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Selling Products is Smart Business

In today's economy, wise massage therapists need to look at several income streams-and selling products is a smart revenue stream choice. Selling products benefits the client in that it extends the treatment benefits to home and increases your income, all at the same time.

Product sales are a great diversification method-and profits from them can defray overhead expenses and add to your bottom line. It is hazardous-physically, emotionally and financially-to rely on your hands-on work as the sole source of your livelihood, particularly if your work requires intensity.

If you generate all of your income doing massage treatments, the only options you have to increase your income are to raise your prices, take on additional clients or hire more massage therapists to work for you. Yet, you can increase your income with add-on services, gift certificates and product sales.

Some massage therapists hesitate to sell products because they fear the costs. In reality, selling products in your practice does not take a huge investment. Over the past few years, we have focused on helping therapists sell products in their practices. We teach classes on product sales, write articles on this topic, and work with clients to improve their retail sales.

Unfortunately, the majority of massage therapists still do not sell products-and of those that do sell products, most aren't doing it well. It's frustrating for us, because we know what a powerful difference products sale makes to one's income level, in addition to the wellness benefits they provides clients.

Consider this: Most therapists are comfortable selling gift certificates. It's easy to take it to the next level by bundling gift certificates with products. This way the client has the immediate satisfaction of being able to use the product right away, and keeps you positioned in the forefront between session.

If you are reluctant to incorporate product sales, start out simply. Perhaps sell just a few products until you are more comfortable with the process and are more attuned to what your clients want to purchase. Ideally, you have products on hand, but if you have major concerns about carrying inventory, you can have a sign-up sheet where clients place orders. You would then purchase those items when you've reached the minimum amount needed for a wholesale order. Some wholesalers will even drop-ship products directly to your clients.

When considering whether to sell products in your practice, we suggest you do the math. Let's say that you have a client base of 100 people. If you averaged selling $50 in products to each client per year, that would increase your income by $5,000. After you factor in the cost of the goods, shipping, promotion, and time, you should still see a net profit of at least $2,000. That's pretty good for just stocking a few items that your clients would like and would probably by something similar from another company anyway. Now imagine bringing in a few higher-end items or increasing the average amount that you sell each year.

Product sales also offer clients a valuable service, because you have access to many products that aren't easily available to the general public. For instance, there are wonderful topical treatments and self-care tools your average clients can't find at their local health emporium. Many of these products aren't even directly available to retail consumers, they must be purchased by a practitioner and then sold to the client.

Of course, you should only sell products that you know are reliable, suitable for use by your clients, in your scope of practice and a natural extension of your business. Products that make smart business sense for massage therapists include hot and cold packs, eye pillows, relaxation tools, support pillows, ergonomic devices, self-massage tools, essential oils, topical analgesics, self-health books and DVDs, gift baskets of self-care items, bath salts, scrubs, body butters and lotions, and music.

Product sales is a natural extension of the standard of care and healing already associated with massage therapy. Clients will trust your recommendations, especially on those products used in the session itself. Educating your clients about products means there is no real reason to have to have to sell anything to your clients.

Consider unique approaches to product sales. Many of our clients are "baking in" the product sales to their treatments. What this means is creating a special treatment that includes using the product(s) in the session and sending the client home with the product(s). For instance, you could create the "Weekend Warrior Pain Relief Treatment" that includes a massage with the use of a topical analgesic and a hot pack. After the treatment, the client goes home with the remainder of the topical analgesic and the hot pack. Let's say that your normal session rate is $75, the retail price of the topical is $15 and the retail price of the heat pack is $20. You set the price for this special treatment at $100. The client saves $10 and you earn an extra $30. It's a Win/Win experience for everyone. Plus, if you include a product that needs to be replenished, and the client really likes it, you now have set it up for ongoing sales.

When it comes to retailing, you need to drive your BUS to selling success:

It is our position that you do your clients a disservice if you don't have products they can purchase. Many people are overworked and time management is a problem. If you can save them the time of having to stop to buy a product, then you've simplified their lives-and that's priceless.

We have both received sessions where the therapist used a really nice product or had great music playing, but didn't offer those items for sale. This was a missed sales opportunity for the therapist-and disappointing to the clients.

The ugly truth is the majority of massage therapists are not earning the amount of money they need to live their desired lifestyle. Selling products-even a relatively small amount-can make a considerable difference. Start practicing smart business today and jump on the retail bus!

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Last updated: September 7, 2011
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