Massage & Bodywork

May/June 2010

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BUSINESS SIDE want to upgrade to 90 minutes for the next few sessions. When someone who has received a gift certificate makes an appointment, upsell to them since the appointment isn't costing anything and they're more inclined to spend a little of their own money in order to extend the session or enhance it with an add-on service. SHARE SPACE If you're a lone practitioner, surely there are times when you're not using your office. Yet, you still have the overhead 24/7. Why not optimize the space? Get another practitioner to share your facility. Are you a morning person? Someone out there wants to work in the evenings. Someone could be there on your days off. It doesn't even have to be another massage therapist. It could be any other type of holistic practitioner. By sharing the space and charging a percentage, or a flat rental rate, you'll bring in additional income and make maximum use of something for which you're already paying. SELL PRODUCTS Selling products can mean retailing or getting involved with multi- level marketing (selling products and signing up new distributors). Either method can supplement your income, with a couple of caveats. First and foremost, marketing products to clients places you in the position of being in a dual relationship—therapist and salesperson. As long as you don't pressure anyone to buy anything or tell them they "need" to be taking so-and-so (prescribing is prohibited, even more so than pressure selling), you'll come out on top. Selling items you actually use in your practice is ideal—the essential oils, the buckwheat neck pillow, the hot/ cold packs, or other items. If they've ACCEPT INSURANCE If your state laws allow massage therapists to bill medical insurance, and you possess the necessary skills, you can realize an instant increase in business by publicizing that. Be forewarned that the paperwork can be time-consuming; you must keep meticulous notes and be timely about filing. You must also have enough of a cash flow to sustain you while you wait for the insurance reimbursement. Don't get in over your head by taking on too many cases at once. You have to have a certain amount of cash coming in to be able to meet your obligations. I avoid taking personal injury cases and workers' compensation cases, based on my past experience of not getting the full amount billed and having to wait too long for the money. In the case of workers' compensation, you probably won't be told up front how much money they are going to allow for treatment, and the law prohibits you from billing the client for the amount they refuse to pay. In the case of personal injury cases, those have been known to drag on for years, and massage therapists tend to be at the bottom of the payment heap when the case is settled, behind hospitals, doctors, specialists, and the attorney. It's not the path to prosperity. ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS Credit card acceptance is almost expected of any business. If you're not yet set up to accept them, get on the ball. Check with your bank to see if it will provide you with a processor at no charge other than transaction fees. It should. Run from any company that wants to lease you a machine; any credit card processor you are going to do business with should provide the machine at no charge. Some companies even allow you to use your Touch- Tone telephone for transactions, which makes it feasible for people who do outcalls. Shop around for the best deal. Transaction fees and service charges vary widely from company to company. When you accept credit cards, you open your business to more people who may not have the cash on hand to pay for an appointment. And if you're selling packages, how many clients are carrying around several hundred dollars in cash to pay you? Most people prefer to use debit cards in the interest of saving trees and leaving the checkbook at home. actually experienced it and you've inherently approved it, clients are more likely to be interested and buy it. Second, you're trying to bring money in, so be careful about investing in a huge amount of inventory you may not be able to sell. Test the retail waters by starting out slowly, buying just a few items, and keeping a low inventory. Better to order a little, and often, than to order a huge amount and be stressed because you haven't gotten your money back as quickly as you had hoped. CUT YOUR EXPENSES The best way to cut costs is to analyze your expenses line by line, with a hard look at economizing wherever possible. Perhaps you've never thought of asking your landlord to cut the rent, but one enterprising therapist recently told me she did just that. The recession had affected her business, and she was looking at moving to a cheaper (although less ideal) location. When she mentioned her challenges to her landlord, he told her she had been such a good tenant that he didn't want to lose her. He actually cut her rent in half. This scenario is just proof that it never hurts to ask. 22 massage & bodywork may/june 2010

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