Enjoy the video of Retail Mastery for the Holidays and throughout the Year.
Karen: Hello, and welcome to today’s Massage Magazine educational webinar, Retail Mastery for the holidays and throughout the year presented by Massage business expert Cherie Sohnen-Moe. I’m Karen Menehan, editor in chief of Massage Magazine. Cherie Sohnen-Moe is a business coach and international workshop leader. She is the current president of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education and she is also the author of “Business Mastery” and “Present Yourself Powerfully” and the co-author of “The Ethics of Touch”. In today’s webinar, Cherie will explain how to choose products that are aligned with your personal wellness philosophy, how to display and package merchandise for sale and how to creatively sell product when you do an out call. If you have any questions during the webinar, enter them on the webinar screen and Cherie will answer every question we have time for. So welcome, Cherie. We’re ready for you to begin your presentation on Retail Mastery for the Holidays and throughout the year.
Cherie: Thank you, Karen. It’s such a pleasure to be here. I am very passionate about how retailing supports therapist to increase their income, and also provides their clients with products to extend their treatment benefits to home. And so today as Karen said we’re going to explore a multitude of ideas to help you ethically solve retail problem. And best products for the holiday and it’s nice to see these ideas can be implemented whether you’re a sole practitioner or run a clinic. And also we’ll talk about some things you can do even if you have an out call practice.
I have a couple of objectives here. So just to keep you get a sense of where we’re going to go today. I am an educator so objectives that we seem to come fly up on my slide. But by the time we’re done, you’re going to be able to define your unique position, be able to enumerate three qualifications for choosing a particular product to sell, hopefully identify appropriate products that would be appropriate for you to retail, develop two holiday bundles, be able to describe five ways to setup holiday merchandising, define keystoning, maybe identify two advantages and disadvantages of retailing products, and then finally distinguishing between baking, recommending and selling.
So let’s begin with what is retailing. It’s simply the selling of products or goods. And in today’s economy wise therapists really need to look at several income stream and selling product is a very smart revenue stream choice. Retail sale, as I show here retailing equals passive income. For many therapist that’s all that they do with their retail sales. It’s not a major part of their practice. So it’s what we call passive income. You have things available, your clients buy it. Great. So you can keep it simple and then it is passive income, but we’re also going to talk about some things you can do to actively promote product sale.
First, I want to discuss the advantages of retailing. So some of you who are listening here might be still kind of on the sense about, “Well, should I do retailing? How much should I do?” But I want to cover a couple of the things. First of all, product sales really does add value to your sessions. It extends the benefits of your work to your clients at home and it increases your bottom line. Product sales is a natural extension of the standard of care and healing already associated with massage as well as other practitioners. And clients expect you to have more knowledge than they do about this product. And they’ll trust your recommendations especially those products that are used in the treatment itself. When you sell clients the right products, you help them reduce their stress and improve their health.
Now product sales also offers a valuable service to your client, because you have access to a lot of products that aren’t easily available to the general public. For instance, there are some wonderful topical treatments and self-care tools that your average client can’t find it at their local health emporium. Now, many of these products aren’t even available to retail customers. They must be purchased by a practitioner and then sold to the client. And truthfully, clients really like to get products from you, and they appreciate the convenience of purchasing from you. It can save them time so they don’t have to make a stop, to make a special trip on the way home or wait for it to be delivered. And as a bonus, what people don’t realize is sometimes retailing can actually increase the frequency of your client’s booking session. When a client uses a product at home, it reminds them of the treatment they received, and that usually inspires them to book another session. Plus, if they share those products with friends, those friends are more likely to become clients.
Now, there are also some disadvantages. Mainly there might be more paperwork, including dealing with sales tax, there’s only a couple of states where you don’t have to worry about sales tax, handling inventory, slapping your stuff around if you have an out call practice, you’re possibly getting stuff with stuff that nobody wants, products going bad and spending more time on purchasing and processing those retail sales. So there are a few issues with it. But when we think about what’s the importance of retailing is, is there are three major ways to increase the revenue in your practice, and that is to increase the number of clients you see by working more or maybe hiring other practitioners to work for you. Increase the amount that you sell in services and products to the same number of clients or raise your products to your prices. Yet, you can easily increase your income with add-on services, gift certificates and product sales. What I’m for those few that know me they’re one of my favorite things though you can do the math.
So let’s say that you have a client base of a hundred people. If you’re average selling \$50 in products to each client per year, that would increase your income by \$5000. Now, after you factor the cost of goods, shipping, maybe some promotion and your time, you should still see in that profit of at least \$2000. That’s pretty good for just stocking a few items that your clients would like and would probably buy something similar from another company anyway. And now imagine maybe bringing in a few higher end items or increasing the average amounts that you sell each year. And you can see how quickly you can really increase your income with product sale.
