the hands on interview because
then I’d get more massages.

Then I got to shut more people down, too.

So if you make it past the first
interview, then you come do the hands on.

I think there’s only been one person

that gave me a massage
that got to the hands on portion.

I didn’t end up hiring them
because it was very shaky.

It was that bad?
Yeah, it was bad.

I just had lots.

Of sweat.
All right.

It’s not good.

I was really disappointed.

I felt bad because personality wise,

I was like, Oh, I thought this
was going to be so great.

And then it wasn’t.
Oh, no.

But most of the time people do great.

You know they’re nervous.

I try and think back,
but it’s been a while for me.

I only ever had one job, one massage
job, massage and everything.

Oh, wow.


I only had to do that
interview process once.

Some people have had to do it multiple

times until they land in a space
that they’re happy in.

I try and think back to how nervous I was,
but to be honest, I don’t remember.

I’m sure I probably was,
but yeah, they’re always…

They fight through it,
and I can tell by their touch.

In the beginning, maybe first 15 minutes
of the massage, you can just tell by

their energy in their hands
that they’re a little nervous.

And then as things get moving and they get

into their rhythm, they’re like,
Oh, yeah, I know how to do this.

Listen to it.

And so it usually ends well.

I try and just let them do their thing.

I don’t usually give a ton of feedback

to them in real time when I’m getting
an interview massage because

I’m like, I just want to see their natural
how they would do it.

Because I think most clients don’t
naturally give a ton of feedback.

They don’t know what feedback
to give other than.

No, I never know what.
To say.

Yeah, exactly.

Stop killing me.
Yeah, exactly.

It’s too much or it’s not enough.

And even sometimes then people
choose not to say anything.

Yeah, I just tolerate it.

We got a couple’s massage.

Oh, my gosh.

I think it was last year, whatever.

And I swear that the woman that was

massaging me was trying to push
my spine through my stomach.

Did you tell her you wanted.
Deep tissue?


She just tried to push me.

No, it’s a relaxing just chill.
This is just chill.

Oh, Jesus.

My wife was laughing so hard because

she, of course, had the best
massage in the world.

This angel massage her.

She was like, James,
I’m leaving you for this dude.


I’m like, I can’t get
my spine out of the bed.

So it was so funny.

And I was like, she’s like
harder or softer, right?

And I’m like, way softer.
It is.

But it’s hard to know as the client,
like, you’re not a massage therapist.

So it is hard to know what type
of feedback to give sometimes.

And then there is a little bit of that,

like, it doesn’t really feel good,
but I don’t want to hurt your feelings.

Yeah, it was telling me.
I was just like.

It’s fine.

That doesn’t seem like your personality,
but I always tell my staff that.

I’m like, Even people who you would think

would speak up, they don’t
because it’s just different.

You’re laying unclothed on a table.

There is a slight,

even if it’s not conscious,
there’s a slight power differential.

But as a massage therapist,

you have to be aware of
and check in with people and

set the expectation up front of like,
What pressure do you like?

So I’ve had some, not here,

but I’ve had some bad massages in my life,
and it always teaches me of like, Okay,

that’s one thing I can point out
that we definitely do differently.


Whenever I get a massage,
I’m just super relaxing.

Don’t try to fix a thing
because regardless of how many times I

tell them that,
they’re all just like, off.

The ropes.

They probably feel your
softball or dodgeball injuries on their

shoulders and they’re like, That
is the curse of the massage therapy.

They want to fix it.
They’re like, Oh, I found this.

I got to fix it.

But some people don’t want
that and you got to respect that.

No, because they find that not.

Let me get the drill out.
You’re just here to relax.

There’s therapeutic benefits, too,

to just relaxing, especially for someone
who has a super busy lifestyle.

You don’t take the time to relax.

So all of a sudden when you finally

have an hour to yourself to just chill,
maybe that’s all you want to do.

Your brain can finally rest for an hour.

