Help Clients Understand the Value of Unique, Signature Treatments

By Ann Brown, LMT

Help Clients Understand the Value of Unique, Signature Treatments

By Ann Brown, LMT

The unique selling point is a basic element of establishing your business. So, what's your unique selling point? How do you differentiate your massage business from the one down the street? Spas often find the answer in exotic treatments. From gold body masks to caviar facials, spas strive to offer the most unique and luxurious therapies to catch prospective guests' attention. So, with all the fancy therapies available, why is the Swedish massage still the most popular treatment on the menu? Because it's reliable. A treatment that guests trust.

Spa guests on vacation are more likely to try something new than local massage therapy clients, but Swedish massage remains number one on spa menus. In today's tough economy, spa and massage clients alike want to know what they are getting for their money. They want a treatment they know will be consistent with their past experiences, one that is a safe choice. Swedish massage fits the bill, particularly for newcomers to massage or spa therapy.

Exotic treatments catch attention, but they can be hard sells for first-time clients. In any business, it is good to sell your point of differentiation, but you have to keep your uniqueness in perspective and understand that the treatments you showcase aren't always your most popular. In the spa or massage industry, sometimes treatments are so exotic, they are a very hard sell for a first-time spa guest.

This challenge doesn't mean you turn away from differentiating your treatment menu. You do need to develop your services to reflect your distinctive passions for therapy, your education or even your heritage. By doing so, you create a more interesting, engaging business for your client to connect with and a more diverse service offering to keep your clients coming back for more. Just remember that, when offering a service that is not as mainstream as Swedish, you have a learning curve to address with your clients.

At the spa, we find that many guests are more likely to try something new when they understand the treatment. When they are educated about the treatment's benefits and know the treatment will meet their expectations, we lessen the unknown factor for them. When a client calls in for an appointment, you have the opportunity of conversation to up sell them from a Swedish massage into another treatment, but the phone is very rarely the prospective client's first point of contact with your business. The treatment descriptions on your web site and printed menu are key in educating the client on your more unique services.

Strive to create meaningful treatment descriptions that are both therapeutic and benefits-oriented. You want the client to feel the treatment on the surface and understand the benefits that lie beneath. Conveying this balanced, benefits-oriented modality doesn't stop with the description. It also must resonate with the practitioner or massage therapist performing the therapy. Your staff must believe 100 percent in the treatment/modality and feel confident in their training and certification, that they are qualified to deliver this exceptional, health-impacting experience.

If you offer a distinct, unusual treatment on your menu, you must make sure as many of your staff as possible are qualified to perform it. I have seen countless times where a spa has a very unique, "signature" treatment and only one or two therapists are certified to perform it. If those therapists are already booked for other appointments, or have the day off, the spa has to turn down the guest's request for their signature treatment. It doesn't matter if the spa is small (up to five treatment rooms) or very large (30 or more treatment rooms), if they can't deliver the promise they have established in their signature spa experience, the client is let down because their expectations are not met. Under-delivering is not a good beginning of a relationship. The potential guest does not usually rebook and it's not a great reflection on the spa/massage industry in general.

It is imperative that you have trained/qualified/certified staff to perform your signature treatment(s). Make sure they are knowledgeable about the description and the outcome of the treatment. Equip them with some home strategies to share with the client, to show how to keep the treatment benefits working for them at home. Clients should be leaving with homework or follow-up – show them you truly care that they continue on their path of wellness and prevention. This reaching out beyond the massage table is a very good opportunity to try and schedule a client's next appointment, re-booking a treatment that may be tailored to their specific needs or in line with their goals of stress reduction, muscle tension relief or any specific challenge that a massage/treatment could address. 

Building a relationship and giving some specific goals builds a future client that is willing to try more than a basic massage. It is almost impossible to build a relationship after a massage with no dialogue, so it is imperative that the practitioner can give the client a few moments of personalized attention. I realize this "communication" time is not always possible, and in those cases I suggest having some copies of stretches, info from credible sources and even some retail products set aside with a brief, "how to use" description for at home use.

The client today wants personalization and some education about their bodies and further remedies to prevent disease. Whether it is a signature treatment or a basic Swedish, it is up to the practitioner to help the client with their goals. Massage is not a tangible item and once consumed by the guest, they will often ponder, "Was it worth it?" I think the details and simple extra touches can help in today's competitive market, in addition to strong relationships established with favorite therapists. These touches would include a heated massage table, a signature hot/cold beverage before or after the treatment, a foot cleansing, a specific scalp massage or a discount on the day of treatment for a single or multiple retail items. Show the client they are special and they cannot get all of these special details somewhere else. Give them a discount to book another treatment in the next 30 days. Be there to help them make decisions to further their health care.