So given that product sale is a natural extension of the standard of care and healing that is associated with massage, but selling products in your practice is a great way to work smarter and not harder, which is one of my other favorite sayings here. And retailing is a great diversification method, and profits from most sales can defray overhead expenses too. Now if hazardous I think physically, emotionally and financially to rely on your hands on work as a sole source of your livelihood, even more so if your work requires intensity.
Now retailing is a year-end activity although the holidays are a great time for people who haven’t included retailing to dive into it. And it’s a great opportunity for others to ramp up their sales. Let us start with share some statistics that I recently got. This was from the National Federation Survey for 2015. And these things can kind of help you plan your holiday retailing campaign. The average person spent \$800 during the holidays, \$600 on gifts for themselves and about \$200 on decorations and food. Some of us spend a little more than that. Seventy-seven percent of the people took advantage of deals for themselves. So that doesn’t include that \$800. And so that adds up even more than that. And 46% of holiday shopping happen online with 21% of shoppers using mobile devices. And this is what’s really important to also have we’re doing gift certificates and things to make sure that you’re able to sell those online. And the other statistics that I thought was very interesting is more than 50% of the people want gift card. They don’t want you to pick up the item for you, they want a gift card. And you can do gift cards with a massage therapy also.
Now while some people are savvy shoppers and purchases gifts throughout the year, I know some of my friends they have this little closet and they just keep buying things throughout the year. Some majority of us wait to buy their gifts until the holiday seasons is in full swing. And this chart here illustrates when consumers start their holiday shopping. So before September you’ve got less than 10% of men and a little 15% of women that have already started shopping. In September there’s a little bit of people. October, it starts to jump. October, you have about 20% in both. November, about 40% in both. So when you think about that the majority of the shopping is done by the end of November, the first two weeks in December there’s still late those shoppers in 18.4% men, 12.7% women, and then the last two weeks there’s a very few people that are still shopping. So right after this webinar, I really encourage you to review your marketing campaign and implement them to start in November at the latest.
Now I want to touch a little bit on ethics. Some practitioners are concerned about the ethics involvement in retailing. And I really do think you should be fine as long as you manage your product sales in the same manner as the rest of your practice. Ethical product sales are not about hype or hard sale tactics. There are times in ethical practice such as aggressive sales techniques or misinformation can characterize product sales. So it’s really fortunately not professional, this is exception rather than a rule. But nevertheless, you must be cautious when selling products, because the power differential does exist.
The next thing I wanna talk about is your unique position. As a massage practitioner, you have a unique position with your clients and retailing is simply another avenue of supporting your clients in their wellness. And some of the contributing elements to this unique position are the following. Knowledge, you have a broad knowledge based of techniques and products that can help clients achieve their wellness score. Experience, the longer you work with any given client, the more experience you have in what works and doesn’t work for that client. Built-in-trust, as a practitioner, your clients’ well-being is literally in your hands. And because of the nature of therapy and of relationship you have built-in-trust. Time is also another factor; most therapist spend usually an hour or sometimes more with their client’s every time they see them. And hopefully you see your clients on a regular basis. This is very unique; most people spend very little time with their wellness provider. And unlike other health care providers, massage therapist spends quality time with their clients, just provide you with ample opportunities to build rapport, establish credibility and entertain your client’s needs and wants.
You also have the power to help and recommend. Because you have intimate knowledge of a client’s need, their goals, their wants, their condition and then when you combine that with your product knowledge that really put you in the position to truly help clients and make some recommendation. So we’re not talking about just selling things just to sell them, we want to sell, as I said earlier, sell the right things to the right people at right time. Besides helping your clients, you also get to earn extra income. So it’s a win-win. Now, since majority of the products you sell are directly related to wellness that is totally win-win. Now, you might have a few other products, but sometimes I think those little fun gifts and stress reduction things are also health related.
The simplicity, what’s really lovely is you don’t need to be a retail store. You can just stock a handful of key items. As a matter of fact, I really recommend you not to be like a retail store. I remember one time I went into somebody’s practice within Florida and it looked like a health food store in there. And I was really concerned because I didn’t think that person probably had the knowledge to be selling those kinds of products to begin with. And it didn’t feel right. Had she had a handful of items, she probably would have sold more. Now, space also, you don’t need a large store front. As I said when earlier, you can even sell products when doing out calls. You can purchase one of those rolling display case that opens up and the products are sort of neatly arranged for your clients to see. Now, you can even use the top of the case to display items and hold your session supply for sure, and maybe any kind of announcements that you might have.
