Selling massage gift certificates can help to get you new clients as well as providing a influx of cash especially though holidays like Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
There are some things that you need to know about selling gift certificates that can help you take advantage of the holidays to help build your massage business.
The first thing you need to know about selling gift certificates is that you have to know what the gift certificate laws are in your state from the National State Legislators. The thing you need to figure out is what expiration date can you have and what happens to the gift certificate when no one claims them. There are a few state laws that said the GC became the property of the state after a certain time. That is why you need to keep up on the laws regarding Gift Certificates and Gift Cards. If you have any questions, be sure to contact your state Attorney General’s office.
After you have figured out your legal obligations, the next thing is to get a GC printed or find a company to buy them from. ABMP has some free ones available in the members only section. (Not sure about AMTA but they might too.) You will also want to have your GC available for people to purchase online. You can add them to your own website or use one of the many services to sell them for you. There are a few companies that will also promote your gift certificates to stores that they are associated with like www.spaboom.com, www.thegiftcardcafe.com and www.spafinder.com. Be sure to have all of your contact information on your GC and have a space for the recipients name and givers name and the service they are buying. Have your website address.
You will also need some kind of system to track the sales of GC to make sure people don’t try to use them twice or do something like that. (I have never had a problem.) You will also need to figure out how to keep your income balanced when you sell a lot of GC at one time like Christmas. You will be getting quite a bit of money coming in and you will be having to do the massages during the next year which means you won’t get income then. Putting the GC funds in an account where you can then pay yourself (or employee) when the Gift is actually used can help. It will also take time away from your schedule later when the gifts are used so you have to take that into consideration.
Some of the other things you will need to do is figure out how to promote and sell gift certificates to your clients. Here are some ideas:
- Have a display set up in your office in the massage room or lobby.
- Have signs up in other local businesses near you or in health clubs or health food stores.
- Ask clients when they get a massage if they have family members who might like a massage gift certificate.
- Be talking to your current clients about the gift certificates.
- If you can’t have an expiration date on the gift certificate/card, consider using terminology that helps recipients remember to use them like for best results use before July 4 or something like that.
- Try different promotions like buy 2 get 1/2 hour free or something like that. Be careful with discounts and BYGO offers! You may be overwhelmed with them in the new year! (if you bill insurance and are offering clients a discount, you have to offer it to the insurance companies too.)
- Create an OFFER on Facebook.
- Set a goal for how many you would like to sell for a specific holiday and work to achieve that.
- Find other health care providers that may be interested in selling your gift certificates offering them a fee to do so.
- Have an affiliate program set up on your website so that others can link to and promote your GC and get paid a referral fee for a sale.
- Use Google Adwords to advertise your business and Gift Certificates
- Use your Google Local or Yahoo Local listing to offer coupons for buying gift certificates
- Make it easy for people to buy and receive the GC. You can do that through your website or GC service and mail them directly or have them be able to print out a GC on their own to give at the last minute
- Give regular clients a stack of GC to use and give to people when they want and just send them a bill when the GC is redeemed.
- Try selling smaller time frames like the 1/2 hour massage to make it more affordable.
- Give a very special discounted rate to your current clients and set up rules like they discounted gift can be only used by first time clients.
- Sell Gift packages like buy 5 or 10 and get one free or save a significant amount.
- Send letters to doctors offices, lawyers that you work with or other businesses that you work with as they might be interested in buying them for their office. (I once had an office of lawyers who offered their employees a choice of gifts and I got myself on the list of options. I also had a few business owners just buy a series for everyone in their office = Big $$$)
- Send letters out to your mailing list or email list to tell them about buying GC and try different offers. Send more than once! Send until you get the results you want testing various offers. (But don’t make them sick of you!)
- Tell all your regular clients about GC when they come in. They usually love to refer people to you and will like to give them to their friends as gifts.
- Create a special offer for people but for order for them to get it they have to give you their email address or sign up on your Facebook Fan Page (or something like that.)
- Use Facebook and Twitter to promote Gift Certificates
- Try all of these things again. That is one of the biggest things with MT – they think that just because they tried it once and it didn’t get any clients that it won’t work. Just change the offer or change the wording a little until it does work.
- Create a couples massage class and sell them through gift certificates.
- Run a groupon offer.