That’s very true.

Part of it, though, I guess I always think

if it’s pain, I won’t fall asleep because
sometimes I’ve had some expensive naps.


Didn’t mean to.

But you’re just like…

It’s still working on your body.

You’re just not conscious of it,
so you feel like you missed it.

I’ve heard that before.
I totally feel like I.


I feel like I was probably snoring,
just annoying the person.

I always tell people if you fall asleep,
it’s almost like a huge compliment to us,

though, because it gets your
body out of the stress response.

For you to feel relaxed and calm enough

to fall asleep during a massage,
you’re in total relaxation mode.

That’s what your body needed.

Even if you’re not conscious of it.

I do have some clients who are like,
No, if I fall asleep, you wake me up.

I’m like, don’t you know what I mean?

Just give me a little shove.
I don’t know.

But yeah, I have some people who are like,
I don’t want to miss it.

And then I have others who are like,
I’m sorry, I fell asleep.

I’m like, No, that’s
what your body needed.

Everybody’s just different, though.

But at the end of the day,
that’s why you do…

Every single client that comes in our
doors, we’ll do an intake with them.

So we’ll sit down and say,
Is there anything bothering you today?

What massage do you want?

What body parts do you want worked on?

What do you not want worked on?

Because some people are like,
Oh, don’t touch my hair.

Don’t touch my feet.

Fronts of my knees are ticklish, whatever.

So we’ll literally walk through like,

Okay, I’m going to work on your back,
your hips, the backs of your legs.

And then we’ll flip you over, we’ll
work on the chest, sides of the neck.

We’ll do some face and scalp,

arms and hands, and then the fronts
of the legs and the feet.

And we’ll use medium pressure,

but go a little harder
in the shoulders, like you said.

We’ll do just like and say it back to them
to make sure that

they know we’re understanding them
because that’s the worst.

I hear those types
of stories all the time.

It’s like, I go get a massage
and it wasn’t what I wanted.

So we really try and give people
what they’re actually wanting too.


We have our professional opinions and our
agendas of like, if we do find stuff,

it is hard to be like, okay,
I’m not going to work that out.

I’m not going to get that nod out.

But at the end of the day, I call it

80 % what the client wants and 20 %
what you know about your profession.

Just throw that in there.

That’s fair.
That’s totally fair.

What are some things that you would like
clients to know?

Maybe just universally for massage
and specifically for you guys.


I feel like a lot of clients
don’t realize how trained…

Not all massage therapists,

but some massage therapists,
everyone who works here.

We memorize every single muscle and bone
in the body, their attachment points.

Do you really?
Yeah, in school.

So we learn like Kinesiology, what muscles
cause abduction versus abduction.

When clients say, It hurts when I go like

this, and we know in our heads, well,
what muscles are causing that movement?

Technically, our scope of practice,
we can’t treat or diagnose you,

but we can think like, Okay,
if that motion hurts,

that’s where I’m going to look because
those muscles are probably tight.

Then we also know what muscles
are antagonistic to each other.

is tight on the front is oftentimes tight

on the back, too, because
your body is like this giant tug of war.


o some people maybe know this,
but I feel like I’ll occasionally get

the question, Oh, you have to be licensed
to be a massage therapist?

I’m like, What.
Do you mean?

How many garages have they been at?

Yeah, exactly.

I mean, a lot of other countries,
you don’t have to.


I don’t know if that’s good or bad.

I think that I’ve had many, many…
We travel a lot.

I’ve had many massages elsewhere,

and you can tell the countries that they
know what they’re doing versus the ones

that are just unaware of
how long your muscles are.

They’ll stop halfway through and I’m like,
That’s weird, but okay.

I’m not here for therapy.

I’m just relaxing.


I think that’s the biggest thing is
massage is, yes, it’s relaxing.

Yes, it’s like spa, but it’s
actually like we’re very trained.

say to people, we definitely want to avoid

that medical sterile clinical
environment. But yet,

be able to still help you in some
of those ways physically.