So in summary what makes you stand out from the crowd is that you know your client’s needs, and you can match the services and products that can help those clients. You sell professional, great products. That’s really important. There might be something that you carry that people can’t get anywhere. But probably, the majority of products that you are going to be carrying are professional grade, but the other thing is you do provide convenience.
Now clients get massage for many reason ranging from stress reduction, to injury rehab, to pure pampering. Regardless of the reasons clients go to your treatment room, it’s really nice when they leave with that, “haa” feeling. And you can extend that feeling of with by sending your clients hone with products. All really understands that and they garner a large percentage of income from product sales. And because you’ll be educating clients on self-care rather than doing hard sales, you can sell retail products as part of your massage practice just like spas do. So while using retail products is not the same as getting a session from you, those products can help extend the benefits of your work between sessions for your client.
So the four keys to effectively extending those treatment benefits to home care require that you properly assess your clients’ need. So are you doing thorough treatment plan? Are you finding out what’s important to them, are you taking the time to match up the potential products that are going to meet those needs? Also educating clients on the proper use of those products and maybe they might be contraindications that you need to mention or restrictions also. So take the time to let them know. And then inspire the clients to use the products at home. Sometimes just making a suggestion as to how and when they could use that product really makes a difference in whether they do or not.
So far we’ve covered what is retailing, we’ve talked about passive income, we talked about how retailing is a great diversification message, we’ve covered the advantages of retailing, product sales benefits, natural extension of the standard of care, how you have access to high quality items, your convenience, how you can actually increase bookings by having product sales. We’ve also talked about the disadvantages of the retailing, the paperwork, inventory management. We’ve also talked about the importance of retailing, the three main ways to increase your revenue. That’s when I talked about doing the math. And then also how selling products really is a natural extension of the standard of care. Whether you have access to high quality items, it’s really important to understand that the convenience you provide is priceless. Also the other advantage of retailing is it in itself can increase your bookings. So the importance of retailing, again, three ways to increase revenue and working smarter and not harder. We also covered some holiday statistics, and your unique position and how you can help clients extend the benefits of your work to home.
So the next slide is I want to talk about choosing products. There are so many products out there that you can sell. And as you’ll be able to see in the next couple of slides as long as local statutes permits, and I’ve done some research here and there and I’ve never found anything on any of the state’s regulation from massage about any restriction for products sales. Now, I’m sure it could exist and I haven’t done every single one and that’s not something that I check often, because there really hasn’t been anything there. So as long as there’s nothing prohibiting it, it’s entirely appropriate for a massage therapist to sell health care products that are designed to assist in the relief of pain and promote well-being. Plus, it’s also to find these ancillary items that are fun or make for unique gifts. Now, I have interviewed a lot of people on the types of products they sell and what seems to work best. And the most successful items are those that help clients with pain issues, home self-care products and gift items.
So in terms of relaxation and self-care, you might want to consider carrying products such as maybe an air purifying spray, eye pillow, some hot and cold pack, maybe some relaxation tool, self-massage tools, other kinds of health care items, essential oil, scrub, body butters, foot balm, lip balm, bath soap, maybe some locally produced tinctures. I know here in Tucson we have somebody who makes flower essences from local plants. Also it’s fine to sell things like candles and music, stretching books and bands. Some people even go for the whole pampering way and sell robes and slippers. And then also for relaxation and self-care that’s where the gifts would come into play.
Now, there are many products that fall into the category of management, pain management such as a topical analgesic, some ergonomic devices, support pillows, as well as some of the items we listed in the previous slide such as hot and cold pack and self-massage tool.
Now, how do you choose the right product? It’s really important to carefully consider what product to use. So when choosing the right products one of the first things I recommend is that you choose one that’s not commonly sold, that it’s unique and it’s an extension of your work. Now ideally, you would use some of these items in your session so your clients associate those items with the experiences of your massage. And when we talk about baking a little lot later we’ll talk about how to actually do that specifically. But the product you choose should have a reasonable profit margin. I know there’s some people out there that buy things and turn them around and don’t mark them up. It’s okay to do that every once in a while, as a special favor for a client. But it cost you, it cost you time, it cost you a lot of other energy, not just the money that you pay to purchase product. So there needs to be a reasonable profit margin, it needs to be beneficial, you need to believe in it. And ideally there’s something your clients need or want.
Now, occasionally, you might also carry items that’s easy to find, but you want to make it available for convenience so that your client doesn’t have to stop on their way home. Now, a primary example of this is Epsom salt. I know that many practitioners recommend that their clients go home and take an Epsom salt bath after the session, particularly if there was a vigorous session or the client maybe had a lot of holding patterns or trigger points. I’m sure you can think of other examples of commonly found items that would be helpful to sell anyway.
