by Kathy Gruver
As massage therapists our primary job is to massage people. But what if we want to give our clients a little bit more, or give them options that might make us a bit more money? Over the next few articles I’m going to explore add-ons we can include in our practices for extra pampering—or extra cash.
The first question is: Do we give additions for free, or do we charge for them? I asked this question to therapists around the country, and it seems pretty evenly split depending on what the addition is. Some therapists provide such add-ons as aromatherapy for free, while others might charge $5 or $10 for the treat. Whether you offer this service for free or charge for it is purely a personal decision, or up to your boss.
Let’s talk about those freebies first and we’ll address up-sells later.
Adding modalities and giving customized treatments to clients is certainly something we, as massage therapists, can add for free—perhaps a combination of Thai and barefoot, or Swedish and Esalen.
Reflexology is a common modality many therapists add. Wendy Coad, a licensed massage therapist in Florida, found people enjoy the service and it adds to the healing experience. About 80 percent of her sessions include reflexology.
Many massage schools offer reflexology as an elective, and it’s a pretty easy modality to learn. I recommend hands-on training, though there is some good video instruction available.
Most people I spoke with, including Beth Ruane and Jennifer Bowers, massage therapists from Nebraska and Colorado, respectively, offer free aromatherapy choices for their clients. Bowers doesn’t feel offering services a la carte is a good idea, since clients might lie on the table and worry about cost and not enjoy the relaxation.
Kristin Peabody, managing director of a Dallas, Texas, spa, allows guests to select an aromatherapy oil based on how they would like to feel when they leave that day: uplifted, centered, energized, calm, etc. The aromatherapy oil is then incorporated into the service via inhalations, hot steam towels, etc. Many massage creams offer different scents but giving clients a separate aromatherapy choice enhances the experience and gives them a feeling that they have a choice in their treatment.
I do caution against using strong scents without consulting clients first. Many people are sensitive to fragrance, might have to go back to work or have allergies. Always ask first!
Pre- and post-massage add-ons
How about things we can do before and after a massage? Anita Boser, a licensed massage practitioner in Washington, gives away bags of salts for soaking after the massage, while Megan Groves, a licensed massage practitioner in Seattle, Washington, offers everyone tea and snacks before or after treatment. While conducting the client intake, she has her clients put their feet in an herbal foot soak. Groves figures, “We’re sitting there talking anyway, why not start the relaxation?”
These extras cost us very little and communicate that we care about our clients. Taking the extra time to offer water or a snack is something that will set you apart from the rest. Truly listening to our clients is a practice that always adds extra value to our services.
We can add spirit to the body, and reiki is a great addition to any massage. We’ll talk about adding full reiki sessions and attunements to your practice in a later article. With reiki, any time you put your hands on someone, the reiki will begin to flow. I find clients appreciate the extra zing reiki gives to the massage, and after you explain to your clients what you are doing, some will want to come back for a full treatment.
Training for reiki can be as elaborate as multiple attunements and weeks of study, or a weekend or afternoon class. If you want to add reiki to your massage menu, make sure you study with a qualified reiki master.
Adding to your massage environment
What about your environment? Many therapists let clients pick the music or have special scented candles they can choose. Jeff Stewart of Night Sky Murals (www.NightSkyMurals.com) has been hired by massage therapists to paint the night sky on their ceilings. The therapist then uses black light instead of candles, and when the light is turned off, the stars glow, giving the client an otherworldly experience.
What if you’re stuck with fluorescent lights? You can cover them with colorful cloth or get different relaxing scenes to go in ceiling fixtures: oceans, stars, the sky, etc. Just search “fluorescent light covers” online, and you can find many companies with affordable designs.
Another useful tool to give to our clients is our knowledge. I have a lending library of alternative medicine books and articles. Other therapists have handouts on various aspects of health that they give to clients. This type of newsletter or pamphlet is not only informative, but should also have your contact information on it so the client or friend is reminded about you and your services.
These are just some of the little extras we can offer our clients for free. Experiment with what works for you and next time, we’ll talk about those extra moneymakers.
Kathy Gruver has been involved in natural health since 1990 and has a doctorate of Traditional Naturopathy. Gruver is a medical massage therapist, natural health consultant, reiki master and birth assistant. She is currently pursuing a masters and doctorate in natural health. Gruver owns Healing Circle Massage in Santa Barbara, California, which specializes in medical and therapeutic massage and was chosen as a “Best Practice” by MASSAGE Magazine. For more information, visit www.healingcirclemassage.com.