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Massage Today
January, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 01

Raising Fees by Raising Self-Esteem

By Cary Bayer

The easiest way to raise your income as a licensed massage therapist is to raise your fees. You don't need to get any new clients, you don't need to sell existing clients any new packages, and you don't need to sell any new products. The easiest way to raise your fees is to raise your self-esteem. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The whole issue of raising your fee is a charged topic for many, so let me backtrack and first set the groundwork. Virtually every massage therapist, even those who are self-employed, has some history of being an employee. The same is true for most employers in our country. As a result, most of us have had a history of asking for a raise. For those who are more timid than not, that experience was fraught with butterflies. That's a nice way of saying that they were scared s*#$less.

Those experiences probably taught us two things: (1) Asking for a raise (in other words, increasing your income) is filled with anxiety; and (2) It can be hard to get a raise (easy to think if you were often unsuccessful in your attempts to procure one in the past).

The emotional traumas incurred from asking for raises are stored in your body and mind, even if you're now self-employed. If you're a massage therapist, these old scars will likely surface when it comes time to raise your fees. If you're a timid massage therapist, they might not. That's not because you've healed more quickly than more-confident LMTs, but because you're less likely to attempt to raise your fees in the first place.

Let's assume that it's time to raise the fees that you charge for your massages. The good news is that you no longer have to convince a boss or a committee that you deserve such a raise. Now that you're self-employed, all you have to do is make the decision for yourself. Clients will either accept the raise or they won't. Having raised my own fees many times in the 24 years that I've been self-employed, I'll give you one simple, but highly effective, shortcut to successfully raising your fees: convince yourself first that you deserve the increased rates.

If you succeed in doing this, you'll likely receive little or no resistance from your clients. But if you don't take the time to persuade yourself, if you don't do the inner work that's necessary to make such a transformation, I can guarantee that you will receive resistance from your clients. I don't say this to be negative; I say it because it's true. We're such mirrors for each other. I've seen this play out countless times in countless self-employed professionals from all walks of life and across different industries over the past couple of decades.

Taking the time to accomplish the inner transformation is somewhat analogous to a piece of advice I've received countless times from massage therapists throughout the country. Namely, that as an avid and active tennis player who's on the courts three or four times per week, it's vital for me to stretch before and after matches. When I take the time to follow this wise counsel, my body recovers faster and with less strain from the intense workout. When I arrive late and other players are waiting to get started, I'll sometimes forego the stretches. Or if, after finishing play, I'm late for a meeting, I'll often take a pass on the post-play cooldown. The people giving the advice are always right - my body suffers as a result. As the wise maxim goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It's as true for a tennis player stretching muscles as it is for a massage therapist stretching self-esteem.

The reason for the inner change is that our self-worth is intricately linked to our net worth. This is such an important principle - and one that many therapists have not heard stated so succinctly - that I'll take a moment to repeat it so that it sinks in more deeply: Self-worth is linked to net worth. Those with low self-esteem often find themselves in dead-end, low-paying jobs. They usually find it hard to ask for a raise, and if they muster the courage to do so, they're often denied. On the other hand, those with high self-esteem often find themselves in higher-paying positions, with many opportunities for growth and expansion in their careers, along with the higher salaries and bonuses that naturally come along with that.

When you feel poorly about yourself, you wouldn't dare think about asking clients to pay you more money than they've been accustomed to. Conversely, when you feel great about yourself, the prospect of getting paid more for your services doesn't seem as daunting.

Now that you've come to see the relationship between self-worth and net worth, let's take a moment to look at the word discount. When you discount yourself, you don't appreciate yourself. As a result, you don't take in the compliments and praise of others. You shuffle them off as if they meant nothing, because you think you're nothing. Then the idea of changing your fees can mean only one thing: lowering them, rather than raising them. We have a word in English for lowering prices: it's called discounting. And it comes about when you've first discounted yourself. When you do, you discount your fees. When you praise yourself, you raise your fees. You make the choice.

Let's say that you propose to raise your fee from $60 per session to $70. One good affirmation you can use to help create the inner transformation is: "I'm so talented and experienced as a massage therapist that my clients are getting a bargain to pay only $70 for my massages." It's worth a few minutes a day to transform your belief system. As the old Johnny Mercer song goes,

"You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-between."

Click here for previous articles by Cary Bayer.


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