Spas have long been at the forefront of holistic health care, in terms of creating unique spa services and soothing environments.
Spas are also sometimes seen as competition by massage therapists — but with a shift in mindset, spas can instead be a source of inspiration.
Did you know that you can take some of the luxurious session offerings and beautiful environmental elements spas use and adapt them to your massage practice? You can!
MASSAGE Magazine convened this roundtable of massage-and-spa experts to provide advice on incorporating one significant change into your massage practice at a time — from signature treatments and customer service to lighting and sauna (and more) — which will make your massage practice stand out, benefit clients and potentially increase your income.
Measure and Manage
Professional business-management software can help track your practice so you know exactly where growth is coming from and what areas need improvement. From how many times a client has cancelled with too short of notice to who has sent you the most referrals, having this information available at a glance can help guide decision-making for your business.
Automated reminders and online scheduling are not only a convenience to your clients, they will also cut down on no-shows and phone tag and free up time for your hands to do the work you love. While these things may not seem like a big deal in the beginning of your business, the busier you get the more important they become.
Software can even create the launchpad from amateur to professional. It’s so much easier to implement systems, policies and procedures before you really need them. “I have some key performance indicators (KPIs) that I look at daily, [such as] number of clients, new versus returning clients, rebookings and more,” said Camille Bunim of Dana Point, California, owner of CamsHands. “A daily tally turns into a weekly and then monthly or quarterly snapshot of my business. Am I reaching my goals? How would I know if I’m not monitoring my business?” The simple act of paying attention to something will highlight connections you never noticed before, and by implementing professional business management software, you’ll improve many areas almost effortlessly.
Cindy Iwlew, LMT, has had her own massage practice since 1999 in Battle Creek, Michigan, and co-owns Bodywork Buddy massage software company.
Leverage the First Impression
You don’t get a do-over on first impressions. You never get a second chance. This is why first impressions are so important to the success of your business.
One of the best and simplest ways to impress your clients when they first enter a room is by using really good lighting. I can’t overemphasize the importance of the right amount of lighting to help create a welcoming environment. It’s the first thing clients notice when they walk through your door. You could have too little light, which can give the impression that your place is not clean. Too much light can intimidate a person, especially if they have to remove clothing.
With today’s technology, you have the opportunity to create fabulous illumination. Taking advantage of this helps create a relaxing and inviting massage room for both you and your clients. It’s an easy fix for small and large rooms alike and can make a big difference in the client’s experience. The correct lighting can change a room completely.
The wall light I use now in my treatment room is called Rambling RGB Spiral LED. You can get this online from a big retailer, and the selection of modern lighting choices is endless. From day one at my institute, I teach the importance of creating an inviting and attractive room, and lighting is a key component.
Your clients will return time and again not only for the fantastic treatment you have just performed, but for the feeling of well-being your unique space can give them.
Elena Zabala founded Elena Zabala Wellness Institute, which offers classes in massage therapy and esthetics.
Consider Cannabis-Related Spa Services
CBD is turning the tables on pain management. Every few years, a new product or ingredient comes along that turns out to be a game-changer for an industry or market. Such is the case with CBD in the massage therapy sector.
There is a great deal of enthusiasm among professionals and product manufacturers about CBD, and for good reason. CBD is a groundbreaking cannabis compound that has demonstrated its effectiveness in helping reduce pain and inflammation and decrease pain signaling to the brain. Non-mind-altering and non-habit-forming, CBD is absorbed through the skin where it binds to the body’s own CB2 receptors. It then connects with these receptors to provide anti-inflammatory pain relief.
CBD is now considered part of advanced clinical care and increasingly taking its place at the table of massage therapists, chiropractors and other medical professionals. Because of its pain-relief properties, CBD provides massage therapists with a powerful professional tool to provide more services for current clients and attract new clients who otherwise might not have considered touch therapy for pain management.
By adding a CBD product into a full-body session or as an add-on spa service, massage therapy professionals can increase their bottom line. With so much being written about marijuana, as it becomes legal in more states and more medical practitioners are advancing its use to treat a range of diseases, public interest in CBD is growing. Massage therapists who incorporate CBD into their practice have an opportunity to be ahead of other local practitioners in their market and bolster their reputation as state-of-the-art health care providers.
Jean Shea is founder and president of BIOTONE, maker of massage and spa body products.
Offer a Signature Treatment
Clients who frequent spas understand that massage can take place anywhere. Many clients choose the spa because the environment is a big part of the experience. Within that environment there are certain expectations. For example, spas are usually known for exclusive spa services — and higher prices. Massage therapists can leverage those expectations by incorporating signature spa services into their private practice.
A signature spa service should be unique yet consistent with your brand. A common misconception within the massage industry is that spas focus only on relaxation services. However, spas offer a wide variety of massage treatments, including relaxation, pain relief and other therapeutic benefits. The spa services are client-centered and recommendations are based on what the client needs at the time of their appointment.
For clients who are undecided or simply looking for a treat, a signature spa service is a great option. Offering a signature service does more than provide a potential boost in revenue. It can help build brand loyalty, trust and authority within a market.
Clients like to frequent businesses that are known for something. That signature treatment can be the difference between blending in with other private practices and separating from the pack. Once the spa service is created and added to the menu, market it far and wide. There are clients looking for these uncommon services who are willing to pay for the experience. Massage therapists who want to take their practice to a higher level can do so by offering a signature treatment with a premium price point to match.
Kamillya Hunter owns Spa Analytics, a business that offers strategic consulting to the massage and spa industry nationwide.
What is at least as enticing as gentle ocean waves caressing you on a white sandy beach? A softly lit, sweetly scented treatment room and a therapist who supports your disappearance into the richness of a transformative session.
