There was a time when I not only didn’t know how to sell products, I didn’t believe in selling products inside my massage business because I thought it would come across as pushy or would take something away from my massage services.
Then, during a conversation with a colleague, she gave me this advice about selling inside my business: “Amy, people are always going to buy what they want. Why not let them buy what they want from you?”
It wasn’t selling products that made me uncomfortable; it was the idea of coming across as a pushy salesperson that I struggled with. My colleague’s viewpoint offered me what I needed to see how to add products into my business and to be open to selling.
I want to share my experience and what I have learned about selling products so that you have an idea of what products to pursue, why product sales are good for your clients, and how to sell products.
How to Sell Products: Start Small; Test Your Market
I decided I would start with one or two products and just see how it felt to sell. I also wanted to observe how my clients accepted the option to spend more money within my business and if it changed the vibe of our session together.
The first thing I had to do was to find products that I enjoyed and knew my clients would enjoy. I could not sell something I didn’t believe in or used myself.
I also wanted to find things that I could use for add-on services to the massage sessions such as essential oils or some other low-priced application. That way, the client could sample the product in the massage for a small, additional fee and then purchase a take-home option for full price, hopefully buying more in the future.
I narrowed my options down to a small, modest line of essential oils I liked and candles that I could purchase wholesale and profit from selling.
How to Sell Products: Take Your Time and Think it Through
One of the best things I have learned to do, and highly recommend doing for yourself, is when looking at adding something to your existing business or creating another business is to take the time fill out a business plan specifically for that new option.
The process helps you flesh out your ideas and see all the different needs this new option is going to require to become a reality. It also helps you determine if is a viable option to pursue or if while it was a great idea, it really is not for you.
I put together a small business plan outlining the cost of products to start, how to collect, record and pay sales tax, inventory control, systems I would need to track everything and how to sell without running over in the time of my next appointment. I felt comfortable with it, so I decided to pursue the ideas I had.
From my own perspective, I felt that the oils would be the bigger sales item and the candles less. I designed a new menu for adding oils into the sessions with different oils and pricing and set up a small shelf with candles in the waiting room where clients could sniff them before their appointment.
Once the menu was running, I did have clients add-on an essential oil application for $10 and then purchased a bottle or blend for at-home use. However, I quickly realized that the bottles lasted much longer for the client at home, then for how I used them inside my business at the massage table.
Within a short time, most of my clients had purchased the oils they wanted, and sales dropped. I had to keep adjusting the menu of options to get clients to purchase different oils and so I had monthly themes for the oils to inspire more purchases.
The candles on the other hand, took off and kept selling. I had no idea that several of my clients purchased candles on a regular basis and simply switched over to purchasing the candles I displayed.
The average number of candles I sold per sale was three and the average number of sales was five per week. These were full-size room candles in jars that averaged about $25 each with a profit margin of $11 each.
What I learned from testing these two types of products was that the repurchase frequency was just as important as the purchase if I wanted to maintain an additional income stream.
The next products I selected to try were muscle salves, soap slices, peppermint foot cream, lip balms, bath salts, body butter and earrings. Again, these sold well, and the repeat purchase was higher, especially for gift baskets and around holidays.
How to Sell Products: Tracking Inventory and Taxes
While there are lots of options for tracking inventory and taxes, for me, having a paper trail in my office is easiest. While some find it easier to use a computer or an app, for others it feels overwhelming.
It honestly doesn’t matter how you do it. What matters is that you have a system, and you use the system consistently.
Tracking sales and taxes can be simple using a receipt book with a carbon copy component and maintaining a handwritten or typed spreadsheet of inventory and sales.
Here are the three steps I take to track my inventory and sales tax:
1. Weekly, I check my inventory. When I order I adjust the amounts I have in stock and on display. I have 4 weeks of inventory each month recorded and its updated with each shipment. I am able to observe trends in purchasing and how I do with holiday sales this way.
2. When I sell products, I list them out in a receipt book, write in the calculated sales tax and then add them for the total price of the sale. When it comes time to pay quarterly sales tax, I calculate the sales tax from each carbon page, as well as total sales, for the total tax to pay. I keep these receipt books in yearly files.
3. With no exceptions, all money from product sales is deposited into a separate bank account. From this account, I know how much goes to taxes, wholesale costs for inventory, and profit margin. When I need to purchase inventory or pay sales tax, I know the money is already being held and is set aside for those needs.
I chose to hold my profit margin in that account and then give myself a “quarterly bonus.” It is a fun way to challenge myself to increase sales and then reward myself for the work.
New Growth & Income
Selling products can create a profitable secondary income stream inside your business. By taking the time to outline your own process of adding something new into your business operations and maintaining those processes, product sales will help you achieve new growth and income.
About the Author
Amy Bradley Radford, LMT, BCTMB, has been a massage therapist and educator for more than 30 years. She is the owner of Massage Business Methods and the developer of PPS (Pain Patterns and Solutions) Seminars CE courses and an NCBTMB Approved CE Provider.