Spotlight on Spouses – Suzanne Wigmore
SPOTLIGHT ON SPOUSES
Job Title Suzanne Wigmore Massage Therapist
What is your career background?
I began my working life as a manufacturing engineer with Jaguar Land Rover, but in mid-2008 I decided that banking might be a safer option (how wrong I was!). My process improvement skills that I had gained at JLR were put to good use, working on projects all over the country supporting the merger of Lloyds TSB and HBOS. Which culminated in a large project supporting PPI complaints. This fitted well with having a military husband as it did not matter where we were based as I lived in a hotel during the week. However, we wanted to start a family and so I moved into a static commercial banking role within Lloyds in Bristol. Which meant, for the first time in our married life, we were actually living together. Not coming from a banking background I found myself in a completely new area, although fortunately a lot of my skills were transferrable, even if the acronyms weren’t. I worked there for 3 years before my husband was posted to Germany and, with a small child in tow and another on the way, I decided to take a career break.
Where did the idea for your business come from?
While still working for Lloyds I decided to train as a massage therapist. I had been interested in this field since using massage for recovery while rowing in my twenties. I saw the benefits it could bring to all sorts of people and thought it might be something I could use in the future, knowing military life was pretty unpredictable. It wasn’t until we moved back to the UK from Germany that I really thought about operating as a proper business. I was ready to get back to work, but I wasn’t ready to completely give up looking after my daughters and the thought of being tied to an office based job really didn’t excite me.
How did you move from the idea to the actual business?
At first I thought the best way to run my business would be through an already established clinic. I would be able to get support with marketing, a receptionist to help with my bookings and referrals from the other therapists. I found a room to rent in an osteopath clinic in Cirencester, which is half an hour from where we live. It was great being part of a practice, however I found it difficult marketing in an area I didn’t know very well and didn’t live in. I also started to offer mobile appointments in the evening in the Shrivenham area. I could put my flyers out easily, use the local Facebook page and found word of mouth to be the best marketing tool. After 4 months I decided to stop going to Cirencester and became solely mobile. I haven’t looked back. I am able to offer more appointments during the day, have much less travel and I don’t have to pay for extended childcare.
How do you spread the word about what you do?
I use social media mainly, although I have distributed flyers around the area. I have been very fortunate that the military community has been so supportive of my business and my success has definitely been helped by the patch Facebook page and their business Wednesday posts.
As a Military spouse, what has been your biggest obstacle when trying to balance work/ kids/ your spouses military commitments?
As I am a mobile massage therapist I am really flexible with my location and hours. However, last minute changes to my spouse’s working hours throw the odd spanner in the works when I have appointments booked in. Fortunately I have some very kind friends and a good babysitter to help me out.
What has been your proudest moment?
I don’t have a single moment, but every time I receive good feedback from my clients I feel extremely proud. Whether it be helping someone who is injured, has a chronic condition or even just giving someone time out to relax, it is great to feel I have helped in some way. Getting comments like “that feels so much better” or “that was amazing” makes it totally worthwhile.
Why is work so important for you?
My work is something that is just for me. I love my family, but having time away from them also makes me appreciate them more. I also enjoy the interaction with lots of different clients, feeling that I am really helping them whilst hearing their stories and usually learning something from them too.
What advice would you give fellow Military spouses who want to start their own business?
Starting your own business is not as difficult as it might seem. If you are passionate about it you will succeed. Finding something that fits around our lifestyle makes it a lot easier, so think about what you can do no matter where you are living. There are so many talented spouses in our community that just need to take that first step – so take a deep breath and do it!