Raising Your Massage Fees is often a difficult part of being in business for yourself as a massage therapist. On one hand you want to be able to provide affordable massages to people and on the other hand, you need to make a living to stay in business so that you can continue to serve your clients. Knowing when to raise your rates and learning how to raise them to avoid losing income and clients is a process. You have to do what is right for you at whatever stage you are in.
The best time to raise your rates is when your schedule is full and even better when it is overflowing! If you find yourself adding more hours to your day and skipping lunch or staying late to get another client in, it may be time to raise your rates.
The Fears around Fees
The problem with raising your rates is that you also risk losing clients. I know from experience, that it can cause stress for your business just wondering if people will quit seeing you and then actually having them do that. Through the years, I know I have lost a few good regular clients when I raised my rates. At the same time, I also got new clients who would pay the new rate without batting an eye. While losing a client may be painful both emotionally and financially, it is also possible that they were not your ideal client and if they really balk at having to pay you $5 or $10 more an hour, they may not really value what you do. Especially if these same people are the ones who are living in a penthouse apartment and driving a Bentley or you know they go to the casino a few times a month! Yes there are people who really need massage and really can’t afford the extra fee, but is that your responsibility? When you make more, you can also give more to charities and foundations that fund health clinics that provide free or low income massage services or you can start your own service that does that.
So the first scary step is deciding if and when you want to raise your rates. The best time is what is best for you. In general, raising your rates at the first of the year may seem like too much for people after a hefty spending spree for Christmas but they might have also gotten money for Christmas. There are ways to lighten the stress of the extra fees and help people gradually get used to the idea. Then you need to decide how much you will raise them. Usually a $5-$10 raise won’t matter much. If you raise your rates every year or every few years, you can raise them just little by little. If you raise them more than $10, you risk losing more clients. If you raise your rates over $20, you are really making a statement and risk losing more clients. So it is really best to raise them every year to avoid the shock of a big raise.
Many massage therapists often let the fear of what the economy is doing interfere with them being able to raise their rates. If you have a respectable following and offer a clear value and understand that the economy is doing what it does anyways and that there are always people that have money to pay for massage and you provide the best quality in everything you do, you will still be able to get clients to pay the higher fee. In any economy!!!!
My Story: When I first started out in 1989, I took over a practice from a guy who was charging way below the regular price. I can’t remember exactly, but it was like $25 an hour when the going rate back then was probably $50-$55 an hour. I immediately raised them to the going rate and the clientele changed. There were people willing to pay more. I also later consulted with an accountant the next time I was going to raise my rates and he said don’t do it because you will lose too many people. I of course did raise them and found that I actually got more clients then every time I raised my rates. There is a certain mentality with people that they think that they are getting more when they pay more – like shopping at Nordstroms!
People also really need to feel like they are getting a return on their investment. They need to be taught the real value of a massage. What does massage really do? Relieves pain and stress – sure – but the really deep core benefit goes way beyond that. What people get from massage is feeling relief, thinking clearer, being more aware of themselves, feeling more compassionate toward their partners and co-workers. Your message can be conveyed during your massage sessions as you help keep people focused on their body and keep them away from their problems. I can’t tell you the number of clients I have seen through the years who have gone on to change jobs, change partners, make big moves in their careers and lives and I believe that getting regular massage was part of what gave them the strength and desire to do that. When people feel better and are relieved of their aches and pains or have their stress managed better, people think clearer, feel lighter and more balanced.
Stop Explaining and Just do it!
The other thing I have learned is that when you raise your rates, you really do not have to explain it or try to make it ‘feel better’ for your clients. You don’t have to explain:
- well the price of gas has gone up so much
- the rent has gone up so much
- I haven’t taken a vacation in 5 years
- the price of lotion has gone way up
Nope, you don’t have to explain anything. If you feel a need to explain more, tell them about the value of massage – the real value. How can you put a price on relief from pain, stress etc.?
After you make the first scary decision that you want to raise your rates, then there is the scary part of telling people. I also learned early in my career, that people also usually expect you to raise your rates and they usually will say something like “It is about time!” People who really value massage and your work will say things like that. They won’t care and will gladly pay you more!
The interesting this is why is this so scary to tell your clients I am worth more and need to make more? The scariest part is the chance you will lose clients and income. Sometimes it will actually be a relief to lose clients if you raise your rates when you are really busy. It can help weed out the serious clients and also the clients that really are draining to you and your business. When those kinds of people leave your business, you will have more energy to do what you do best – doing massage on people who really appreciate it and take it seriously.
You can ease the stress of telling people about your rate increase by doing things like:
- Set a specific date for the price change.
- Tell them a few months ahead of time so that they can plan.
- You can just post a sign and tell people as they come in. If you post it where they can see it, they can ask about it rather than you having to tell them. (Say something of course if they don’t ask.)
- If you have an email list, you can send a notice out. Post it on your website.
- Give people an offer of being able to get the old prices in a package deal. If they buy X amount of sessions, they can get it at the old price.
- Have enough in savings to cover a few that do leave.
- Focus on your marketing so that you can get new people in if some of the current clients do leave.
Or just forget all of that and raise them! Does the dentist, grocery store and gas station do that?
Get the support you need in raising your rates. The process of Supervision can really help you get through your fears and build self confidence.
Your rates affect what both clients and colleges will think of you. If you charge more than the norm, some clients may be put off, while
others may think you must be offering something special for the extra charge. If you charge less than the going rate, some clients will be attracted to the bargain but may not value the work as much….