Now, the holiday season can be stressful, and choosing holiday gifts can be mind boggling. I suggest you provide retail options for your clients that make it easy for them to give to friends and family. I would offer gift options and several price ranges maybe \$10 to \$20, some in the \$25 to \$50, maybe \$55 to \$100, and even some packages that are \$100 or more. Now, your retail display should offer ready to give products that are visually appealing. You can bundle packages with items that you might not normally sell during the rest of the year. Maybe such as a small boxes of local organic chocolates or CDs with instrumental holiday music, maybe some holiday mugs or holiday spice blends or hot coco mix. On the side note, you can effectively generate new clients with these retail packages by including a business card, and an invitation for an open house or may be a complementary mini session to generate interest. So whenever you sell retail gift packages, I also recommend you include an option to add a gift certificate for a massage or any other services that you offer at your office. And on the flip side whenever you sell gift certificates include a product, maybe it’s something like a product sample, like a topical analgesic sachet, small bottle of items you typically sell in large containers like essential oil maybe or custom scented oil for the lotion or sports cream. You could do that also with the holiday items such as plants or a candle, or health related items such as a stress balls, a self-massage tool, a book maybe one there’s a little pocket chart that shows reflexology points or an eye pillow. So by doing this, you provide a means of instant gratification. The recipient can use that product immediately. Plus, you plan to see if that people can buy wellness products from you, and then of course they have the certificate. So we want to be starting to be looking at how do we integrate product sales with our gift certificate sales.
So let’s start talking about how do you do product research. First, start by getting feedback from your client. Your clients are your best source of information for what they want. Survey your clients as what they would like you to carry then maybe at the end of the session you could ask for the input, send them a survey card that they fill up before they leave, maybe perhaps give them like a 10% discount off any product purchased that day. You can e-mail them a survey as a separate part of your mailings or may be part of your newsletter. And then also review your clients’ files to see what their goals and issues are and match those up with possible items to sell. I suggest that you go through your file and you really keep another list and you just say, “Okay. This item would be good, this item would be good, this item would be good.” And you do that for every client. And you put little checkmarks next to how many clients that will be good for. And if you see one or two items that, “Oh my gosh, half of my clients that will be helpful for them.” That’s probably an item that would be a good one for you to stock.
I also really recommend attending expo. Conferences are a great place to see a variety of items you could sell in your practice. You get to see them, touch them, perhaps sell them and actually use the item either as the tool or apply the product. Many vendors also do demonstrations and even hold mini training sessions on how to use and sell their products at these expos. You can also usually get free samples for products and deep discount when you purchase items at these events. Also you want to read the product information sheet. You can get this from the manufacturer or in many cases you can simply download those from company’s website. Also ask other therapist about their experience with different products. Now, keep in mind that everyone has their own preferences and biases, but by talking with other practitioners they can provide you with great insight about what worked, what didn’t work, why they think it didn’t work.
I also suggest that maybe you buy small quantities at first. You see what sells quickly and then you can increase your purchases. Offer sample, many companies provide free or low cost trial packets or so sometimes they call them sachets and small size sampler. Clients love to get free product samples. And samples are a great way to introduce clients to the products you use in your treatments as well as items for home care. I suggest looking for companies that offer prepacked samples for you and always hand samples out with something containing your business name and phone number to remind clients where they’ve received the sample. So either attaching your card to it, or making a label and stick them on that as you see on the slide that we have from Bio-freeze, they will cost to make things for you at no charge if you’re selling their product. Also check for specials. The great thing about sampling is that if a client tries and likes the product, the product will sell itself. Again, we’re not about hard sales. Finally, try the product on yourself. Make sure you know how to use any product you sell. Something might sound good on people but could be cumbersome to use, maybe it smells weird, has negative side effects or isn’t very effective. So those seven research steps will help you determine the perceived value of a given product.
Next, I just want to touch on how do you find distributors. I like to find companies that I can feel comfortable with. So in addition to finding companies that produce high quality products, consider some of the following, look for the best price and do they offer price guarantee. Look for other factors such as customer service. How quickly does the product ship? What kind of shipping charges do they have? What are their return policy? You want to look for companies that support you and your marketing and selling effort. Choosing companies that back you up with tools such as brochures, eye attracting posters, point of sales displays can really make a big difference. Also, I look for manufacturers and distributors that support a massage therapy profession and understand the specialized needs of a massage therapist. I had a client once, she wasn’t in massage, she was in other field and there was a product that she wanting to sell and it was actually a very high and \$300 something product, and the company didn’t have brochures for her. And I was like, “Wait a second here. You need to have some kind of information.” So she ultimately found another company with a similar product that supported the sale. So again, select products with a healthy profit margin built in to them so that you’ll benefit financially from all your education and product marketing effort. And look for products and companies that have worked to brand themselves and are consumer driven so that the consumers would go like, “Oh, I think I’ve heard of that product.” Or, “Yes, I know somebody who has something similar.”
