The Myth of the $100K Massage Therapist

There’s a book written about how to make $100,000 per year as a massage therapist. It’s written by a lovely woman who made her fortune in massage working in Seattle and on high-end celebrity clients. Her book is insightful, and very helpful if you live in a large city and you are willing to work the hotel trade. My problem with her book is that most of us don’t live in large metropolitan areas. We don’t have fifty different five star hotels with concierge’s palms to grease… so what do we do?

(And I must admit, I live in Knoxville, TN, which while not a huge metropolitan city is by no means a small town. Those of you in small towns have a real challenge to educate your area on the benefits of massage, as well as to remove the stigma that often surrounds massage in small towns.)

Well, my suggestion is that we do the same thing we do when we get a challenging client on our tables…we get creative, we try different things, and we don’t stop until we find a way to make what we do work!!

There are lots of different marketing ideas out there. If you live in small town America, the best thing that you have is your reputation. No matter what you do, word of mouth is going to be your best marketing tool. But there are only so many people you are going to be able to touch in a day, so how can you leverage your time and your skill set? There are actually lots of different ways.

One of the most effective is a referral card. Print up some cards, postcard sized, and give them to each client who comes to see you. Offer their friends a small discount or a sampler service, and then offer the client the same when their friend books.

Another way is to speak to groups, if you are comfortable talking to groups of people. Most local service clubs (Rotary, Kiwanis, Junior League), your local library, and other civic organizations are in need of speakers…many do a healthy living series annually. Bring a discount card with you, and hand them out liberally. There’s a old salesperson’s saying that goes, “you must give away 100 business cards to earn one client’s business.” Think of that! You need to do 100 chair massages to earn one good, steady client; that is going to take a while.

And always remember, it’s your personal reputation we are talking about here. So think about whom you want to present to your community. You are a professional; you have a business to build! What do think of your banker if he is wearing shorts and a t-shirt to work? Would you want your doctor to have a runny nose? Does your manicurist have dirty nails? Present yourself in a manner that will draw the type of clients that you’d like to see in your business. If you are comfortable with working on athletes, then clean, nice sweat pants, a polo shirt and tennis shoes might be the dress that you should wear. If you want to work with alternative health seekers, perhaps yoga pants and a flowing top and some sandals that you slip off during the session is the way to go. Remember that you are always representing your business – in the carpool line, in the grocery store – dress the part. Be prepared, have business cards and your calendar with you at all times. Keep your website updated. You are a business owner now; you are on your way!!

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