If you're about to graduate from massage school or just received your license, you've probably given some thought to your practice: your office location, the techniques you'll offer, who your clients will be, and what issues they'll bring to you. You should include retail sales in your vision of the perfect practice, for a simple way to increase income and provide clients gold-standard service.
Customer service deserves your undivided attention; however, your duties to your client don't stop once you've delivered a great massage. Clients expect a warm environment and personalized attention, and this applies to retail sales as much as it does to massage therapy.
Simply put, retailing involves buying products and re-selling them to clients while making a profit. Think of yourself as the middleman. You purchase products at lower prices than what you sell them for. After collecting a fee from your client and deducting the cost of the item, what's left is your profit.
Retailing represents much more than a chance to make money: It is a way to offer clients additional value by recommending products selected with their needs in mind; extend the benefits of massage; and keep clients coming back.
Don't wait until you graduate to attend massage conferences. Most conferences offer student discounts for admission and educational sessions. The vendor halls will be jam-packed with product vendors eager to show you their wares-and they are particularly interested in students. They understand students are the future of the industry and want you to believe in their products as much as they do.
Cruising the exhibit halls to find products that interest and excite you allows you to meet vendors, and also allows you an opportunity to make a great deal face-to-face. Don't be shy. Engage the vendors and inquire about student deals.
Search online for products, too. If something interests you, call the company and ask to speak with a salesperson. Most will be more than happy to provide the customer service necessary to move you from being an inquiring massage therapist to a paying partner. Many vendors will even send you free samples, if you ask for them.
Choosing products to retail is not an easy task. Pick products you believe in, ones you truly feel would benefit your clients. You will only be able to successfully retail products you are knowledgeable and passionate about.
You will also want to retail products that complement your practice. If you provide a lot of spa treatments, choose a scrub or mud you use often, plus a complementary lotion. If you practice injury rehabilitation or deep tissue massage, you might choose herbal topical analgesics. Look for unique products that will extend the benefits of the treatments your clients request most.
One easy way to decide what to retail is to sell products you use during massage. The effective use of these products can inspire a buying attitude in your client and in turn create an environment for suggestive selling.
After her session, show your client the product and let her know she can purchase it-but your sales pitch doesn't have to end there. If it feels appropriate, once she has decided to purchase, you can use a technique called upselling: introducing additional products that complement the first product. For example, you could sell your client the salt scrub you used during her spa treatment, then suggest purchasing the body butter that goes with it.
Remember, you are not just trying to make a sale. Since you believe in the benefits of these products, you are providing an additional service with your suggestions. You are exposing your client to options she may not have considered.
Start Small and Stay Organized
Ease your way into retailing, especially if you are also beginning your first practice. If you funnel excessive funds into a large inventory right away, it may set you up for too big a challenge. Get a feel for upselling and promoting products with massage services to build your confidence, and in turn build your inventory.
Even if you only stock a single product, you can't run a business without detailed records. Keep accurate records of all purchases and sales using inventory software. If you use a computer program to handle appointments, it may already include the option to manage retail offerings.
Tracking sales gives you the information you need to succeed, including:
- Profit or loss: Understanding which products make money, and which don't, will guide your purchasing choices when you restock.
- Trends: Do you sell more scented candles in winter? Are more products sold on certain days of the week? Your records will tell you.
- Inventory: If supplies run low, your records will make sure you're not caught unaware. Likewise, if you have way too much of a product, you'll know when it's time to have a sale.
- Client preferences: In a small business environment, clients expect a personalized experience. Keeping track of what your clients buy allows you to make accurate new-product suggestions and show them you pay attention to their needs and desires.
Add a Professional Touch
When you choose a product line and partner with a vendor, inquire about a display. They are usually complimentary; however, if they are not, ask your salesperson to give you a complimentary display anyway, and he might do so. An effective display will interest your clients. After viewing it, they can experience the products in your treatment room. The finishing touch is you, the expert, educating clients on the benefits of products for home use.
A client who walks away from a massage feeling better due to your therapeutic touch, paired with the knowledge to initiate self-care with a product you have sold, will possess a lasting impression of you that extends beyond the massage table.