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Keeping It Simple

By David Kent, LMT, NCTMB

About the Columnist
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Increasing Your Income: Let's Take a Look at Retail

Everyday we have a limited amount of time, physical strength and mental energy to earn a living. When we are at work, we are basically trading time for money. The amount we earn is influenced, to a certain degree, by our education, experience, skill level, track record, etc. When we trade out time for money, we are only able to earn as much money as we are willing to trade our time. So, how else can we earn more money without working more hours? The answer is to retail, which is the sell of goods to the public, in relatively small quantities. In most cases, you just need to know how to price and promote the products you are already using.

As consumers, we have confidence in our healthcare providers and want to know their opinions and recommendations. When my medical doctor gives me a sample, I am extremely likely to continue purchasing that specific brand in the future. Similarly, my dentist provides samples of toothpaste, floss, etc. They also sell a particular brand of toothbrush, teeth whitener and oral gel. Likewise, it is common for chiropractors to sell orthopedic pillows, joint supports and nutritional supplements to their patients.

When we explain the benefits of receiving regular massage therapy sessions, we are, on a certain level, "selling" or "retailing." When we offer a discounted price for a group of sessions, it might be labeled a "Special," "Package" or "Membership." Ultimately, we provide the benefits and the consumer makes an educated decision.

So, what products do massage therapists' frequently integrate into their sessions that would benefit clients and could be offered for sale? The list includes topical analgesics, aromatherapy, pillows, music, scrubs, hot and cold packs, to name a few.

Products like topical analgesics commonly have a profit margin of 100%. If purchased during sales or special offers, the markup is even higher. Suppliers know the different manufactures and will help you choose the best products for your setting, recommend resale prices and provide ideas. It is nice to call one number, get information on multiple products from different manufactures, place the order, pay one bill and know if there is ever a problem you have customer support.

Visit the manufactures website to take advantage of free promotional materials and other resources. Manufactures will list your location as a reseller on their website, so consumers can search by city, state or zip code. One topical analgesic company provides, at no charge, client information packets with a sample attached, plus they print your name and phone number directly on the packet.

A professional looking display case is the perfect salels centerpiece and should always be strategically placed in your clinic, spa, at health fairs, sporting events and when providing seated chair massage. It is easy to recommend products when you have personally experienced the benefits and witnessed the same on others. Educate your clients so they know the advantages, when to use and how to apply the different products for self-care at home, work or when traveling.

Be creative and let your clients know you are proudly offering professional quality items for their personal use. During a regular session, let clients experience the benefits of new products at no additional charge. Ask clients to share samples with friends, family and coworkers. Topical analgesics and aromatherapy are great gift ideas for those living with pain and stress.

Be ready to close the deal by making it easy for consumers to pay. Most clients want to pay with a credit card and that can lead to larger sales. You simply swipe the card on your smart phone, the money is deposited directly into your checking account and the transaction can be integrated with your accounting software to track sales and taxes.

People want to know why they hurt, how you can help and what they can do for themselves. Like other healthcare providers, we must educate the public and present solutions. Dentists offer free x-rays and oral exams to new patients. Chiropractors offer free x-rays and spinal exams. You should offer a free postural assessment with photos to new and existing clients. Just like the dentist and chiropractor place a dollar value on the x-rays and exam, the postural assessment could be a $75 or $125 value. Additionally, use myofascial trigger point pain charts to clarify client's subjective complaints and support your objective findings.

You know the treatment techniques and products that will help your clients the most. Education is the fundamental principle that must be applied to your therapy and the other products you sell. It is easy to earn additional income without working more hours by promoting the products you are already using and the repeat business continually adds to the bottom line.

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