So we’re doing that but in a more
relaxing environment.

So the best of both worlds.

And then if people do need things that are

outside of our scope of practice,
obviously, we’ll send them to

refer out to a physical therapist
or chiropractor or something.

But yeah, I would say
that’s the biggest thing.

I wish clients knew

the level at which many of us are trained,
and then we have to continue that.

To renew our license,
we have to do a certain amount

of continuing education every
couple of years.

Every couple of years?
Every couple of years.

And we all,
because of the hands on learning traits

that we do together,
we all go way above and beyond that.

Oh, nice.
The minimum limit is 12 hours per year,

which is not nothing, but it’s pretty easy
to do online courses that you can just…

Right now.

Yeah, exactly.

I think we really dedicate ourselves

to learning and knowing about
the body and always improving.


I wish they would just know that we’re

booking two months out,
so be patient with us.

Yeah, right?
That’s the only other thing.

Most people are pretty chill about it,
but some people definitely.

Get upset.
That’s so funny.

It reminds me, we answer
phones for different…


Well, yeah, it’s your people
that have to deal with it.

We’ll have people
for accountants call April 15th at noon

and they’ll be like,
Can I drop my taxes off today?


When we say no, we’ve had
some people just get livid.

And I’m.
Like, Really?

You waited and now you’re
making it our problem.

Yeah, it’s just a weird…

This is just the world we live in.

People want instant results with
everything and it’s not always possible.

Yeah, it’s just a different world.

Microwave society.

Do you have any crazy stories
as far as clients go?

Something where you’re just like,
That was a nutty client?


Honestly, right when you ask

that question, the thing that comes
to mind is sexual harassment

in the massage field, which is
something we do have to worry about.

But we’ve been lucky because I think we
established that we know what we’re doing.

When a client comes in here,

even if they were going to try and be
inappropriate, if I sit down with you

and talk to you about, Okay, so
which movement does it hurt when you do?

You all of a sudden are going to get
the vibe that this is not that place.

I can’t pull that here.

Luckily, we don’t have any weird people.

I would just say our clients…

I have some people, like we have

a massage therapist who drives from
Bolloyte to work here two days a day.

Holy cow.
Maybe she’s here today.


She also works at another
place that’s closer to home.

I recently asked her, I’m like, How do
you like it here versus your other place?

S he goes, Our client, well, A,

she likes it here, but she said
our clients are just different.

She’s like, I don’t know if it’s Madison
or what it is, but I love my clients here.

I can’t bring myself to not
work here and not see them.

We have the best clients.

I don’t know if there’s one specific

scenario or example that’s happened,
but our people are great.

They support us.

They’ll come to our
customer appreciation events.


had a whole spiel at our 10 year
anniversary party,

and I started talking about a timeline
of what’s happened over the years.

And all of a sudden
I was like, I’m not going to cry.

I started crying.

I’m like, Okay, I’m just
trying to get my words out.

I just made eye contact with this one
client who’s been coming here forever.

And that’s how I got through
the rest of my spiel without crying.

And I was like, Apologize.

I’m like, Sorry, I staring
at you the whole time.

He’s like, No, you’re not supposed
to do that when you’re…

You’re supposed to not focus
on one person too long.

And he was like, No, it was totally fine.

I got you.

That’s awesome.

So I don’t know.
We just have the.

Best people.
That’s incredible.

It’s so interesting that you’ve been

in essentially two offices over the course
of 10 years, which, I mean, we’ve been in.

I don’t even want to count.
It’s been a lot.

A long time.
It’s been a lot, yeah.

Because you always like
the next thing, the next thing.

Or landlord’s lame.

Or we had one where they
started doing nails next door.

And then the crew starts
complaining about the smell.

The smell is really strong.

I don’t know much about.

Nails, but I don’t do them
here for that reason.

Yeah, not cool.
So it’s just interesting.

