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How to Build a Massage Therapy Business

by Allen B. Ury

When you complete your massage therapy training and become a professional massage therapist, you will be faced with basically two career choices: You can go to work for an employer such as a massage studio (Massage Envy, Elements Therapeutic Massage, etc.), or you can start your own independent practice. If you go to work for yourself, you will need to build a base of regular clients to ensure a steady income. Even if you work for an employer who handles all your marketing and sets your appointments, having a set of regular customers can help guarantee your position and keep the tips rolling in.

The question then is: How do you find and keep customers for a massage therapy practice?

As with any venture, your best strategy is to follow the path of least resistance. When building a massage therapy practice of your own, this means looking for customers who are looking for massage therapists. These are people who already know about -- and enjoy -- the benefits of massage. As a result, you don't have to spend time, effort and resources trying to convince them to buy the service. Instead, you only have to convince them to buy your service.

If you are starting your own practice, begin by building a website. Today, any credible business has a Web presence. Use the site to establish your credentials, describe the types of services you provide and their benefits, and include a list of corresponding prices. To make sure you're found, make sure your copy includes "keywords" that people are likely to enter into search engines. These will include words and phrases like, "massage therapy in [your city]," "best massage service in [your city]," etc.

You can either build the site yourself using any number of free or low-cost website development tools, or you can spend a few bucks and hire a professional website designer. You can get a domain name for less than $100 through a number of website domain registration services like Network Solutions and GoDaddy. You'll also need a Web hosting company like iPage, Blue Host or Just Host to actually run your site. This should also cost you less than $100 a year.

Use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest to further promote your services and establish connections with friends, family and clients. Use the sites to link to news stories and features that promote the benefits of massage as well as talk about your business, new services and specials.

It can also help to build a professional network of local doctors and other health care providers who might refer clients your way.

Once clients start to arrive, make sure they get the best possible experience you can provide. Determine each client's expectations early on, especially if they have any special needs or specific pain areas that require attention. When the session is over, offer to schedule the next visit to promote repeat business. You might also invite them to refer friends and family members. Make sure to get each client's email address so you can keep in touch, and invite them to link to your social media pages.

Should you offer first-timer discounts or "rewards" programs to promote repeat business? Some professionals advise against this. Offering discounts tends to attract bargain-hunters whose loyalty only extends as far as the money they can save. Should their discounts expire, or a competing therapist offers a better deal, they'll jump ship. Other massage therapists see benefits in offering discounts, especially to repeat customers, as a way of ensuring repeat business. Offering special "package deals" -- like six sessions for the price of five -- will keep many clients coming back. And its money in the bank when clients are required to pay in advance to take advantage of such programs.

Whether you work for yourself or for an employer, building a massage therapy practice takes time. But combining excellent service with the savvy use of today's websites and social media -- not to mention good old-fashioned word-of-mouth -- you can establish a steady client base that can spell success for years to come.

Want to know more about massage therapy careers and training? Contact Everest College by completing and submitting the Request More Information form on this page. A friendly Everest representative will get back to you immediately to answer all your questions.

Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

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