Building trust is an essential component of massage that enables clients to let go and receive on a deep level, enabling them to have a healing and nurturing experience. When a client trusts that they are in good hands, the outside world dissolves, their defenses melt away, and they can receive all the gifts you’re offering. So, how do we build trust?
In lomilomi, we do it with presence, awareness and aloha. Presence is the practice of bringing your attention and energy fully into the present moment. As a massage therapist, when you’re fully present you can listen more deeply to your client’s body and customize your touch for them. Your client will feel that attentiveness, which builds trust and supports them to relax and receive on deeper levels.
On an emotional or spiritual level, being in the present releases any attachment to issues from the past and to expectations of the future, so it is both liberating and enlivening. Awareness is the practice of bringing consciousness to every breath, every movement and every nuance. Bringing awareness to how you open and close the door, to how you first lay hands on your client, to moving in slowly and consciously when doing deep work, sends the message that you are honoring your client as worthy and valuable. This not only builds trust, it helps your client feel well taken care of.
Aloha is the practice of greeting another person with openness, reverence and acceptance. You as the practitioner are transmitting energy all the time, even if you don’t do energy work. By allowing yourself to embody the principle of aloha, you are effortlessly sending the message to your client that they are in safe, honoring and loving hands.
Healing, nurturing and transformation can only occur in the safety of an environment built on trust. By incorporating presence, awareness and aloha into your work, your clients will feel safe, nourished and well taken care of, which means they are much more likely to come back.
Donna Jason is a workshop facilitator, writer and producer who co-founded Sacred Lomi with Tom Cochran. She created the Hawaiian Healing Intention Cards and produced the Sacred Lomi DVDs.
Relax Clients with Sound Healing
Have you noticed that it takes time for your client to really relax? A great spa service tool to incorporate into your practice is the power of sound, using ancient Tibetan singing bowls. Begin your therapy with sound, bringing your client into theta (a dreamlike state) within minutes.
Once the mind is relaxed, so is the body. It is then easier for you to do the work that is needed. The vibration of the bowls massage on a deep molecular level. Consider it a massage for the cells.
Begin your massage with a welcoming ritual by using a Tibetan singing bowl for two to five minutes. This will prepare clients for a deeply relaxing experience. You can incorporate this into any massage by focusing on areas of concern. Ask your client if they are suffering from any muscle pain and place the bowl in that area, striking the bowl for a minimum of five minutes for effective results. (By placing the bowl on the abdomen and striking it, you are working on all the organs; this is beneficial for those suffering from any abdominal disorders.)
Use the bowl as an inhalation tool by placing a bowl with warm water and a few drops of essential oil beneath your face cradle. As you strike the bowl, the aroma is activated. This is a great way to guide your client through breathing techniques.
If you want to offer something unique, a full-body sound healing session is powerful. Take your practice to the next level by offering this profound experience to your clients.
Christine Hays, co-founder of Eastern Vibration, is an international educator in Sound Therapy certification courses for massage therapists, yoga practitioners, spas, and wellness centers.
Combine Sauna and Massage
Twenty years ago, I worked my way through chiropractic school as a massage therapist. I created a spa-like atmosphere in my home and provided extra benefit to my clients by installing a two-person infrared sauna in my massage room.
It was an easy and relatively inexpensive spa service addition that offered something my competition did not have. This gave me a leg up to attract more business.
The sauna set up in less than an hour and plugged into a normal 110-volt receptacle. I was amazed by the difference 20 minutes in the sauna prior to a massage session made. The client would get on the table extremely relaxed and their muscles would be warm, pliable and more open to the pressure and movements of my massage.
Normally, in any massage, it takes 10 to 20 minutes for the person on the table to fully arrive and let go. After being in the infrared sauna first, my clients would easily transition to that relaxed, surrendered state. I felt as if I had an extra 20 minutes to get more bodywork accomplished and really make their session count. This kept people coming back.
Over time, clients started reporting other changes from the infrared sauna: softer skin and better sleep, and chronic conditions changing for the better. I know my massage work helped, and the infrared sauna became a useful complementary therapeutic tool. This was the start of many good things in my practice.
Raleigh Duncan, DC, is an early pioneer in the infrared sauna industry. He founded Clearlight Infrared over 20 years ago and has been awarded numerous patents pertaining to heater and sauna systems that have revolutionized infrared therapy. He has worked for over two decades to understand and codify how infrared can best heal the body safely and effectively.
Say “Spa” with the Details
You already play relaxing music and give a great massage — but there are many little things you can do that can add up to an enhanced experience.
Start with your massage table linens, buying the best quality you can find. Clients really can tell the difference between regular cotton sheets and blankets and soft, luxurious ones. Microfiber fabric made with ultra-fine polyester yarn is a material your clientele may well confuse for silk, and this material does well in the wash.
Use scent and light, in addition to your music, to enhance your room’s ambience. You can buy a diffuser and use a pleasant scent that is not overpowering. Keep two different scents on hand in case your client has an aversion to one of them.
Create a warm glow by placing battery-operated candles around your room. Battery-powered candles are more economical and safer than real candles.
Develop a signature move for the end of each massage. Whether you are most comfortable with a scalp, neck or foot massage, choose your way to end a service and develop it until it is a wow experience for the client.
As a final spa-like touch, as your client leaves give them a glass of water that has been infused with oranges, limes or lemons. Attention to detail goes a long way in helping to create a spa-like massage experience for your client.
Kathryn Myers is CEO of Bellanina Institute, which educates, inspires and enhances the development of massage and skin care professionals.