When I first started out as a therapist more than 15 years ago, I worked at three different massage jobs while trying to build my private clientele. Maybe you’ve been there: scattering your energy at different locations; struggling with a variable income; and never knowing how many clients you’re going to have each week.
Like many therapists, I decided to go into business for myself and opened my first massage studio. While it was nice to be focused on one thing, I still had difficulties with unpredictable client scheduling and little guarantee of a stable income.
That’s when I designed a massage membership program, and it changed my practice for the better. Here’s how you can create your own program to keep your clients—and cash flow—coming to you in a steady stream.
A massage membership plan benefits both parties involved. For the client, it offers a discounted fee. It also encourages clients to stay healthier by ensuring they book a massage at least once a month, and allows them to develop a stable, longstanding relationship with you, the therapist.
The membership program model also has plenty of benefits for the therapist. For one, you will have an income source that varies less from month to month, since you will have members who commit to a set membership period, typically six months or one year. Knowing you have clients you can depend on, instead of just hoping clients will call you to make another appointment, will also reduce your stress.
Set up your massage membership program
Your program can be set up in various ways. You can get as creative as you want; call it a massage club, membership, loyalty program or something else that sounds good with your business name. Then work out the details:
1. Set your price and services.
You will want to do some research in the area in which you live to see what prices and programs other therapists offer. Take a good look at what they are charging and including in their memberships. Also, see if any local franchises offer a massage membership.
When considering what to charge, look at your normal rate per hour of massage and see if you can discount that rate by 12 to 15 percent. Research other massage memberships in your region and keep close to that price range—you don’t want to be known as having the most expensive membership in town, but if you try to gain an advantage by offering the least expensive, you might not be able to make a profit.
In terms of what services to include in memberships, go with the most popular services you already provide, such as Swedish or deep tissue massage. If you offer a specialized modality that required you to get special training, you may want to charge a bit more. I allow my members to try additional modalities for a small upcharge.
2. Decide on terms.
Have your membership clients sign a contract. I offer a six-month or yearly contract, offering extra add-ons if clients sign on for a year. I tell clients that for their convenience, their contracts automatically roll over on the anniversary of the contract, unless they cancel.
3. Bill consistently.
You will want to have members allow you to bill their credit or debit cards monthly on the same day each month. I would steer clear of accepting cash or checks for membership payments, to ensure you are paid fully and on time each month.
Also, discourage the accumulation of massages month-to-month to be used at later times. I make clear in my contract that massages cannot be rolled over. They must be used that month or they will be forfeited. You can use your discretion in special cases; if a member has a medical reason for not getting to you that month or is traveling out of the country, for example, allow her to double up the next month or extend her membership an additional month.
4. Promote your program.
A good way to market your massage membership plan is to email your already existing clients. In your emails, be sure to talk about the benefits of getting regular massages and how great massage is for stress. If you don’t already have one, create a Facebook page and post about your new membership there; also, add the membership information to your website, then link it to the customizable Call-to-Action button Facebook offers on business pages.
Offering a deal through coupon sites such as Groupon or Living Social is also a way to get new people in the door so you can offer them a membership. Consider advertising in your local print periodicals, such as Treasure Chest or Val-Pak, or in mailings targeting people who have just moved to your community.
5. Reward your members.
As you add members, send them monthly email blasts with new, members-only deals and discounts. Create incentives for them to refer their friends and family to you.
Jennifer Alvarado, L.M.T. (renaissancemassage.com), has been a licensed and practicing massage therapist in Florida for 16 years. She offers two CEU courses, “Employment in the Massage Industry” and “My Massage Business Plan.”