You got.
To just…

I mean, I think when
you say stuff like that,

I think in part we’ve just gotten lucky
because the first space I moved in,

I didn’t anticipate that we’d
be there as long as we were.

And then we were just outgrowing it.

So even if Clerks tower hadn’t told us

they were going to demolish the buildings,
we were outgrowing that space anyways

because we had
three treatment rooms in there.

So it was the two that
the girl and I shared.

And then at one point we had

an esthetician come rent
and that didn’t last very long.

And then eventually they both left
and I was using all three rooms.

But there were eight of us
in only three treatment rooms.

So we had to be very strategic about like,

okay, you work from nine to two, and then
I have my first client from 2 30 to 830.

Just the turnover.

Oh, it was awful.

Then we were constantly having
to worry about being overbooked.

I would work with your staff to be like,

Okay, if there’s more than three people
on the schedule at the same time, tell me,

because that’s an emergency,
this is not possible.


So they actually emailed me about it
the other day and they’re like, Oh,

we noticed four people are
on the schedule at the same time.

I was like, Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell
you, that’s not a thing anymore.


But yeah, so there’s just all the crazy…
It was a long time coming.

We needed to move out of that space way
earlier than we did.

Better late than never.

So you’ve been in here.
Five months?

Yeah, since May of this year, of 2022.

All right.

So you seem pretty
established here already.

Well, we had a lot of the stuff,
but yeah, it was…

We’re getting there.
All right.

I mean, like build out and all
that stuff or whatever you had to do.

Hire now.

The build out actually, we didn’t change
anything with the walls, which was nice.

It was a tax firm before we moved in, and
so they had all these individual offices.

I was like, perfect.

These will be our
individual massage rooms.


And we actually bought this space.

So this is a business condo.

I didn’t even know that was a thing.

Well, I bought one, so that’s how.
I know.


Before that, I went to know it.

No, I was working with a real estate agent

and he showed me this and he
was like, You’re buying it.

I was like, I can’t afford
to buy a building that size.

He was like, No, it’s a condo.
I was like, That’s a thing?

I knew about residential condos.
Yeah, so it works out.

I mean, there’s, of course, the headaches
of owning versus renting.

Our heat went out in the cold and.
I got a paper.

Versus calling my landlord
and being like, Come fix my heat.

But yeah, I think so we
plan to be here for a.

Long time.
That’s cool.

That’s super cool.

Massage, there’s like 50 gazillion places

that have gone up in the past,
maybe even 10 years.

You mentioned massage and view,

but there’s everywhere,
strip mall comes up, massage goes up.

Where that was not necessarily
the case 10 years ago.

So is that a trend?

Massage is becoming more well known as
not just a luxury.

There’s nice spas like Sundara,

but for those types of things,
you’re really going there for the

pools and the hot tubs and the environment
and take the day.

It’s becoming more well known to get

a massage for pain and for tension
and to help with that.

You can still come relax.

And there’s, like I said,
therapeutic benefits of that.

But it’s becoming more well known
when the massage school opened here.

It was probably around that same time

because I think the massage therapy
at Madison College opened…

I graduated
in 2010, and I think I was like the fifth

class, and it was weird because
they were like nine months long.

So maybe they were open for about
three years or so before I went there.

So that timeline adds up
that they start teaching more massage

therapists and all of a sudden
more places pop up.


So it’s funny.

But anyone who wants to start their own
business should definitely listen to this

podcast because they’re not always like,
Oh, I’m just going to go do it.

And there’s going to be
no trouble or challenges.

Perfect segue, though.

What are the top three challenges that you

had to deal with that you
didn’t necessarily expect?

You just don’t know what you don’t know.

And so everything for me
was learning along the way.

I just had to figure everything out,

which is not a bad thing to have because
I never struggle with perfectionism.

But even things

like figuring out software, scheduling
systems, employee laws, employment law.

Most lessons you learn the hard way.

