Retail Therapy

Many hardworking massage therapists and bodyworkers struggle to earn enough income. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual wage for massage therapists was $35,970 in 2012. The lowest paid 10 percent averaged just $18,420. The key to earning more and supporting yourself is learning how to operate a profitable business beyond the work of your hands. To build equity in your business, you may want to offer a wide variety of services, employ independent contractors, maximize shared space and minimize overhead. And you may consider selling products that increase your clients’ wellbeing.

Adding retail to your business can enhance the efficacy of treatments and improve your professional relationship with clients, while increasing your income by hundreds to thousands of dollars a month. But there are many angles to contemplate. We’ve compiled some information to help you think about growing your bottom line and building your business by developing sales in your practice. There are many ethical, legal, business and financial issues involved in the decision to begin incorporating retail.

First, you must be properly trained to sell the products. They should always be something you use from a company you trust, and solely recommended based on the client’s best interest. You need to be an educated representative of quality products that benefit your clients and establish long lasting relationships. Recommending products from reputable sources that promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage at home self-care, bolster the positive effects of massage therapy and bodywork. Ongoing treatment makes a significant impact on client’s wellbeing, and recommendations that can be used between sessions can provide long term benefits and create a sustainable difference in everyday life.

Now, consider what products are relevant to your practice. In a spa or if you are focused on relaxation and energy work, you may be interested in offering essential oils, neck pillows or soothing music. Selling products that clients can’t find elsewhere is a positive opportunity to offer special health and wellness items that benefit customers in person. Analgesic rubs, at home tools and hot or cold packs are great for sports or medical oriented modalities but if you are in a clinical environment, be sure to make a clear distinction that shows that you are recommending and not prescribing.

Next, make sure that your location is zoned for both a massage practice and retail. If you are renting, confirm you have the appropriate business license or certification. Be sure your liability insurance will cover product sales. Learn about your responsibilities for collecting sales tax in your state and how to link your federal identification number. Consider how you will establish a system for inventory to collect payments and track sales and sales tax. Is it worth the money and time tied up in bookkeeping?

Last, do you have room? Designate a space in your reception area separate from bodywork treatment rooms where you can cleanly and professionally display products. A retail area can be simple but requires regular maintenance and knowledgeable staff. Clients will have the convenience of sampling and directly purchasing products you recommend after a session. Just having the supplies used during a massage available on a shelf is an easy way to offer clients the decision to make a purchase without them being in a vulnerable state.

Incorporating retail is a risk and large investment but can be rewarding for both your clients and your practice. Learn how to sell massage products effectively and ethically by regularly checking in with your state and local boards, educating yourself about the products you choose to sell and brushing up on good sales practices. Offering support tools can enhance therapeutic benefits, expand your level of service and grow your business.

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