You provide great basic massage services, and you can up your game by offering add-on services.

“The more options you can market to the public, the more clients you will have coming through your door,” said Brooke Riley, LMT, a massage therapist who is also an operations specialist for Massage Heights, a nationwide family-owned therapeutic massage and facial services franchise company based in San Antonio, Texas.

“When you offer more than just the normal massage clients take notice,” she said. They recognize they can come to you for a variety of options that can meet their needs. “Add-ons set you apart from the others just doing massage,” she said. And they allow massage therapists to change things up, especially for regular clients, which gives those clients the thrill of trying something new.

Add-ons 101

Add-on services are basically any service added to a basic massage, Riley said, for the purpose of enhancing the client’s experience or providing additional therapeutic benefit. In some cases, like with cupping and hot stones, the add-ons actually allow the massage therapist to work more efficiently, she said, because the tools therapists use for these services reduce the wear and tear on their own bodies.

Popular add-on services, in addition to cupping and hot stones, include foot and body scrubs, hot towel treatments, the use of essential or CBD oils, facial or body masks, body mud/clay detoxification wraps, reflexology, acupressure stimulation, anti-aging treatments for face, hands and body, exfoliation treatments such as dry brushing, and paraffin wax treatments.

For many add-on services, massage therapists don’t need to get specialized training, she said. For some types of services, the state you live in will determine if you need to get training or not.

For the types of services where training is not required, you should still spend time practicing how to do the service. Training, she notes, certainly won’t hurt, though, if it is available. “I always recommend getting as much education and training on any modality a therapist does to ensure the therapist knows all the cautions and contraindications that come with the add-on service.” 

She had a brief introduction to cupping but was not confident enough to offer it as an add-on for her clients until she was able to take advantage of an in-depth training offered by her employer, Massage Heights. “This allowed me … to really build on my skills,” she said.

Cupping is now one of her favorite add-ons to offer clients, and she has found that it benefits her, too, in that the cups do some of the work for her, reducing the wear and tear on her body.

Getting started with add-ons

If you are just beginning to venture into add-on services, a good place to start is with hot stone therapy, she said. Most massage therapy schools offer some training in using hot stones so additional training isn’t necessary to get started, and hot stones are not expensive in terms of start-up costs, and only have to be purchased once.

When considering which add-on services to offer clients, Riley recommends thinking about which ones provide a good balance of costs to offer the service in comparison to earnings from offering those services.

“The best add-on services are the ones that allow you to make a one-time purchase,” she said. For example, a one-time purchase of a good set of hot stones should run you about $50. If your hot stone add-on service is $10, that one-time hot stones purchase will be paid for in five sessions, but the hot stones will last you years.

Making the add-on pitch

Many massage therapists are uncomfortable with the idea of “upselling” their clients, but Riley recommends that therapists reverse their thinking from the idea that they’re pushing add-on services on their client to educating their clients and offering them additional relaxation or therapeutic benefits.

“If it will help with the massage session, then explain why it will help, how you will be using the add-on to make the massage process more valuable, and how it helps you as a therapist during the session to do your best work,” she said.

You can also explain how certain add-on services will provide particular benefits to them. For example, body masks that can moisturize dry skin, scrubs that exfoliate, heat treatments that can help relax tight and aching muscles, using essential oils that can calm a stressed nervous system and soothe inflammation, and that acupressure stimulation can increase circulation and boost energy levels.

If you truly are uncomfortable suggesting add-ons to your client’s basic massage, you can go about it another way: creating special offers that you present on certain days or even times of the year.

For example, you could offer discounts on multiple treatments, say, a basic massage with a body scrub treatment on Wednesdays, or holiday specials combining a deep tissue massage with a body mud detox for Mother’s Day. You can alert your current clients about these special offerings by having the offers posted in your space on decorative posters or sending out an email blast.

The Complimentary Service

Another great option is to print business cards that give the recipient a complimentary try-out of particular add-on services. The complimentary service could be the full-on service or just a smaller portion of it, for example, a free five-minute reflexology service when a deep tissue massage is scheduled or one-time addition of CBD oil to a hand massage.

That complimentary service makes your current clients aware of the additional or new services available to them, lets clients try out something that’s new to them without their having to pay extra for it (and they may love it so much they will pay for it going forward), and can be used to attract new clients, too, without you having to feel like you’re in sales pitch mode.

If you’re working for a franchise or someone other than yourself and you want to offer add-on services, be ready to educate your employer, said Riley.

Have a cost break-down ready to show how it will increase your sales with each session, she said. “Approach your employer in the same way you would approach your clients – with education and knowledge as to why and how it will enhance the services they already offer.”

Stephanie Bouchard is a freelance writer and editor based on the coast of Maine. She frequently reports news and features for MASSAGE Magazine.