Choosing the right massage supplies and product lines can be a make or break opportunity for your massage therapy business.

If you do not retail products in your practice, or if you do not have a variety of products to practice with or sell, then you are losing valuable business opportunities and income.

But choosing the right product lines can be a make or break opportunity for your business. 

Ask yourself, are you retailing some of your favorite products as a customer perk, or do you want to build a true partnership to increase your business? 

Here are a dozen different subjects and concepts to think about to get the most out of your product choices, use and sales in a product partnership.

Maximize your partnership and avoid potential problems that can arise from not discussing or addressing such topics upfront.

1. Efficacy. What makes their products special? Why would you want to use or retail their products, and what makes their products something your customers would want to buy? What are the active ingredients that make their products effective, and where do these active ingredients come from? Are there any published research studies that show the effectiveness of their products?

2. Training. Is product training available? Do they have in-person training? Will they come to your business? Do they have a training facility, and if yes, where is the facility? Do they online videos? Do they have written product service manuals? Do not underestimate the value in product training. Most training can provide new additional services or service versatility and help practitioners avoid burnout.

3. Service. Is the product sales rep or customer service easily available? Do they respond, and do they accurately answer questions? Avoid manufacturers or people who will tell you whatever you or your customer wants to hear.

Placating answers may help you in the short term, but these could also open you up to legal or lethal consequences if erroneous information is provided about the products being used or retailed. Many people have all types of products concerns and allergies these days. Some are common and some are not.

You must choose a partner that will recognize these important concerns, and respond in an appropriate, accurate and timely manner – so that you can be responsible in responding to your customers needs.

4. Optics. Be sure to Google a manufacturer prior to investing into their line (and reputation). It’s difficult to find that perfect manufacturer or product that does not have an ingredient that is labelled as a carcinogen or just plain bad.

Consumers are ingredient and reputation savvy these days. Remember that when you retail a brand, you represent them. That means your business will represent what you are known for, and what they are known for too.

5. Return Policy. Sometimes product manufacturers ship a product that’s nearing (or past) its expiration date. Do they pay for return shipping in addition to providing product credit or refunds? Do they charge a restocking or return fee? What is the average remaining shelf life of the products that they sell or ship? What are their product return policies from you as a retailer (when a dissatisfied customer returns a product to you)? 

6. Pureness. Offering organic products and services is one of the strongest ways to grow an alternative or complementary health practice today. However, organic products (thus services) can be extremely expensive. So, are their products natural or organic? From where do they harvest their product ingredients? What is their corporate message about the healthfulness or their products? And more importantly, what is yours?

7. Eco Friendly. What is their product packaging like? Do they use eco-friendly and recyclable packing materials? Do they have refillable containers? What is their corporate message for the care of our environment?

A small but growing number of consumers will be turned off by irresponsible environment practices, especially when it comes to business retailing. Watch your business’s eco practices, especially when adding retail factors that will further impact your environment footprint (shipping boxes, product containers and so forth).

8. Shipping. Does the company offer free shipping with a minimum order? How much does shipping cost? Are you adding the shipping costs into your sales price? How much are shipping costs cutting into your retail profitability? How long will it take for your product order to arrive?

If your products endure a long shipping period in an extreme climate, what responsibility is taken to ensure the products retain their efficacy during shipping? Try to find a vendor that can ship locally to you to keep shipping costs low, or a vendor that will pay your shipping costs with a reasonable minimum order.

9. Samples, Testers & Back Bar. Some companies will offer a discounted or free tester program, product samples and/or back bar. What do you have to do to become eligible to receive free samples, testers and back bar (if this is achievable with this manufacturer)? Business expenses such as paying for samples, testers or back bar can cut into your profitability, so consider any value that a manufacturer can provide with samples, testers and back bar.

10. Availability. Who will you compete with for product sales? How many like-businesses in the area carry their products, and can you get a product exclusivity agreement within a certain mile radius? Are their products offered via Amazon or are they at beauty stores? If their products are saturated in the marketplace, what extras can a manufacturer provide in exchange for you to carry their products (such as a free back bar)? Can you get your business listed on their digital media as a retail location? Will you be included in their advertising and marketing campaigns? 

11. Marketing. Can they provide high-resolution pictures of their products and product services for use on your digital platforms? Do they provide retail point-of-sale (POS) marketing opportunities such as a gift-with-purchase program? What are the costs of these marketing programs to you, if any? Do they offer free product with purchase wholesale program, such as buy 12 pieces, receive 1 free or get a percentage off? Can you negotiate a better wholesale price with larger wholesale ordering?

