Retailing products is a great way to increase your income while adding value to your business and your clients’ massage sessions. Many therapists hesitate to retail, for reasons such as fear of getting stuck with a lot of products they’ve invested money in, not wanting to appear to be a pushy salesperson, or feeling like they don’t have the space for a display.
Those are all valid concerns—but with simple solutions. So, what’s your excuse?
Excuse #1: Retailing Is Too Expensive
You don’t have to spend a fortune to get started. It’s much better to start out with a limited inventory of just a few products.
When figuring out how much inventory to start with, consider the amount of space you have to display the products and store any extra stock. If you have a limited amount of space, you may display just one or two of each item and keep extras stored out of sight. Many massage lotions and retail products, such as sugar or salt scrubs, come in cases of six. Starting with one case each of four or five different items you really like—and that your clients have enjoyed during sessions—can be a good way to wade into the retail waters.
Excuse #2: I’m a Massage Therapist, Not a Salesperson
Incorporating products that you can retail into your massage sessions is the best way to get people to buy. This practice adds value to the massage—and you won’t have to do much selling at all. When clients have experienced the warmth of a neck pillow, gotten pain relief from a topical product, or enjoyed the cream or oil used during a massage, they’re much more apt to purchase those than something they haven’t tried.
For example, offer a peppermint foot wrap at the end of a session. Your only cost is a bottle of peppermint oil, which will last for many treatments. Give a foot massage using the oil, then wrap the client’s feet in a warm, moist towel for a few minutes.
Another option is a delightful foot scrub. Again, all you need is the scrub and warm towels to wash it off after the treatment. The cost is minimal to you—and you have just revived the tired, aching feet of the client. When she comes out of the session room talking about how great her feet feel, that’s your opportunity to suggest she buy the product to use at home.
You can also entice clients to buy personal care products, such as lotions, by having one in the restroom or on your front desk with a “try me” sticker on it. Some massage product companies also sell sample-size packs; having those available for clients to try can be a good aid to selling a full-size product.
When people like something they experience, they’ll be glad to continue that experience at home. You can seize the moment when they say, “I just love this buckwheat pillow; it’s so cozy,” or “What is that lotion you’re using? I love the way it smells.”
Avoid turning the massage session itself into a sales pitch; simply reply with, “It’s a lavender lotion. We have some available in the lobby. I’ll be glad to show it to you after your massage.” No one enjoys a hard sell, and in any case, it’s unethical to tell clients they need to purchase something you’re selling. It’s also unethical to make wild claims about products—something many manufacturers do—and that’s more true of health-related claims.
It’s really enough to say, “It just feels good.” People like—and buy—things that make them feel good.
Excuse #3: I Don’t Have the Space
Part of successful retailing is displaying your products to advantage—meaning visibly and attractively. If you have a waiting area, that’s the place to do it, but even therapists who rent a single room can still retail and be creative about it. Pinterest is full of ideas for successfully displaying retail products.
A small table or one shelf can be adequate when you’re starting out. Corner shelves are nice. An old dresser found at a flea market can be painted to complement your décor, and you can store extra products in the drawers. Even a medicine chest that’s been repurposed or a nice basket can be used. If your only space is your massage session room, a hanging shelf can work.
Ready, Set, Retail
Start small; don’t be pushy but don’t be afraid; and display attractively—and you’ll soon be successfully retailing.
Laura Allen is the massage division director of Soothing Touch, as well as an author, educator and clinic owner. She has been a massage therapist for 16 years.