Chair Massage Marketing that WORKS

1. Set up your space

2. Present yourself as a professional

3. Make a connection

4. Call to Action

5. Email follow up

It is extremely easy to find companies, events, and charities that are looking for volunteer massage therapists to provide chair massage. If you are just starting out and have ZERO clients, doing a free chair massage event is acceptable. You will get to a point in your career where it will not make sense to leave your office (losing money) to go work for free. At that point, limit yourself to paying chair massage events, but you can still use the steps below to use those events as a marketing opportunity.

So, without further ado, here is how you can successfully turn a chair massage event into paying clients:

  1. Set up your space like a boss. Create your own little “relaxation station.” If it is a situation where there are lots of vendors in a large space, make sure you have a table to block off your space to create a mini treatment room. Use the table as a barrier so your chair and clients are in a space that is separate from the rest of the event. Set the mood by having it smell nice (while being cautious about using perfumes or air fresheners as some people are sensitive to scents), making sure it is clean, maybe play a little music or have appropriate decorations, and use a tablecloth on your table.
  2. Present yourself as a professional that is there to work. Dress to impress. Consider the type of clientele that is attending the event and try to match their level of attire. If you are going to a law office and everyone will be in suits, showing up in yoga pants and bare feet will make you look out of place. Dress up and wear shoes. If it is a yoga expo, by all means wear your yoga pants and kick off those shoes! Consider your audience. Not only do you want to look professional, but you also want to present yourself as someone that is ready to work. If you are not working on someone, stand next to your chair and ask people engaging questions to get them to come over. “Have you ever had a chair massage?”, “Do you want to take a minute to relax?”, “Want to get off your feet for a few minutes?”
  3. Once you get your client over to the chair, it is time to engage, slow down, take your time, and connect with the client. Make it all about them. Ask any intake questions you see fit, make sure they are comfortable in the chair, and get to work. Here is where you can wow them with your psychic abilities. As a massage therapist, you can tell who works at a desk, who is on their feet all day, etc. Talk to them about this. “Hmmm, I am noticing you have a lot of tension in your shoulders, do you work at a desk?” Saying things like this will blow their mind and get them thinking you really KNOW them and what they need. What better way to show them that you are THE massage therapist for them?!
  4. Now let’s get into the marketing stuff. You have impressed them with your professionalism, charming personality, and stellar massage skills. It is time to close the deal. Before the client got in your chair, you had them give you their name, an email address, and maybe you had them sign a waiver (depending on the laws and regulations in your area). Set your sights on getting the client on the schedule today. In order to do this, have a call to action. This is something to make your client feel the need to buy in that moment. It calls them to purchase right then, not in the future. If they do not do it then, they lose out on a cheaper price, a free gift, or an added bonus. Calls to action have been around since the beginning of sales because they work. Now, don’t give away the farm, but think of a solid call to action. My favorite in this case is to have a product that compliments your practice, is cheap to make or buy, and is aesthetically pleasing. A perfect example is a sugar scrub. You can find a recipe online where all you basically need is sugar, oil, essential oil, and a labeled container. The most expensive thing is most likely the container. Keep your costs low on this! Have your product displayed nicely on your table with signage indicating that this is not for sale, it is only for the *special* clients that make an appointment today. Having a tangible product serves multiple purposes. It grabs people’s attention visually, it is a conversation starter, it is something for people to have in their hands as they walk around the event (another person may ask them where they got it, directing people to your booth), and it is a reminder that that client is special because they got a gift for booking with you. Utilize this call to action when you are done with the massage. If the client seems at all interested in your business after the massage (they ask you for a business card, where your business is located, what your hours are, etc.) tell them that clients that book today get a free sugar scrub. Show them to the scrub on the table and put one in their hands. As they look at it, you pull up your schedule in your book or on your computer and offer them a specific appointment time. If that does not work for them, find a time that does. If they are really not interested, it will be apparent. You will be able to tell the difference from someone that needs a little prodding to someone that just wants to run. This is not going to work for everyone, and some people may say “no.” That is ok! At least you tried. Just keep in mind, if you do not close the deal right then, they will leave and never call you. I don’t care how many business cards you hand out, the chances of someone calling you after an event are slim. The key is to book them that day.
  5. Now, as a last ditch effort, you have that email list, right? The day after the event, email everyone on the list that did not book and send them an email stating that you are extending the offer for the sugar scrub for three more days. If they schedule with you within three days, they can still get the sugar scrub. This may get someone that was on the fence to pull the trigger. Just keep in mind, that you must send the email out the very next day, no later. If the sugar scrub idea isn’t for you, you can always add something to the massage. Consider an extra 15 minutes, an aromatherapy blend, or a tension tamer head massage. Never offer a straight discount. Do not offer a dollar amount or a percentage off as a call to action. You want clients to come in and pay your full rate. You already gave them a FREE chair massage, remember?