So when it comes to pricing I say charge a fair but profitable price. Now, your distributor or the product manufacturer should guide you with suggestions to the proper selling price for the product which is also known as the suggested retail price. Financial success in product sales require that you purchase products, that wholesale products prices and markup those prices appropriately.
Now, most retail sales use the keystoning method. Which means that you markup merchandise to an amount that is double the wholesale price. Now, some industries that’s triple, they have a different like in that clothing, it’s not keystoning, it’s a different method. So if you buy a product for let’s say \$5 then you would sell it for \$10. Now, you will find that some products offer an even better markup than that and others less. So it kind of balances out in most instances you also have to pay for shipping. And that can add up with the item that’s heavy. The other thing is that most wholesalers require a minimum order. If you’re just starting out and can’t afford a minimum I think just joining forces with other practitioners and make cooperative purchases.
So far we’ve covered a lot of information on how to choose products. And now we’re going to focus on how to actually sell those products. And we’re going to start by comparing the three sales method of baking, recommending and direct selling. Baking, I’m not talking about making you a pumpkin pie. Okay? But it’s a term that I actually first heard from Lynda Solien-Wolfe. And she is an expert in retailing, and the two of us have worked on many projects together over the years including workshops, webinars, articles and we even have a Facebook page together. But basically baking involves the following, you include a product in the treatment and the cost is part of the session. You use that product during the treatment and then you send the client home with the product. For example, let’s say you create a service called, “The Weekend Warrior Pain Relieve Retreament.” And you include a massage with a use of topical analgesic and a hot pack. And after the treatment the client goes home with the remainder of the topical analgesic and a hot pack. So let’s say your normal session rate is \$70 and the retail price of the topical is \$15 and the retail price of the heat pack is \$20. So if you add that up, doing the math, you get \$105. Now, let’s say you set the price for the special treatment at \$90. The client saves \$15 and you earn an extra \$20. It’s a win-win experience for everyone. Plus, if you include a product that needs to be replenished and the client really likes it, you have now set that up for ongoing sale which is really lovely. Unfortunately, in my business I don’t have a consumable, yeah, you buy my book you have the book. Unless you wait for the new edition to get it, to come out. But the nice thing about having products that are topicals or creams or lotions or things like that, the people use up. And so they’re going to need to buy some more.
Now recommending is the most common form of communicating about product sales. If you’re to go back to what we covered earlier about assessing your client’s needs and having the appropriate products, then recommending is natural and easy. Few things to consider are it’s wise to display your products in the waiting area, and also display a retail size of certain products in your treatment room. What I mean by that is you might have an extra-large bottle of lotion that you use, but it’s wise to nicely display the size of the bottle that the client is likely to purchase also. Be sure to do that thorough assessment and consultation with your client, because you want to avoid suggesting unwanted items. That totally destroys rapport. Provide product suggestion sheets, they are really handy particularly if you don’t have a lot of time between clients. And are often, their experience often is like a less invasive and if you actually talk directly with the client about the product. And I have a little example of what a recommendation sheet might be. You can leave the product in the activity lines fling or maybe you have a master sheet with the most common ones that you sell and if you’d likewise to customize. So you can either write down the recommended products and instructions or check off the key products. I really recommend that when you do this, you keep a copy in the client’s file as well as sending one home with the client.
Now, when you want to take a more proactive role in marketing your product, you want to consider some of these things for ways to help direct selling. Have price sheets available so your clients know that you can have them… that you can hand them out, you can have them on your newsletters, you can have them digitally. Use shelf talkers, and what those are, those little signs are equipped, they draw attention to a product. Put testers on display. If you have anything that has a fragrance, it’s a really wise to have the testers that people can have the sense of smell or to try the lotion on their hand. Mention product sales in your newsletters. Also send e-mail blasts about any new product you carry or maybe you’re running a special. Promote your products on your website and social media sites. Now, you don’t have to take online orders, but it’s wise to let clients know about the items they can purchase from you. And when you’re doing things like this on your social media sites, you can be making it more not so much salesy, but more along the lines of education like, “Here’s this product and here’s what I’m thinking about doing it.” Ask for feedback from other people, engage your readers that way. I also suggest you post signs in your office. I’d even seen practitioners post special fliers in the bathroom. Make sure that you and any staff that you have them are thoroughly knowledgeable about all the products that you sell.