So hiring was probably the biggest lesson.

I had to learn how to vet better,
how to do those Zoom interviews first.

I think also just learning software.

My philosophy now is start
with the end in mind.


softwares only have certain capabilities
because they’re free or 20 bucks a month.

But then you eventually outgrow them.

And it’s this huge hassle to switch.

So we stuck with the software that had

nowhere near the capabilities that we
needed and put off switching because it’s

this huge undertaking when you
switch a booking software.

All your clients,

then you got to make sure people
didn’t get double charged or not pay.

So start with the end in mind,
I’d rather pay an extra $20, $30,

$50 a month for a software that I’m going
to grow into rather than have to have

these be cheap in the beginning
and have to grow into it.

And then ask for help.

I think because I…

That was the biggest lesson I’ve learned

is I had so many issues because I
was trying to do everything myself.

In the beginning, you have to.

You’re the sole approver,

you’re the bookkeeper, you’re the
marketer, you do everything.

But then eventually,

I went from when I started asking people
for help, that’s when my business really

started scaling, not just
slowly growing and maintaining.

So if I wanted to make an employee
handbook, I hired a lawyer to do that.

Or if I wanted somebody

to make sure the space was clean,
I hire a cleaning company.

If I want somebody to help answer…

We were answering our own phones.

People would leave messages.

I’d call them back.

It was a disaster because I was being
cheap where I was like, I can do it.

And there is a learning curve
of hiring staff, right?

You have to train them.

So that was the biggest thing.
Like, challenges.

I had to break myself from that habit

of wanting to do everything
myself as an entrepreneur.

You’re like, I’ll
do it better myself.

We just want to because
there’s certain ego.

Well, yeah.
And you know you’re going to do it best.

No one can do it like I do it.

We joke all the time about that.

But yeah, there’s

being able to do it best and then actually
being able to get it done.

The right way.

And it’s like, yeah,
sometimes you have to pay for that.

But then that was a huge learning

experience for me that once I finally
started getting more in that mindset,

that’s when business really
started to take off.

So I’m like, oh,
there’s something to this.


That’s awesome.

Well, Kaitlin,
thank you so much for being on the show.

Thanks for having me.
This is awesome.

You have a cool space.

Great conversation.

Yeah, you’ll have to come get a massage.

You sound like our perfect client now.

A relaxing one.
Yeah, relaxing one.

We’ll make sure of that.

I was just thinking on the way here,

I thought, what is the last
time I got a massage?

It’s probably with my wife and the
woman that tried to kill me.

No, yeah.
Okay, we’ll change that experience.

Not the same person.

At least as far as I know.

This has been
Authentic Business Adventures.

It’s a business program that brings you
the struggle stories

and triumphant successes
of business owners across the land.

We’re locally underwritten
by the Bank of Sun Prairie.

If you’re listening or watching this

on the web, if you could do us a huge
favor, hit the big old thumbs up,

subscribe, and of course,
comment below and let us know how your

massages have gone. Yeah.
How you wish they’d go.

And I don’t know, whatever else

you want to know about
starting a massage business.

My name is James Kademan
and Authentic Business Adventures is

brought to you by Calls on Call,
offering call answering and reception

services for service businesses
across the country on the web.


And of course, The Bold Business Book,

a book for the entrepreneur in all of us
available wherever fine books are sold.

We’d like to thank you,
our wonderful listeners,

as well as our guest, Kaitlin Rohowetz,
owner of a Better Body Massage.

Well, Kaitlin, I didn’t ask you website.
What’s your website?



And where can people
find you address wise?

We’re at 6515 Grand Teton Plaza.

So we’re right off of Yellowstone
and Mineral Point Road on the West Side.

The place to go.

What else we got here?

Past episodes can be found
morning, noon, and night.

The podcast link found at

Thank you for watching.

We will see you next week.
I want you to stay awesome.

And if you do nothing else,
enjoy your business.


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