Nine Reasons NOT to Give Your Clients Extra Time on the Table

            I was a brand new, rising star of a massage therapist. Ok, who are we kidding, I was just starting off and only had two regular clients. I had all the time in the world, and I had an awesome connection with one of my new clients. I did what any new massage therapist would do; talk to the client for an hour, then got her on the table for her hour massage. As I got busier, I struggled with spending less time talking with this client. It put a strain on our relationship as client/therapist and there was a wishy-washy boundary between a professional relationship and friendship because we spent so much time talking about our lives before her weekly massage.

Running a tight schedule is an extremely important part of having a successful massage practice. If you do not stick to the agreed-upon appointment time, it can be harmful to your business. Just so we are all on the same page, the scenario I am citing in this article is about running over on time when the client is unaware, and you do not intend on charging them for it. The time overflow could be anywhere from five minutes to an hour. It has happened to all of us, but here is why you should stop.

  1. It is disrespectful of their time.

I know you think you are doing the client a favor by giving them bonus time, but they have places to be. Nothing ruins a great massage like looking at the clock at the end and realizing you are going to be rushed to get up off the table and out the door because you have somewhere to be.

This has happened to me as a client. I had a massage therapist go over on time as a bonus to me because she appreciated me as a client. I got off the table all dreamy and relaxed, eased my way out of the room, checked out, and floated to my car. ERRRRR! My world came to a screeching halt when I turned on my car and looked at that little digital clock with a time that was way later than I expected. She gave me extra time, and I had no idea. Then I was late for the thing I had to go to. I don’t remember what it was, probably because I was so late.

2. It makes it about you and not them.

It is easy for our egos to slip into the picture as massage therapists. We feel that we can heal everyone with the beautiful gift of massage. The more seasoned you get as a massage therapist, the more you realize that we cannot heal everyone. Giving someone extra time because they “need the work” is led by the ego. It is saying, “I can heal this person if I just have 10 more minutes.” Let it go and work on it in the next session.

3. You get less of a break between clients.

Giving a client more time on the table means less of a break between clients for you. This is a recipe for burnout.

4. You are setting the expectation for it to happen every time.

Spending extra time with a client turns into an expectation. It is going to put stress on your therapist/client relationship if there comes an appointment when you can’t give the extra time.

5. It encourages lateness or clients arriving early.

Most of the time, when therapists end up running over appointment times, is because the client arrived late. We feel bad that the client is not getting their full table time. This encourages the client to be careless about punctuality. They will know that even if they are late, they will still get their full time. What is the incentive for them to be on time?

The same goes for clients that arrive very early. If you take a client in early and give them their full appointment time plus the extra time at the beginning, they will be encouraged to continue the behavior. They will realize the earlier they arrive, the more free table time they will receive.

6. It makes it less likely for them to rebook.

Clients are coming to see you, as a therapist, because you provide structure, respect, and care. Being clear about the amount of time you spend with a client is a great way to have firm boundaries. Ending a session when there is still work to do is a great opportunity to educate your client. It took months or years to create the patterns we are addressing in the body. You cannot be expected to “fix” it all in an hour. Give them something to look forward to the next time and a reason to re-book.

7. It puts pressure on your clients to spend more money than they planned for.

When you give a client extra time, it puts pressure on them to tip you more or to pay for the extra time, even if that is not your intention. You can tell them you are not going to charge them more, but they feel bad. This situation can put undue stress on your client/therapist relationship. Remedy this potential awkward situation in advance by asking if they would like to upgrade their session before the session begins.

8. It makes it harder to upsell the client to buy a longer session in the future.

It is simple to say, “we keep running out of time, you should consider coming in for a 90-minute session next time.” It is impossible to upsell if you are turning their 60-minute massage into a 90-minute massage by going over on time and not charging them.

9. It cuts into your bottom line.

Most massage therapists charge by the hour. Every minute you go over, is another minute you are not being paid. Employees with other jobs would not dream of working for free, why should you?

A great alternative to going over on time is to simply ask the client if they would like to upgrade their massage to a longer session. Tell them the price difference and see if they are ok with it. That is a way to increase your revenue and build your business. If a client is late, be up front with them that you cannot give them extra time, even if you do have the time. Setting that boundary with everyone is extremely important. Trust me, I struggled with late clients for years. It is extremely freeing when you stick to your boundary and have clear rules for all your clients, no matter how much you like them.