So now I wanted to cover some specific creative ideas for selling products. Highlighting products. So a couple of ways to do that, maybe you put them on the tray, make a check list that you can give or send to clients. Again, make signs about the special products or holiday gift items. So instead of just posting them on the inside of doors, next to the toilet, the side of the sink and by the front desk. And mention those products in your promotional materials. That’s highlighting. Now spotlighting a product means to put your holiday items maybe in a focus area of your waiting room or again maybe in a tray in your office. One of my clients put up a Christmas tree and placed several presents of different prices that had packages of some things had one item, some things had four items, and she put it under her the tree so that clients could see. And she had an additional stock behind the counter ready for purchase. You can even attach a gift certificate to that holiday package, or you could do, if you’re doing a gift certificate, you could attach it to maybe a holiday plant or a decoration.
Create theme bundles. Maybe you can do something like a self-care theme bundle or relaxation or the new mom bundle or the stress buster bundle. For instance, let’s say one of your target market is an executive who travels frequently, you could assemble a travel kit consisting maybe with an eye pillow, massage oil and a small self-massage tool. So when assembling these bundles, you want to make sure that you offer packages that range in price so that your clients, they can feel pampered while staying in their financial comfort zone. We don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable. And like I said before, when I talked about packages, I’ll consider putting together things like something that cost \$25, something that cost \$50 and \$100 or more. Just I want to package these products attractively. You can use baskets or pretty bags, and sometimes simply just attaching a ribbon makes the purchase seems special. As I talked before you want to bundle products with gift certificates for that instant gratification and a little something for later. Some people will sell high ticket items that don’t require stocking inventory. Now, there is those great self-massage chairs that cost several thousand dollars, but you can work out a distributorship with one of those and you don’t have to stock the inventory and your clients can buy them and you get a commission. Also, use the products throughout your office building. For example, let’s say you sell soap or a lotion or air spray, make sure you place them in the bathroom for your clients to experience. And I already talked about how you bake products and services. And utilize your products during the treatment. In addition to when you’re creating a special baking treatment that use things anyway, you play a CD, apply a hot or cold pack, use those specialized topicals aroma therapy, and then you can easily sell those items to your clients because they’ve already enjoyed them. Some people have also done things like to have a client choose an aroma therapy blend for the session or maybe they customize one. And then offer those ones for sale. Sounds and scents are really strong triggers for memories. So let’s say in your session you played a certain CD, placed an eye pillow on your client’s eyes, infused your massage lubricants with an essential oil and used a special football mom massage in the client’s seat. Those are all items that clients can purchase for home use. And every time they hear, smell or feel those items, it will most likely be transported back to the last time they experienced them which would be helpfully in a state of well-being while on your table. And then finally, effectively merchandise your space. And that is the next topic we’re going to explore in more depth.
So ultimately selling products is like selling your services. It’s really about simply sharing your enthusiasm about them. You want to products on displays so clients can see, feel and smell the products. If you make your product visible, accessible, attractive and affordable your clients will buy them when it’s appropriate. Again it’s not about hard sale.
So a few tips on merchandising. Put the products on display, again, so people can see, touch, smell, feel them. Regardless of the size of your office you want your space to be attractive. Make sure that it’s organized and clean. You don’t want to need desk bunnies; you want people to be able to easily see. Don’t put items behind the receptionist desk where it might be unnoticed or inaccessible to clients. You want to have those testers that we talked about earlier. And also identify out products with a price tag or sign. People might assume that the product is too expensive and not even ask.
You can set a festive time by decorating your office for the holidays. I would include a variety of holiday vouches, whether Hanukkah, or merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, even that broad category of seasonal greetings. And so here’s some fun ideas for creating and inviting holiday ambiance, you can hang posters and signs, you can apply one of those rub on window decorations, maybe stream some colorful light or arrange some holiday plants like poinsettias or Christmas cactus. Some people even use sheets that have holiday prints or colors, you could serve some hot cider and healthy treat. You may gently diffuse seasonal scents such as pine, frankincense, vanilla. Although you have to be careful, because a lot of people have a very sensitivities of scent. Maybe play a variety of holiday music. And again attractively present your holiday packages. A simple gift box organza bag or even a ribbon can easily do the trick.
Now, a fun Hanukkah idea is to just add the package with a little mesh bag tied with a light blue ribbon that contains like miniature drizzle and chocolate guilt. You could attach a candy cane or even a mistletoe to the packages were for Christmas themes. The Kwanzaa candle colors are green, red and black. So you could get each one of each tie them with a colorful piece of material and attach it to one of your package displays. So when you have those product bundles that are prewrapped, you save your clients even more time, and that alone can increase your holiday sales dramatically. You can also stock wrapping supplies and offer to give them to your clients who purchase items for gift.
