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Do you have the creativity and resilience needed to maintain a successful massage practice?

The COVID-19 crisis is going to have a massive impact on our industry. Sadly, while some massage businesses will survive it, there will be others that don’t — and not surviving will not be because of a lack of talent, passion or skill.

The difference between those businesspeople who make it through and those who don’t will be about resilience; a willingness to try new things, be creative and exhibit the ability to dive into something new.

[Read “Voices of COVID-19: Massage Therapists Share Stories of Challenge & Hope.”]

In this article, we’ll look at sales, client-care related online programs, and relying on your non-massage abilities to generate a non-massage supplemental income.

Sell Something

The fastest way to see your income disappear is to not make anything available for sale.

While it may feel a little awkward to sell right now, most people understand that you’re a small-business owner. If you set up a special offer to attract customers and help you through this time, most of your loyal clients — those who have the funds available — will be happy to help you.

Get over your aversion to selling — now — and launch a flash sale. Create a fantastic offer or unmissable deal, and not only will your business benefit, but your clients will have something to look forward to when this is over. (We all need that right now.)

Choose between five and 10 of your services to promote and offer them at enough of a discount to get people really excited. You will have to carry out these discounted services when things return to normal, but in reality, it’s no different than selling a bunch of gift certificates at Christmas — except you won’t get everybody booking their treatments at the same time.

When I sold prepaid packages regularly and ran flash sales, I would find that maybe three or four people per week came in with a prepaid package. This meant that there were enough other clients coming in at regular price that it didn’t cause a problem, and of course, while the discounted clients were in, I got the opportunity to upsell services, products and more treatments to them.

Another option you might want to try right now is promoting your gift certificates. If gift certificates are allowed to expire in the state in which you live, you could even choose to extend the expiration date for two years because of the circumstances we’re in now.

How long should your flash run? In my experience, it works well to run a flash sale for a week and then focus the next week on selling gift certificates.

Create a few packages that you know will work for your clients or offer a gift certificate with your packaging and some products. Put together a few different packages and options they can pick up from your business at a later date, or sell them through your website. 

If you sell home-care products and you’re comfortable going out to the post office, offer to mail your clients their products if they’re running low. You could even offer a pickup or delivery service. Consider offering free shipping for orders over a certain amount. Many suppliers are offering drop shipping; with this you can just take product orders and pass the order along for fulfillment. 

Teach Online

If you’re comfortable with online consultations, create online programs and wellness consultations, making sure to stay strictly within your scope of practice. If you offer anything health-related to clients, you must also make sure you are using a HIPAA-compliant video service. (Google “HIPAA compliant video service” to learn more.)

Naturally, what you’re able to offer will depend on what you’re qualified to do, but there will be many things your clients want to know that you can help them with.

What could you guide people through via a video call? Think stretching, guided relaxation, self-massage with a foam roller or tennis ball, maybe even creating a self-care plan with check-ins. You could, for example, charge people $20 per week to have some self-care instruction. If you are also credentialed or experienced in another area, such as yoga instruction, you can focus on that in your videos.

Your clients are all as stressed as you are, and we all need help and support right now. If this is something you enjoy doing, you could even keep it as a service when things return to normal.

Share Your Skills

How are your online skills? If you’ve set up your own business website and you are good with technology, why not offer to create websites for others’ businesses? Are you an expert in social media and know your way around a scheduling app? There are plenty of people who don’t know what to do with their social media, so consider offering people support with that too.

Take some time to think about what you can do right now to make money and help other businesses. I recommend brainstorming “10 things I could offer or do for people” and see what you come up with. You might be surprised at what you can do that seems easy to you that other people need help with.

If you’re talented in something such as graphic design or writing, for example, you might consider listing a few services on Fiverr or Upwork. It’s always good to have different streams of income, pandemic or not.

Look through your local network and connections and offer your services. If you are a member of your local chamber of commerce, they would probably be happy to help you get the word out. You can find legitimate work-from-home opportunities if you look for them; consider teaching English, virtual receptionist services and transcribing.

Take Action

The most important thing you can do right now is take action. While some of these ideas are instant wins and can be put into place relatively quickly, others will take time, education and perseverance. Even things that don’t feel like they are working can lead to self-discovery and opportunities that we never would have had otherwise.

About the Author:

Gael Wood has more than 23 years of experience in the massage-and-spa industry. She now concentrates on training massage and spa therapists in business, spa services and greater success. Wood is also a MASSAGE Magazine All-Star, one of a group of massage experts who have dedicated their lives to empowering and informing massage professionals. These innovative therapists and teachers are educating the magazine’s community of massage therapists in our print magazine, on our social media channels, and on

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