Massage therapists can expand their incomes by selling retail products. This is no secret; it’s commonly taught in Oregon massage therapy schools. Up to 25% of a therapist’s income can come from product sales, according to ABMP. Most therapists appreciate boosted income and other benefits of selling retail, including augmented business value, and an enhanced client experience. However, for one reason or another, many LMTs avoid adding retail sales.
Some worry about coming off as pushy salespeople. Others claim no space for inventory. Still other LMTs avoid retail because they fear investing in products that can’t be sold.
However, considering that products can extend treatment and relaxation at home, selling them benefits your clients. It is beneficial for the client to receive your educated recommendations on which retail products would be ideal for home healing. When viewed as a natural extension of your professional services to heal, retail product sales become more appealing.
If you’re thinking about adding retail products to your massage business, here are a few key concerns to think about.
Important Considerations for Selling Retail Products as an LMT
- Start With a Modest Investment. Many lotions, oils, and sugar/salt scrubs come in packages of six. Even with very limited space, you can display a bottle or two and keep the rest of it in a case tucked away. Consider starting with a case of four or five of your favorite products—those that impress you as a professional, and that your clients have enjoyed. If you’re not sure which products to start with, use your appointment scheduling/billing software to figure out which of your services bring the top 25% of your sales. Then, sell the products that are included in those top selling services.
- Seize Natural Opportunities for Sales. Making a sale doesn’t have to be pushy—and indeed, “the hard sale” will rarely work. However, there are many chances to showcase products and share your own enthusiasm. Love a certain shea butter lavender hand cream? Order a box and stick a “try me” sample in the restroom. When a client comes out commenting on the lovely scent, you can reply, “I know, isn’t it the best? We have those for sale in the lobby. I can show you later.”
You can also sample products via add session enhancements—such as a peppermint foot wrap to end treatment. Just a few drops of peppermint oil will be needed for each wrap, minimizing your costs. Then, as clients ooh and aah about how great their feet feel, you can point out the peppermint oil display.
- Find the Space. Even therapists who rent single rooms can display retail products. Corner shelves or a small table can display products, while inventory is stored in a dresser. Check out Pinterest for more retail display ideas.
- Only Sell Products You Believe In. This will make it easy to sell—your natural enthusiasm will appeal to customers. Don’t sell products you haven’t tried personally and thoroughly. Favor unique products that can’t be found elsewhere—you don’t want to be competing with Wal-Mart, for instance. You might be surprised how quickly your inventory is diminished, with your sincere recommendations swaying clients.
- Align Products with Your Professional Niche. Your retail sales will likely be successful if your product selection aligns with your professional niche. If you specialize in pain management, hot and cold therapy treatments, pain-relieving gels, and similar products will likely sell well. On the other hand, if your focus is on selecting the perfect aromatherapy scent for each client, essential oils will suit you (and your clients) well.
- Do Your Homework. Be aware that LMTs face unique ethical and legal issues around retail sales. Take time to research your states’ laws about selling retail products with your massage therapy services. Understand when retail sales could represent a conflict of interest. It’s also important to recognize that selling retail products will create more paperwork. At a minimum, you will need to record when you purchased inventory, at what cost, and what it sold for.
If you don’t want to sell retail products, but you do want access to the best massage products at reasonable prices, a Portland massage therapy school may stock such products. Here at East West, the massage school’s campus store features massage oils, essential oils, lotions, massage tables, and more. You can stop by our campus, visit with our teachers, and pick up supplies in one convenient stop.
If You’re Not Retailing — What’s Your Excuse?, Massage Magazine
Responsible Retailing, MassageTherapy.com