Now, for those of you who do mostly do on-site work, you can also create a holiday environment. So when I talked earlier about one of those rolling kits, one of those rolling cases, I suggest that you assemble a kit of items in a small box. So this box becomes your stand. Dress a piece of colorful materials over the box and display your items. Maybe candle, or small sales plant. Now, the effective way to inform your on-site clients about holiday special is also to take pictures of your holiday packages, because you can’t be holding all of those with you. But you take some pictures, you make a small poster with the heading such as “Holiday Gift Ideas”, and attach that to a cardboard picture frame and put that on your display box. And let people know that they can purchase them. And you will bring them at your next visit or they could stop by the office and pick it up.
Now, a point of sale displays are effective ways to display products. You get those, they usually fit really nicely on a counter top, on a shelf, in a front room or even on a table in the classroom, or if you’re out there doing public speaking, you want to display some products. And here are just some examples of the points of sale displays.
Humans are sensitive. You want to appeal to the senses of sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste. The more you can do this, the easier it is for the products to essentially sell themselves.
So a couple of more marketing tips. You want to announce your holiday specials early and often? Promote your products through social networking, your Facebook business page, Twitter, also Pinterest, your website, any affiliate site, e-mail blast, your online client newsletters announcement. Now, this affords you the opportunity to go in depth about a product. Include the full color photo of the item and engage in conversations about the items. As I mentioned before the key to successful social networking is to build relationship. So when you’re opposing about products, talk about why you use the products maybe also include some testimonials. You can do some surveys, post questions and ask for feedback.
Other effective marketing ideas for the holidays whenever you give talks mention they’re special. You can take out ads in local publication, place posters in bookstores, health food stores, gym, sport centers and really any place where you can find your target market. Create special holiday package of fliers to give to your current and prospective clients. Again, like we talked about for the on-site, you could take scanned photos of your holiday packages, and on the back print the benefits, prices and contact information. You can post signs in your office and you could also send the regular oversized postcards announcing your product or service bundles. By the way and how we do things, a lot of us do things really through cyber space, but direct mail is still really a very effective tool.
So when it comes to retailing you need to drive your BUS to selling success. Lynda Solien-Wolfe coined this term and I love it. So I use it in my retailing thing. She said you need to learn how to drive your bus. Believe in the products that you use and sell, use the products in your treatment, and supply sample products to your clients. I believe that you do your clients a disservice if you don’t have products they can purchase. Many people are overworked and time management is a problem. If you can save them the time of having to stop to buy a product then you’ve simplified their lives and that’s priceless. I have received sessions with a therapist who used a really nice product or had great music playing but didn’t offer those items for sale. That was a missed opportunity for the therapist and disappointing to me.
So in summary selling products is simply like I said selling your services which is really just sharing your enthusiasm about them. When you make your products visible, accessible, attractive and affordable your clients will buy them when it’s appropriate. Retail sales can boost your income, provide a great service to your client. Now, for those of you who haven’t been selling products, I encourage you to give it a try. Start up small and gradually increase the types and quantity of products you carry. Now for those of you who are already comfortable with product sales, I hope you’ll revamp what you do and look for ways to increase those sales. And perhaps even work some more higher token items into your offerings. If you’re reluctant to incorporate product sales even after this webinar start out simply.
Perhaps just sell a few products until you’re more comfortable with the process, and then more to into what your clients want to purchase. Ideally, you would have those products on hand, but if you have major concerns about carrying inventory you can have a signup sheet where clients place orders then you would purchase those items when you reach the minimum amount needed for a wholesale order. Also some wholesalers will even drop shipped products directly to your clients. There are many ways to incorporate product sales in your practice to support your clients’ well-being and the well-being of your bottom line. So I encourage you to have fun, increase your income and support your client especially in this gift giving season. So are there any questions, Karen?
Karen: Yeah. We did have some questions come through. And I just wanted to say thank you. You’ve provided so much great information. So I just briefly want to mention to our audience that they can listen to this webinar again at Massage Magazine’s website, massagemag.com by checking under the education tab. And so let’s dive in to some of these questions that have come in. Reginal from Los Angeles asked, “Where can I find out about sales tax and if I need a retail license where I live?”
Cherie: You would contact the secretary of state, would be one way with the Department of Revenue. We don’t know what state Reginal lives in, but the majority of people have to pay sales tax. And it’s usually cumbersome the first year. They usually make you fill out a report every month. And then depending on the quantity of sales then it goes to quarterly and sometimes even annually.
Karen: Okay. Thanks. Barbara from Tallahassee, Florida asks, she says, “I feel nervous about talking to clients about products sales. What’s the best way to get over my fear?”
