Massage Therapy Practice Tips and Tricks

Schedule versus Pricing

How is your schedule? If it is empty, it may be time to re-evaluate your offering. Are you offering enough for the price you're asking for? How does your studio look and make people feel? What small bonuses do your clients get to enjoy? Even if its greeting them with their favorite incense or cup of tea, thoughtful gestures that don't cost you much can make the difference between a casual client and loyal attendance. If your schedule is very full, you may be underselling yourself. Raise your price gradually over 6-12 month periods until you start to see some customer drop off. You should be aiming to fill 90% of your desired schedule, allowing for eventualities like inclement weather and illness. Know your quality and your customers will too!

Capitalize on Products

There are only so many hours you can work based on physical limitations, and you have a limited number of days in a year. The major way you can increase your production is by selling products that play to your talents. What is your expertise? Are you aromatherapy master? Create your own blends for specific situations, employ them in your work and sell them for at-home continuance of healing. Are you a sports medicine expert? Compile recovery kits of proven items that will help your injured clients recover faster, while giving that personal touch. While you should avoid kitschy and mass produced items (ideally, these would be self-branded items) you can still turn a healthy profit while saving your clients time and providing extra value.

Premium Services

Too often, talented business owners with a wide array of potential offerings end up confusing their customers with a huge menu. Simplify your menu to massage by time increments and recontextualize your other offerings as premium services which can be stacked on top of the base massage. This way, you can easily incorporate advanced techniques, such as Ashiatsu massage and aromatherapy, or add additional time to the base massage length without trying to sell the client on "a different service". By viewing them as upgrades, your client feels they are getting something extra, which leads to customer loyalty. Periodically offer upgrades determined by their discovered preferences for free to your clients to familiarize them with the premium services concept, open up inroads to product sales, and reward them for their loyalty.

Streamline Scheduling

Set up a regular daily schedule for yourself that allows for flexibility, leaving time in the morning and evenings for premium scheduling. Each practice is different, and the type of clientele you serve may prefer to be pampered in the mornings, or perhaps are looking to unwind after long hours at the office. Situate your “regular schedule” solidly in the middle of these hours. If your most common appointment time period is 1 hour, consider arranging your schedule in two hour blocks. This way you have a built-in buffer for upselling clients on more table time, enough time for set up and clean up of other sold premium services, and most importantly, time for you to rest before the next client! This way you can capture extended business that wants to upgrade on the day-of, begin every appointment on time and always approach each appointment refreshed and ready to work.

Premium Scheduling

Beyond your set, advertised schedule, you will have time set aside before and after for your premium scheduling. Save this premium scheduling for your best clients, those who attend regularly, routinely enjoy premium services, and are known to have schedules that could not otherwise accommodate your normal office hours. Consider giving premium scheduling to those who buy packages, and have them schedule as far in advance to minimize the impact on your personal schedule. If you find that the bulk of your premium scheduled hours are in a certain time period, you should re-evalutate your “regular schedule” to assess if a change would accommodate more business.

Accept Insurance Reimbursed Clients

It might be difficult to set up the paperwork and proper channels in the beginning, but you're opening yourself to an entire market with little to no effort. By joining the list of providers who accepts insurance, you are gaining free advertising when you show up in provider searches. Once you’ve got the workflow for insurance reimbursement worked out, it is simple to repeat the process for returning customers. Remember to rely on technology solutions to streamline this process and reduce the burden of time, freeing you up to serve a greater section of the community.

Reward Loyalty and Regular Attendance

It may be tempting to default to a simple price reduction when trying to reward your best customers, however, the most effective loyalty packages are free premium services and packages of massage and products sold together. If you discount the price of your services too heavily or too often, it will condition your clientele to pay less. By focusing on product discounts, you will end up making more money while conferring a greater benefit to your clients. Discounting massages takes money out of your bottom line, while discounting products cuts into your profit margin on your product items. Overall, a small profit is better than any amount of loss. Your customers also enjoy the benefits of these additional premium goods and services, adding value to their treatment and relaxation.

Avoid Excessive Couponing

When you rely on coupons for new business, you are doing work for discounted rate and capturing an audience that is disincentivized to pay full price for your offering, let alone pay extra for your premium services. Only use coupons for your slowest months and make sure they expire in accordance with the upswing in your seasonal business. Gift certificates, on the other hand, are a great way to go about discounted services because they usually involve a happy customer bringing you new, quality business who saves money in the process. There are also a small percentage of them that will never claim the voucher and you keep that money for no work.

Focus Your Practice

Decide on what your expertise is going to be and focus on it. Massage therapy is a vast field that ranges from advanced medical practices to deeply spiritual energy work. Different clients will be seeking the satisfaction of various goals, from relaxation to physical therapy maintenance, and you need to narrow your practice down to the services that you absolutely excel at. Providing a mediocre service at any part of a client’s journey through your business will have an adverse effect on their overall perception of the process, no matter how well intentioned you are in an attempt to be a "one-stop shop". Partner with other local practitioners who have complimentary services to fill out any gaps in a treatment plan. This will free you to focus on what you truly excel at, driving your reputation for superlative experiences in the community.

Invest in Continuing Education

As a massage therapist, you are in one of the few positions where you are both the human capital and the producer of the product you sell. Investing in your education is a crucial step toward increasing your value to your clients. Expand on your own knowledge by taking classes, reading industry journals, seminars, attending conventions, becoming a member of a local massage therapy association chapter, exploring periphery fields, talking with other industry leaders and generally trying new things. Figure out who is working the related fields in your area and how you can better serve your community by combining forces. The more you know, the better you can serve your clients.

Technological Advancements

Investing in technological automation may have a start up cost in terms of money and time, but it will save you exponentially over the life of your business. There are many parts of your business that are repetitious and are consuming valuable time. Get ahead of the game with automatic scheduling, emails, reminders, promotions, mailing list, and blog/newsletter connections. Custom software solutions can streamline your SOAP notes, ensure HIPAA data management compliance and simplify payment processing without requiring a business overhaul.

Shifting Attitudes

Create a dialogue with your clients in person and through your blog and social media presence that shifts perceptions about massage and their identity as clients. Your prime audience sees themselves as health conscious, focused on maintaining their bodies and interested in the professional advice of an experienced and compassionate caregiver. Position yourself as a source of valuable information, answer questions and provide suggestions where appropriate.

posted on August 29, 2016 - permalink


About the author

Mary Rodarte

Director of Engineering for Alder Point Group. Consulting on a variety of innovative, research-driven solutions for human resources, business process and safety concerns in the workplace. Originally from a medical sciences background, Mary has followed her passion for procedural excellence across a variety of technological, creative and public relations roles at every level of business. Entrepreneurs and highly motivated management staff will enjoy working with Mary for her keen eye for detail and no-nonsense approach to efficiency.


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