In the beginning of every massage practice (and along the way), there’s a decision to be made. What services and modalities will be on the menu? This decision says so much about us and yet, we often don’t give it enough careful consideration. Getting this right makes all the difference in setting ourselves apart and attracting the best clients for us.
What do you love?
There should not be anything you provide to clients that you don’t love doing. We may think we have to offer Swedish massage and other general modalities because we’re expected to. The downside here is that schlepping through techniques you don’t actually want to do will be noticeable. Perhaps only on a very subtle level, but something won’t feel right. If you don’t love it, let it go no matter how essential it may seem.
When I opened my current practice, I wasn’t confident enough in my ability to build a practice solely with ashiatsu. Even though doing massage with my hands was no longer serving me (I had a back injury that flared up bending over the table), I had traditional injury massage on my menu so I would appeal to more people. Over time, my injury clients got curious and tried ashiatsu. Once they did, they never booked a hands-on massage again, which leads to the next criteria.
What’s most popular?
Giving clients what they want makes them happy. I suppose there’s a chance that your most popular service could be something you don’t enjoy, but that seems pretty unlikely. More often than not, your most popular offering(s) are what you do with joy and complete presence. That’s why clients like them so much.
I recently took 30-minute massages off my menu. I wanted a lower cost option available to accommodate tighter budgets and a shorter service people could grab on their lunch break. Since I opened, I haven’t booked more than three a year. Obviously, they’re not desirable enough to keep offering.
What makes you the most money?
Some treatments require additional supplies, which makes them more expensive to offer. Doing more of them may be enough to offset that or you’ll need to charge more for those to make it worth it. Depending on how your schedule is organized, there may be a length of service that’s more profitable.
To calculate which length of service is your most (and least) profitable, divide the amount you charge by the amount of time allocated for treatment combined with the time afterward used for prep/clean up. You may be surprised to find longer appointments aren’t necessarily making you more money. The amount I make per service from my membership clients (25% off visits once a month or more) doesn’t vary enough to matter (literally, the difference is one cent per minute for each length of service). Since 90-minute appointments maximize my schedule, I set up my online scheduling to make more of those available (they also happen to be the most popular).
Cutting things out of our menu can bring up some resistance. Often, it’s because we’re basing our decisions on outdated business advice or don’t want to exclude anyone from our practices. Some common challenges with this can be:
We don’t want our time and money wasted.
Massage school and continuing education are expensive! Of course we want to earn back what we spent. I took a manual lymphatic drainage course thinking it would be in demand, only to find most clients wanted something more mainstream. I wasn’t serving a specific enough population to utilize those skills. Should that be the case for you, chalk it up to experience and begin investing your continuing education dollars in building on the skills your clients want most.
We want to appeal to as many people as possible.
Trying to please everybody is a common marketing trap that leads to lots of one-time client visits. When we own what we love to do and articulate who we serve best, we attract more clients seeking our expertise. Get clear on what you excel at and promote it to provide a client experience geared toward those who need you most.
We want to appear well-educated.
Just because we learned something in school or took a weekend workshop does not make us proficient. Nobody wants to get reflexology from someone who has to review their notes. If you haven’t done a modality you offer in six months, it’s time to refresh your skills or take it off the menu.
Clients like having choices but too many actually backfires. Personally, I’d draw the line at five. Since I started giving only ashiatsu massage, my confidence has grown and my practice has strengthened. Plus, it makes it so easy to weed out the people I’m not a good fit for which makes me more available for those who are. Sharing my passion and boldly scaling back has done nothing but benefit the practice that I love!
How many different modalities/services do you offer? If you don’t see a comment box below, please click the Leave a comment/comments link to share. Thank you!