May 19, 2016
How to Price Your Massage Services (the Right Way!)
Let’s say you are a fairly new therapist without a client base ( or maybe a very small one), do you price the same as a therapist that has been in practice for 20 years? Absolutely not! And the main reason for this is, you have no social proof that your massage services are good and no customers willing to pay high prices yet! Furthermore, you would be leaving no room for growth as you continue running your practice and start getting loyal clients. Now, of course there can be an exception to this and the main exceptions are: a.You don’t have control over the pricing of your massages (you work for a company) or b.Your target audience is in fact high-end clients(in this case, I would research other high-end therapists, what they charge, and why they can charge those rates before pricing high.) Your rates should still be somewhat comparable to your experience as a therapist and the demand in the market you are choosing to serve.
The key in pricing is finding a price that will increase the demand for your services at least in the beginning phases of your business. Because Massage Therapy is considered a service that is a luxury or at best can be replaced with cheaper alternatives (pain relievers or cheaper massages) , this means the pricing of massages is very elastic. “Price Elasticity” is a concept that still many massage therapists and spas don’t understand or are ignoring. Instead they price high and it takes them twice as long to grow their practice and often times just ends in frustration. To illustrate price elasticity consider this: the price elasticity of gas to the average american is very low, meaning even if the rates were to skyrocket most americans would still need gas and therefore have to purchase it at the higher rate. This is obviously not the case with massage or other products, like say ...cookies. If all of a sudden the price for cookies went up to $38 a box, most people would just start eating candy or donuts instead-- they simply would not feel a need to pay that extraordinary rate. This is why there are only a handful of companies who sell expensive cookies. The common person will probably never even hear of a gourmet cookie company and if they do they will get a box as a gift for Christmas but it certainly won’t become a staple in their daily lives.
Now, let’s consider the field of massage therapy. In the last decade the rate of massage therapists in the united states has skyrocketed with new massage schools and advertising. That has, in turn, made it much easier for consumers to get massages, which is great since it is so beneficial to our health. With that increase in licensing, has come a significant decrease in rates for massages because more and more consumers are seeing the value in consistent Massage but simply can not pay $100 every other week for a session. Now, I know a lot of older therapists who spent years building their practices and have actually been able to maintain high rates doing so will disagree with me, but we are simply not in the same era for massage therapy. The field is evolving and as massage therapists we need to evolve with it or we face living below the poverty line. That is the honest truth. It is time to come to terms with the fact that consumers can find massages for as little as $39/hour and are willing to risk having a sub-par massage to get more frequent sessions.
So, what do you do if you are a newer therapist with virtually no following and opening your own practice? You price in tiers. Set the highest value for your sessions to negotiate lower rates with companies like Groupon(who will end up cutting your rate by 50% and then taking 50% of the earnings), but then offer loyalty rates and memberships at the lowest end of the spectrum to promote consistency and build a large following while competing with companies like Groupon and Massage Envy. Once you have a large enough following and you simply can not fit anymore clients at this low rate, then you increase your rates by $10-$20. You can also offer Premium Memberships that have increased value and are increased in pricing. Another tactic used often is to decrease the value for the same price(I will talk more about this in a future blog post).
Whatever you do, realize that the market will determine the value of a product and that will always be the case for products that have a high price elasticity.
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