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Massage Today
April, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 04

Competition: Celebrated or Feared?

By Jenn Sommermann, LCMT

There is no doubt there are more massage therapists than ever. Competition is inevitable in this industry as new practices and spas open in our neighborhoods and compete for the same clients. More schools are opening in record numbers, pumping out graduates who will open practices right next door. In fact, according to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), there are approximately 300,000 massage therapists in America, and that number is only growing. Should this be a concern? Are you worried about your existing practice and how competition will impact your income? Well, of course you are.

Competition is everywhere and it's important to recognize it. It would be irresponsible to assume you are untouchable or won't be affected by competition. But I don't think competition has to be as negative as some people think. All too often I hear my consulting clients complain about and fear a new business opening across the street. They become paranoid about it. They think their businesses will crumble with another business so close. This does not have to be the case. In fact, it can have a positive impact on your business. Let me explain.

There are solid statistics supporting the theory that there is more than enough business for everyone, regardless of competition. Studies indicate that only half of the population in the U.S. is receiving any type of bodywork, including chiropractic. That means for every two people you meet, one has never had a massage before. That's a lot of potential clients. It's up to you to convert those people to clients. How? Through grassroots education. Many people still think of massage as something to do with "extra" money spent on a "treat." Of course, that perspective is changing, but I bet those 50 percent of "non-massage recipients" fall into that category. Either that or they just don't know about the benefits of massage, which is where we come in. Talk to everyone. Share what you do and how it works. Convert that 50 percent of the population not receiving massage into clients.

Another reason competition is good can be explained with the following story. Have you ever purchased something, for example a Volkswagen Jetta, and noticed that all of a sudden there were Jettas everywhere? What happened? Did everyone run out and buy the same car overnight? Of course not. You just tuned into the Jetta craze. You adjusted your frequency to be more aware of the car you just purchased. Well, the same goes for massage. The more people who see it exists, the more their frequency will become attuned to it. As a potential client, if you see signs for massage, massage, massage, you will become aware of it, invite it into your consciousness and wonder, what's it all about? How can I get some of that? I always tell my consulting clients that if a practice opens right next door, it's a good thing, even if the new practice has a bigger sign. Welcome it and celebrate it. It's like free advertising for your business.

Another statistic that should put your mind at ease about competition involves the burnout rate for massage therapists. According to the AMTA, the average career life span for massage therapists is between seven and eight years. Of course, there are exceptions to that statistic and if you are one of them, congratulations. Therapists seem to be leaving the industry due to physical and emotional burnout. How to combat burnout and avoid it altogether is a topic for another time. In terms of competition, this is a plus. If therapists are leaving the industry every seven or eight years, where are their clients going? Moreover, we love those clients because they already are "trained." They already have an affinity for massage, have scheduled it into their lives and are used to paying for it. They are trained clients and in need of finding a replacement for the therapist who has just left the industry. That's where you come in.

As you can tell from the enormous growth spurt in the industry, there is competition coming in full force. It doesn't have to be a negative thing, and you can rise above it and use it to your advantage. Be true to yourself; do the best job you can do; stay current with marketing and techniques; and talk to everyone you meet. Competition will do the same, but in the end, the buzz created will help everyone's business.

Click here for previous articles by Jenn Sommermann, LCMT.


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