Well, that’s how I felt when I was stuck in a lousy, massage job.
Funny how my attitude changed after I left the job I hated and I finally figured out how to grow my business.
Now’s the time when I’m supposed to say here are 10 things that you can do to get more clients.
But do you really have time to do 10 things?
Besides, 8 of the 10 on the list will produce small numbers. And I’m not going to waste your time with them especially if you need clients and money yesterday.
Instead, I’m going to talk about the two, big things on the list that will quickly bring in clients without costing you anything for advertisment.
But before I tell you what they are, I’m going to warn you that you’re not going to like what I have to say next.
Get used to the idea of “discount” and “free” for a while.
Does discount massage devalue your service?
Is free massage a pain in the ass because it’s a lot work for no dollars?
Will your ego be bruised because you think you’re worth more than “free” and “discounted”?
Major dose of humility coming your way.
So what’s the upside?
Clients. Potentially, lots of them.
And here’s how you’re going to do it.
First, run a Groupon.
What?! That’s soooo 2010.
Yeah, it is. But here’s the deal, we’re going to use Groupon as a tactic to initially generate clients. And as soon as you have enough clients to the leave the job you hate, bye-bye Groupon.
Still having trouble breathing?
I know, it’s gonna suck a little, but I promise that when you get through it, you’ll thank me.
My Groupon Experiment
This may help you persevere. In 2014, I wanted to re-energize my practice in one of my offices. I ran a Groupon, Living Social and Amazon Local (no longer in existence).
Back then, here’s how it worked. I pretended my 60 minute massage was $80 because Groupon was going to sell it at half price.
If I had said $70 (what I charged at the time), the half price would have been $35. Halving $80 took us to $40 (they actually sold it at $39) which meant an extra $5-ish to carve up between Groupon and me.
Of the $39, I kept $20-ish on average. (I ran a couple Groupons and with each new contract the percentages changed.)
Hang in there. The numbers get a little bit better.
Average tip for me when someone redeemed a Groupon was $10. So that put me at $30 an hour.
Of course, you have to subtract sheets, cream and rent. So let’s say I was making $25 an hour.
Okay, so that’s still way low for an hourly rate (including tip) BUT think about this, you’re not only getting paid to do a massage with Groupon, you’re getting paid to advertise with your hands.
Each Groupon customer who walked through my door was a potential client and/or a referral source. I just needed to win some over.
By the way, all Groupon buyers are not discount shoppers. My client repeat rate (meaning the person came back for another massage at full price) was around 15%. So for every 100 Groupons, 15 became clients.
Who became my clients?
People who got massage regularly and were actively looking for a new massage therapist, massage therapists who were looking for a massage therapist for their aching arms and shoulders, and people who were new to massage.
So, I made some money and got some new clients and there’s more…drum roll please…
When my Groupon first launched, I got a small response. That was disappointing, but what I didn’t realize was that Groupon sales are driven by reviews. Once I started to get positive reviews, my Groupons really started selling.
What I also didn’t get at the time was the importance of reviews for my overall business. Once I got a bunch of positive Groupon reviews, I could use them in my advertising anywhere, like on my website.
And last but not least, I collected about 150 customer email addresses. Easy as pie to do.
We have a line for an email address on our intake form. You can download our intake form here: Massage-Intake-Form-Download.docx (340 downloads) .
Once you have names and email addresses you now have a list. Here’s a quick primer on how to engage and sell to that list: How to Email in More Clients.
When You Can Stop
I stopped my Groupons after about 200 sales. At the end of the day, I had more money in my pocket, about 30 new clients, 150-ish new email addresses and good reviews that I could use to help advertise my services.
Oh, there’ll be a percentage of Groupon customers who don’t redeem their vouchers. You still keep the money. For me it was probably in the 20% range.
After you’ve get a handle on the Groupon flow, it’s time to add in demo massages.
This is not a willy-nilly process. You’re going to target specific referral sources, health practitioners who don’t rely entirely on insurance money and businesses that might be a good fit with massage, like a running or bike store.
I go into detail about how to do demo massages in How to Grow Your Massage Business with $0. Here’s the short version:
- Target a health professional you respect. Her business model should include, if not solely be based on, cash paying customers.
- Target a business that’s a fit with massage. Think running store, bike store or a yoga studio (that doesn’t offer massage).
- Offer this deal: 15 minute demo massages to their clients, patients or customers.
- Offer the owner of the business and her employees free 30 minute massages. Ultimately, the owner and her employees are going to be your best, on-going referral source. Treat them nice!
- If things go well, look for other ways to connect with your referral source, like providing chair massage at a store event or linking websites.
Okay, so now you’ve got a lot going on. Once you feel like you’re getting enough of a customer base to reach your goal, stop the Groupon, but keep the demo massages running.Run a Groupon to initially get massage clients. Then get the hell out! Click To Tweet
Now you can start to work on “valuing up” your massage again.
It’s an easy fix.
When someone calls and asks for the Groupon deal price, you say no.
Your value just went up:-)
Avoid Mission Creep
So, if you’re motivated now, good, but you need to be vigilant here. Because in the time it takes to get your Groupon and demo massages set up, you’re going to find a list somewhere that says you should make a brochure or hand out 15 minute gift certificates to people you know so that they can hand them out to someone they know…do you see where I’m going here?
It’s so much easier to hand out a brochure or gift certificate than it is to lay it on the line and actually demonstrate your value.
But in the beginning if you focus on advertising massage through your hands, you’re gonna drive a respectable amount of customers through your door in a short period of time.
Remember the end game for strategically running a Groupon: new clients, referrals, money, good reviews, email list.
Get in, get out.
Doing demo massages, on the other hand, is a long term tactic that will build the relationships that you’ll need to sustain your business.
And when things get rolling, you’re gonna have some fun.
P.S. 99% of my Groupon customers were great. Of the bad ones, one was rude and the other was odd (but not in a dangerous way; I think she was self-medicating).
And if you don’t have a website, you’ll need to whip one up quick for the Groupon deal. Here’s how I get it done: How to Build a Website FAST.
I’m here if you need some help:-)