12. Profitability. Most spa-type product manufacturers will provide the opportunity to double your wholesale price as the final retail price. But some product manufacturers, especially equipment manufacturers, will provide a smaller (for example 30 percent) markup for their regular retail price; however, these equipment sales are usually more expensive items which make that 30 percent profit a generous amount of income.

You need to decide how much business space you want to (or can) dedicate to retail. Is there space readily available in your business to retail? Or, are you paying extra rent for extra space to provide/sell retail? How much shelf space is required for an item and how much of that item can be sold in one year’s time?

What are the expected sale rates of these products and what are their profitability? Does that product sale income cover your rent for the space you are providing to retail those products? What type of markup is available to sell at the average retail price of their products?

Choose Wisely

As you can see, there are many concepts to consider when choosing, using or retailing products beyond the numbers and salability. It is 100 percent your responsibility to become knowledge about what different product lines can offer your business to support you and help you grow. 

Some sales reps and product manufacturers will become a great supporting partner—and some will not. 

Do not be afraid or feel guilty about asking these important questions to gain the information you need to choose the right products and partnership. Remember, this is about building your income, reputation, services and your entire business. 

Choosing the right product manufacturers is a really important decision that can make or break your business–so make the best choice you possibly can to support your own business.

50 Questions to Help Find the Right Products Manufacturer

• What makes your products special? 

• Why would I want to use or retail your products?

• What makes your products something my customers would want to buy? 

• What are the active ingredients that make your products effective?

• Where do these active ingredients come from? 

• Is there any published research studies that show the effectiveness or your products?

• Is product training available? 

• Do you have in-person training? 

• Will you come to my business for product or service training?

• Do you have a training facility and where is it? 

• Are there online videos? What training is provided in the online training videos?

• Are there written product service manuals? What training is provided in the written product service manuals?

• How do I contact the product sales rep or customer services?

• What is the average response time to questions?

• Are any of your products being reformulated or product packaging changes being made within the next year?

• What type of support do you provide (if any) if there is a bad customer product experience?

• Do you pay for return shipping in addition to providing product credit or refunds when a customer returns a product?

• Do you charge a product restocking or return fee? Do you still charge this fee if you shipped me an expired or damaged product?

• What is the average remaining shelf life of your products once they arrive on my doorstep? 

• What is the open product return policy if a dissatisfied customer returns a product? 

• Are your products organic?

• From where do you harvest your product ingredients? 

• What is your corporate message about the healthfulness or your products? 

• What is your product packaging like? Do you use eco-friendly and recyclable packing materials? 

• Do any of your products have refillable containers? 

• What is your corporate message for the care of our environment? 

• Do you offer free shipping with a minimum order? 

• How much does shipping cost (i.e. is there “flat-rate” shipping)? 

• How long will it take for your product order to arrive? 

• If the products endure a long shipping period in an extreme climate, what responsibility is taken with shipping to ensure the products retain their efficacy?

• What do I have to do to become eligible to receive free samples, testers and back bar (if this is achievable with this manufacturer)?

• Who will I compete with for product sales? 

• How many like-businesses in the area carry your products, and can I get a product exclusivity agreement within a certain mile radius?

• Are your products offered via Amazon or are they at beauty stores?

• If your products are saturated in the marketplace, what extras can you provide me to carry your products (i.e. can you offer me a free back bar)? 

• Will you list my business on your digital media as a retail location? 

• Will you include my business in your advertising and marketing campaigns? 

• Can you provide high resolution pictures of your products and product services that I can use on my digital platforms? 

• Do you provide retail point-of-sale (POS) marketing opportunities such as a gift-with-purchase (GWP) program? 

• What are the costs of these marketing programs to me, if any? 

• Do you offer a free product with purchase wholesale program, such as buy 12 pieces, receive 1 free or get a percentage off? 

• Can I negotiate a better wholesale price with larger wholesale ordering?

• What type of markup is available (thus profitability) to sell at the average retail price of your products?

About the Author:

Selena Belisle is a three-time World Arm Wrestling Federation champion who holds other minor athletic titles in a variety of sports. She has been practicing massage for almost 30 years and is the owner of ceinstitute.com in Miami, Florida. Belisle teaches several massage-related subjects in both live and online classes. She specializes in advanced massage techniques and spa education as well as many other bodywork modalities.

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