To complement “Massage Therapist vs. Myth: What You Might Believe About Retail is Not True,” by Cherie Sohnen-Moe, in the July 2015 issue of MASSAGE Magazine. Summary: You don’t have to be a born salesperson to offer retail products in your massage practice. When you take the time to choose the right products and learn all you can about them so you can make good recommendations, you may find you don’t have to do much selling at all.
Retailing products in your massage practice is one way to increase your profits without having to increase the hours per day you spend massaging clients. If you’ve never sold products in your business before, you might be intimidated by the idea of how to choose which products to carry. Here is a guide to getting started.
Match your massage services with products
First, you’ll need to assess which products might complement the services you already offer. You will create a three-column document. List the services you offer in the first column. Put any corresponding products you already use with each service in the second column. In the third column, identify the types of retail products that could complement each service.
When you do this, you might find some of the items in columns two and three are the same for multiple services. This is a good thing, as it increases the chances your clients will benefit from purchasing those products.
After you do this initial assessment, review your clients’ files to see what their goals and issues are, and match those up with possible items to sell. Then combine both lists.
Get your clients’ opinions
Survey your clients on what products they would like you to carry. You might be pleasantly surprised to find out what they are willing to buy from you. Many clients would rather spend money on retail items and support their massage practitioner, than buy a similar product from an impersonal retail establishment.
At the end of sessions, ask clients for their input. Give them a survey card to fill out before they leave, and perhaps give them a 10-percent discount off any products they purchase that day. You can also send an email survey as a separate mailing or as part of your regular e-newsletter.
Attend expositions and conferences
Conferences and expositions are great venues in which to see a variety of items you might sell in your practice. You get to see, touch and smell products, and try them on yourself. Many vendors present demonstrations and hold brief training sessions on how to use and sell their products. You can usually get free samples and deep discounts when you purchase items at these events.
Read product information sheets
Manufacturers usually supply detailed product information sheets. You can get them sent to you directly, or in many cases you can download them from the company’s website. Sometimes you can find videos on how to use the product. Also look for warranty information.
Talk to massage colleagues
Ask your fellow practitioners about their experiences with products. Get feedback on how their clients like or dislike certain items, which items sell best, how they market retail offerings, and where they buy products. Other practitioners will have their own preferences and biases, but talking with them can provide you with valuable insights.
Many companies provide free or low-cost trial packets, sachets or small samplers. Clients love to get free product samples, and samples are an effective way to introduce clients to the products you use in treatments as well as items for home care.
Look for companies that offer pre-packed samples, and always hand samples out with something containing your business name and phone number—such as your business card—to remind clients where they received the sample. Also, check for specials. The great thing about sampling is that if a client tries and likes a product, the product often sells itself.
Test the product
Make sure you know how to use any product you sell. A product might sound good on paper, but could be cumbersome to use, smells weird, has negative side effects or isn’t useful. First test the product on yourself. Next, ask a few key clients to test the product. Give the testers a questionnaire on their experience with the product.
In addition to helping you ascertain if you should carry a product, clients’ feedback can help you determine how to market it and the depth of client education needed. Their feedback can also provide you with testimonials to use on your website and in promotional materials.
Cherie Sohnen-Moe (sohnen-moe.com) is an author, business coach, international workshop leader and successful business owner since 1978. She is the author of Business Mastery and Present Yourself Powerfully, co-author of The Ethics of Touch, and a contributing author to several other books. She is a founding member of and serves on the board of the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education. She wrote “Massage Therapist vs. Myth: What You Might Believe About Retail is Not True” for the July 2015 issue of MASSAGE Magazine.