How much is a massage really worth? What is the value of a massage today?
I have heard so many massage therapist complaining about how groupon offers and franchise prices are driving down the value of a massage. The value of a massage is only what someone will pay for it. Many people will still pay more but I think it is getting more difficult to find those people with all of the low cost massage offers out there these days.
The price of a massage session is determined by many factors:
- the local area market and the economic factors in that area
- the cost of providing that service: overhead, business expenses
- skill level and training
- number of year of experience
- supply and demand
Put it all together – what will someone pay for a massage? That is quite different from what is the value of a massage.
What a person will pay for a massage depends on how important massage is to them – what value they perceive massage to have. It is based on their knowledge and experience of massage and their income as well as how much they value their health. It is often based on their financial situation and that is always filled with many old patterns and projections. I have seen people who are independently wealthy living in a penthouse apartment say they don’t want to pay a $5 fee increase. I have seen elderly women on very fixed income, save each month so that they could get their massage. I have seen people who buy a new Lexus complain when I don’t have a discount for new clients.
Each massage therapist gives a very unique massage and combine that with their personality, the value of a massage is in the eye of the client. So what happens when they see other massage therapists charging a significant amount less than you in a groupon special offer or the local franchise charges a lower rate? People come to expect discounts and reduced fees.
Is it still possible to compete with those businesses? Is it still possible to compete with a groupon offer? Yes of course.
In order to charge more for a massage, you will need to differentiate yourself from everyone else. You can do that in many ways like taking advanced training, spending more time with clients, providing more in service and attention than others and things like that. But how do you actually show someone that you are different? You do that in many ways like having an exceptional, content rich website that explains what you do. A good website will build trust. A good website will convey who you are and what makes you different when you talk about why you do massage and what doing massage means to you. It is done with having a clear way for people to contact you. It is done from the moment they make the appointment until the moment they leave the office. When you provide exceptional service to them by taking the time to do a full intake interview so that you really understand their needs, you are often ahead of the franchise places. When you take your time to explain how massage works and why and how it applies to each unique client and truly educate them about massage so that it changes their idea of massage, you have also set yourself apart from others and provided more value. Your work will speak for itself.
Massage therapists offering a groupon or amazonlocal deal is probably just like you. They don’t want to charge such a low rate but it is a great way of getting people in the door. The therapist absorbs the cost of doing a group deal and can often be easily overwhelmed by the amount of business these deals bring in. It can often compromise the level of service again making your service stand out. Some massage therapists actually have done well doing groupons but it requires maintaining your boundaries and setting them clearly around appointment times and no shows and things like that. (Groupons may be illegal in your state if you are a health care provider and there are kick back laws though so watch out for that too! )
What happens when you charge double the going rate in your area? I did hear a story once of a massage therapist doing just that. They were so booked that they decided to charge for an emergency -same day appointment and extended their schedule to accommodate people. On this side of the pricing fence, clients came to expect miracles because they were paying so much. That didn’t really work to well.
How you show what you are worth is by just doing a better massage and being more present. How you tell that or show that to someone who is inquiring about your rates compared to other lower rates is by making it all about them. I just recently have been asking my Facebook group and page about this and found so many answers filled with pain and defensiveness, that it prompted me to write this. Those defensive answers are also part of the problem. People are left befuddled. Did they get an inferior massage from someone who charged less? In some cases maybe yes, but saying that to people is hurting the profession more than you might think. Let them go and get a lower priced massage. If that is what they want and can afford but then tell them to give you a try to to compare for themselves.
What is it worth for someone to feel better after being in pain for 3 years? What is it worth for someone to get the support they need through touch during their fight against cancer? What is it worth for someone to finally get the nurturing that they really should have gotten from their caregivers at an early age? What is it worth to get your life back after dealing with fibromyalgia for most of their life? What is it worth to be able to be the top competitor in masters track in your age bracket? What is it worth to be the top contender in the Tour De France or the local track meet? What is a massage really worth?