Top tips for establishing and promoting a thriving massage practice:
Have you recently qualified from your massage training and need to establish a thriving massage therapy business? Or have you been a working Massage Therapist for a while and your practice is too quiet and you need to give it a boost? Check out our top tips below for creating and promoting a thriving massage practice.
One of the most effective tried-and-tested methods we have used and hear about repeatedly is networking with your local residents. This can include designing and printing a great quality leaflet which you can then drop from door to door.
A good leaflet should have clear information about what type of massage therapy you offer. List all of your qualifications: Sports Massage Therapist. Reflexologist, Massage Therapist, Deep Tissue Massage etc. Write an inspiring biography explaining why they should come and see you, a photo with you smiling and looking welcoming, information on pricing, easy-to-read lettering and a font that stands out so if you have a background under your writing, make sure that the lettering is easy to read for everyone – ask a few friends of varying ages and eyesight.
Print up some business cards. Have the important information on the front – your name, qualifications, phone number, website, email address etc. On the back, have room for making a note of the next appointment. This helps people remember you and if they recommend you, they might have your business card in their wallet or purse. Have some business cards on you as often as possible, you never know when you might see an opportunity to leave some, for example in a shop window or a reception area.
These days, it is really useful to have a website. This can be very basic – just one landing page will do – this could have all the same information and a photo like your leaflet. This can be easy and quite cheap to set up. You may also wish to do social media – if you like this already – but it may not be the best and most efficient way to get clients initially and quickly so don’t give more time to that than networking locally.
Once you have a website up and running – make sure you also have a Google business profile – this should be fairly easy to set up. You then need to get google reviews. With every new client, ask for their email address and permission to occasionally contact them this way. Do not send emails more than once per week – everyone is busy these days and even with promotional discounts and offers, once per week is ample. Definitely reassure them that you will never give their email address out to anyone else and don’t use it for any purpose other than your massage practice and related activities.
Word of mouth is key. This might include some discounts or promotions. A great one is to encourage your clients to return by offering maybe a 50% discount for the first two massages or a discount for the second and third massages. As soon as you can get your massage clients to recognise how helpful regular massage is in their life and for whatever aches/pains/symptoms they have, the more they will value and then prioritise the time and money to have regular massage treatments in their life.
Educate yourself and share with your clients the health and well-being benefits of regular massage. At the end of each session, recommend when you think they should ideally return for another appointment. Be confident!
You may wish to offer a “refer a friend” discount – maybe they get 50% off their next massage and their friend gets 50% off their first massage.
Once you start having clients that are returning and enjoying your massage, do ask for a google review – send them the link to do this to make this as simple a process as possible and also ask for a testimonial for your website. These days, video testimonials are getting really popular for social media promotion but that is quite a big ask – however, some clients might be up for that.
Are there any residents’ newsletters that get dropped door to door that you could promote in? You may only wish to do this at peak “take-up” times which tend to be January (new year’s resolutions) and September/October (when people get a sense of new beginnings and new routines). August generally and other school holidays tend to be a bit quieter as so many people are away so these aren’t great times to do any paid promotions.
To help move your website up the search engines, you need to consider writing blogs. These could be anything that your clients might be interested in – for example, tips for self-care, exercises that you find useful and articles promoting health and well-being. Make it authentic though – use things that you personally have an interest in.
Connect with other local healthcare practitioners. Contact other practitioners near you whose services complement what you are offering, for example, reflexologists, acupuncturists, chiropractors and physiotherapists. Let them know what you are offering and suggest a mutual referral process. Ask if you could send them some of your leaflets and offer to take some of theirs.
Add your details to any free listing sites you can find on the internet. The more you get your name out there, the more it is seen.
Perhaps consider a customer reward scheme. You could maybe offer a free massage after 10 paid massages. People love discounts and freebies, so make sure if you are going to do this, you mention it when networking or promoting your practice.
You could offer packages, for example, 6 massages for the price of 5. Again, people love discounts and freebies, you get the money up front in your account, and the security that you can work with that particular client for a number of sessions. Make sure you think about terms and conditions though. There should be a time limit for receiving all the massages, plus a non-refundable and non-transferable policy.
You might like to consider offering packages for particularly special occasions – Valentine’s, Easter, Christmas etc
Offer gift vouchers. These can be one-offs or packages too. People are always looking for enjoyable experiences to give as gifts rather than material objects.
Maybe consider having an online booking system. This will work well for some of you. Some clients like being able to see what days and times are available and the convenience of booking and paying online. These online bookings then send out reminder emails in advance of the session. Make sure your cancellation policy is available to view or detailed in the booking system.
Even if you don’t offer online bookings, do send out reminder texts or emails of appointments. This reduces the no-shows and wasted appointment times. Make sure you set out your cancellation policy clearly when you start your massage practice and let everyone know when they book their first appointment to avoid your time being wasted and you losing money.
Specialising can be really helpful. Have you got a particular interest in some area that you would like to specialise in, for example, pre and post-massages for running or other sports; pregnancy or the elderly, or other symptom-based specialisms may be that you or a close family member had support for? There are often support groups for different conditions that you could network with. Be authentic though – don’t think what could be lucrative or convenient, go for what you feel passionate about and what fires you up. Inauthenticity is easy to spot and isn’t great for yourself or your clients.
Don’t be afraid to specialize, and then leverage that speciality by networking with healthcare professionals to get clients. There’s no need to compete with fancy day spas offering relaxation massages when you can get all the work you can handle working with sports injuries, pregnant women, fibromyalgia patients, geriatric patients or any other speciality clients.
If you like social media, then there are lots of avenues to explore. Videos are really popular these days. So posting reels on Instagram could be good. Setting up a YouTube channel where you can post videos based on your health-related interests which maybe relate to the blogs you are sharing. There are lots of websites that share free information about how to promote yourself through social media – look out for these on your social media feeds. Again, keep authentic, if you don’t want to do this, or don’t like these ways of promoting, it will feel like way more work than is useful for you and you don’t want to get disheartened when promoting your work.
And finally, look after yourself. When you are looking after others, it’s really important to make sure your needs are well taken care of, or you will just incur tiredness, which can lead to burnout and eventually losing all motivation for your massage practice.
Make sure you get enough support. Try and keep in contact with any good connections you made on your massage course. Peer support as well as any support you can get from current massage therapist friends can really help you when you have challenges within your massage practice, either with clients or with running your massage therapy business.
Keep your energy and motivation alive and happening. Sign up to more training or any CPD workshops and courses that take your interest. Your clients can sense when you love your work. So continue to train and continue to be passionate. Check out our post-graduate trainings in Sports Massage and Reflexology or our one day workshops in Onsite/Chair Massage and Deep Tissue Massage.
At the College of Classical Massage we are always happy to support our Massage Therapist graduates via email, Facebook or over the phone. Keep in touch with us and try and get along to one of our Massage Practitioner Support Groups if you can – where you get some contact with other massage therapists as well as boost your confidence and revisit or learn some massage techniques.
Prioritise yourself before others. Life is meant to be enjoyed not endured.