How to Compete with the Spas

How to you go to bat for precious clients when there are spas springing up all over your neighborhood?  How does a skilled, qualified and experienced Massage Therapist compete with Massage Envy and their ilk?

How do you respond when people ask you what you charge, and then quote Massage Envy prices?

I think the answer is this:  The local spa has familiarity and visibility working.  They are top of mind.  They spend lots of advertising dollars, follow up and signage to make this happen.  The massage from your local spa may or may not be comparable to yours, but that is not the real issue.  Massage Therapists can compete with the massage mills by developing visibility and trust in the community.

Massage Envy in particular has worked hard to equate the name with affordable massage.  If someone is new in town and needs a massage, he or she may not know any other place so that’s the first choice. With a few small changes in your approach and a willingness to be visible consistently, you can be the first choice.

Independent massage therapists definitely can compete effectively with the spas.  We just need to work hard at getting to be top of mind for the people in our communities.  Now, how to do that?

1.  Get people’s minds linked up to you when they think of massage.  Talk about your work often.  Give your card to your friends and neighbors.  Offer advice when appropriate about muscle pain.  Be willing to do five minutes for someone who’s suffering.  They may not be in the market for massage, but they will know someone who is!  Wear your corny “Every Body Needs Massage” t-shirt or equivalent.  Don’t be shy!

2.  Get visible in your community.  Go to small business meet-ups.  Offer a free evening workshop at your local Parks and Recreation center.  Show up at your local Farmer’s Market with your On-Site Chair (get the appropriate permission first).

3.  Start a mailing list, if you haven’t already.  You may naively suspect that you will use it to sell massage…no indeed!  You will use it to offer value to the people on your list, so they get in the habit of opening your mail to see what new goodies about being well you are offering to them.  And, incidentally, you’re the massage therapist!  Anyone you know can be on this list.  You are not bugging them, you are offering value.  Be sure you do and no one will be unhappy.  They’ll be glad to open your communications and they’ll remember you when they need a massage.

4.  If you don’t have “Certified Massage Therapist” or something similar as your email auto-signature, get it on there!  Every time you send an email to anybody, they will receive a reminder of who you are and what you do.  The next time they have back pain or feel over-the-top stressed they’ll think of you.

If people know you, like you and trust you, how many dollars they have to spend to see you instead of a stranger at a spa will hardly matter.  If it does, then there are better clients waiting for you!

A word-of mouth Massage Therapy business builds slowly over time.  It takes persistence and diligence, but if you stay focused your efforts will certainly pay off.

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