Another thing to remember is that many or even most gift certificates are not redeemed leaving you with the cash. That can be good because you have the cash but it can also be detrimental because you lost the chance of getting a new regular client. It may also be a problem if the law in your state says that you have to turn the GC over to the state after a certain period of time. Create a follow up plan to contact the people who got the gift certificates. You will need to track who is getting them from whom. Sometimes whoever bought them might ask you if so and so came in and used their gift certificate. You can’t give out that information because of HIPAA and other privacy laws.
Also be careful about contacting the recipient and not letting the person who bought them know that the person did or didn’t come in. It is important to protect people’s privacy even though they may be the one who bought the gift in the first place. You will have to decide when and how it is best to contact people.
When the gift certificates start being redeemed make sure you have a system to educate clients and work with them during the session to help them see the results of massage to turn them into a regular massage client. Your website is one way to do that by writing about what solutions you provide. Many people do not realize that massage can be helpful for things like carpal tunnel or back pain or injuries. Have a plan to convert GC clients into regular clients. Keep track of who is buying the certificates and if you can who will be receiving them so you can call or send reminder cards for them to come in and get their massage.
To set up your website to sell gifts you can just use Paypal. You will need a business account so that you can create a buy now button. They take you through the steps of creating the button and you can select custom directions so people can leave their address so that you can mail them out. If you want to be able to have the printed out directly I recommend that you use www.thegiftcardcafe.com. They are easy to use and implement into your website. Just sign up and follow the step by step directions. You only pay when someone orders a GC.
Another idea is to honor other people’s gift certificates especially when/if they are expired because you can convert them into a repeat client. Have a plan to create a repeat client out of every gift certificate redeemer. There are many ways to do that like getting a new client packet of info together and giving it to them. You could put articles about massage or your most recent newsletter in it. You can also buy little gifts like a small aromatherapy oil, soap or even just plain massage lotion. Follow up every appointment with a call, email or card and recap their session saying what areas you found were tight and what areas still need work. Talk about what solution you provide. Tell them what other conditions or diseases you work with. It also helps to have your intake skills down and ask the right questions so that you can get the client engaged in their massage as well as work with them to show them the results of the massage. Ask them about pain levels and restrictions of movement. Show them afterward how things have improved or ask them to show you.
Many people also buy gifts for other people when they really need the massage. You can do something like add an expiration date on the GC and then say if the person they give it to doesn’t redeem it by then, it will go back to the person who bought it.
Creating Regular Clients from Gift Certificate Sales
After the gift certificate is redeemed, you now also have the opportunity to get a regular client out of the offer. The way to do that is just the same really as working with any other client. Start with doing a thorough intake and understand their needs. Make sure you explain what you do and how it can help them. Find out if the ever get regular massage so you know what you are working with. If they have gotten regular massage, ask them if they are now and if they aren’t – why have they stopped. You can use this information to plan your session and follow up. Work with them during the massage to help them get a new awareness of just how the stress and tightness are affecting them in daily life.
The Downside of Selling Gift Certificates
Personally, I am not pushing Gift Certificates much at all these days. I have been listed on a large law firms Gift List that got me hundreds of gift certificate sales many years ago. I have sold gift certificates to owners of small law firms for them to give to all their employees. I have sold many over the last 30 years but frankly I am done with them.
So often the people buying the gift is really the person who wants the massage. That means a slew of unhappy people getting a massage when they would rather have the money or something else. So many gift certificates go unused because of that. Yes, you get to keep the money, but the client never comes in for the massage – I just don’t feel right about that. I know it is just the way business is done etc, but it just doesn’t sit well with me. I wait all year for the client to come in and they usually scramble to get in at the last minute before the gift certificate expires and then are frustrated when they can’t.
It is also hard to keep the money paid for the certificates in a separate account so it feels like I am doing a massage for free when they actually come in later. I know that may seem silly, but that’s just me of course.
I have had so many unhappy people on the massage table through the years also because of people giving the wrong gifts. These people also hardly ever become regular clients which is another reason for wanting to sell gift certificates.
It must just be me . Bahh humbug me.
Here are some other articles on selling massage gift certificates:
There are literally tons of opportunities for selling and promoting gift certificates especially for Christmas. What is your goal? How will you get there? What have you done that you have found works? Share your comments!
(originally posted in 2010 – updated 11/21/2016, updated 11/10/2018)