Cherie: Find a product you love, and that you know really could help your client. And talk to your clients about it. Ask the clients. Barbara, maybe you could just say, “You know I’m think about carrying this product. I know that several of my clients, I think would be really helpful for them. What would you think about that? Is that something you would like for me to do?” And get feedback from the clients.
Karen: Great. Okay. We got a question from Nancy in Scranton, Pennsylvania who asked, “Is it okay for me to sell nutritional products like vitamins supplements to non-professional one?”
Cherie: That to me, that’s a grey area. Karen: Yeah. We’re probably given to scope, there’s a practice issue with that. Cherie: Scope of practice issue. Yeah. So if you’re also a trained nutritionist, absolutely. If you’re not, personally I would shy away from it. But I know people do that. I know people sell some products, but you have to make sure you’re really, really well trained, because nutritional products even generally a basic herb if somebody, if the client has other health issues, even a semi innocuous herb could be contraindicated.
Karen: Okay. So Deshawn from Portland asked, this is a two part question. He asked, “How much spare time do you build into a session in case the client wants to shop for a while or have questions about products? Will this eat into the number of clients taking massage in a day?”
Cherie: Well, when I was in practice, I always liked to leave extra time anyway. Not just for product sales, but also so that I had time if they were other questions or there were homework things to go over. It could but then on the other hand if you put in like another 15 minutes that also gives you time to relax, to stretch, to do other things in case your client isn’t interested in product sales. So I don’t think it’s impossible. I know that in some places if you’re working for somebody else they might book you only an hour, and that makes it really, really rough to do any kind of product sale as well as any kind of building long term extra rapport. So I think it’s well worth it, but I have a very kind of not everybody believes my opinions on the time you invest in your clients like I always did extra-long initial intake interviews. I didn’t charge them for the extra time, because I knew that by doing a treatment plan and talking with them and finding out what their needs were that that would get them hooked and then they would be regular clients. So that was always, always, always well worth it with it, but that’s my bias.
Karen: Okay. Thank you. We have a question from Jessica in Houston who asked, “You mentioned partnering with other massage therapist to make book purchases. Can you say more on how I can do that or find those therapists?”
Cherie: Depending on where you are networking in your city, maybe you have a chapter of an organization that you’re part of. Sometimes you can create a meetup group that you could start networking with other therapists. I know in Tucson there was one group that it’s a group press, they started having things where they brought another therapists just to network and to support each other. And something like that would be a great way to start meeting other therapists and to decide, “Well, maybe there’s some things that we can do together.” It’s networking. It’s just talking to people, finding other therapists which you need to do anyway. You need to find other practitioners who might do different kinds of work than you do or have different target market so that you can be referrals for each other anyway.
Karen: Okay. Great, great. Cherie: Thanks. Karen: We have a question from Martha in Boston who asked, “Could I be sued if I sell a product that hurt someone or creates specific reaction?”
Cherie: Well, that’s why you want to use professional grade products. The professional grade products would have their own built in liability insurance. And if you have insurance, that will cover you on that. But if it’s something that you make it yourself then you’re putting yourself at risk.
Karen: Okay. That’s a great point. Yeah. That’s all the questions that we’ve gotten from our audience. Is there anything else that you’d like to add about selling retail products?
Cherie: Just do it. I mean I know that some people are really nervous about it or some people they don’t, I think it’s fun. And it’s interesting because I don’t like to shop, but I love putting things together and packages together. And just keep thinking about, how can you really support your client? When you come from that point of view, I think it makes the whole process easier. So it’s not about just so finding products, it’s like being a detective. What’s out there than can really help my product, my clients when they’re not in my office? What can I do to help them achieve their long term goals besides my hands on work? And those are ways to start looking at products. So it does become an extension of what you do. And that is… [crosstalk 00:57:20]
Karen: Got it. Thank you. Yeah, yeah. All right. Well, I think this concludes our Massage Magazine Educational webinar on Retail Mastery for the holidays and throughout the year. President of Alliance for Massage, business expert, Cherie Sohnen-Moe, I just want to say thank you to everyone who signed in on this webinar, and I hope that it’s been inspiring and educational. I’m sure it is.
Cherie: Thank you, Karen. And thank you everyone. And for those of you who are listening after the fact, I hope you really enjoy. And if you have other questions… Karen, is there some way that they can do some kind of questions or they just need to maybe go to my Facebook page and do something?
Karen: They can go to your Facebook page. They can also send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get the conversation going.
Cherie: Perfect, perfect. Because I think I communicated in depth so.
Karen: Okay. Thank you so much.
Cherie: Thank you all.
Karen: Yeah, thank you. Bye-bye.
About the speaker
Cherie Sohnen-Moe has taught at massage, acupuncture, and holistic health schools across the country.
She is active in many professional and community organizations, and is a founding member and the current president of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education.