The topic of discounting massage services has come up recently in a couple of Facebook groups I’m a member of. It seems there are two main camps: those who never discount and those who do so freely. Since I believe there are many ways to have a successful practice, the question isn’t whether you discount or not but WHY you do what you do.
I absolutely respect providers who never discount their services. Sometimes, though, this strategy can backfire and create lack instead of abundance. As long as your philosophy feeds your soul and your business is successful, then all is well. If not, consider:
- If it comes from a fear of being perceived as unskilled or unprofessional.
- If you’re afraid of being taken advantage of.
- If you’re seeking a certain demographic only to find it’s not a good fit.
Discounting freely can also be a detriment, especially if it comes from:
- A lack of self-worth.
- Fear you won’t have enough clients if you charge too much.
- A competitive attitude toward other massage therapists.
I discount almost every service I provide simply because it works for my business. My goal is to meet clients where they are because as much as we may not like it, massage is not considered a basic necessity by most of them. The easier it fits into their budget, the more likely they will visit frequently.
I want clients who come in often enough to truly benefit from massage, which is similar to working out. If you only work out occasionally, your level of fitness isn’t going to improve. Getting a handful of massages a year is the least number most clients I’ve worked with can receive while building on the last session’s progress.
By offering a discount to all clients who visit every month (or more) I’m giving them incentive to stay on schedule. This keeps me busy and in demand, which also gets some clients who are slow to commit on board because they can’t get in unless they book ahead. The more appointments I have booked, the more money I make and the more people I help.
Offering discounts doesn’t affect the way clients perceive the treatment you provide. After a lively Facebook discussion about referral discounts, I asked my clients if they thought the massage they receive is a luxury, therapy or both. None of them answered “luxury.” They value the results they get and know it’s important to stay on track to maintain them.
The trick to making this work is to set your regular fees high enough that the discounted price brings in adequate income for you. Clients like to feel special and being a member of this “club” creates that vibe. You can still have price increases or change the percentage of discount as your schedule fills or financial needs change. Clients who love you and whose lives are better because of the time you spend together will navigate those changes as your practice evolves.
One discount I no longer offer is a first-time client discount. I found it didn’t attract enough of the kinds of clients I enjoy and work well with. Instead, I charge my full fee for the first appointment. If the client returns the next month (or sooner), they get a discount on their second visit. This generally keeps those interested in ongoing treatment coming (especially Groupon clients).
Regardless of where you stand now, you can always switch sides or find a happy medium. However you decide to run your business, it will serve you as long as your motivation is based on being of service rather than fear. I’m confident in my abilities and honored that many of my clients make sacrifices to stay on their treatment schedule. Providing the best massage I can while giving incentives to visit often is the foundation of the practice that I love!
Do you offer discounts or not and why? If you don’t see a comment box below, click the Leave a comment link to share. Thank you!