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Massage Today
August, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 08

Summer Survival Tips

By Angie Patrick

Summer weather is upon us and it's getting hotter by the day! However, many might be feeling the heat from a different source. With virtually every media outlet espousing the declining state of the economy - the bad housing market, and the price of groceries, oil and gas higher than ever - it's easy to become a bit worried about how to make ends meet.

For many, summertime flags a natural slowing in business as more people opt to spend more time outside, on vacation or relaxing with friends rather than visiting their spa or local therapist. How can you combat this? How can you stand up against the wave of negative forecasts of our economy and the slowing of business? A great way to begin is to change the way you think about yourself and your services. Here are a few ideas to help you get through the summer and not only make ends meet, but also make a little extra!

Make each client count. Typically, we can depend on our regular clientele to come and get their massage. We also calculate in our heads how much money this appointment will net. During slower times, these clients are more important than ever. To make sure you're getting the most out of each session, you should ask yourself a few questions. "Have I done all I can to provide this client with a full array of treatment options?" "Have I offered them each and every home-care item they might need to feel well between visits?" Once you take a moment to evaluate these questions, you might find you're leaving income on the table. Let's take a look at a couple of ways you can improve your bottom line.

Providing your clients with an array of treatment options might sound a little foreign to some. Conventional wisdom dictates you only offer the client what they ask for and no more. Well, those days are over, and good riddance! Many of today's clients are savvy to the offerings in regular day spas and likely are open to having them offered by their preferred therapist. For instance, your 1 p.m. appointment is for a deep-tissue massage. Typically, you charge them your regular rate, and in one hour, you're wrapping up and moving on. What if you had a couple of add-on treatments available for your client to choose from? Something simple like a foot exfoliation and refresher, or perhaps a scalp-massage treatment. Offer these to your client for an additional $15 to $20 each, spend another 10 to 20 minutes, and provide the client with a wonderful a-la-carte experience.

If you already have won the business of the client, make sure you're doing all you can to retain that business and not allow it to be romanced away from you by someone offering a few more "pampering" treatments. There are a number of easy-to-learn protocols available from the Internet, as well as supply companies. Do a little research and learn a few of these jewels to tuck up your sleeve. You would be surprised how many people will take you up on your offer for expanded services.

Some therapists feel uncomfortable selling home care products to their clients. This is a concept I have a difficult time understanding. After all, aren't therapists looked upon to be a health care professional? As a health care professional, shouldn't it be incumbent upon you to provide every opportunity you can to relieve your client's pain or lower their stress? This is what the client expects from you, and if they don't feel you are providing it, they might find someone else who does.

It's not difficult to retail items to your clients. You don't have to be pushy or bold, just earnest in what you suggest. For example, you know your client could benefit from a topical analgesic and yet you don't offer it. The client inevitably will find the information somewhere else and then wonder why you didn't mention it. Another scenario: you have a client you feel would benefit from resistance-band stretching or working on an exercise ball. You express this to your client, and when you see them next, you learn they went to the store and bought everything you suggested. This is indeed good news, as it will help the client. However, you left income on the table because you didn't offer these items for sale. You should think of yourself as a one-stop shop and have a few things on hand you feel comfortable in suggesting so the client can buy them from you instead of the big-box store down the street.

Making the most out of every client opportunity is not anything you should feel badly about. In fact, if you present suggestions from your heart and with the intent to truly help your client, you actually are providing better care. While you're a bit slower in the coming months, take this time to learn a few new mini-protocols. Do a little research about products you might suggest in the future and decide which ones will work best for your practice. Ultimately, make a commitment to "give yourself permission" to branch out a little and try new things. It could add black ink to your bottom line in the long run.

Click here for previous articles by Angie Patrick.


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