Massage & Bodywork

May/June 2011

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ten for today BY REBECCA JONES HOW TO EARN EXTRA $ With tough economic times forcing even committed massage clients to cut back on the frequency of their visits, massage therapists are looking for new ways to generate additional income. Expanding the types of products and services you offer is one way to draw new business. And while you're at it, think about expanding where, as well as what, your practice is. Think about how you could go to where the customers are, rather than waiting for the customers to come to you. Inexpensive and cost-effective new ways of marketing can help boost that bottom line. Here are 10 points to ponder while looking to bring in more revenue. 1. CHAIR MASSAGE CAN BRING IN MORE CLIENTS Massage is an imminently portable service, and chair massage can open up even more new vistas for consumer access than table massage. It's quick and inexpensive for the rushed or cost-conscious consumer, and since it doesn't involve taking off any clothing, it requires little more than some open floor space. The chair massage market is divided roughly into three categories: one-time events, the workplace, and retail centers. Providing chair massage at events is the most popular and the easiest to get started doing. "People have done chair massage at everything from weddings to birthday parties to Christmas parties," says David Palmer, founder of the TouchPro Institute, and the pioneer of chair massage as a modality. "The great thing about it is that the numbers of places where you can utilize it is limited only by your imagination. And it's a good place for logging bodies 84 massage & bodywork early in your career, when you need to touch as many bodies as possible." As a rule, $1 a minute is often the going rate for a chair massage, though as with everything, location is a big determinant of cost, and consumers will pay more at upscale events in big cities than they will in smaller towns or less posh venues. Marie Scalogna-Watkinson, owner of the New York-based Spa Chicks on the Go, which specializes in upscale spa parties for corporate clients, suggests pricing a chair massage at the same hourly rate as a table massage. "The affordability piece comes into the fact that several people can share a time slot and not have to commit to the full hour," she says. 2. CULTIVATE CORPORATE CUSTOMERS When approaching a corporate business to offer your services, prepare thoroughly, and be clear about the space you'll need, the time commitment you'd like, and the payment plan you'd prefer. While these relationships might be a little tricky to negotiate, they can pay big dividends. "In the workplace, you have the option of each individual paying for a massage or you being paid by the hour," Palmer says. "The advantage of being paid by the hour is knowing just how much you'll make before you step into the situation. That's always the first choice." Some therapists take this customarily portable modality and make it stationary. Booths, kiosks, or small retail areas in shopping malls, airports, and other high-traffic pedestrian areas can support more permanent chair massage operations. "The retail area is the one that has been the least may/june 2011 mined, but has the most potential for chair massage," Palmer says. 3. HOW MUCH YOU INVEST DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH If you're looking at chair massage just as a marketing tool for your table practice, then you'll want to invest in a lower- end chair, which you can find for under $200. But if you think chair massage could become an important arm of your practice, then look at something more substantial. A really good massage chair can cost $300 to $500. Other expenses are limited. For chair massage, you won't need massage oils, linens, or some of the other items associated with table massage, but you will need a supply of hand wipes and face covers, and a nearby trash receptacle since you'll be changing face covers after every client. "There are a lot of little things you have to prepare for," Palmer says. "Things as simple as making sure you have a place to put people's glasses while they're sitting in the chair." Above all, you need to have some awareness of chair massage techniques, which differ from table massage techniques. Palmer recommends taking a hands-on workshop, which many massage schools offer for continuing education credits. 4. ENTICE CLIENTS TO BUY MORE THAN A MASSAGE Sales from add-on products can quickly add 35 percent or more to your net profit, and some spas actually pull in more from product sales than from massage fees.

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